Dysfunctional Family August 9, 2020

SER # 33Wa







TEXTS: GENESIS 37: 1 – 4; 12 – 28


This our third Sunday following the story of Jacob son of Rebecca and Isaac. After getting united with his brother Esau, they each lived their separate lives. Between the four women (two wives and two servants) Jacob had twelve boys and one girl. The two boys from his favorite wife Rachael were Joseph and Benjamin.

We get back to the story of the Old Testament where the family of Jacob continues to find itself with family wrangles. To refresh our minds Jacob had married two sisters Leah and Rachael who were daughters of uncle Laban. On the wedding day each wife was given a helper (wife) (Zilpah for Leah and Bilhah for Rachel) who later Jacob had children with by the recommendation of each wife. It seemed like each wife wanted to enlarge their own family with a hope that they would have a special place in the life of their husband. From the narrative, we do know that Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah from the beginning. Rachel got her two children (Joseph and Benjamin) later in life where Leah kids were very much grown. Rachel died at child birth when Benjamin was being born. She named him Ben-on which means ‘son of my trouble’ but Jacob named him Benjamin which means ‘son of my right hand.’ Jacob love for Joseph from his favorite wife Rachel was very open. His liking for Joseph over the other 12 (includes daughter Dinah) was very clear so to speak. He treated Joseph in a special way and his brothers would not fail to notice that. He made him a special coat with many colors and they hated that. It did not make it easy for Joseph when he started seeing visions where he was ruling over his brothers.   His brothers did not like that and they hated Joseph for that even more. So, when he comes to the wilderness where they were herding the animals, they thought it was good time to kill him to solve this problem.

Joseph had also given bad reports of his half-brothers to his father (Gad and Asher sons of Zilpah and Dan and Naptali sons of Bilhah) (Genesis 37: 1-3).

When the brothers were deciding to kill Joseph, it was the oldest brother Reuben who suggested instead of killing him they could throw him in the pit and leave him there to die. But we later learn that he had a plan to come back and rescue him and take him back to his father when his brothers were not there.

While in the pit the brothers saw some Ishmaelites traders going down to Egypt with their good of trade. Then Judah (4th born son of Leah) suggested they can sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites instead of having him die in the pit and they sold him for 20 shekels of silver. They never told their brother Reuben what they had done for he came later trying to rescue him and he was not there. The “death” of Joseph made his father Jacob mourn him for a long, long time. But the brothers still to agree on the same lie that they would tell their father that Joseph was killed by an animal in the wilderness. They killed a sheep and put blood of the torn coat of Joseph. They brought it to Jacob as prove that Joseph was killed by wild animals. They even pretended to mourn with the father.

I would like us to think about this special coat of my colors and what it could represent in our faith today. This coat of many colors represented the general make up of Jacob family and how they functioned.

  • A Coat of Hate and Love: We are told that Joseph was the first born of Jacob’s beloved wife Rachel. Therefore, he finally had a son from the woman he truly loved. This meant the boy had a special place among the 10 other sons and one daughter (Dinah) that he already had. Jacob treated him different by doing extra things for him. He made him this one special coat of many colors. By loving Joseph so much he was in action showing hate to the other sons as he did to their mother. This coat then represented love on one side from the father and hate from the brothers on the other. The second thing here is that Joseph was a child that was born when Jacob was already in his old age. Some writer believe that Benjamin was really the one born when Jacob was really old. The custom of the day then was a child born of an old age always had a special place in the life of the parents because most likely the old children will have already grown and left home. By Jacob making this coat to this boy he was affirming his unique love for him and the special place he held this boy. That is why when he “dies” (his brothers told his father Joseph had been eaten by wild animals) his mourning took a long time. In fact, he never got healed of this lose until when he reconnected with him in Egypt after many years of believing that he was dead. We can today choose to wear a coat of love or a coat of have. Unlike Joseph this can’t be the same coat. The brothers chose hate instead of love for his brother. When they reconnect in Egypt after may years Joseph put on the coat of love for them. “So, Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come near to me, please.’ And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother Joseph whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. for the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest” (Genesis 45: 4 – 7).
  • A coat of Promise: This coat represents a promise that he had given Rachel which was a promise of love. This coat that he had made to his son Joseph meant that he continued to place him above all his brothers and making him the leader of the family. Maybe Jacob was not fully aware of what will become of his son but it did not bother him that he was putting him above his brothers. He seemed not to have learned what this kind of favoritism did to him and his brother Esau. It brought a rift that never got healed. God has given each on of us a coat of promise. This promise we find being expressed by Jesus to his disciples who were at the middle of fear that he was leaving them. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18). There are many promises that God has given us. Promise of love, protection and walking with us even when the journey is hard. God travelled with Joseph in the land of Egypt where he was sold and elevated to a high level in that land. God is promising his love this morning.
  • A coat of remembrance. In the later part of the story about Joseph the brothers remember this coat as they meet him in Egypt as the prime minister with the royal coat on. It was a coat that made him stand above everybody else except the Pharaoh. Tis new coat of Joseph reminded his brothers about his dreams that they were going to bow down before him. Remembrance is a good thing when it comes to what God had done for us. One of the difficulties you find as you read the story of the people of Israel is how quickly forgot the hand of God. After doing many miracles before pharaoh to let them go and well as parting the red sea they quickly start complaining. Let us remember what the good Lord has done for us over the years. May you can remember a time when things were really bad but God was able to see you through. Let us not remember the goodness of the Lord.
  • A Coat of Prophesy: In the world, they lived in the dreams played an important role in foretelling the future of the community. It was believed that God sometimes communicated with his people through the dreams. Each dream presented a specific message. Daniel and his friends in Babylon were invited to interpret dreams for the king (Daniel 2: 17 ff). We see the importance of the dream even in the New Testament. Joseph the father of Jesus was instructed by dream to take certain action. The wise men to take on a different road back home. In these dreams, we see that Joseph becomes the leader of the family as well as the provider. Everybody including his parents bowed before him. We can easily see that the coat might have confirmed his place down the road for the family. Though we may not know how many colors there were on this coat we can easily believe that they were colorful enough that when he put it on, he was easily noticed. He seemed to like to show off this coat for even on this day he went looking for his brothers in the wilderness he put it on. Can you imagine this colorful coat in the wilderness when his brothers were wearing regular clothes? We can easily say that Joseph at this stage in life he was also arrogant and wanted his brothers to experience the special place he enjoyed in the family. God in his ow way has set a path for us that we follow we will fulfil that he has planned for us. But God created us with a free will so that we can make choices everyday.