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DON’T LET THE DREAM DIE!

BIBLE READING: GENESIS 37: 1-11

1 Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan. 2 This is the account of Jacob’s family line. Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.

3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. 5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” 8 His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. 9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind. (NIV)

Dear fellow brothers and sisters,

Greetings in the name of Jesus-Christ! Thanks are to the Lord for this opportunity to share this sermon with you. The today’s theme is: “DON’T LET THE DREAM DIE!" We will focus on the following verses: 5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, ‘Listen to this dream I had’. His brothers said to him, ‘Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?’ And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. (Genesis 37: 5-6, 8)

Joseph is the eleventh son of Jacob, the firstborn of Rachel, his beloved wife. Rachel had been childless for a long time, and eventually she gave birth to Joseph. Rachel died when she gave birth to Joseph's brother, Benjamin. After losing his wife, Jacob fell in love with the two sons of Rachel. (Genesis 35: 18-20; 44: 27-29) Jacob especially favored Joseph. He made an ornate robe for him. The dress may have been worn by prominent people or princes. However, the garment caused Joseph great distress. First, the child was a pastor; which required him to perform difficult manual labor. So look at Joseph in that extraordinary robe, walking in the tall grass, climbing the rocks or trying to free the lamb caught in the thorn bush. Even more serious is the fact that the garment undoubtedly showed that Jacob loved Joseph more than his older brothers. (Genesis 37: 4) The robe was a sign of Jacob’s favoritism towards Joseph, and the brothers suspected that there was a plan to disregard them and to give Rachel's son authority.

The hardest part in this story is Jacob's attitude toward his sons. Jacob should have understood how not treating children the same could lead to conflict. When Isaac (Jacob's father) was very old, he had to bless the firstborn. Although Esau was the eldest, Rebekah helped the younger Jacob to become a blessing. When Esau learned of this, he became enraged against his brother and tried to kill him. At that time Jacob fled to his uncle Laban's house for about 20 years. This should have taught him a lesson and prevented him from favoring his children. Yet it did not happen, but he behaved like his father Isaac, favoring his son Joseph and making other children jealous. Apart from this, Joseph worked as an investigator or as a news agency, publishing his brother's shots. He told his father everything they said and did; if they smoked, if they fought other children; do you know all the mistakes young people make! No one is happy that they criticize him - Joseph's brothers did not like the way he told his father everything about them.

The hatred of his brothers grew even more intense when Joseph began to dream that he would one day rule over them. The fact that he dreamed was one thing; but the fact that he felt he could tell everyone is something else! By doing this, Joseph poured out his fire. Of course, his brothers reacted badly. Jacob, too, did not respond well to the dream, so he rebuked his son.

Joseph dreamed of his brothers, despite the hatred they had for him. You may be wondering why he kept telling them his dreams knowing that they didn’t love him. Joseph was the one to answer this question, but as humans we have about three possible answers. First, he may have been doing so because he wanted to tell his brothers, “Though you hate me, know that I will command you”. If that were the case, he would have been careless. There is nothing God reveals to us for the purpose of separating us with our fellow brothers; but when we lose our mind and misbehave, many problems arise.

The second possibility is to underestimate the hatred they have for him. Perhaps Joseph continued to treat them as brothers, to love them, to think that instead they are happy that God has chosen him to lead them, thinking that if he tells them they will love him as someone who will be useful in the future. Last but not least, at the age of seventeen, Joseph was still young. Dreaming forever and dreaming of those who hate him, is a sign that Joseph was still a child in his mind. The child trusts everyone, and enjoys telling all the stories without leaving anything behind. Although Jesus told us to be like children so that we could enter the kingdom of heaven, it is in a sincere way, but not in ignorance. Child behavior can lead to serious and unnecessary wars. Speaking of all that God has shown you, believing that all people are as good and loving as you are, accepting the kind words people tell you and not knowing that the mouth can speak contrary to what the heart thinks and so on, can bring us problems. That is why Jesus told us that He sent us as sheep in the midst of wolves. (Matthew 10:16). Many Christians have fallen into the trap of fornication, drunkenness, and so on because of their lack of maturity. Paul advised us saying, "Brothers and sisters stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults " (1 Corinthians 14:20). We need to keep in mind that we are living in a world that is hostile to us.

This story of Joseph and his brothers contains many lessons that I would like to analyze before concluding this message. The behavior of everyone mentioned in this story can teach us. Let's start with Jacob. The man had married several women. He had at least 14 children from four wives-his two wives Leah and Rachel and their maidservants Zilpah and Bilhah. The scoundrels were jealous of each other, and that jealousy even spread to their children. (Genesis 29: 16-35; 30: 1, 8, 19, 20; 37:35) Jacob had a large but divisive family. What the Bible says about this family is a clear indication of the consequences of polygamy. Another thing we can say about Jacob is that he was not wise when he showed that Joseph was superior to other children, and that made his other sons jealous. This experience teaches us that favoritism can lead to family divisions. Parents should be wise and assure each child that he or she is loved, that he or she has unique talents, and that he or she is involved in making the family happy. (Romans 2:11)

Let us now look at Joseph. He talked a lot, he had no secrets, he always told his father what his elders were doing; he looked like his father's journalist or investigator. This is the behavior of children, Christians we must avoid. Joseph's brothers hated him even more when he dreamed of them. When we dream or when God gives us a vision of what we will achieve, some people are not happy. The ones we have to tell our dreams are the ones who will help us to make them come true and not the ones who don’t want us to move forward.

Let me conclude with the attitude of Joseph's brothers. While their jealousy may be justified, accepting its dominance was foolishness. (Proverbs 14:30; 27: 4) Their jealousy led them to do things that they later regretted very much. Their experiences remind Christians that rejoicing with those who rejoice is crucial. (Romans 12:15) In our Christian life, we should avoid favoritism, childishness, and jealousy, in our families, at work places, and in our congregations.

I conclude by thanking you for taking the time to read this message. You can share it with others. May the peace of God which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of His son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be amongst us and remain with us forever. Amen.

Archdeacon SEHORANA Joseph