Saturday, March 08, 2008

Humanity in Sin Part 44: Joseph the Favorite Son

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on 17th February 2008 in Newton Life. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: Genesis 37:1-11

The rest of the book of Genesis from this chapter onwards shifts its focus to the life of Joseph, Jacob’s firstborn from Rachel, the only woman he ever loved. Joseph is a great example for young people of all generation to follow. Among all Jacob’s sons, Joseph was a man who truly feared and honored God and who suffered great injustice in his life.

Everything in the life of Jacob seemed to be passive ever since he went to the house of Laban. He did not plan to have multiple wives but it happened to him, and from 4 women 12 sons were borne to him. When Joseph was born, however, Jacob became active again. He loved Joseph actively, and loved him more than he loved all his other sons.

Jacob’s favoritism towards Joseph bred hatred among his siblings. Fair treatment is the most basic expectation that children have towards their parents. Parents need to be careful and sensitive to the psychology of their children. Unfairness led to another injustice, where Joseph was hated by his brothers not because of what he had done, but simply because he was specially loved by their father.

As though God was putting him on trial, Joseph had dreams regarding the future. He received special revelation from God. His dreams had special significance in the Old Testament as it unveiled God’s plan for Israel. When he told his dreams to his brothers, they hated him all the more as it seemed to put him at a superior position than all of them. His brothers were not willing to accept it because of their selective perception, although what Joseph told them was revelation from God. They looked down on Joseph because he was younger and could not accept that one day he would rule over them. Jacob, however, kept the matter in his mind. As Christians, we need to learn to listen to the truth even when it causes a lot of discomfort. If we cannot understand it now, we can keep it in our mind, which might prove true and important some time in the future.

Among our sins there is one that we always ignore. That is self-confidence in our self-righteousness. We continually seek reasons to justify ourselves. This is horrifying. We do not know where we have gone wrong and treat wrong things as right and continue to find reasons to support our theory. So the more we think, the more right we think we are.

From this short passage, we should learn not to despise the young and be open to God’s ways which are often beyond our imagination.


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