02 October 2015

“His brothers said to him, ‘Are you indeed to reign over us? Are you indeed to have dominion over us? So they hated him even more because of his dreams and his words.” (v. 8)

Psalm: Psalm 102:1-11


And so begins one of the most famous Old Testament stories ever told on a West End stage! Joseph and the Amazing Long Robe with Sleeves (NRSV), or should we call it 'God's Dysfunctional Family: The Next Generation'?

Indeed, we don't have to read very much to see those unhelpful traits of the family leaping off the page. Joseph is Jacob's favourite, and Jacob (who was his mother's favourite) didn't imagine it would be a problem at all to have him a lovely jacket made to prove it! Oh dear! Joseph therefore didn't see it as a potential problem to share his dreams with his brothers - dreams in which he is exalted above them.

This story is often used to show how God can bring good endings out of difficult or evil times, even how God's providential way might have planned it all along. Joseph ends this passage being sold as a slave and carried off to Egypt. His father has been deceived and thinks the firstborn son of his favourite wife is dead. His brothers harbour a dark and shameful secret. And another goat has been needlessly killed! For the time being, at this cliffhanger, we're left with the question of how Joseph's dreams will work out, and just how God could possibly mean all this for good. How will blessing emerge from the strife?

To Ponder

  • Can you think of times in your own life when things seemed to be lost or hopeless, but you have traced God's working through the darkness into new light? What happened?
  • When unhelpful traits pass down the generations in a family, it can be very damaging. How can the church help, as a family (or community) of faith, to support, guide or transform families and individuals?
  • Do you have a dream? Perhaps a vision for a better world, or a better church? When do you think it is wise to share your dream, and when is it best to be quiet?

Bible notes author: The Revd Andrew Murphy

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