Family differences are one thing, family feuds that lead to such jealousy and hatred wanting death to remove the problem is another matter. The case of Joseph’s brothers was not like that of Rosemary Ndlovu. She was a … “police officer who killed her family members for insurance claims, with the help of hitmen. She was found guilty on six counts of murder.” (News24). Rosemary Ndlovu traded human lives for money.
Joseph’s brothers wanted to trade Joseph for their fathers love. They hoped that with him out of the way daddy would show them more love, affection and appreciation. As you read the Genesis account of this story, there are two lessons that come to mind.
The first is that parents must not favor one child above the others. It is true that the problems seemed to originate from the concubines sons, but this was one household … this was a huge family, each child having the same father. Jacob was wrong and even sinful in favoring Joseph the way he did. This hurt and angered the brothers. Christian parents need to view each child as a blessing from God and love them and spoil them equally, Favoritism is unbiblical and sinful.
The second lesson is that siblings must not be like young Joseph and give the impression that he is the favored one and show off … but equally, his eleven brothers ought to have found ways of dealing with their younger brother differently. Surely talking to their father ought to have been the starting place. To contemplate murder and eventually selling him as a slave, then lying to Jacob saying a wild animal killed him was extremely wicked. Just because we know the way the story ends does not mean we can attempt such wickedness and hope that in the end it all works out well.
1) The God of grace, mercy and love. One might tend to think that Joseph’s ordeal being sold as a slave, bought by Potiphar where he rose to being in charge of the household, having Mrs. Potiphar try to seduce him resulting in him landing up in prison might have been the raw end of the stick. Yet maybe strange to us, but God was using all these avenues to get Joseph into Pharaoh’s palace where he rose to the position of Prime Minister. God’s plan was to bring Jacob and his household to Egypt. Remember God’s words to Abraham:
Ge 15:13 “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years.”
God needed to build Jacob (named Israel) into a nation called Israel. The safest place on the planet was Egypt of that time. In love for a people yet to be a nation, God chose and used Joseph to be the gateway for his family to come to Egypt due to a famine. With the coming famine in view, God used Joseph to stock pile grain with people coming from all over the known world to buy grain in Egypt. God used this crisis to bring Joseph’s family to buy grain resulting in them settling in that land where they could grow in peace as a nation, separated from the Egyptians, having their own province “Goshen” as their personal territory. Stephen raises all these issues in his speech to the Sanhedrin:
Ac 7:10 He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt; so he made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace. 11 “Then a famine struck all Egypt and Canaan, bringing great suffering, and our fathers could not find food. 12 When Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our fathers on their first visit. 13 On their second visit, Joseph told his brothers who he was, and Pharaoh learned about Joseph’s family. 14 After this, Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his whole family, seventy-five in all. 15 Then Jacob went down to Egypt, where he and our fathers died.
2) The God of advance planning. There are those who feel God responds to situations, yet God actually plans ahead. God is a God of order and organization. The land Abraham purchased from the sons of Hamor was one of the pieces of land he bought for burial purposes.
Ac 7:16 Their bodies were brought back to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought from the sons of Hamor at Shechem for a certain sum of money.
Although Sarah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were not buried here, Joseph and his brothers were. Read the following four passages:
Ge 23:19 Afterward Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah near Mamre (which is at Hebron ) in the land of Canaan. 20 So the field and the cave in it were deeded to Abraham by the Hittites as a burial site.
Ge 25:9 His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, 10 the field Abraham had bought from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah.
Ge 35:27 Jacob came home to his father Isaac in Mamre, near Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had stayed. 28 Isaac lived a hundred and eighty years. 29 Then he breathed his last and died and was gathered to his people, old and full of years. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.
Ge 50:12 So Jacob’s sons did as he had commanded them: 13 They carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre, which Abraham had bought as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite, along with the field.
The bodies of Acts 7:16 are those of “our fathers” in verse 15, meaning Joseph and his brothers. They were buried in Shechem, but the bodies of Sarah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were buried near Mamre (Hebron). All of this might seem rather technical and unnecessary until you realize that God promised Abraham the land of Canaan and with him and his son, grandson and grandsons being buried there, even at different burial sites, it meant that Abraham and his initial descendants (to the third generation) inherited the land.
3) God’s promise has however not been fulfilled in its entirety yet. The nation still needed to grow substantially!
Ac 7:17 “As the time drew near for God to fulfill his promise to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt greatly increased.”
God knowing what would happen in the future, that is during the desert wandering where the people would sin and none of the adults who left Egypt bar a handful would enter Canaan, He multiplied them sufficiently to reproduce in the desert. Take away:
Jos 21:45 Not one of all the LORD’S good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.
Thank You Lord that Your promises are fulfilled. Always. Amen.