“And a man found him wandering in the fields. And the man asked him, “What are you seeking?” “I am seeking my brothers,” he said. “Tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.” And the man said, “They have gone away, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.'” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.”Genesis 37:15-17 ESV
Once again Joseph found himself alone, looking for his brothers. They were never where they were supposed to be. They didn’t do what was right. Once again he found himself wandering. Tired. Frustrated. Isolated. But he still went. He obeyed his father and went to find his brothers.
This was a daily thing. Joseph was highly favored by his Father Jacob. Joseph was a young man of character. Earlier in Genesis it says, “ Joseph, being seventeen years old, was pasturing the flock with his brothers. He was a boy with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives. And Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.”
Genesis 37:2-4 ESV
I’ve read this story a billion times but for the first time it occurred to me that Joseph would see his brothers doing wrong and would go back and tell his father what they did. This isn’t just little brother tattle tales type of thing. Joseph constantly witnessed his brothers doing wrong. I’m stuck on this in all of the best ways. In order for someone to know that people are doing wrong they must know the difference. Not just know the difference but believe in the differences. Joseph had to have seen his brothers neglect the flock, fool around too much or even choose a life of sin and but he didn’t join them. If he joined them his life would’ve been so much easier but instead he chose to be a young man of character. He chose to be hated by his brothers. Not just one of them, no all 10 of them. They didn’t just ignore him, they couldn’t even speak a kind word to him. Ever. But he chose his character. His character was brighter than the coat his father made for him. His character was his most valued possession.
But his character was also the thing that cost him the most in his life.
I was at a coffee shop with one of my close friends and we were talking about this idea that Joseph would go back and tell on his brothers. As you continue to read this story you find that Joseph’s brothers abandon him into a pit. My friend looks at me and says, “I wonder how many times Joseph felt like he was in a pit before he ever was physically there.”
A lot of times we read about these humans in the Bible as if we have no experience being humans.
When my friend said this I thought about my own battle. Since I was young, character has been something that was constantly instilled in me. When I graduated high school and went on to college the potential of having bad character was always on my mind. It has caused more sleepless nights and fearful days. My senior year in college didn’t help. I was assigned books to read that were nothing about human depravity. I spent times weeping over the fact that people used their imagination to dream up nightmares. Creating more fear in this already dark world.
Feeling like there is no one that had been faced with intense darkness and made it out unscathed.
I was once told that people have a great potential for good but they have an even greater potential for evil.
How do you get out of the pit without it affecting you?
Truth is you don’t.
No one will ever make it out of this world without it affecting them. So the real question is how will you allow it to affect you. Will you choose to believe you only have the great potential to be evil. You will only be just like your alcoholic mother? Your angry father? Your bitter sister? Your impure past? Just cycle through brokenness? Or will you choose to do what Joseph did?
One of the things Joseph chose was his character. He chose to believe he was fully loved by his father on Earth and his Father in Heaven. He chose his character.
He chose to obey his father. He went after his brothers. He chose to know what was right and pleasing in God’s sight. He went to Dothan.
Dothan is mentioned in the bible 2 times. This time in Genesis right before Joseph and again in 2 Kings 6:13 when Elisha and his servant find themselves surrounded by their enemies. In this situation Elisha’s servant is afraid but Elisha is calm.
“He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. And when the Syrians came down against him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, “Please strike this people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Elisha. And Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he led them to Samaria.”
2 Kings 6:16-19 ESV
Here God allowed Elisha and his servant to see that as they walked with God, God protected them to the point of attacking what was attacking them.
He did the same thing with Joseph.
“They saw him from afar, and before he came near to them they conspired against him to kill him. They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits. Then we will say that a fierce animal has devoured him, and we will see what will become of his dreams.”Genesis 37:18-20 ESV
He allowed his brothers to attack him by selling him but He knew that He would attack the very thing that attacked Joseph. God knew that through Joseph’s brothers hate He could save generations. God knew what He put in Joseph was enough. And Joseph trusted God.
I dont know what battle you face daily. Whether insecurity floods your heart and mind or fear steals your light. But I know that if you love God, you have an enemy and he hates you. He wants nothing more than to shut you up. He will make the darkness feel more powerful than it is. But there’s two sides to every coin. Know that whatever pit the enemy is setting up for you to be attacked in, God has placed character in you that will only get stronger when you stay connected to Him. He wants to overwhelm what overwhelms you. He wants to demolish what threatened you. He wants to obliterate very lie spoken over and about you. He wants to kill every once of darkness that sets itself up against you. But most importantly He wants the hateful things that have been done or said to you to bring you to Him. His word says that He uses everything for the good of those who love him. (Romans 8:28). Been abandoned? He will use it for your good. Been abused? He will use it for your good. Been rejected? He will use it for your good. Blatantly sinned? Repent, and He will use it for your good. No matter what. Every pit the enemy has set up whether you chose it or you were pushed into it, God will use it.
And to that person who said, ” people have a great potential for good but they have an even greater potential for evil.” You are right. We do as people have a great potential for evil; without God.
How else did Joseph choose his character above avoiding the pit? For that you’ll have to come back next week. Until then keep focused on the One who matters.