This is a weekly guest devotion written by my mother, Estelene. Each week she shares with us scripture as well as a short devotion to encourage us.
God has a plan for all his children. I believe there are times in our lives when we are disobedient to God’s plan and we have to pay the consequences. Then there are other times when we have been obedient yet we still face painful trials whether they are part of God’s plan or not. But what is so beautiful and amazing is when God says, “Now watch me take this painful trial or what was meant for evil and turn it in to something good.”
Today’s devotion is the beginning of a story that is a great example of a deed that was meant for harm, even revenge, but was eventually turned in to something rather miraculous. Let’s begin.
Now his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, and Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.”
“Very well,” he replied.
So he said to him, “Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.” Then he sent him off from the valley of Hebron.
When Joseph arrived at Shechem, a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, “What are you looking for?”
He replied, “I’m looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?”
“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 desert, 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 richly ornamented robe he was wearing—and they took him and threw him into the cistern. Now 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 ornamented robe back to their father and said, “We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.”
He recognized it and said, “It is my son’s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.”
Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “in mourning will I go down to the grave to my son.” So his father wept for him.
Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard. Genesis 37:12-36
You may be wondering how anything good could come from a tragic situation such as this one. I don’t know if this was God’s plan or not, but I do know that he used it to save the lives of many people.
These brothers were Joseph’s half-brothers, and they were so jealous of him that as soon as they saw him coming toward them, they plotted to kill him. Reuben wanted to spare his younger brother’s life, but he didn’t have the guts to stand up for Joseph. Instead, he strongly suggested that they throw him into a dry cistern with the intention to pull him out of the cistern later when his other brothers were not present and then take him home.
The Bible does not say why Reuben and some of his other brothers were not around when the caravan of Ishmaelites were passing by, but it leads us to believe that they weren’t because they did not know that Judah and some of his brothers had sold Joseph for twenty shekels (about 8 ounces) of silver. I am sure they were tending their flock nearby.
When Reuben returned to save Joseph and saw that he was not in the cistern, what was his main concern? Was it Joseph’s wellbeing? No. He was concerned about what was going to happen to himself. Since he was the firstborn, he was afraid his father would hold him responsible. So he came up with a plan to deceive his father by saying that he and his brothers found a robe that was ripped to shreds and soaked with blood. It could only mean one thing and that was a ferocious animal had attacked and killed Joseph.
Do you remember who else was a deceiver? All I can say is the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Remember this the next time you contemplate doing something that is not quite on the up and up. How will it affect your children?
Can you imagine how grieved Jacob (God had changed his name to Israel) must have been to think that his favorite son was viciously torn to pieces by an animal? He said that he would go to his grave mourning over the loss of his son, Joseph.
No doubt Joseph’s journey to Egypt was a horrible experience. His hands and feet were probably chained as he walked through the desert on his 30-day journey. But right at the end of our devotion today we get a glimpse of how God is working in and through the life of Joseph.
Join me next week as Joseph arrives in Egypt.