Insight of the Week

Israel’s Favorite Son

When you were a child, were you considered mom or dad’s favorite? (If you were an only child, please don’t answer that). Or were you often compared to your brother or sister who was a model of success, while you struggled to gain acceptance? According to Genesis 37:3-4, Joseph’s father “loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.”

I imagine this made for some rather awkward family meals.

Joseph led a truly amazing life. You would think that all the stories and victories written about him meant the Messiah would obviously come from his line, right? Wrong. Jesus was in fact a descendant of Judah, not Joseph. So why include all these pages about Joseph in Scripture? I’ll give you two good reasons: 1) His life is worthy of emulation, and 2) His time in Egypt was a necessary introduction to Israel’s eventual exodus.

We read he was hated by his brothers, treated harshly by them, separated from them, and ultimately sold into slavery. All because he had the audacity to dream! So you would think he would grow into an angry, bitter, resentful man…only he didn’t. We don’t know exactly why Joesph shared his grandiose dreams with his brothers, but it certainly seems possible that he knew he was on a leadership track. It’s likely Joseph recognized God had some major plans for him. And like Isaiah, more than 1,200 years later, he engendered an attitude of “Here am I. Send me!”

Joseph was Jacob’s (also named “Israel”) favorite son. No doubt it was tough for his eleven brothers to accept that. Like them, we battle the demons of envy and jealousy, don’t we? How might we change that moving forward? How do we genuinely celebrate the success of another? As usual, Scripture offers good advice:

Prov 14:30 – A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.

James 3:16 – For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

If someone shares his dreams or aspirations with you this week, instead of rolling your eyes or offering a perfunctory reply, say something like, “That’s great! I pray God works through you in ways we never thought possible.”

In Christ Alone,

-Matt