READ: Genesis 35, 36, and 37
BACKGROUND: Although Joseph’s birth is recorded in Chapter 30, his story really begins here. So important is Joseph that 25% of the book of Genesis is devoted to his life. GOD uses Joseph to preserve the nation of Israel.
35:18 – Rachel gives birth to her second son – but the birth is incredibly difficult. Knowing she is dying, Rachel names her son Ben-Oni, meaning “son of my pain.” Jacob, who certainly knows the power of a name (his name meant deceiver but GOD graciously re-named him Israel – or “I Rule” ) graciously changes the baby boy’s name to Benjamin – or “son of my right hand”….a term of honor.
22 – Although Reuben may think he gets away with this grievous sin, he does not! His sin will find him out!
37:2 – Is Joseph just tattling or telling about something dangerous? Jacob knew very well that his older sons could not be trusted.
3 – Jacob treats Joseph with preferential favoritism and this is a generational flaw: Jacob’s own father, Isaac, favored his twin brother, Esau.
5 – The first of many dreams….no interpretation needed; the brothers could get this!
10 – “Your mother” – refers to Leah.
12 – Say what? Why are these brothers headed back toward Shechem? They are idiots!
17 – Joseph exhibits complete obedience and travels at least another 50 miles; a three day hike through brutally hot, dry, rough land to complete the task Jacob assigned him.
21 – Reuben takes a half-hearted stand apparently not wanting to offend his brother. Why doesn’t he just say “NO!” His weak attempt backfires and Jacob is sold.
33 – Irony: Jacob used a goat skin to deceive his father, Isaac. Now, Jacob’s sons use a goat’s blood to deceive him – a cruel scheme.
THINK: The background on these chapters is a bit long, so we will keep this short. Two important principles can be learned from these chapters:
1. GOD works all things together for the good for those who love HIM!
2. Sin causes pain and suffering!
Have you, like so many of us, felt the sting of #2? Sometimes we suffer unjustly because of the sin of others. Sometimes we are responsible for the mess we end up in. Sometimes, like Reuben, we may think no one notices our sin – or that we got away with something. But it’s never true. Sin costs – every time, all the time. Irwin Lutzer, pastor of Chicago’s Moody Church, says this about sin: “Sin always takes us farther than we wanted to go, lasts longer than we wanted to stay, and costs more than we wanted to pay.”
If you’re feeling the weight of #2 (and we all do!) it’s time to remember #1: GOD is at work to bring GOOD out of every circumstance! He loves us and he is in the business of making all things new! He makes all things beautiful in His time!