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Genesis 37: 1-36 – Brotherly Hatred – Part 5
After another observation from God last week, we conclude our text today.
Vs. 29-36 – “When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes. He returned to his brothers and said, “The boy is not here! Where can I turn now? “
Then they took Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat, and soaked the robe in blood. They brought the ornate robe back to their father and said, “We have found this. Examine it to see if it is your son’s dress.
He recognized it and said, “It’s my son’s dress!” A ferocious animal devoured him. Joseph must have been torn to pieces.
So Jacob tore his clothes, put on a sackcloth, and wept for his son for several days. All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will continue to cry until I join my son in the grave.” So his father mourned him.
Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.
I have to go back a bit to the background – Jacob is no stranger to deception. You remember his stepfather Labon took him for a hell of a ride, and now his own sons are doing the same here. You remember how this whole thing started – Jacob cheating on his own brother and his own father – you remember mom sticking a bunch of goat hair on him so blind his daddy thinks he’s her furry brother. And I find it interesting that he cheated on his own father with goat hair and now here is his sons cheating on him with goat blood.
Notice here that Ruben is coming back, and again remember Ruben was the firstborn, so he’s supposed to make a little more sense than the rest of the guys. But he’s not showing a greater sense of responsibility here, is he? And again, his idea of having him thrown in the pit was that he could come back later and save him. So Reuben was clearly not there when his brothers sold him into slavery.
Ruben is an example of what you and I might call people’s fun. It’s a picture of the person who is always trying to make everyone happy. Think Pilot. There are those people who are very careful not to offend anyone. We all know these people. They just don’t want anyone to be mad at them and try to keep everyone happy all the time. And, of course, it is impossible. And because of that, people who like people tend to really struggle in this area to be decisive. If Ruben had stood up first and said, “Look man, that’s wrong, on my corpse, are you going to do that to my brother.” Sure, he might have upset his brothers, but he wouldn’t have found himself in this messy situation here.
So indecision – well, that’s a decision, isn’t it? As theologian (not “musician”) Neil Peirt said: “If you choose not to decide, you still made a choice. “
James puts it this way: “If you know what to do and don’t do it, it’s a sin.” (James 4:17).
So what we see in Reuben is: if we live our lives trying to make everyone happy, there is going to be a compromise, there is going to be sin, and the end of it all is is you’re gonna be miserable as Ruben finds out here.
So what we’re starting to see here is that even when, as Calvin says, the world seems to be going aimlessly, the Lord is everywhere at work. The center of God’s will, at times, can get us into the eye of a storm. We should never seek to confirm the will of God by the absence of adversity.
Consider the amazing words written about Jesus in Isaiah 53:10 – “However, it was the Lord’s will to crush him and make him suffer. “
We can take heart ROM. 8:31 – “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Ten bad-apple brothers and a whole caravan of die-hard desert traders are no match for the teenager who seems to be the helpless victim of this story – GOD WAS WITH HIM! God will accomplish His purposes even though at the moment it looks like everything has gone wrong. There is no denying Joseph’s distress at having been sold and for having anticipated the years of slavery and suffering that awaited him.
These events remind us that, as AW Tozer once said, “It is doubtful that God can greatly bless a man until he has deeply hurt him.
It takes tests and trials to make us useful to God. Some of us are not as helpful as we could be because in trying to escape trials we may have missed out on God’s blessings. We don’t have the tender hearts that come night after night of tears. We do not have to seek tears, but they will indeed come from the hand of the Father. And they will come so that we are prepared to do his will in our life and in the lives of others.
Blessings to you all.