THE APPRENTICE DREAMER
Heavenly Father, I am grateful for the potential and privileges of today. Infuse me with wisdom so that I may make wise decisions for each hour.
Read GENESIS 37:1–11
37 Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan.
2 This is the account of Jacob’s family line.
Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.
3 Now Israel 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[a] robe for him. 4 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.
5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”
8 His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.
9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”
10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.
- Genesis 37:3 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain; also in verses 23 and 32.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘… encourage one another and build each other up … be patient with everyone.’1
Contemporary culture encourages people to dream. It peddles the delusion that any dream will do; if you believe it enough, it will come true. How different is the dream Joseph has. Coming from God, it doesn’t reveal Joseph’s personal ambition, even though that’s what his family thinks. It lays out the future God is planning, which is surprisingly different from the one his brothers assume.
Like in any new TV series, the first episode introduces the main characters. We learn a great deal about them. Joseph is young, precocious, and a telltale. Perhaps by way of explanation, the writer informs us he is a spoiled child, Daddy’s favorite, evident from the special robe his father gives to him which may even hint at royal pretensions. Could Jacob not see that his treatment of Joseph has all the potential for family friction? Jealousy boils over when Joseph reports to his brothers his dream that suggests they’d become his subordinates. A second dream indicates that his parents would also submit to him, which invites a rebuke from his doting father. Victor Hamilton comments, ‘Jacob has already bowed before his brother (33:3). Must he now bow before his son as well?’2
None come out of the story well. Joseph needs to grow up. What he believes is right, but he needs to learn to communicate the truth more wisely. Jacob needs to show greater wisdom in leading the family. The brothers need to learn patience, overcome jealousy, and trust the God who doesn’t always work in predictable ways. But what encouragement there is here! God stakes the future of the covenant on a flawed family and a young dreamer. Such is His grace. Surely that gives hope to you and me.
Who can I encourage to mature in Christ today, especially, perhaps, a young person just starting to serve Him?
Lord, I am reminded in today’s passage that You use ordinary, sinful, and broken people to accomplish Your will. Use me I pray, even if it is despite who I am.
1 1 Thess 5:11,14 2 Victor Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18–50, NICOT, Eerdmans, 1995, p411