Life of Joseph – Part 4 – The Brothers’ Plot

This is a part of Joseph’s story that bothers me. Not that other parts of his story don’t . . . but the first truth I find in these verses is one of the big “Why’s” I wrestle with at times. I think a lot of us do.

It’s a hard truth. But it’s right here in the scriptures.

Genesis 37:12-18

New English Translation (NET)

12 When his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, 13 Israel said to Joseph, “Your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I will send you to them.” “I’m ready,” Joseph replied. 14 So Jacob said to him, “Go now and check on the welfare of your brothers and of the flocks, and bring me word.” So Jacob sent him from the valley of Hebron.

15 When Joseph reached Shechem, a man found him wandering in the field, so the man asked him, “What are you looking for?” 16 He replied, “I’m looking for my brothers. Please tell me where they are grazing their flocks.” 17 The man said, “They left this area, for I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.

18 Now Joseph’s brothers saw him from a distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.

Joseph’s father sends him to check on his brothers and the sheep they’re tending and report back to him. When Joseph finally finds the brothers, they recognize him from a distance (could it possibly have been the multi-colored, full-length robe his father gave him?!?) and they plot to KILL JOSEPH.

That’s how much they hated Joseph and resented their father’s favoritism toward him.

This first truth is the hard one I was talking about.

Truth #1: Even when we’re obeying our Father, trouble and tragedy can happen to us.

That’s tough. It’s a hard truth to live with.

But I think it gets even harder to live with when we hear preaching and teaching telling us that if we’re in the center of God’s will, everything’s going to be fine. And I agree. It will be . . . eventually. But that doesn’t mean we’re immune to LIFE. REAL LIFE. Life that can include suffering and death and heartache and betrayal and financial collapse and natural disasters and terrorist bombings and car accidents and miscarriages and affairs and wayward children.

Being in close relationship with God and being obedient to Him doesn’t protect us FROM those things. But it does protect us IN those things and THROUGH those things.

I’ve seen a lot of Facebook posts where people have asked for prayer for a certain situation. When it turns out like they wanted it to, they’ll post: God is Good!  And that’s true. God IS good. But God isn’t good only when He answers our prayers like we want Him to. God is good. Period. Even when the answer isn’t what we wanted. Or even when we don’t get an answer for years.

And that’s a tough truth. One that Joseph had to learn the hard way at a very young age.

The second truth is one that’s convicting for me as a parent.

Truth #2: Some of the things we “hang” on our children make them easy targets for their enemies.

I think that sometimes, in making sure our children know how special they are and how much we love them, we can make them feel like they’re more special than others.

We can give them so much to show them our love that they can grow up believing they deserve special treatment.

We can also shelter them so much in order to protect them that they grow up not being able to recognize danger.

And sometimes I wonder if the way we treat them growing up sets them up for a life of depression and disappointment because things aren’t as “good” as they used to be.

Jacob gave Joseph a special garment because he loved him so much. And I’m sure it made Joseph feel very special and very loved every time he put it on. But it had a very different effect on his relationships with his peers. It didn’t make them love him or respect him. Instead it made him an easy target for them.

I have to take this one step further. Sometimes God’s favor on our lives makes us an easy target for our enemies, too. And sometimes those “enemies” are members of our “family”, too. Just like Joseph, we don’t get God’s favor because of anything we do to deserve it. His favor comes just because of His love for us. But like Joseph, it can also bring unwanted attention and make us an easy target for anyone looking for a reason to plot against us.

Application Questions:

When has trouble or tragedy come into my life while I was being obedient to and living close to God? How did I respond?

What have I hung on my child(ren)? How well have I prepared them for life?

Life of Joseph – Part 3 – The Dreamer

Starting with this post, I’m going to stop sharing the Facts found in each scripture passage. I’m sure you probably come up with the same Facts that I do . . . except yours are probably a lot less wordy than mine!

So I’ll just share the Truths that I learn and the Application Questions I come up with. And then if I have any personal commentary on what I learn, I’ll share that, too.

If you discover different Truths than I do, I’d love for you to share them with me in the Comments. I’ve learned a lot when I’ve done this type of Bible study with a group. There’s always someone at a different point in life than me and God speaks to them about where they are. But He’s also used what they learned in my own life, too. So please share!

Today we’re going to cover a couple of paragraphs–about the same topic.  Here’s Genesis 37:5-11:

New English Translation (NET)

Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him even more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: There we were, binding sheaves of grain in the middle of the field. Suddenly my sheaf rose up and stood upright and your sheaves surrounded my sheaf and bowed down to it!” Then his brothers asked him, “Do you really think you will rule over us or have dominion over us?” They hated him even more because of his dream and because of what he said.

Then he had another dream, and told it to his brothers. “Look,” he said. “I had another dream. The sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10 When he told his father and his brothers, his father rebuked him, saying, “What is this dream that you had? Will I, your mother, and your brothers really come and bow down to you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept in mind what Joseph said.


God sometimes uses dreams or visions to speak to us about His plans for our lives.

All dreams don’t need to be shared with everyone.

Continually sharing the dreams God gives us with people can cause or magnify relationship problems.

Even our biggest fans aren’t always supportive of our God-given dreams.


What dreams has God given me about my future?

Who have I shared them with? How often?

What relationships have I damaged by sharing too much?

Who’s my biggest fan? How do they feel about my dreams?


Just because someone mocks you for your dreams, or makes fun of your dreams, doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t BELIEVE your dreams. If they really didn’t believe, they would probably just smile and nod and move on.

But if someone gets real emotional, like Joseph’s brothers did, it possibly means they’re threatened by your dreams. They potentially see their position being endangered if your dreams actually happen.

So it’s important to be careful who we share our dreams with and how much and how often we share.

Life of Joseph – Part 2

Last week I shared with you the 3 question Bible study method, using the first verse in Genesis 37 as my example.  That started us on the journey of a close look at the life of Joseph.

Joseph is one of my favorite biblical characters. He went through so much heartache and betrayal, but didn’t let it make him bitter. And God promoted him and used him greatly.

Joseph is a wonderful example to study, especially with our children who are learning to live in an unfair world, facing challenges and temptations in our secular society, and living with the heartbreak of betrayal. Come to think of it, it’s a great story for adults as well, for all the same reasons.

Joseph’s story is a great reminder that God is always with us, even in the hard times. And that if we allow Him, He’ll use us wherever we are.

Joseph’s story is also a great reminder not to give up on the dreams God has given us. But we haven’t arrived at that part of the story just yet. Today I’m sharing my answers to the 3 questions for the next 3 verses in Joseph’s story. Here they are:

Genesis 37:2-4

New English Translation (NET)

This is the account of Jacob.

Joseph, his seventeen-year-old son, was taking care of the flocks with his brothers. Now he was a youngster working with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives. Joseph brought back a bad report about them to their father.

Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons because he was a son born to him late in life, and he made a special tunic for him. When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated Joseph and were not able to speak to him kindly.

1.  Facts:

v. 2 – Joseph (Jacob’s son) was 17, worked with his half-brothers, tended their father’s flocks. He reported to his father the bad things his brothers were doing.

v. 3 – Israel (Jacob) loved Joseph more than his other sons because he was born in his old age. He made him a distinctive robe.

v. 4 – The brothers saw their father loved Joseph more  and they hated him and couldn’t speak kindly to him.

2. Truths:

v. 2 – Families are rarely ideal.

v. 2 – Tattling takes 2 people – 1 to report and 1 to listen.

v. 3 – Parents are human.

v. 3 – Sometimes parents have favorites and it’s usually obvious to everyone around them.

v. 4 – Favoritism can stir up hatred and destroy relationships and families.

3. Application Questions:

What about my families (of origin, by marriage) isn’t ideal?

What do I need to forgive my parents for? forgive my spouse for? forgive myself for?

How has my favoritism affected relationships?

When have I been the favored one? What were the effects?

When has someone else been favored over me? What effect did that have on our relationship?

Next time, we’ll learn about Joseph’s dreams.

See you then!

The Life of Joseph – Part 1

I shared on my blog earlier this year how I learned the 3 question Bible study method as an adult. But I didn’t go into a lot of detail about it.

Recently I’ve been studying the life of Joseph using this Bible study method, so I thought I’d type up my notes and share them with you. This way you can learn the 3 questions and how to apply them to your own personal Bible study.  I’d love to hear what you think of this method and also how you like to study the scriptures.

I usually focus on a paragraph at a time. Sometimes more, sometimes less–depending on the length of the scripture involved or the amount of time I have to devote to Bible study that day. Today I think I’ll just take one verse and apply the 3 questions to it so you can get a feel for it pretty quickly.

The first thing I do when I sit down to study scripture is to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to me through the Word. I can sometimes come up with some obvious truths and applications on my own, but I want to know what God wants to teach me and what He knows I need to learn that day.

The next thing I do is read the scripture passage a few times, usually in a couple of different versions. There are a few modern translations that I really like and then I almost always read it in the Amplified version also. I like the Amplified because it doesn’t translate one word for one word. If it takes a few words in our language to describe the meaning of the word in the original language, that’s what you get. I think it gives a better picture of what’s happening in the scriptures a lot of times. At least it has helped me understand some passages that weren’t so easy to comprehend.

Then I start asking the questions.

(1) The first question is: What are the Facts? Who, what, when, where, why, and how. I’m a pretty detailed person so sometimes my answer to this question is as long as the actual scripture. But sometimes the main facts in a scripture passage can be condensed into fewer words.

(2) The second question is: What are the Truths? This goes beyond the facts. These are underlying principles that can be applied in more than just the situation in the particular passage you’re studying. They’re life lessons that can be applied to our lives today.

(3) The third question is: What are some Application Questions that will help you apply each truth to your life? This is where it gets practical. Create some questions — that can’t be answered with a yes or no — that will help you apply each truth you found in the scripture passage to your own life. This was a little difficult for me at first. But it does get easier with practice.

Here are a few things I’ve learned while using this Bible study method:

When I’ve done this in a group Bible study, we don’t all get the same truths! We all usually find the same facts . But I’ve discovered that based on what’s going on in your life, the Holy Spirit will reveal the truths that you need at that point in time.

Another thing I learned is that I don’t always find the same truths when I study the same scripture passage. It depends on what’s going on with me at that point in time as to what the Holy Spirit reveals to me.

And I’ve also seen God speak to other people in the group through what He’s revealed to just one person.

All of these show that the scriptures are ALIVE and also how important it is to pray every time before you study each scripture passage. You never know what God wants to show you or what He wants to show someone else you may share your lessons with.

So let’s tackle the first verse in our study of Joseph. The verse is Genesis 37:1. I’m going to share it in the NIV and Amplified versions.

Genesis 37:1

New International Version (NIV)

37 Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan.

Genesis 37:1

Amplified Bible (AMP)

37 So Jacob dwelt in the land in which his father had been a stranger and sojourner, in the land of Canaan.

1. What are the Facts?

Jacob settled in Canaan where his father had lived as a foreigner.

[For those who aren’t familiar with Joseph’s family: Jacob is Joseph’s father. Jacob was renamed Israel by God and is sometimes called Israel in Joseph’s story. And Jacob’s father was Isaac.]

2. What are the Truths?

Where our parents considered ‘foreign’ we make our home.

3. Application Questions:

What trails did my parents blaze for me?

Which ones have I blazed for my child(ren)?

What ‘foreign’ lands have I moved to and settled?

What journey do I need to continue?

Who do I need to show the way?

Sometimes when I’m praying and meditating on the passage and on the truths revealed to me, I also write down some of my thoughts. Here’s what I wrote down when I studied this verse–which will show you how I came up with some of the application questions.

My Commentary: Our parents (physical and spiritual) can blaze the trail and make following God easier for us. Their job is to show us the way by their example. Our job is to continue the journey and grow and show the way to others. Sometimes part of our journey is returning to the roots our parents put down.

That’s all for today. We’ll tackle a little more of Joseph’s life next time.