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A story of jealousy and success | Faith | The Press and Standard

by | March 26, 2017 5:00 am

Last Updated: March 23, 2017 at 9:47 am

One of the most intriguing, inspirational stories in the Bible is the one about Jacob and his family, with an enlightening focus on one of his sons, Joseph (Genesis 37-50). Because of space and time, I will not be able to share the entire story, but I am going to focus on a section of it, hoping that it will encourage you to read it.
This story is one of faith and forgiveness, yet one of rags to riches. Joseph, son of Jacob and Rachel, lived in the land of Canaan with 11 brothers and one sister. He was Rachel’s firstborn and Jacob’s 11th son. Of all the sons, Joseph was loved by his father the most. Jacob even arrayed Joseph with a “long coat of many colors.”
Jacob’s favoritism toward Joseph caused his brothers to hate him, and when Joseph was 17-years-old, he had two dreams that made his brothers plot his demise. In the first dream, Joseph and his brothers gathered bundles of grain. Then, all of the grain bundles that had been prepared by the brothers, they gathered around Joseph’s bundle and bowed down to it. In the second dream, the sun (father), the moon (mother) and 11 stars (brothers) bowed down to Joseph himself.
When he told these two dreams to his brothers, they despised him for the implications that the family would be bowing down to Joseph. They became jealous that their father would even ponder over Joseph’s words concerning these dreams (Genesis 37:1-11).
They saw their chance when they were feeding the flocks; the brothers saw Joseph from afar and plotted to kill him. They turned on him and stripped him of the coat his father made for him, and threw him into a pit. As they pondered what to do with Joseph, the brothers saw a camel caravan of Ishmaelites coming out of Gilead, carrying spices and perfumes to Egypt, for trade. Judah, the strongest, thought twice about killing Joseph and proposed that he be sold. The traders paid twenty pieces of silver for Joseph, and the brothers took Joseph’s coat back to Jacob, who assumed Joseph had been killed by wild animals.
However, the story goes on to cover a number of years about Joseph’s trials and his prosperity and the lives of his family. But one day long after Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, he told them, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20 ESV). During a famine, Joseph’s efforts saved many people, including those of his own family.
What is my point in telling this part of this eye-opening story? Sometimes when we share with others our goals in life, there will be those who will be happy for us and will be there with us every step of the way to achieve those goals. They will support us through the good times and the bad times on our journey to success.
However, there are going to be those who will be envious, just as Joseph’s brothers were when he told them about his dreams, so they wanted to “slay the dreamer.” The bottom line: You cannot tell everyone about your “ship” because some will drill holes in it to try to sink it before it departs the dock. This is sad, but true. In Joseph’s situation, little did his brothers know that their evil intentions worked for the good of man because Joseph, in his newfound position, was able to do some great and mighty things for many.
If you haven’t read this story, when you start reading it, you will have difficulty putting it down. There are so many valuable lessons to learn from it. I see why my uncle, Deacon Leroy Stevens of Brooklyn, N.Y., loves this story so much and says it gives him goosebumps every time he reads it. God knows it did it to me!
“There is much to learn from Joseph’s story. As parents, we have warnings concerning Jacob’s favoritism and the effects that can have on other children, as seen in Joseph’s youthful pride and his brothers’ envy and hatred. We have a good example of how to handle sexual temptation — run. And we have a clear picture of God’s faithfulness. He does not forsake His children, even in the midst of suffering: ‘the Lord was with Joseph’” (Got Questions.org).
Have a wonderfully blessed week, and never leave home without Him!

(Anna Bright is a minister and educator in Walterboro. She can be reached at abrightcolumn@lowcountry.com)

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