The beginning of one of my favourite stories in the Bible. The story of Joseph. Like all good dramas we are introduced at the very beginning to some of the key characters. We know a lot already about Jacob. Here, we are told that he loved Joseph more than his other children. Fuel is added to the fire. Joseph plays up to this favouritism by being a bit of a tell-tale against his siblings. His father, who always preferred Rachel amongst his wives, clearly dotes on him. He unwisely makes explicit his preference for Joseph by giving him the richly ornamented robe: possibly this was a sign of financial preferment upon Joseph too. Money disputes often stoke the fires of family dispute.
So, his brothers grow in their hatred of Joseph. There are 11 of them and one of him. Already, in the setting of the story, we have a sense of foreboding over what is to come. Then Joseph has a dream – well, actually, two dreams. Both of them imply that Joseph will be raised up above his brothers and father. Even his father rebukes Joseph this time. The dreams will prove to be accurate but this is surely not the time for sharing. Sometimes, information the Lord gives us is for own information – not to be shared around. A rule of thumb to apply to the prophetic is: if you have a word of knowledge or revelation in some way, then pray for wisdom on how to apply it and who to tell. Jealousy is added to the brothers’ hatred and it becomes a potent mix which proves too hot to handle.
So, the brothers plot and scheme and Joseph is set up. You’ve read the story so you know how events transpire here. Over it all you can see the hand of one important invisible character – Yahweh himself. The father calls Joseph and sends him to the brothers. Joseph can’t find his brothers in the place they should be, but in the midst of the wilderness, where you wouldn’t be expecting to meet anyone, he happens to bump into someone who knows exactly where they have gone! Then, the slave traders happen to come along just at the right time which gives the brothers the opportunity to spare his life but get him out of their lives – for ever they hope. Then Potiphar just happens to be in the market place when Joseph comes up for sale.
Meanwhile, back home, the brothers engage in a big cover-up operation and Jacob has a taste of his own medicine. But, ultimately truth will out.
There are times when we really can’t understand at all what is going on in the circumstances we face, but over it all will be the invisible hand of God. He may not be able to change the evil intent but he is able to use the outcome for good if we trust Him.
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Pray through any way in which this story speaks to you.