Genesis 37-38: And So the Dreamer Comes!
January 17, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
And so the dreamer comes! The well-known story surrounding Joseph’s life is filled with intrigue and drama from start to finish. Perhaps rather unwisely, Joseph begins (boldly?) to share his dreams of his preeminence over his brothers with his brothers (37:5-10), and not only that he also shares his dreams of his preeminence over his parents with his father (37:10)! Here is someone who has big vision and is going places, in this case inspired by God with dreams that will come true, and yet it inevitably leads to jealousy from his brothers (37:11). Dad does not help (37:3-4): favoritism is almost the bête noir of the families of the ancient times. Let it be remembered to love all your children and not favor one, for unequal love can cause damage even to the one you most want to do well in life.
Joseph, obedient to his father, makes a long journey to see how his brothers are doing (37:12-17). He’s already given one “bad report” to his father about them (37:2), so maybe they looked on him as a bit of a snitch and did not take kindly to him when they saw him walking towards them (37:18). “Here comes the dreamer!” (38:19). They mean to kill him (37:18, 20), but are prevented from doing so first by Reuben who suggests throwing Joseph into a pit (37:21-24), and then by Judah who convinces his brothers to sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites (37:25-28). Reuben is mortified when he returns to the pit and finds Joseph missing (37:29-30).
But off Joseph goes (37:28). So much for his dreams. Jacob is in despair, believing Joseph is dead (37:31-33), determined to grieve until he dies (37:34-35). (Were his other children wondering whether he would have grieved as much over them?) And the story of Joseph, in the skillful narration of the author of Genesis, is given a brief hiatus, so that we can see the true character of Judah (Gen. 38).
It’s not a pretty sight. Without fleshing out the details which are plain on the page that you are reading, the sin of Onan was that he was not fulfilling the “levirate” marriage duties (38:8-10). It was a refusal to protect the seed (38:9), the promised child that would come through this line of much-needing-to-be-rescued people.
Of course, Joseph is a redeemer figure, a hero figure, whose story will point us to the true Redeemer to come. And yet, at the same time, even Tamar, by contrast, through emphasizing our need of saving, does the same. Matthew 1 tells the genealogy of the Christ which includes four controversial women, Tamar herself being in the line of the coming Messiah King (Matthew 1:3).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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