His brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers; and so they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms.
Fueled by their jealousy and hatred toward the favored son, Joseph’s brothers schemed against Joseph. Look at Genesis 37:12-14: “Then his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock in Shechem. Israel said to Joseph, ‘Are not your brothers pasturing the flock in Shechem? Come, and I will send you to them.’ And he said to him, ‘I will go.’” I imagine the scene looked like this: The brothers are out working in the field. Jacob is at home. Joseph is strutting around in his special coat, so Jacob said, “Why don’t you go out and help your brothers?” Joseph said, “Okay, I’ll do that.”
But the brothers were not happy to see Joseph. “When they saw him from a distance and before he came close to them, they plotted against him to put him to death” (v. 18). When they saw their brother and the special coat he was wearing, they got angry at this favored son strutting toward them. “They said to one another, ‘Here comes this dreamer! Now then, come and let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and we will say, “A wild beast devoured him.” Then let us see what will become of his dreams!’” (vv. 19-20).
But one of the brothers said, “Let us not take his life” (v. 21). He suggested another plan: “Throw him into this pit that is in the wilderness, but do not lay hands on him” (v. 22) “So it came about, when Joseph reached his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the varicolored tunic that was on him; and they took him and threw him into the pit. Now the pit was empty, without any water in it. Then they sat down to eat a meal” (vv. 23-25).
The brothers threw their brother in a pit, left him for dead, and then sat down to a meal. How could they do that with a clear conscience? We have a tremendous ability to rationalize sin. We point to people who are worse than we are and say, “Well, we’re pretty good.” I am sure the brothers said, “We were going to kill him, but we only put him in the pit. So we acted righteously.” We have our own standards of behavior, but God has a standard of behavior that is far different than ours.
Then the brothers took Joseph’s coat, dipped it in the blood of a dead animal, and took the bloody coat to Jacob. Jacob assumed that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal, and he mourned for his son many days. But God intervened on Joseph’s behalf. Look at verse 36: “The Midianites sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, Pharaoh’s officer, the captain of the bodyguard.” As we will see, God used these slave traders to take Joseph out of the pit and put him into Egypt, where he would eventually become second in command to Pharaoh. Even in the darkest of circumstances, God had a plan for Joseph. And He has a plan for us.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Living a Life That Matters: The Life of Joseph” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.