Reading: Genesis 37
Here is another extracts from The Glory of the Story, my father’s devotional introduction to biblical theology in the form of 366 daily readings which show how the Old Testament story is fulfilled in Christ. The Glory of the Story is available as a Kindle book for $2.99 from amazon.com and £1.99 from amazon.co.uk. I’m posting extracts from the chaper on the story of Jacob, usually on the first Monday of the month.
1. Joseph’s dreams (1-11)
Just as there had been jealousy between Jacob’s wives, Leah and Rachel, now there is hatred from Leah’s sons towards Rachel’s son, Joseph(4-5, 8). This strong feeling is aggravated by Jacob who transfers his special love for Rachel to Joseph and makes no attempt to hide the fact. His gift of a beautiful robe has the effect of elevating Joseph above his brothers. It is Joseph’s dreams, however, that not only inflame the present situation, but set the whole course of future events – the brothers’ malice; Jacob’s grief; his own suffering and elevation; and the migration of the family to Egypt.
The first dream implies that Joseph’s brothers would bow down to him and the second that Jacob and Leah would do so. According to Genesis 41:32 duplicate dreams imply certainty and prompt fulfilment. While Jacob is irritated by the dreams he knows firsthand how amazing God’s ways can be and sensibly keeps an open mind (11). Notice how the dreams have thrown the spotlight on God as the main character in the drama. Neither the indiscretion of Joseph nor the murderous intent of his brothers will thwart God’s purposes.
2. God’s providence (12-36)
The ill-feeling of the brothers comes to a head at Dothan. The sight of Joseph so far from home leads to a murderous plot and a plausible explanation: ‘a ferocious animal devoured him.’ (20) Reuben’s plan only gains a reprieve until Judah proposes the sale of his brother to a passing caravan of Ishmaelites, the descendants of Ishmael, the son of Abram and Hagar (25-27). Ishmaelite was an overlapping term with Midianite (28; cf. Judg. 8:22-24).When the news of Joseph’s apparent death reaches Jacob he is totally devastated and refuses to be comforted (34-35). It is surely a poignant irony that it was by the use of a goat (31) that Jacob had earlier deceived his father (Gen. 27:16, 23).
At the last moment in the story our eyes are lifted from a bereft Jacob to Egypt (36). In the sovereignty of God’s providence, Israel’s nomadic cousins become the means of Joseph’s survival. His transfer to Egypt makes possible the ultimate preservation of Jacob’s whole family. Though Joseph is reduced to a slave, God has not abandoned the dreamer or his dream.
Let us renew our trust in a God whose goals are always certain even though his ways are often mysterious.