jacob lived in the land of his father’s sojournings, in the land of canaan. these are the generations of jacob. joseph, being seventeen years old, was pasturing the flock with his brothers. he was a boy with the sons of bilhah and zilpah, his father’s wives. and joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. now israel loved joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. and he made him a robe of many colors. but when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him. [genesis 37:1-4]
sin does not just affect you. it’s like a babbling brook- it trickles to the surrounding areas, or the people around you. israel (or jacob) is a great example of the consequences of sin.
now israel loved joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age.
jacob had four wives: bilhah, zilpah, leah, and rachel. he waited for fourteen years to marry rachel (genesis 29). rachel bore jacob two sons, named joseph and benjamin.
there are many potential reasons for jacob’s favoritism towards joseph. maybe jacob loved joseph the most because joseph was the firstborn of rachel, jacob’s beloved. or maybe jacob favored joseph’s mature character. regardless of the reason, favoritism is sin. james calls out the early church for displaying favoritism towards church members, saying that showing partiality is committing sin, which leads to transgressing the law (james 2:9). this could possibly apply to the members of one’s household, too.
by showing partiality to joseph in giving him a colorful, long-sleeved tunic, jacob was setting his family up for dissension, disunion, and strife.
parents, do you struggle doing the same thing with your children?
bosses, do you favor one worker over the others?
church leaders, do you show partiality to members who are easier to love?
our sin can cause temptation for others to sin. think about how those actions can tempt others to seek comparison, jealousy, and bitterness. pray for their hearts, and pray that God would equip you to love all your neighbors as yourself- not just your favorites.
but when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.
while it is important to note that everyone is responsible for their own sin and must flee from temptation, we can see a thread: jacob’s favoritism → the brother’s jealousy → joseph’s persecution.
notice the wording in verse 4- the sons could not speak peaceably to joseph… not “would not speak peaceably,” but “could not speak peaceably.”
it’s as if it was not possible for them to seek unity with their brother; their jealousy was so strong that it clouded their perspective, leading to hatred.
for what are you jealous?
who has what you long for?
how do you think of this person behind closed doors?
how are you interacting with this person? are your interactions with this person altered due to your jealousy? how?
take a moment to repent of your distrust of God’s character to provide…
your pride in not believing he is worthy of your waiting…
your disregard for God’s sovereignty…
your failure to obey the command in hebrews 12:
“strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. see to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.” – hebrews 12:14-15
oh if our jealousy for earthly/prideful things was transformed to zeal for the Lord. i am thankful for a savior that does not just leave us here in our sin of jealousy, but died and resurrected to transform our lives so we can want more of him. he took on all the persecution to dwell with us.
cry out to God, and he will hear your prayer (psalm 77:1).
Father God, hear our prayers…