The most important message I picked up from today’s readings overall is it’s more important to be humble than to be right.
My primary take-away from each of the passages was this:
- Genesis 37, 38 – It’s more important to be humble than it is to be right all the time. Doing the right thing in exactly the right way is no guarantee of protection or reward. We all play a role in God’s plans, even if we choose to ignore, avoid, or thwart them. Joseph is the very picture of oblivious privilege.
- Matthew 19– Things that are impossible for us are not impossible for God. For God, all things are possible.
- Psalms 19 – The law of God is perfect.
- Proverbs 19 – Keeping the commandments (the law) is self-preservation.
This section of Genesis is where things start to really get moving, as far as I’m concerned. Joseph is arguably one of the most interesting characters in the Bible, and perhaps the most important for illustrating the entirety of what we need to know about God, and how to live in response to that knowledge.
Joseph was what we would today call a “goody-two-shoes.” He is spoiled rotten, favored by Jacob because he was Rachel’s son. Imagine how slighted and unloved his brothers must have felt in the face of the kind of favoritism Jacob showed him. Again, Jacob has learned nothing about repeating the same mistakes that both he and his own parents made, and he plays favorites with his children.
He does draw the line at letting Joseph school him on God’s will, though. When Joseph shares his dream about the twelve sheaves of wheat, Jacob is irritated; but his response is not to use it as a teachable moment, but rather to just give a flippant response and send him on his way. In my imagination Jacob ruffles Joseph’s hair and gives him a smile, preventing Joseph from learning that it is better to be humble than to be right, and sometimes when God speaks to us in our dreams those messages are not to be shared, lest people think we are “lording it over them,” as Joseph’s brothers accused him of doing.
Joseph’s behavior is no excuse for what his brothers did to him, but he definitely set the stage for his own hardship by being oblivious in his privilege as the favored son. If he had been more humble he might have avoided angering them so much that they just wanted to get rid of him.
Meanwhile, his brothers have once again decided to take matters into their own hands and create their own providence through evil acts of kidnapping, plotting murder, and selling their own brother into slavery. These are the behaviors of sociopaths, not righteous men of God. It seems that only Reuben has a conscience and is concerned about obeying the commandments, but even he is too weak-willed to stand up fully for Joseph and remind his other brothers that they are participating in criminal and ungodly behavior.
One of my favorite things about this story is that later on (spoiler alert!) all of the brothers receive God’s own perfect justice, custom-made to fit the crimes they have committed. Even so, God is merciful and gracious, because they are part of his larger plan to bless and multiply the descendants of Abraham.
Later on, we will find that Joseph learns from his circumstances, holds fast to his faith in God, and learns to humbly obey Gods laws without piously lording it over anyone. He learns the difference between being a “goody-two-shoes” and being a humble, faithful man of God. In keeping the laws of God he not only secures his own salvation, but that of his entire family, the entire nation of Egypt, and all the other surrounding nations as well. More on that as we read through the upcoming chapters.
That’s what I got out of it. What did you get out of the readings today?
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