18 When they [Israel's sons] saw him [Joseph] from a distance and before he came close to them, they plotted against him to put him to death. 19 They said to one another, "Here comes this dreamer ! 20 "Now then, come and let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits ; and we will say, 'A wild beast devoured him.' Then let us see what will become of his dreams !" 21 But Reuben heard this and rescued him out of their hands and said, "Let us not take his life." 22 Reuben further said to them, "Shed no blood. Throw him into this pit that is in the wilderness, but do not lay hands on him"-that he might rescue him out of their hands, to restore him to his father. 23 So it came about, when Joseph reached his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the varicolored tunic that was on him; 24 and they took him and threw him into the pit. Now the pit was empty, without any water in it. 25 Then they sat down to eat a meal. And as they raised their eyes and looked, behold, a caravan of Ishmaelites was coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing aromatic gum and balm and myrrh, on their way to bring them down to Egypt. 26 Judah said to his brothers, "What profit is it for us to kill our brother and cover up his blood ? 27 "Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh." And his brothers listened to him. 28 Then some Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled him up and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. Thus they brought Joseph into Egypt. 29 Now Reuben returned to the pit, and behold, Joseph was not in the pit ; so he tore his garments. 30 He returned to his brothers and said, "The boy is not there; as for me, where am I to go ?" 31 So they took Joseph's tunic, and slaughtered a male goat and dipped the tunic in the blood ; 32 and they sent the varicolored tunic and brought it to their father and said, "We found this ; please examine it to see whether it is your son's tunic or not." 33 Then he examined it and said, "It is my son's tunic. A wild beast has devoured him; Joseph has surely been torn to pieces !" 34 So Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days. 35 Then all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. And he said, "Surely I will go down to Sheol in mourning for my son." So his father wept for him. 36 Meanwhile, the Midianites sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, Pharaoh's officer, the captain of the bodyguard. (Genesis 37:18-36 NASB)
1 Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried, "Have everyone go out from me." So there was no man with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 2 He wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard of it. 3 Then Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph ! Is my father still alive ?" But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. 4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Please come closer to me." And they came closer. And he said, "I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 "Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 "For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. 7 "God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. 8 "Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God ; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt. 9 "Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him, 'Thus says your son Joseph, "God has made me lord of all Egypt ; come down to me, do not delay. 10 "You shall live in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children's children and your flocks and your herds and all that you have. 11 "There I will also provide for you, for there are still five years of famine to come, and you and your household and all that you have would be impoverished."' (Genesis 45:1-11 NASB)
Do you remember Jacob, and the vision he had of the ladder going up into heaven? Well, God has since changed his name to Israel, and he has 12 sons! His favorite son is Joseph. He gives Joseph special treatment, a multicolored coat, and keeps him close beside him while he sends the other boys to tend the flocks.
How do you think the other boys felt about that?
Special treatment might have been ok, but then God starts sending Joseph dreams that can only mean that one day his brothers will all bow down to him, and he won't stop talking about them. This makes the brothers so angry that they they plot to get rid of Joseph for good. Only because of Reuben do they change their mind about killing him. Instead, they sell him to slave traders while Reuben is gone, so theycan make some money off of him.
This is a terrible story. Can you imagine how Joseph feels, to be sold as a slave by his brothers because they hate him so much?
How do you think the brothers felt once they saw how very sad their father was?
You may have noticed that these stories have a lot of people in them that do very wrong things. These people that God has put himself into the story with, they aren't all that good.
Now Joseph is a slave in Egypt, for years, and for more years after that he's in prison in Egypt and it seems that his story can't get any worse. Back at home his brothers are living with the guilt of what they did, and the grief they caused their father and there is no way to fix it. None.
Well, God is in the business of fixing, of lighting the way when things are at their darkest, of using our very worst moments as the very way he will bring about something wonderful. That's what redemption is, and God is very good at it.
God has taken Abraham from a coward of a man with no children to a man of great faith who's children and grandchildren will cover the earth. He's turned Jacob from a liar and a cheat into a man who acts honorably, who walks with God, and at the end of his life can see far enough ahead to know which of Joseph's sons descendants God will bring the promised blessing through.
Now he turns Joseph's captivity into blessing. Joseph becomes a ruler in Egypt, with the ability to care for and provide for his father's family, and bring them to a place where they can grow into a great nation.
Not only that, but he gives Joseph the strength to forgive his brothers, when he has the power to destroy them. He gives Joseph's brothers another chance to do the right thing, to mend what they have broken. he brings a family torn apart back together.
Do you think you would forgive, if you were Joseph? How do you think his brothers felt once they found out he was alive?
Can you think of anything in your own life that feels like it's hopeless, and there is no way it can be fixed? Do you think maybe God, who redeemed this situation might be able to do something about yours?