We are now coming to the last thirteen chapters of the Genesis. God shifts from a larger world picture to focus in and begin to follow Jacob’s descendants as they began to multiply. God changes Jacob’s name to Israel which means “God rules”, “God strives”, “God heals” or “he strives against God”. It’s important to remember that Moses wrote the first five books of the bible under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He penned these words somewhere between 1450 and 1410 BC. Because there are so many parallels to God’s own Son, Jesus, it’s essential to take a close look at these last thirteen chapters. Chapters 37-50 of Genesis basically retell the story of redemption and how God’s plan for all of us is working out even through the hard times and the times in life when we are walking through what seems like “the valley of the shadow of death”.
Israel (Jacob) loved Rachel more than his first wife, Leah. Joseph being a son from Rachel quickly becomes the favorite of his father. In chapter 37:3-4 of Genesis we read “Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. Also he made him a tunic of many colors. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably with him”. This coat whether it was a coat woven with many colors, made with sleeves or was ornately decorated, set Joseph apart from all his other brothers and sowed the seeds of hatred.
One night, Joseph had a dream that he told to his brothers where they are out in the field reaping and binding wheat into sheaves and his sheaf stood upright while his brother’s sheaves bowed down to it. Joseph had yet another dream where the sun moon and the eleven stars bowed down to him. This verse will be one of the keys to understanding some of the content found in not only in the last Genesis chapters but also in the book of Revelation 12:1. But for now it is just a thorn in the sides of all of Joseph’s family.
Then one day Israel sent Joseph to check up on his brothers who were out herding their flock. After a journey of many days Joseph is seen by his brothers and they conspired against him to kill him. The text says that they saw him from a very far distance and were able to recognize him probably because the tunic he wore was very different from all the other ones that were worn in that day. Joseph’s brothers planned to kill him, throw him into a pit and then fabricate a story of how wild beasts killed him. Reuben suggests they don’t kill him but rather just place him in the pit. So they strip him of his tunic and cast him alive into a pit. When some Ishmaelite-Midianite traders pass by they pull Joseph out of the pit and sell him for 20 shekels of silver. These nomads were heading for Egypt.
The brothers killed a kid from the goats and dipped Joseph’s tunic into the blood and brought the coat to their father. Jacob recognizes it right away, and believing his son is dead tears his garments and mourns the apparent loss of his son. It’s interesting to see God’s law of sowing and reaping in action here. Remember back when Jacob deceived his father Isaac by killing a lamb and putting the skin on his hands and neck to impersonate his brother Esau? Here we have Jacob reaping what he had sowed so many years before. In Galatians 6:7 we read “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to the flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the spirit will of the spirit reap everlasting life”.
We will discover in the next couple of weeks how this all will turn out but this apparent tragic end to Joseph is all part of God’s larger plan to provide for Jacob’s family. All things work out for the good to them who love God and are called to His purpose. My life verse from the bible is Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” What a comforting thing it is to trust in an all mighty, all knowing and all powerful God! A God who loves you so much that He not only gave up His only Son to death on a Roman cross but wrote about it 1450 years before it happened.