An interesting thing about his father…he acted humanly rightly, probably to cover the family situation, when he rebuked his son (27:10). “Now, steady, steady. Can you say your mother and father are going to bow down to you?” You keep a little coolness in the family maybe, if you say that! But what does it then say? “His father observed his saying.” His brothers envied him, but his father saw something, much the same as Mary saw something coming for her son (Luke 2:19). Spirit identifies with Spirit. Flesh must fight Spirit because “the carnal mind is enmity against God.” It can only identify with its own peers which are self-loving. But Jacob knew. Jacob said, “Listen, that’s the kind of thing God said to me when I took that birthright and when I deceived Isaac.”
So time passed. I would imagine only a few weeks or months. Once again the brothers were out with the sheep. Now, it’s quite obvious they liked being with the sheep because they got away from the family influence – moral or spiritual. If we need proof of that, it is that they were supposed to be at Shechem.
Actually, they shifted to Dothan, so they got where people wouldn’t know where they were (37:12-17). You can see what they were after. Their father thought they were feeding the sheep at Shechem. Undoubtedly with the concern on him for the consistent life of the family which bears witness to the living God, he sent Joseph to know how they were getting on. Foresight might have said, “Don’t do that.” knowing the brothers’ attitude, but he had to. This family was God’s family and had to act as God’s family. They only key that the aging Jacob had was his son Joseph who took such a fearless stand. Probably Jacob thought, “Well, the one means by which God can speak His word of faithfulness and holiness to my other sons is by Joseph.” So it says he sent him: “Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy brethren, and bring me word again.” So he went.
As I say, they were hiding away, doubtless playing the devil, because Jacob said, “Do not thy brethren feed the flock in Shechem?” (37:13). When Joseph got to Shechem he couldn’t find them. He was wandering about and a certain man found him and asked, “What are you looking for?” “Oh,” he said, “I’m looking for my brethren.” Now, that shows they were known. He didn’t say who, just “my brethren”. So, plainly they were a marked family, watched by the heathen around to see whether their God was worthwhile worshipping. These men were destroying that testimony, of course. The young man said, “They are departed hence, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan’.” So you see, they slipped away. Probably the reason why they rose up in hatred, the final act of hatred when Joseph did find them, was because he found them out. They never thought they would be found there. They thought they were just playing their own games alone. Then Joseph turned up. Oh, my!
God’s purpose is that freedom fulfills itself and we do what we are to its completion. So, it was the inevitable, the murderous spirit took murderous form. It always does. God means it to be, because that’s how we find out who we are. It took these brethren fourteen years of guilt to find out. Thank God they were guilty, which shows they knew God. If they hadn’t known God, they wouldn’t have given a hoot. But they knew, thank God.
So it boiled up. He found them there. “What’ll we do with him?” they said. “Murder him,” they said. Judah didn’t say that, nor Simeon. “Let’s get rid of him. Then where will his dreams be?” Now God always leads point by point. Probably if they hadn’t intended to murder him they wouldn’t have sold him. It was such an extreme thing to sell your brother as a slave in those days. They would never see him again. He would go off with some wandering tribe to some distant country…almost incredible to think they could do it. They probably couldn’t have done it unless they had first intended to murder him. Now, is there a way out? Yes, there is a way out. “All right, we won’t murder him. We’ll sell him and then we’ll just say he’s been murdered, or eaten by a wild beast.” And that’s exactly what they did. For the moment, they were so indifferent to the sin they were committing that they sat down to eat while they put him in the pit. What should they do? It was Reuben who had advised them to put him in the pit, hoping he could rescue him. Judah, it was, when these Ishmaelites came by this traveling caravan of traders, who said, “Sell him to them”. Judah was the one who gave himself up to Joseph later on, offering to take Benjamin’s place – Judah, the one who had sold him as a slave. So this fantastic happening took place. We know of the agony, human agony, of Joseph, because it says he pleaded with them, wept with them, pleaded with them. Years later they said, “Didn’t he plead with us not to do this?” “We saw the anguish of his soul when he besought us, but we would not hear.” (42:26).
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