Garry continued his series on Joseph this morning, looking at Gen 37:5-11. In this passage, we read of a young Joseph having two dreams where sheaves of wheat bow down to him and the sun, moon and eleven stars also bow down to him. We do not know how he told his brothers and father (simply with amazement or with something of a smug bragging), but this revelation further exacerbated the poor relations between Joseph and his brothers. They hated him all the more because of these dreams which overturned the normal order of things, meaning that the younger would receive the homage normally reserved for the oldest in a family; he was odious to them and their anger further bubbled up (eventually resulting in their plot to sell him into slavery.)
Whether anger erupts (like road rage or a ‘red mist’ descending) or is cold and settled, God wants us to know the self-control of the Holy Spirit so that we do not sin in our anger. (Eph 4:26) He wants us to learn to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matt 5:44). Joseph is a type of Jesus in that Jesus came to His own people, but they hated Him and rejected Him, even as his own family rejected Joseph (see Luke 4:28-30, John 5:16-18, Mark 3, Matt 16:21).
Joseph reminds us that God can speak to and through each one of us (see Joel 2:28-31). We should expect God to speak to us through dreams and visions (as He did with Joseph’s namesake in the Christmas story). These must be weighed and judged (see 1 Cor 14:29), but we should seek God for these spiritual gifts because we need God to speak in this way nowadays as well.
Jacob sent Joseph to check on his brothers (Gen 37:14) who were shepherds, looking after sheep. Luke 20:9-13 again shows us how this is an allegory of Jesus, for God sent prophets to HIs people time and time again, but even when He sent His own Son, Jesus was rejected. There are many different views of salvation and redemption, but it is not true that God the Father acts as a ‘cosmic child abuser’ punishing His Son or that salvation is like a bus driver choosing to run over the one boy rather than hurt a bus-ful of passengers when the brakes on the bus fail. Such analogies fail to understand the unity of the Trinity, of how God the Father worked out His plan of salvation (see Is 53:10, Acts 2:22-23) and how the Son willingly came to give His own life (Gal 1:3-4, Eph 5:1-2, Heb 10.) Just as Joseph was sent to help his brothers, so too Jesus was sent to help us, but He went willingly, praying for God’s will to be done. We can be grateful that our atonement is secured through His sacrifice on the cross (1 John 4:9-10) and can learn much about our deliverance as we ponder the way God spoke to and used Joseph.