Sermon – February 8, 2015

Dysfunctional Families of the Old TestamentDysfunctional Indeed“, by Rev. Tom Duley

Sermon Series: Dysfunctional Families of the Old Testament

To say that we human beings can get ourselves twisted into knots of violence and destruction is an understatement. In fact, it would not be overstating the case to say that we are addicted to visiting violence and destruction on one another. A cursory glance of the headlines on any given day will reveal just how deeply addicted we are. Violence and destruction fueled by jealousy and hatred is everywhere it seems.

We would like to think that that sort of thing doesn’t happen in families. We like to think of families as havens of acceptance, love, and support. But when we are honest we know that families are subject to hatred and destruction. There are times when parents favor one child over another; times when siblings grow to hate one another; times when we see other family members as our competition rather than our support. When these conditions exist they sometimes lead to the unthinkable.

We encounter a family given to violence and destruction in the Biblical text for today. Joseph antagonized his brothers so much that they grew to hate him. Theirs was a profound hatred; a hatred so deep that they wanted to kill him. However, in the end they settled for selling him into slavery. They were determined to exact violence and destruction on their own brother. Today we’ll look at why that happened. We’ll also talk about some things that we can do to insure that it doesn’t happen in our families.

~Tom Duley

The Word

Genesis 37:2-11, 20-28

This is the story of the family of Jacob.

Joseph, being seventeen years old, was shepherding the flock with his brothers; he was a helper to the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.

Once Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream that I dreamed. There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright; then your sheaves gathered around it, and bowed down to my sheaf.” His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Are you indeed to have dominion over us?” So they hated him even more because of his dreams and his words.

He had another dream, and told it to his brothers, saying, “Look, I have had another dream: the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him, and said to him, “What kind of dream is this that you have had? Shall we indeed come, I and your mother and your brothers, and bow to the ground before you?” So his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” But when Reuben heard it, he delivered him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.” Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but lay no hand on him”—that he might rescue him out of their hand and restore him to his father. So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore; and they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.

Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels carrying gum, balm, and resin, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers agreed. When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.

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