Part 1 – Shadows of the Kingdom, Chapter 5 – Patriarchs
Discipline and character development
[Bible references: Genesis 37:1-11, 28-36; 39:1-20: 50:20]
Of Jacob’s 12 sons, Joseph was the most notable. Between being treated as Israel’s favorite son and then having a sense of self-importance, he created a sense of jealousy among his brothers. So, on one occasion while out tending flocks on one opportune occasion his jealous brothers sold him off to merchants traveling to Egypt. In Egypt, he was sold to a captain of the Pharaoh’s guard as a slave. While he was a slave to the captain, Yahweh caused Joseph to prosper in whatever he took care of, inspiring the captain to trust everything to Joseph. However, an unjust charge by the captain’s wife caused Joseph to be imprisoned.
Bloom where you are
[Bible references: Genesis 39:21-23; 40; 41]
While Joseph was in prison, Yahweh continued to cause Joseph to prosper, inspiring the warden to entrust many things to Joseph. A couple of the prisoners had dreams to which Yahweh gave Joseph the interpretations. The predictions Joseph revealed to the prisoners did come true. Sometime later, when the Pharaoh had dreams that he wanted to have interpreted, he was informed about Joseph. Through the help of Yahweh, Joseph was able to interpret those dreams. This led to Joseph being put in second-in-command to the Pharaoh through which he was able to oversee the harvesting and storage of grain in preparation of a coming 7-year drought.
Dreams come true
[Bible references: Genesis 15:12-14; 15:12-21; 42-46; 50:15-21] The drought extended up to the Promised Land, Canaan, where Israel was living. This gave the opportunity for Joseph to invite Israel and all the rest of the family to come to Egypt where Joseph could see they were supported. Joseph was able to see that while his brothers had intended to harm him, Yahweh was able to use for the good. In fact, this provided the setting that Yahweh had revealed to Abraham in a troubling dream, that “your descendants will be strangers in a land not their own.” For a moment, Egypt seemed to be promising, but it wasn’t the final destination. It particularly wasn’t the promised land. More than that, God warned that dark times lay ahead before they would arrive there.
In academic disciplines, we train our minds in order to become doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc. These disciplines are usually evaluated by written tests and practicums. What are some spiritual disciplines and how do we evaluate our progress?
Read Genesis 37, 41, 40. Joseph’s discipline involved finding God in the midst of difficult circumstances and discovering how God could use him there. Are there any difficult circumstances you struggle with? (NOTE: One goal in the Benedictine order is stability. The idea is that God is everywhere and if you can’t find him where you are then you won’t find him anywhere. deWaal, Esther. “Seeking God”)
Complaint is the usual response to unjust treatment. But although Joseph was enslaved, he took his stewardship responsibilities and then when imprisoned he was open to God’s interpretation of dreams. What do you think Joseph learned?
Read Genesis 37; 39-41. Because Joseph was the oldest son of Jacob’s favorite wife, Jacob made Joseph his favorite son – and spoiled him. It didn’t help when Joseph flaunted some dreams in front of his brothers who then found an opportunity to sell him as a slave. How did the hardship of slavery mold Joseph’s character?
What are your visions of what the future will look like?
Read Genesis 50:15-21. Back in Canaan, Joseph used his dreams to put down his brothers, who responded by selling him into slavery. But when it came time for the dreams to be re-enacted in real life, he had a different attitude about those dreams. How does Joseph’s experience affect the way you view the events of life?