Written by Dave Urbanski
When we left off in Genesis 37, we were introduced to 17-year-old Joseph who found himself in the middle of an exceptionally bad case of sibling rivalry. His father Jacob favored him over his 11 brothers, Joseph got a great-looking robe in the deal — and then Joseph decided to ally himself with his dad rather than look the other way when his brothers didn’t do a good job in the fields. In short, Joseph’s brothers hated him.
This past Sunday we started looking at what happened next: Joseph’s dreams.
Thing is, Joseph — perhaps showing youthful exuberance — didn’t keep his dream to himself. Instead, he told it to his brothers: “Hear this dream that I have dreamed: Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.”
His already steamed brothers replied, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?” And according to the Scriptures “they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.”
But as Pastor Scott pointed out, another way of looking at Joseph’s reaction to his dream is that he wasn’t craving power or dominance over his brothers — he was simply excited and wanted to share the vision God gave to him. And we can learn something from Joseph’s reaction, too: We should expect big things from the Lord!
Do we not limit God from time to time? View him from our own mortal perspective — and then end up believing somehow that the Lord is no more powerful than we are? No more merciful than we are? No more loving than we are? If our God is no bigger than our own assumptions and limitations — if he can’t explode from and rise above our faulty, flawed, tiny boxes — then it’s not surprising why we sometimes react to him in faithlessness rather than faithfulness.
Then Joseph had yet another dream — and it didn’t appear to get any better for him, because it turns out he dreamed that “the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” And this time Jacob also heard Joseph describe his dream and asked, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?” And the Bible says his brothers were jealous of him, “but his father kept the saying in mind.”
Perhaps Jacob also is open to how big God can be — which indeed reflects important moments from his life we’ve already seen. Indeed, as Pastor Scott emphasized, we also must maintain the wonder of God in our lives, and always be ready to ask the question — in good times and in bad — “What is the Lord doing right now?”
And that very well may be what Joseph soon began to ask as well, as the next part of the chapter describes how his brothers plotted to kill him and ended up stripping Joseph of his many-colored robe and tossing him into an empty cistern containing no water. With how big and grand the Lord has been so far in Joseph’s life, how will Joseph view God now, in what must be a shocking circumstance? To make matters worse, his brothers managed to talk themselves into selling Joseph into slavery rather than killing him as a way not only of getting some money but also to make it seem as though they did the “more honorable” thing by not killing their own brother. Finally, his brothers concealed their deed by dipping Joseph’s robe in goat’s blood and convincing their father Jacob that Joseph had been devoured by an animal.
What possibly could have Joseph been thinking now? What is God doing in his life in this awful circumstance? He’s cut off from his father Jacob and his family and headed to Egypt as a slave and will end being there into adulthood. But as Pastor Scott reminded us, God had his hand on Joseph — and when the Lord has his hand on you and me, nothing that happens in life will change that. Nothing will get in the way of what the Lord wants to do in Joseph’s life — or in our lives.
Therefore, let us all be sure to ask ourselves more and more frequently, “What is God doing right now?” The more we ask that question — and the more God reveals his answers to us — the closer we’ll be to the Lord and what he has in mind for us in our lives. And that is the very best place to be.