“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. But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. “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.” When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. “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. So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing— and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it. 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. Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood?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. 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. When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes. He went back to his brothers and said, “The boy isn’t there! Where can I turn now?” Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. 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.” – Genesis 37: 17-31
This passage resonates with me…I tend to think of myself as a bit of a dreamer. I am always having ideas and theories about how things could be done. As Lewis Carol put it in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Joseph, Jacob’s favorite son, was not liked by his brothers. They lacked his posture and perspective toward God.
This passage is a good example of humans using something that God intended for good and blessing, the cistern to collect rainwater, for evil and cursing. The cistern would typically be a “God send” for the people in the desert providing water during times of drought, but to Joseph’s brothers it was merely a convenient location to hide their sin. The primary sin which his brothers were guilty of is covetousness. They wanted what Joseph had. The brother’s were not content with who they were and felt the need to “put Joseph in his place”. It just so happened that the cistern was dry and God had other plans.
Humans have an amazing ability to take what was given by God for good and blessing and turn it toward evil. I am reminded of inventions like atomic power and electricity. Why do we misuse the blessings God gives us? I think it comes down to perspective and posture. We lack God’s perspective and we have a posture which places our needs and purposes above God’s. How do we keep the proper perspective and posture? I think we have to continually be “checking our posture”. What is our perspective? Are we looking toward God or in the mirror? Does our posture put us in a position to see blessings and ways that those blessings can be shared?
Prayer: God help us to maintain the proper perspective and posture so that we can recognize your blessings and use them for your purposes.