If you grew up in Sunday School, you heard this story over and over again. This is a story of dramatic changes of fortune, revenge and forgiveness, and God working behind the scenes to make good out of human suffering. The story touches on human experiences that touch all of our lives, whether in families, congregations, or nations.
Jacob settled in the land where his father had lived as an alien, the land of Canaan. Joseph, who was seventeen years of age, is employed in feeding the flocks of his father. Joseph is loved by his father more than the rest of his brothers because he is a son of Jacob’s old age. His brothers envy him. Joseph has a dream about sheaves. The symbolism suggests that they will become subservient to him, it is no surprise that they “hate him even more.” It is hard not to sympathize with the brothers in this instance. Jacob sends him to visit his brothers, who were with the flock in Shechem, . He wanders in the field, and is directed to go to Dothan. Seeing him coming they conspire to destroy him, Reuben, secretly intending to deliver him, counsels his brothers not to kill, but to put him into a pit, They strip Joseph of his coat of many colors, and put him into a pit, They afterwards draw him out, and sell him to a company of Ishmaelite merchants for twenty pieces of silver, who carry him into Egypt. Reuben returns to the pit, and not finding Joseph, is greatly affected. Joseph’s brothers dip his coat in goat’s blood to persuade their father that he had been devoured by a wild beast, Jacob is greatly distressed, Joseph is sold in Egypt to Potiphar, captain of Pharaoh’s guard.
At the end of the Joseph story, Jacob the father dies. Joseph’s brothers fear that the now powerful Joseph may take revenge upon his brothers who had sold him into slavery many years earlier. The brothers report to Joseph that their father Jacob had instructed them to urge Joseph to “forgive the crime of your brothers”. Joseph is touched by their words and weeps.
Joseph does not presume to take over God’s role as judge. Instead, Joseph offers his brothers forgiveness. Joseph looks over the struggles and difficulties of his life, the threat of violence, slavery, and imprisonment. Joseph sees that through all the remarkable ups and downs of his life, God was with him: “Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good”.
Join us Sunday for insights into this story of Joseph.
“I don’t know how, but I know WHO!”
Grace and Peace,Pastor Nelda
Reverend Dr. Nelda Barrett Murraine is pastor at First United Methodist Church of Kennedale PO Box 146 – 229 W 4th St. Kennedale, 76060