This Sunday, we begin a new quarter in our Connect Groups. As a church, we are walking through the entire Bible over a three year period. In this quarter, we will begin by looking at the life of Joseph, over a three week period. In this first lesson, we are going to begin to see how Joseph is a type and shadow of Jesus Christ. He is a picture of what the Messiah will be like when He comes on the scene.
This story is found in Genesis 37. Joseph’s name means “Jehovah has added or caused increase“. In the Greek language of the New Testament, the name Joseph is borrowed from Hebrew and in Greek it means “giver“. Joseph is going to be contrasted with his brothers. As we study this story, we are also going to discover some advice about things that should and should not be going on within the family unit.
The first thing that we learn about Joseph is that he has been taught to have a personal relationship with God. Joseph had been taught by his parents to listen for and to recognize the voice of God. In Joseph’s case, God communicated with him via dreams and interpretations of those dreams. Joseph was listening for God and knew how to recognize the voice of God. Upon having the will of God revealed to him, Joseph shares God’s will with his brothers and with his parents. This is a picture of Jesus. He came to this earth and connected with God. He lived His life to teach others how to connect with God by revealing the will of God to the people around Him. Have you connected with God? Do you know how to recognize the will of God? How would you even go about it? The answer is found in Hebrews 1:1-2.
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,
in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.
How can I discover the virtues of the Son of God?
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was in the beginning with God.
14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. (John 1)
If you want to hear from God, open the Word of God and read about Jesus Christ. God has given parents to you so that those parents will teach you how to hear God’s voice and discern what He has to say. As you learn to discern the will of God from the Word of God, share that Word with the people around you. This is God’s will for your life. Joseph manifested his relationship with God in the relationship that he had with his father. Joseph was obedient to his father. Jacob sent Joseph to go and check up on his brothers. He was supposed to travel from Hebron to Shechem, a distance of about fifty miles. Joseph was obedient to his father’s will. Upon arriving in Shechem, Joseph did not find his brothers. Many people just do the bare minimum when assigned a task. Joseph had been taught to be disciplined enough to carry out his assignments to the end, not just do the bare minimum to get by. Joseph could have returned home, telling his father that he had accomplished his task. Instead, Joseph cared about his brothers enough to find them and make sure that they were alright. Joseph travels another twelve miles to Dothan to find his brothers. Joseph is also honest, not showing favoritism. When his brothers did wrong, Joseph did not try to cover for them. He had to give a proper report, even though it cost him dearly because being honest caused his brothers to hate him. Joseph was ready to suffer for the truth. Jesus, when He lived among us, was not afraid to share the Truth with the people around Him. This angered many people to the point of them wanting to put Him to death. Jesus did not back down. He honored His Father’s will in everything that He did. He carried His assignments out to the end, even though it cost Him His life. Joseph’s example shines even brighter when compared to his brothers. Let’s take a look at Joseph’s brothers.
II. Joseph’s brothers
Joseph’s brothers grew up in the same household as Joseph. They received the same education. They were taught to connect with God just as Joseph was. They were taught to follow God, as Joseph was. The family was not perfect. Jacob loved Joseph more than his other eleven sons. Jacob was more loved by his mother and his brother Esau was more loved by his father. Jacob was living out what he had seen in his own family. This is not an excuse but, you can see how these behaviors were learned and passed on to the next generations. Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him because of they way that their father treated him. This jealousy manifests itself in several ways. One, they are disobedient to their father in little ways. They do not go and do what he tells them to do. They are supposed to be in one place and when out of his sight, they go where they want to go. When it comes to doing good, they are undisciplined. They are a direct contrast to Joseph. His brothers were also very cunning in their actions. They value money over their relationship with their brother and they decide to sell him as a slave to make some money. Not only do they do this, but, they also cover up their actions and deceive their father. Deception was something that they probably learned from their father Jacob because he had learned to be deceptive from his mother. There is a reason that God says what He does in Deuteronomy 5:
9 ‘You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,
10 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
When parents have sinful patterns in their lives, they teach their children to live in that same sin. An alcoholic usually raises alcoholics. Smokers usually raise smokers. Children learn to behave by following the behaviors of their parents. We see these iniquities pass on from one generation to the next in the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The sons of Jacob inherited these traits.
Joseph’s brothers are also violent. If you read Genesis 34, that violence is manifested. Before selling Joseph into slavery, they were ready to murder him. They had no problem taking that action. The final thing that we see about Joseph’s brothers is that they work against the will of God. Not only do they not live to accomplish the will of God, they actually try to prevent the will of God. Joseph’s brothers have a poor relationship with God, a poor relationship with Joseph, and a poor relationship with Jacob. They had no problem deceiving Jacob. They had no problem selling Joseph. They are in direct contrast to Joseph.
Let’s end with some advice on some things that should and should not take place in the family.
III. Family Matters
God has ordained the family as a physical representation of spiritual realities. The family is the place where children are brought into the world and taught to live in the fear of the Lord.
In this chapter of Genesis, there are several things that should be taught to children as they grow up in a godly family.
The first thing is, parents need to teach their children how to connect with God. Parents do this by teaching their children to read and understand the Word of God. They model this by being diligent students of the Word and walking in a personal relationship with God on a daily basis. One way to live this out is not to show favoritism among the children. They also need to teach their children not to show favoritism. Parents need to teach their children how to discern the will of God from the Word of God and then to live each day to accomplish the will of God. Parents need to teach their children the value of respect and the value of obedience. Parents need to teach their children to be hard workers and the importance of self discipline in carrying out personal assignments. Parents need to give their children responsibilities and show them how to accomplish them. If they learn to be faithful in the little things, they will do well when they receive more responsibility. Parents need to teach their children the dangers of jealousy and what it can do to relationships. Finally, parents need to teach their children to value personal relationships. They are the most important thing to us other than our personal relationship with God. On their death bed, most people wish for more time to invest in relationships. Are you teaching these things to your children? Were you taught these things as a child? Are there children in your life who need to be taught these things? As you walk with God, ask Him to give you opportunities to teach these things to the people within your sphere of influence. May the Lord help us be a Joseph in a world full of his brothers!