Snapshots: Day 31
The Snapshot: “Israel loved Joseph more.” So often we cannot foresee the consequences of our attitudes and our actions, but when we look down from above (Eph 2:6) we see something incredible, the hidden hand of God moving to fulfill His purposes, taking even our folly and using it for good. But for the moment, all is quiet and the drama has not been unfolded and so we do not know what is to come. We think we understand it (Mt 16:22), we think we can handle it (Mt 26:33) but we don’t and we can’t. But that does not deter Him, He knows what He is doing and, before the end, salvation will be poured out to Israel – and to us. Israel, Peter, me, we’re all a bit clueless and have just got to learn to trust Him, for He is not. In the quiet before the storm and in the storm.
Further Consideration: We need to unpack Jacob’s (Israel’s) feelings about Joseph. Jacob had been tricked into marrying both of Laban’s daughters but his love had really only been for Rachel. Then there was the expectation of children. Leah the other wife had four sons, Rachel none. In desperation she gave her servant girl to Jacob, and she bore two sons. Leah joined the competition and gave her servant girl and she bore two sons. Leah then had two more sons and a daughter. There are ten sons and a daughter and only then did Rachel conceive and Joseph was born. Later she gave birth to Benjamin and died in childbirth. It is no wonder, therefore that Joseph, the child of his beloved wife, should have been special to him. So much for the background, but next the consequences.
Because he favored Joseph so much, the other ten brothers hated him. (Gen 37:4) Jacob, with a lack of awareness of the family dynamics, sends Joseph out to the brothers caring for sheep, with the result that they sell Joseph to slave traders, who take him to Egypt and sell him on. Cutting a long story short he is imprisoned for fourteen years but is then released because of his powers to interpret dreams and is eventually made second most important man in Egypt, overseeing the next fourteen years of abundance of harvest and then famine. As a result of this Jacob and his family end up living in Egypt. Four hundred years later they need delivering from slavery – because they stayed on there not having returned home – by a prince-cum-shepherd called Moses, resulting in both an opportunity to clean up a dissolute land (Canaan) while revealing the immense power of God and His good intentions towards what now becomes a nation.
Favoritism may not have been the only factor in bringing all this about, but it was certainly one of them. Who knows what God can achieve despite our bumbling attempts at being good humans?