THE LAST STRAW
Lord, you are “compassionate and gracious” (Psa. 103:8). I breathe in Your kindness and breathe out Your praise.
Read Genesis 37:12–36
12 Now his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, 13 and Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.”
“Very well,” he replied.
14 So he said to him, “Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.” Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron.
When Joseph arrived at Shechem, 15 a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, “What are you looking for?”
16 He replied, “I’m looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?”
17 “They have moved on from here,” the man answered. “I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’”
So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. 18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.
19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. 20 “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”
21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. 22 “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father.
23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing— 24 and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it.
25 As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.
26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.
28 So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.
29 When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes. 30 He went back to his brothers and said, “The boy isn’t there! Where can I turn now?”
31 Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. 32 They took the ornate robe back to their father and said, “We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.”
33 He recognized it and said, “It is my son’s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.”
34 Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.” So his father wept for him.
36 Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.
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.
“Sow a thought and you reap an act, sow an act and you reap a habit, sow a habit and you reap a character, sow a character and you reap a destiny” (source unknown). Joseph’s brothers let their negativity towards Joseph take over. A cautionary reminder for us.
“How did that happen?” you ask. “It was just a joke, a missed call, a broken promise, and everything fell apart.” Yet rarely is it just a misunderstanding or simple mistake. Long-term resentment, combined with bad timing or impulsive action, is a cocktail that can lead to catastrophic consequences.
How could Jacob ever have imagined what would happen when he sent Joseph to check up on his brothers? Some 62 miles away in the remote countryside, the brothers feel unleashed from their father’s scrutiny. That is, until pesky Joseph shows up in his designer coat. It is a wonder he finds them in that vast terrain and that he arrives safely. Now, however, after all the jealousy and annoyance, the years of family feuding and hatred, the sight of him is the last straw. What once was mere wishful thinking to be rid of him becomes possible as they make one outrageous suggestion after another. Prospect becomes plot and opportunity when a group of traders pass by. It seems like a win-win situation. They don’t need to kill Joseph; they can dispose of him lucratively. In the absence of Reuben, the eldest, who is more responsible and may want to ingratiate himself once again with his father, the brothers sell their father’s favorite as a slave.
It’s like a game of billiards, when carefully positioned balls fail to end up where we planned. A moment of madness or an alluring opportunity, loosened inhibitions or group irresponsibility: any of these can land us in situations we would not have chosen in the cool light of day. Slow-burning anger can be as dangerous as fiery outburst. A family’s life is changed forever. And yet… who would have thought? Our God is not fazed by our decisions and disasters. They may be redeemed under his providential care.
The cruelty of Joseph’s brothers not only hurt Joseph but also Jacob. Our actions have repercussions. Who have you hurt and how can you make it right?
Intervening God, I know sometimes my actions or inaction has caused hurt to others. I ask for Your enabling, to help me reach a new maturity in my actions and reactions.