Saturday, April 27, 2013

Teens in the Bible: Joseph

Chapter 15 tattletale teen Joseph

Joseph was the long-waited-for son of Jacob finally conceived by his beloved wife Rachel. Joseph had ten older half-brothers born of his father’s other wives. When he was seventeen he tended the flocks with these brothers and he came home to his father with tales of their misdeeds. Nobody likes a tattletale or a goody-two-shoes or a younger brother who spoils the fun.

Let’s look a little closer. Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other sons. We know this because the Bible says so. It’s confirmed with Jacob’s actions: he had a richly ornamented robe made for Joseph. Now it makes sense that his brothers would envy him, hate him even, since their father openly favored the teen. The Bible tells us that indeed they did hate him and could not speak a kind word to him.

Joseph told his brothers a dream he had that they immediately interpreted correctly: that Joseph would one day reign over them. That really ticked them off and they hated him even more. When he told them another similar dream the brothers became jealous because their father heard about it. Though Papa Jacob rebuked Joseph, he did believe him.

I picture Joseph as a somewhat naive teenager, self-centered (aren't they all?) and oblivious to danger. He had no idea how much his brothers hated him – so much, in fact, that they plotted to kill him. You know the story: the brothers stripped him of his coat, threw him into a cistern, and then sold him into slavery. But the Lord was with him and gave him success and prosperity. Read the rest of the story in Genesis.

So are we supposed to learn that you can be a tattletale kid and grow up to be a generous, helpful, and forgiving rescuer? Sure, why not. Think about that quality of forgiveness that is so beautifully portrayed in Joseph. I cannot imagine any teen boy going through what Joseph did (hated, abused, sold) and then turn out so well.  And then to accept and help his tormentors? Wow, now that’s forgiveness. Remind you of anyone?

(next Saturday the nameless servant girl)

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