Thursday, April 18, 2013

Favoritism or Favor?

Genesis 37:2-5 - ... Joseph, when he was seventeen years old, was shepherding the flock with his brothers; the lad was with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s [secondary] wives ... Now Israel (Jacob) loved Joseph more than all his children because he was the son of his old age, and he made him a [distinctive] long tunic with sleeves. 4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved [Joseph] more than all of his brothers, they hated him and could not say, Peace [in friendly greeting] to him or speak peaceably to him. 5 Now Joseph had a dream...
If television/media wanted a good juicy story with infertility, jealousy, favoritism, sibling rivalry, scandal, attempted murder, imprisonment, wealth & riches, rise to power and salvation of a nation because of one man's dream, they would not have to look any further than the story of Joseph. What a story!

Let's take a look at two people. Jacob & Joseph. By the end I want you to answer the question of, Whom do you most relate too? Let's take a look at the story and a few dangers before we really dig down to the main premise.

The age of today's High School senior, 17 years old, Joseph was doing the menial things of life. Nothing real special or elite, he was tending flock. He was out in a field, herding them, making sure they stayed together, making sure none wandered off. At some points of the day, he most likely sat on a rock watching them, completely bored as they ate grass, no iPhone to look at and check his FaceBook, no AngryBird game to play. He just sat. Sat looking at sheep. But, Joseph had a dream. He was given a dream by God. Ultimately, his dream revealed his brothers and parents bowing down to him. If Joseph did anything wrong, it was telling his brothers his dream, which in his dream he was positioned himself in a place of authority, favor and power over them.

Now, unfortunately, if we really wanted to pin Joseph's problems on someone, we could look back to his father, Jacob (Israel). Because of his love, Jacob was the main contributor to setting his son on a path of hardship. "Love?" You may ask? How could love set someone on the path of hardship? Jacob's love moved from not only love, but to favoritism. Favoritism brought Joseph down to the pit. Thankfully, in the end, God's Favor brought Joseph to the palace.

The short version back story, Joseph was the first son to Jacob's favorite, most beloved wife, Rachel. Because Joseph was Rachel's son, born in Jacobs old age, Jacob loved him more than ALL his other children. In the eyes of Joseph's older brothers, their father didn't even see them through the love he had for Joseph. Joseph was the fair-haired child, the loved, the favorite.

Think about how you are with your own father. What is it, growing up & now as an adult, that you have always desired the most? I don't know what it is with children and their fathers, but I would bet you would say one of the following: to make dad really proud, for dad to love me, to have attention from dad, for dad to spend time with me. Something about a son or daughter, making their father proud is one of the most important life goals I think most of us have.

Here in the story of Joseph, we see all Jacobs son's, born before Joseph, and they ALL recognize that they are NOT their father's favorite. They see "Dad" pouring all this love and affection into their younger brother. They see "Dad" giving their younger brother special gifts, the greatest of the gifts extremely & very evident to show the partiality. It's an elaborate, colorful, very decorated coat from Hollister. (Ok, maybe it wasn't Hollister... but it was so cool, it was the Hollister of that day!) This coat, given to Joseph, set him apart. So.... what began to happen in the hearts of Joseph's older brothers? They began to get bitter. They began to have malice in their hearts, hatred. All from a parent doing ONE dangerous thing, Showing Favoritism! Favoritism that eventually led to a plot of murder!

What if Jacob would not have shown favoritism? What if he would not have set Joseph up for this "so-called" journey of unfortunate events? His brothers throwing him in a well to die, staging his death by bringing his coat to "Dad" with animal blood on it, saying Joseph was killed by an animal. We all know what happened next, sure Joseph, was mourned by his father, but Josephs brothers ultimately ended up selling him as a slave to the Midianites. From slavery, the journey began. Sold to Potiphar, promoted to supervisor over Potiphar's house, wrongfully accused of attempted sexual advancements to Potiphar's wife, imprisoned for years, while in prison promoted as "Head" of the prisoners, then ultimately elevated to 2nd in charge to only Pharoah, after interpreting Pharoah's dream. A fairytale ending, right?

What would have happened if JACOB, if DAD, would not have positioned Joseph to be the HATED little brother? How uncomfortable for Joseph. He probably just wanted his brothers to like him, instead they couldn't even say a nice "Hello." Joseph was put in a place of hatred by his family, by ALL his brothers. What if Jacob, Dad, would have shown ALL of the brothers equal love? I dare say that Joseph could have avoided years and years of hardship, maybe even enjoyed growing up with fond memories of his brothers.

Granted, yes, we do know Romans 8:28 worked out in Joseph's favor, all things worked together for Josephs good. But, WHAT IF, Joseph's dad would not have showed that favoritism? The end of the story, Joseph was 2nd in command over ALL of Egypt and was able to be directed from the Lord how to SAVE the nation from the famine that was about to happen.

Who do you most relate with?

  • Jacob. Are you SHOWING favoritism on someone. Through your love, are you setting someone up for ultimate hardship? Be it from their siblings, or peers? Has the depths of your love, elevated to favoritism? It's not to late to repent and ask for forgiveness!  (James 2:9 - But if you show servile regard (prejudice, favoritism) for people, you commit sin and are rebuked and convicted by the Law as violators and offenders.) 
  • Joseph. - Now Joseph had a dream... - Do you have a dream?! Does your dream feel like something that is so great and so big it's overwhelming? Friend, allow God to lead and direct you in this dream. No matter how big or how small, no matter what you are going through right now... maybe you feel like you are in the pit? Maybe you feel like you are imprisoned by a job you despise. Maybe you have been wrongfully accused, and through all your work of excellence, you've been stripped of your dignity. Friend, wherever it is that you are at right now, PRESS ON! Do you realize that YOU could be on the path to SAVING A NATION!?!? You could be on a path, as ugly as it may look right now, YOU could be on the path of CHANGING HISTORY! Press on! Do you have a dream? Friend, PRESS ON! Don't let that dream die within you. Pursue that dream and allow GOD to elevate you to a place of favor!
Who do you relate to? Are you the one showing Favoritism, Jacob? Or are you the one allowing God to elevate you to favor, Joseph? It is YOUR choice who you want to relate to. If you need to, make a change today. Line up with where you know you need to be, that is in line with God!

Will you share your story? How you have experienced the results of Jacob or being the Jacob? Or the dreams of Joseph? I'd love to hear from you! 

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