A Study of Joseph’s Life: Overcoming Family Dysfunction
Bible Text: Genesis 37:1-2 | Preacher: Pastor Steve | Series: Seal Training
Genesis 37:1-2 So Jacob settled again in the land of Canaan, where his father had lived as a foreigner. This is the account of Jacob and his family. When Joseph was seventeen years old, he often tended his father’s flocks. He worked for his half brothers, the sons of his father’s wives Bilhah and Zilpah. But Joseph reported to his father some of the bad things his brothers were doing.
This is what we can learn from Joseph’s dysfunctional family:
God will change and conform us to His image no matter what our family of origin if we abide in Him!
God will help us rise above any negative influence in our lives if we abide in Him!
A “brief” overview of Joseph’s family from Genesis 25:19 – 35:29
The family story of Joseph: At 16 years of age his mother, Rachel, died while giving birth to his little brother-Benjamin; Joseph is guilty of gossip. His father treats him as his favorite – favoritism and his brothers are jealous and envious. This is a formula for a dysfunctional family outburst!
Great grandfather and grandmother – Abraham and Sarah were pagans and idolaters and they were taught by the Lord what it meant to be a follower of the Lord, but they both made lots of mistakes and got into lots of trouble, and yet they learned how to be faithful and obedient to the Lord’s Will.
Grandfather and Grandmother – Issac and Rebakah had a great start, the Lord did a miracle because Rebakah could not have children but Isaac prayed and the Lord did a miracle and they conceived and had twins – Jacob and Esau.
Rebekah favored Jacob and came up with this crazy plan to get Isaac to give Jacob God’s blessing rather than Esau.
Principle: one sin often leads to another
Rebekah knew she needed to get Jacob out of town or Esau was going to kill him and so she lied to Issac and told him that she was afraid that Jacob might marry one of the Canaanite women and got Issac to agree to send Jacob away to the same as Abraham
The Lord spoke to Jacob in a dream and he came to know the Lord God personally and told the Lord that he would serve Him always, giving the Lord a tenth of everything.
Jacob came to Heron and that is where he met Rachel. Unfortunately Rachel was younger than her sister Leah and the oldest gets married before the youngest.
Rachel’s dad Laban promised Jacob that if he would work for him for seven years he would give Rachel
in marriage. But Laban deceived and lied to Jacob and gave him Leah to marry.
Principle: what does around comes around! He was reaping what he sowed!
Laban was a deceitful man and he promised Jacob he could have Rachel as well, two wives if he would work for him for another seven years. It is NOT God’s ideal plan for a man to marry more than one woman, it leads to trouble, jealousy.
Leah conceived, but Rachel was barren. Leah berthed – Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah
Rachel was so hurt and angry and jealous that she gave Jacob her maidservant Bilhah to bear children and Dan and Naphtali were born.
Leah got jealous and gave her maidservant Zilpah to Jacob and that is how Gad and Asher were born.
Leah who thought she was unable to have children, conceived and gave birth to Issachar and Zebulun and Dinah.
Rachel was so hurt, angry, depressed she finally turned to the Lord and He blessed her with Joseph, and Benjamin but Rachel died in childbirth.
Dinah was raped by Shechem one of the Canaaite rulers. Simeon and Levi were so angry that they went into the city and killed all the men in that city.
The family went back to Bethel. Jacob ordered everyone to get rid of anything that was connected to the gods of the Canaanites and he again committed his life to the Lord.
The Lord changed Jacob’s name to Israel, and now we were all “children of Israel”!
Three key principles:
Romans 6:11-14: this is the principle of liberty and freedom from the bondage of sin! Jesus died for us and rose for us making it possible for us to be set free from sin’s hold on our lives. We offer our bodies to the Lord as instruments of righteousness not sin! We can overcome any family or personal dysfunctionRomans 6:14 Sin is no longer your master…Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.
Romans 8:1-4: this is the principle of Holy Spirit power that enables us to overcome and live for Him 24X7! When we become believers the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us and by His indwelling presence and power we are able to live a new life! (Ephesians 3:16-19) Our family of Origin is not as powerful as the Lord in our lives! We can overcome any family history.Romans 8:2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.
Romans 12:1-2: this is the principle of renewing our minds that is for us all, no matter what you family of origin, education, status, economics, nothing restricts us from a transformation other than we choose to not let the Lord renew us. We can overcome any dysfunctional family pattern!Romans 12:1-2 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
The Word of God teaches us that we can control our thoughts and feelings and seek after the Will of the Lord.
Philippians 4:8-9 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
Table Discussion Questions
What is the most significant thing you have learned form this teaching about Joseph’s dysfunctional family?
Can you identify with any aspect of Joseph’s family of origin? If so, would you feel free to share these points of identification with your group?
What have you learned in your own life experience about overcoming problems form the past?
Based on your experience what words of encouragement can you offer our group?
What one thing can the group pray about regarding your own spiritual challenges as it relates to our topic of teaching?