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How Can I Do This Great Wickedness?

Old Testament Lesson 11

Genesis 34, 37-39

As we begin this discussion, let us first think about how the behaviors of society differ from the Lord’s standards.   We so often hear, “What would Jesus do?” but I think a better question is “Would Jesus do what I’m doing?”  I think that the activities that we find normal so often would not fit with what the Lord would consider appropriate.

Today’s discussion is about Joseph, the Joseph of the coat of many colors.

Joseph had gained the birthright even though he was the 11th son.  He was the 1st son of the favored wife, but he was the 2nd son of his two wives.  (The hand maidens do not count as wives even though most of Jacob’s sons were by the other two women).  He gained the birthright because Reuben had been unrighteous.

Genesis 37:3-8

Joseph’s brothers were extremely jealous of him.

When have you been treated differently? better or worse?

Could you come up with a valid reason for why you were treated differently?

When did you realize you were being treated differently? before or after?

How did you feel towards the person or people who were treating you differently?

I think it is interesting to pause here for a moment and think about the experience you may have just identified.  Were you treated better or worse?

Typically we focus on the poor behavior of Joseph’s brothers.  Instead I want to call attention to young Joseph’s behavior and how a prideful person could judge what Joseph did.

Genesis 37 discusses how Joseph was the favored son and that he’d been gifted the coat by his father.

REASON #1 for Joseph’s 10 brothers to have an issue with him.

  • As a parent how often do we error by playing favorites? Maybe not every day nor for the same child each time, but we all do it at one time or another.

Next we have Joseph sharing his dreams with his brothers.  Was it really in his best interest to share with his brothers these dreams of future times?  I’m sure he didn’t walk up to them in a boastful way and say, “Hey guys, you have got to hear how much the Lord trusts me and shares with me.  The other night…”  Of course that isn’t how he approached it, but do you think his brothers felt like he said it any differently?

REASON #2 for them to have issues with him.

  • The brothers were already on edge (see #1) and then the favored comes up and says “I had a dream.”  This shows them that Joseph is not only favored by their father but also by their Heavenly Father.  Have you ever found yourself boasting  unintentionally? You may have felt like you were just being social, honest, involved or sharing, but it was taken as if you were boasting.  This can happen when someone is struggling with how wonderful you are, they may be jealous or insecure.

Then we move on to Joseph telling them about his dream and how he would one day rule over them.

REASON #3 for their issues.

  • The brothers are being told that they will be ruled by this brother that is the youngest.  How would you feel if you missed out on a promotion and found out from the person that got the promotion (rather than from the promoter) and then on top of that, the person that got the promotion is considerably younger and less experienced than you?

The brothers’ hearts were full of pride.  They were too caught up in their jealousy to be objective.

But, how could Joseph have handled the whole thing better?

Would he have been better off to talk to his mother or father about his dreams?  How differently would they have responded?

When is it appropriate to share something sacred or special with someone else?  How should it be shared?

I believe that unless someone really cares about you and cares about what is special to you, you don’t share the most precious and sacred things with them.  Once you know someone loves you for you, then you should share.

Joseph’s brothers plotted to get rid of him.  Both Reuben and Judah did not want to kill Joseph but they each had a different plan and a different motivation.  Reuben wanted to put him in a pit and allow the animals to get him.  Judah wanted to sell him so that they could profit from this exchange.

Which did they end up doing?

I love the irony of this, that they went with Reuben’s suggestion and then after thinking it over, went to get Joseph to sell him for a profit but found that he was already gone.  Midianites found him and sold him on their own to the Ishmeelites.

Once Joseph was sold, we truly get to understand what an amazing man he was.  A man of faith and strength.  A man who stood up for what he believed at all costs.

Joseph was welcomed by Potiphar and trusted by him, even though he was a slave because he was righteous and a goodly person.

Unfortunately, this goodness was taken advantage of.

Satan will work his magic on those that are righteous.  He will take a trusted relationship and will tempt the righteous through his cunning ways.  Joseph encountered this power of Satan while he was in Egypt working for Potiphar.

Potiphar’s wife seduced him.  But Joseph declined and immediately removed himself.

Let’s take a moment and spend some time discussing this situation…

Have you ever been in a situation where you have been tempted to make a wrong decision?  How did you handle the situation?  Did you stay there or repetitively put yourself back in the same situation?  Did you start down the path that made the temptation harder to walk away from?  Did you find yourself making excuses for your behavior?  Or did you do as Joseph did and simply walk away?

I wish we could all say all the time that we walked away and turned our back to the temptation.  Sadly, we can’t.  Some have walked farther down the path of sin and rationalization.  Others have walked a ways down and realized the error of their ways and turned away from the sin.  While others have completely caved and are now looking for a way to return to being a “goodly man”.

Satan is working on us every way we turn.  He does not want us to make righteous decisions and he does not want us to be examples of good.  We are tempted through media and “friends”.

Although Joseph did the right thing, and walked away, he did not go unpunished.  Potiphar’s wife lied and Joseph was thrown into prison.  But the Lord was with him – neither God nor Joseph turned their backs on one another.  Because God was with him, he was able to gain favor of the prison guard and he was able to make the best out of a bad situation.

What can we learn from Joseph about turning a bad experiences and circumstances into good ones?

A popular quote, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” is a great reminder that we can control what we do with our experiences and circumstances.

Someone that I really believe practices this lesson is a photographer in Hawaii.  She is fairly well-known and has many internet friends that follow her art and her life through her blog.  I had heard of her quite some time ago, but never added her to my list of websites I follow.  Then in January, she lost her son to whooping-cough.  She shared her experience, every step of the way, and has touched the hearts of 1000’s of people.  As she has shared her story, she has also shared the love of God.  She has shared all that is good while still being honest about how hard it is.  I feel that the prison guard has given her the hands of all of the prisoners, just as the prison guard did for Joseph.  Through her, others will believe in God and all of His mercy.

Through Joseph, many wonderful blessings came to the people of Egypt – including the Pharaoh.  These blessing came because he made the best out of a crappy situation.  They came because he did what was right and walked away from temptation.  The blessings came because he was a righteous man.

I know that people will misunderstand us.  I know that not everyone will love us nor our strengths.  I know that we are going to be tricked at one time or another.  I know that we are going to be handed lemons. I know that we can rise above it all and experience something wonderful.

____________________

When have you made the best of a bad experience?

***resources here and here

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1 comment to How Can I Do This Great Wickedness?

  • Alex
    Twitter: L8enough

    I believe that the proof of the greatness (or even existence to those who don’t believe?) of God is that good can come from a bad situation. Whether it be people coming together to help those in Haiti after the earthquake. Or in my own life, a difficult situation is either an chance to be self-pitying and self-centered or a chance to grow closer to God. And (sometimes slowly) I chose the latter. Thank goodness (for me AND my family ;)!!
    .-= Alex´s last blog ..The Stairs of Death (DUNT DUNT DUH) =-.

    [Reply]

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