Community Group Study “Genesis: the Tattletale, a Robe and Some Dreams”
Read Genesis 37:1-11
We all naturally wonder where God is during some of the roughest moments of our life. At times we will endure betrayal from a friend, unexpected losses of jobs, car accidents and chronic pain. We wish we can flash forward and see how things will turn out and if God really does work together good for those who love him and are called according to his purposes (Romans 8:28). Joseph likely would go through some incredibly rough situations at the hands of those closest to him like being sold into slavery by his brothers, falsely accused of assault and being forgotten by people he helped set free. It would take years for God to show Joseph why he went through all of it and what God was doing through it. Joseph’s story is one of providence and reconciliation and throughout our focus in the life of Joseph we will see God transform the character of Joseph and his brother Judah. We will see God’s care for his people and his ability to use human events, sinful actions and people’s personalities for the good of his plan. Finally we will see the hard and difficult road of forgiveness and reconciliation lived out.
Joseph’s story starts with a tattletale moment, a royal robe and two dreams. He was the second youngest son in the family of Jacob and Joseph apparently had the job of caring for the flock of the family alongside some of the other brothers. One day Joseph ratted on his brothers, but not just any brothers, the sons of the servants Bilhah and Zilpah (Genesis 37:2). The text highlights this because it is likely that these sons were treated differently since they were not the sons of Leah or Rachel. This information is given to us to help us see that there is already tension in this family. To make matters worse, Jacob favors Jospeh and “loved him more than any other of his sons”. Jacob made Jospeh a coat of “many colors” or what can also be translated a “finely ornamented coat”. This isn’t just a flashy piece f fabric, instead it appears that Jacob made him a royal robe, a symbol that he would pass the family blessing on to Jospeh, his favorite. Robe imagery will be important in the story of Joseph beginning with this robe, then the robe that gets left in the hands of Potiphars’ wife and finally the robe Pharoah puts on Josephs shoulders later on. The brothers naturally responded to this first robe with hatred for Joseph. They were in an impossible situation. Joseph’s arrogance made him difficult to like and their fathers favoritism created division in the family. This hatred will escalate throughout these verses; if you look at Genesis 37:4, 5, 8 and 11 you can see clearly that there were not a lot of warm fuzzy feelings in the family for this kid.
Part of this growing hatred for Joseph were the dreams God gave him. There are three sets of dreams that define Joseph’s life and the first set of them come in this passage. In these first dreams, Joseph is given an image of the future of his life where his brothers and father would come and bow down before him. It appears that God is giving him a picture to help him for the difficult road ahead. Joseph showed off some youthful arrogance though as he boasted about these dreams and his family takes offense at the idea of Joseph being exalted to rule over them… even though he is already wearing that special coat.
As the story of God unfolds in the life of Joseph we will see God direct and guide him through dreams, we will see Joseph grow in his character and see how God is in control of life events and uses human actions including the brothers’ jealousy, Joseph’s pride and his father’s favoritism to bring about good for the people of God and the world. God will ultimately use Joseph to save the Israelites physically but to also spiritually by separating them from the Canaanites and by also teaching them to love one another. As observers and learners to these events we will see God’s loving hand in our lives and be compelled to think about things like forgiveness and reconciliation to even people who have sought our harm.
Main idea: God gives Joseph two dreams to help him trust God along the difficult road ahead. God will work out good in Joseph’s life even through human failings like his arrogance, Jacob’s favoritism and his brother’s hatred. This means that, because of Jesus we too, can trust God to providentially provide for us.
At your community group:
Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.
How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week?
Read Genesis 37:1-11
We are told that Jacob favored Joseph, what examples do we see of this in the text. What character flaws did that bring out in Joseph and how did the other brothers respond?
What is the main point behind both of the dreams that Joseph receives from God? Do you believe that Joseph was being prideful or arrogant by sharing his dreams?
One of the sub themes of the Joseph story is all the humility that comes into his life through suffering. He will be betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused and forgotten by people he helped. Why is pride or arrogance so dangerous to someone like Joseph and why would God want to humble someone like Joseph before putting him into a place of leaders? What happens when people have power but not humility?
How did this sermon focus on the idea of providence? Can you define it as a group? Based on the passage and the sermon, what are some things we learned about God that can give us hope as we are in the middle of difficult times?