Journeys with Joseph
This week we pick up where we left off last Sunday in the unfolding saga of Joseph. Last Sunday, we read in Genesis that Joseph shared his dreams of ruling over his family. Using the imagery of sheaves of grain and the sun, moon and stars, the message is very clear; you should bow down to me. Naturally, his brothers are not pleased that their younger brother thinks he should be in charge of them. In this week’s reading those same brothers, filled with resentment, make a plan to kill Joseph and then throw him in a pit so that he will never be found. In the end, they decide not to kill him, but they do throw him in a pit.
Have you ever felt as though you have been thrown in a pit? All of us have ups and down, our lives ebb and flow. We have all had times of struggle where we feel as though we have hit the bottom. Maybe for you it was a sudden and immediate event that drug you to the bottom of what felt like a pit. Something like the end of a significant relationship or job, a life-changing medical diagnosis, or the death of a loved one. All of these and many more have a way of immediately pulling us down into a pit of despair and lost hope.
Or maybe it was more gradual, like a slow drip over time. But one day you realize that you have been slowly sliding into a pit. You aren’t sure when it started or even how you got to the bottom, you just know that you are at the bottom. Perhaps it was a slide into depression or addiction, maybe the gradual yet persistent weight of a political or social climate. Over time you simply find yourself at the bottom.
There are plenty of figures in Scripture where people find themselves in a hole. Daniel finds himself in a den with lions, Jonah is swallowed into the belly of a fish, and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego fall into a fiery furnace. The belly of a fish, the lion’s den, the fiery furnace and a pit are never the end of the story. In all cases, God acts and the people find themselves delivered from those places. The same is true not only for Joseph, but also for you.
-Pastor Elizabeth Nees
One day when Joseph’s brothers had taken the sheep to a pasture near Shechem, 13 his father Jacob said to him, “I want you to go to your brothers. They are with the sheep near Shechem.”
“Yes, sir,” Joseph answered. 14 His father said, “Go and find out how your brothers and the sheep are doing. Then come back and let me know.” So he sent him from Hebron Valley. Joseph was near Shechem 15 and wandering through the fields, when a man asked, “What are you looking for?” 16 Joseph answered, “I’m looking for my brothers who are watching the sheep. Can you tell me where they are?” 17 “They’re not here anymore,” the man replied. “I overheard them say they were going to Dothan.” Joseph left and found his brothers in Dothan. 18 But before he got there, they saw him coming and made plans to kill him. 19 They said to one another, “Look, here comes the hero of those dreams! 20 Let’s kill him and throw him into a pit and say that some wild animal ate him. Then we’ll see what happens to those dreams.”
21 Reuben heard this and tried to protect Joseph from them. “Let’s not kill him,” he said. 22 “Don’t murder him or even harm him. Just throw him into a dry well out here in the desert.” Reuben planned to rescue Joseph later and take him back to his father.