St Andrew, Glencairn

Glencairn Methodist Church

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September 2008



A Dysfunctional Family (part 2)


Last month we read about the dysfunctional family of Isaac and Rebecca. Parental favouritism and sibling jealousy led to the break up of the family and to twenty years of separation and fear. Nevertheless God took this situation and brought good out of it. Both sons "made good" as they say, and in the end they were all reconciled. Jacob the deceiver, had several encounters with God which transformed his life and made empowered him to fulfil the mission given him by Isaac, namely to be the father of a great nation. He was given the name "Israel" meaning he struggled with God.


But as we read on through Genesis and study the story of Jacob's family, we see that in some ways, he himself and his sons did not learn from the mistakes of the previous generation. Jacob had twelve sons, who were destined to be the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel.. He had six by his first wife Leah, two by his second wife Rachel, younger sister of Leah, and two by each of the wives' handmaidens. It is all very complicated! Go read the story yourself! But Jacob showed favouritism to Rachel and her sons. She was his favourite wife and her first son Joseph was his favourite child. Jacob spoiled Joseph, much to the resentment of the other boys.


Joseph was a dreamer and he dreamed that some day he would lord it over the rest of the family. (Some day indeed he would!) He told them about this and enraged his brothers even more to the extent that they grasped an opportunity to get rid of him. His father had sent him out into the fields to see how the older boys were getting on with the flocks and herds. Some of the brothers wanted to kill him, but the eldest persuaded the others to spare his life and to sell him into slavery instead. This they did and then lied to Jacob that a wild beast had killed Joseph and carried him off. Parental favouritism and sibling jealousy had once again led to much sorrow and the break up of a family.


But once again, God took this situation and turned it into good. Joseph was indeed destined to rise to a position of authority so that he would be the saviour of his family and many other people.


He was a slave in Egypt for a long time, spending many years in prison due to the false testimony of a jealous woman. But all the time God was preparing Joseph for high office in the land of his captivity. Due to his God given ability to interpret dreams, Joseph was able to warn Pharaoh that after seven years of good harvests, there would be seven years of failed harvests. He advised storing grain from the good years to see them through the lead ones. Pharaoh appointed him second in the land to oversee this plan.


Thus there was food available, not only to feed Egypt but also the family of Jacob. Again there was transformation in the lives of the brothers and the family was reconciled. It is a fascination story. Make sure you read it!


God works in mysterious ways!




12 September 2008


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