Genesis 37:1-13 – DIARY OF A DYSFUNCTIONAL FATHER

Posted: May 28, 2019 in Genesis, Genesis 37
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Hey! That’s me in that story!

Genesis 37:1-13 – DIARY OF A DYSFUNCTIONAL FATHER

I imagine that this is the extended diary Jacob kept about the story of his son, Joseph, extrapolated from the Biblical narrative. 

Jacob: We are moving back to Bethlehem, in Hebron. Abraham my grandfather lived here. This is the place where my family nurtured a relationship with God. This perhaps is where I will find peace and die. 

Will I die without seeing the promises of God fulfilled in my life? 

I am now one hundred and eight years old and God has promised me this land of Canaan, but we are still essentially squatters. How God will fulfil His promise is still a mystery to me as it has been to my grandfather and father before me. All I know is that I can trust in the promises of God. I will not let go. 

What do I know about faith? 

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. I hope that through my faith I will be a good example to my descendants. It is impossible to please God without faith.  

It was by faith that my grandfather Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did my father Isaac and now I have inherited the same promise.  

By faith, my grandfather’s wife, Sarah, was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise. And so a whole nation will come from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them. They died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it.  

How can I have faith when my family is so dysfunctional? 

I have been an absent father in many respects, uninvolved in the lives of my children. I was shocked by the events in Shechem, with the rape of my daughter, Dinah, but I was selfish and afraid and even entertained the thought I could somehow trade and intermarry my daughter with the prince of Shechem, a wicked man. My sons took control and wreaked a heavy vengeance upon the town of Shechem. I still cannot believe that they slaughtered all the men of the village of Shechem and took the women and children into captivity.  

I have lost control and respect, yet God somehow protected my dysfunctional family. Deception, vengeance and murder, slavery and adultery! Why does he continue to care about us? It seems once I expressed faith in Him, He continues to show that He is faithful to me, despite my many flaws. With such faithfulness, I can only ask Him, “What can I do to change things? 

I grew up in a dysfunctional household myself, with constant tensions between me and my twin brother, Esau. I deceived my brother into giving me his birthright and my father into giving me the family blessing.  

Is there any hope for a future? 

I have no idea of how to father my children. Out of all my sons, I see promise particularly in my firstborn from Rachel. He is not my oldest child, since I have 4 wives and children before him, but I have decided that he is the only one I can trust, apart from Benjamin, my youngest, perhaps. I have been trying my best to train up Joseph to take over the leadership of the family when I die.  

I know this creates tensions between my wives and my others sons? I fear further rebellion from my sons so I have instructed Joseph to keep a careful watch of what is happening in the family. I then discuss leadership issues with Joseph to help him. 

Joseph doesn’t have any authority as yet. He is only 17 years old and his other brothers are much older. Reuben is 29, Benjamin is 8. The others between 18-29  

I have Joseph working for his half brothers Gad, Asher, Dan and Naphtali, my sons from Bilhah and Zilpah, looking after my sheep. I could never have him work with Leah’s sons who were so ruthless in Shechem.  

Joseph seems to have a strong sense of discernment, knowing what is right and wrong. Most of all, he has a faith in God. I desire so much for him to have integrity and wisdom, characteristics I have lacked in my lifetime. Unfortunately, my mistakes are evident in the rebellious attitudes of my other sons.  

Who can I entrust my family to when I die? 

I intend to give Joseph the family blessing and double inheritance of my wealth. He is the only one who shows that he can take up the leadership and priesthood of our family. I doubt if he’ll gain their respect immediately, but I leave that in God’s hands. 

Reuben has desecrated his right to the leadership of our family business. God isn’t impressed with the firstborn sons who have no respect for marriage. He thought he could usurp my authority by sleeping with one of my concubines. My outrage is lasting. 

Just because you are born into a family whose parents have faith in God doesn’t make you automatically a believer. It requires a personal decision. What hope does my family have unless they respond to the invitation of God and have their own personal encounter with God. 

TO BE CONTINUED…

Pastor Ross

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