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In the Beginning: A Study in Genesis 37-50Sample

In the Beginning: A Study in Genesis 37-50

DAY 1 OF 11

What four flaws do people make when architecting a family?

Over the years, Grace and I, along with our five children, have lived in multiple homes. Although each home was different, there was one thing they all held in common. Each place we resided was designed by an architect with the help of engineers who knew what they were building. We would never think of moving our family into a home that was thrown together haphazardly by someone who did not have a wisely designed plan. Our family is too precious and priceless to risk moving into a poorly built house.

While most families would not move into a home that was not architected and wisely built, they curiously move their families into a life that does not have a design plan or intentionality. Too many families throw together their marriage, finances, spirituality, schedule, and relationships without an integrated plan designed to allow health and life. This is the backdrop of Joseph’s testimony - he grew up in a family that was a thrown-together mess.

Poor family architecting on his father Jacob’s part set all of his sons up for contention, jealousy, and, ultimately, failure. Jacob imitated the sinful pattern of his parents in Genesis 34, where he did not properly care for his daughter Dinah because she was born to Leah, the wife he hated. Furthermore, in the account of Joseph from Genesis 37-50, much of the trouble can be traced to Jacob. Unlike his father Isaac, who fathered two children with one wife to whom he was faithful, Jacob fathered 13 children (12 boys and one girl) with four women, two of whom were maidservants and two of whom were his wives. Throughout Genesis, polygamy only causes pain and peril when practiced by God’s people. Jacob played favorites with his wives, loving Rachel and hating her older sister, Leah. Jacob played favorites with their children, loving Joseph, the first son he had with his favorite wife, more than his other sons.

Jacob did not even seek to conceal his favoritism for Joseph, lavishly adorning the second-to-youngest son with an expensive coat of many colors like some ancient Hebrew hip-hop homie. Jacob also placed Joseph in authority over his older brothers by sending him out into the fields to oversee their work and report back to their father. Because Jacob plays favorites with his sons, Joseph feels free to “tattle” on his brothers when they mess up. Imagine being a kid in that family, where your youngest brother not only reports on everything you do to get you in trouble, but then dad rewards him for it with an expensive gift that distinguishes him like a proud peacock as the favored son. Curiously, Genesis tells us that Joseph’s brothers didn’t hate their father for his favoritism but hated Joseph for being the favorite. When we play favorites as parents, we pit our kids against each other and create factions in our homes.

To make matters worse, God had given the young Joseph dreams in which his whole family was bowing down in homage to him. And, rather than keeping that information to himself, the young and perhaps impetuous Joseph told his brothers, which only made matters worse. Throughout Genesis 37, we continually read that his brothers hated him, were jealous, and could not speak a kind word to him because they despised him so intensely.

The brothers wanted to kill Joseph, but the oldest brother Reuben, who had forfeited his birthright by sleeping with his father’s maidservant, sought to spare young Joseph’s life. But, while Reuben was away, Joseph made the 64-mile journey to his brothers to check up on them for Jacob. The brothers stripped Joseph’s robe, tossed him into a well, and then debated whether they should kill or sell him into slavery. Led by Judah, the brothers agreed to spare Joseph’s life and make some money by selling him into slavery.

So, Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and taken to Egypt. To cover up their sin, the brothers slaughtered a goat and sprinkled its blood on Joseph’s coat, which they took back to his father, Jacob. They tricked their father, who had been a trickster himself at their age, and Jacob mourned bitterly, believing that his most beloved son had been torn apart by animals.

It’s one thing to be disowned by your family and, even worse, to be destroyed by them. This is what precisely happened. As we continue the story of Joseph, who is now in Egypt, he is bought by the Midianites from his brothers, taken to Egypt as a slave, and sold to the Egyptian Potiphar, a local government official. He has no legal rights, does not know the language or culture, knows no one, and is likely the only believer. Unless God does something supernatural, Joseph’s life is doomed.


What parallels can we see between Joseph’s life and Jesus’ life?

Day 2

About this Plan

In the Beginning: A Study in Genesis 37-50

In this 11-day plan, you will study Genesis 37-50 which will take you through the life of Jacob and his 12 sons who later became the 12 tribes of Israel. These chapters highlight the life of one of those sons, Joseph, an...


We would like to thank Mark Driscoll for providing this plan. For more information, please visit:

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