“They said to one another, ‘Here comes this dreamer! 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!’ So it came about, when Joseph reached his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the varicolored tunic that was on him; and they took him and threw him into the pit.”Genesis 37:19-20, 23-24
It hurts when someone betrays you! As the saying goes, “The saddest thing about betrayal is that it never comes from your enemies.” The Old Testament character of Joseph certainly knew betrayal, in fact, his family was the center of it!
Joseph’s betrayal comes at the convergence of several streams of jealousy and pride. You might call it the dysfunctional family’s perfect storm. You have Father Jacob playing favorites, having learned nothing from his family of origin were his own parents did the same. Jacob gave Joseph an ornate robe, which is a constant visual reminder of his status as the favorite child.
Then there are Joseph’s dreams, one in which his brothers bow down to him, and the second in which his brothers, and even his parents bow down to him. Joseph had shared the dreams proudly with his family, and it did not go over well.
The straw that breaks the camel’s back is the “bad report” Joseph brings to his father: he snitches on his older brothers. All of these factors set up the perfect storm of pride, hatred, jealousy, and betrayal.
Clearly, we can all see and know that people are not perfect. And if you stay in a relationship with someone, anyone, the inevitable truth is, that person will let you down. It may not be to the full extent of the betrayal, but any person will let you down at some point. We are all sinners. We have all gone astray, according to the Bible (Romans 3:23, Isaiah 53:6). And we will disappoint each other. It’s hard to hear, but it’s true.
But we can be absolutely certain of one thing: God will see you through.
Joseph’s story is amazing, so full of ups and downs that no one could make it up. Indeed, truth is stranger than fiction! Joseph finds favor as a slave in the home of an Egyptian official, Potiphar. Potiphar’s wife tries to entice Joseph to go to bed with her. When he refuses, she falsely accuses him of rape and has him thrown in prison.
Joseph languishes in that Egyptian prison for years. Finally, his God-given dream interpreting abilities land him with an audience with Pharaoh. Joseph predicts out of Pharaoh’s dream a seven-year period of plenty followed by a seven-year drought. Joseph recommends that Pharaoh store up grain now all over the land so that Egypt will be prepared when the drought hits. Pharaoh says, “Good idea. And since you’re obviously a good planner, make it happen!” Joseph goes from slave to prisoner to prime minister, second only to Pharaoh in the land.
Joseph oversees Egypt’s preparation for the great drought. And when it hits, not only is Egypt affected, but the whole known world. People travel from all over to come to Egypt and buy food. God uses Joseph to save not only the people of Egypt, but also his own family.
Even though Joseph had been prideful, he didn’t deserve what his brothers did to him. Joseph knew firsthand the pain of betrayal. But God used that circumstance to help him endure, mature, and discover that God used circumstances for good. In Genesis 50:20, Joseph tells his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
When you suffer the pain of betrayal, God will see you through. God will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). Through the hardships you endure, He will develop your character. And He may even use the circumstances of your life to bring about good for many.