Posted by: lepages | February 17, 2014

Joseph – The Big Head – Genesis 37

So, it’s a little while since I blogged – been a busy period – and would like to have written about some of it, but just can’t find words to put things as I would like… so back to what I love to do most….

Here’s our first preach in our teaching series on Joseph from Rutland Road Church. You can listen to how I delivered it live from the website, or read my notes below…

Joseph, and the amazing technicolour dreamcoat!

A wonderful stage production, and musical extravaganza!

Here’s a clip to enjoy!!

But Joseph was a real man in history, with all the ups and downs of life and relationships which many of us face.

Over this next month we’re going to have a look at his life – not just as a character study, but to see what we can learn from his life, the good, the bad and the indifferent, to help us in our own lives and relationships.

We’ll have some teaching on a Sunday, and then as we gather in our small groups – we call them cell groups – because each group is like a biological cell, growing and developing, but they are all part of the whole body of the church, not just an independent group doing their own thing – anyway, back from the diversion, in our cell groups we’ll help one another with living it out, standing with one another in the ups and downs of life, and supporting and strengthening one another so we can be the best we can be as human beings. If you’re not a member of a group and you’d like to find out more about them, talk to me after the service.

Today, we reflect on  Joseph – the Big Head!

And we pick up on his life in his late teens – you might find it helpful to be able to see the account of his life as we reflect on it – we start in Genesis 37,


Setting the scene a little…..

What environment did you grow up in?

A good stable family?

An awful dysfunctional family?

A family with inconsistent values?

A family of favouritism and resultant sibling rivalry?

– that’s the sort of family that Joseph grew up in.

Perhaps because Joseph was born, in his father’s senior years, he was treated as the favoured son – this meant that his brothers hated him.

Let’s read a little of the account of his early years – and we’ll go through progressively as we reflect on his life and what we can learn from it.

READ Genesis 37:1-4

Perhaps some of us identify with the various positions there?!

Maybe some of us grew up as a favoured child…. knew what it was to always be Mummy or Daddy’s boy or girl…. and perhaps knew…. maybe know… what it is to have the jealousy of siblings….

Perhaps you weren’t the favoured child…. and know the hurt of seeing someone else in that position…. perhaps you have sympathy with Joseph’s brothers – you know what it’s like…

Perhaps you’re a parent… and have to acknowledge that you have (maybe ‘are’) showing favouritism amongst your children in some way???

How do you handle inconsistent treatment?

This is the context Joseph was born into.

He was a ‘Daddy’s boy’…

The first thing we read about him is how as a young man of 17 he was out working with his brothers, tending his father’s flocks…. he went home and told his father a bad report about his brothers….

We don’t know what he said…. we don’t know whether it was a serious issue… or whether it was just folk having a bit of a laugh… as in the cartoon clip that was showed earlier.

It’s one thing to be questioned about something by a parent, and spill the beans…. quite another to go and blab about one of your siblings!

Any of us ever known that happen??!!

The writer of Genesis then says v3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons… (Israel & Jacob are the same people – different names he was known by – bit like my father-in-law was – everyone knew him as ‘Gordon’, but his name was ‘Henry’)

Even down to how he treated him – not just an inner greater tenderness towards him, but a practical outworking of that, so Joseph got the special treatment – he received a specially, personally made robe from his father – the robe made famous by Tim Rice and Andrew-Lloyd Webber as ‘the amazing technicolour dream coat’.

It’s one thing to sense that a sibling is being favoured more than you… even tougher to see that outright favouritism being shown publicly….

the result…. his brothers v4 hated him and could not speak a kind word to him

I guess, more likely, they would have said unkind things to him.

Joseph’s behaviour, blabbing to his father, didn’t help the situation… it aggravated their relationships further…. equally, neither did his brothers behaviour help things… their hatred and likely unkind words would have further pushed Joseph away.

Sometimes, inspite of our circumstances, if we want the best, we have to choose to love – and in that act of choosing to love we can begin the process of rebuilding damaged relationships – we’ll see that happening in later life for Joseph… but how sad that it had to wait that long!

Touching on this sort of thing, could well be touching on painful situations in some of our lives… can I encourage you not just to leave it… staying in entrenched positions… living with hurt and pain… choose, as far as you are able, to love and to work for reconciliation and good relationships.

For some of us, we may need some emotional healing to help us do that.

If you’re in that place, can I encourage you after the service to ask one of the prayer team, or someone else you know and trust, to pray for you and ask God to come and minister his healing and grace to you. If you’re in a cell group, you might like to share it with other group members during the week and have them stand with you in prayer and minister God’s grace to you.

The next little section I’ve headed:-  Dreams & Drama

 Let’s read Genesis 37:5-11

Who has dreams??!!

Do you always tell others about your dreams??!!

There are some which it’s appropriate to share….

and there are some that it’s not appropriate to share!

God sometimes speaks to us through dreams.

He is able to use our subconscious as a way of communicating truth to us.

Across the world at this time Jesus is often appearing to Muslims in dreams and visions to draw them to himself.

Sometimes God gives us dreams, visions, pictures, images to communicate truth to share with others…. but sometimes those dreams are just for us….

I have a feeling that life might have been a bit easier for Joseph if he had kept his dreams to himself!

The Bible teaches us in Romans 8:28 that

‘God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’

I would guess that Joseph wouldn’t have been sure about that with the events that were to follow after he shared his dreams… and yet, ultimately, as we shall see in the coming weeks, the sad situation really worked out for good and enabled Joseph to achieve things he may never have achieved as a shepherd working for his father.

There’s no getting away from it though…. Joseph was a Big Head – he seemed to take delight in sharing the dreams with his brothers… and then with his father…. dreams which said, ‘hey, one day you’re going to bow down to me, one day I’m going to rule over you’ – his brothers had no doubt about what he was saying… his father challenged him over it…. and yet…. that fatherly love meant that even though he struggled with Jacob’s dream, he didn’t dismiss it, but held it in mind.

What do you do with a Big Head?

It’s tough isn’t it??!!

There’s two sides to it of course!

What do you do if you naturally have a big head (in the eyes of others!!)??

You’re naturally confident, outgoing, you naturally take the lead and assume that others will understand you and follow your example or what you say.

What do you do if you work with, live with, socialise with someone like that and you struggle with it?

I’m guessing that Joseph’s approach in ‘just putting it out there’, isn’t necessarily the most helpful one….

But I’m guessing too that his brothers’ reaction wasn’t the most helpful too either…

Perhaps his father had the best approach – yes he maybe challenged his son’s arrogance… but he didn’t dismiss it!

You see, sometimes, there can genuinely be a good reason why a person has ‘a big head’, why they have a confidence that leaves others feeling threatened… it could be that they do have real, valuable, leadership gift and ability…. even if their character could do with a bit of work!!

Joseph and his big head were to have to go through some conditioning processes, to mould and shape his character so that the gifts within him could be used effectively for the blessing of many people….

I wonder if there’s any of us who need some character building and moulding, so that we can be more effective with the gifts we have, rather than letting the gifts we have, and our character, cause offence to others?

I wonder whether for some of us, who are perhaps offended by the big head of others…. whether we need to hold back a little, and recognise that maybe there’s gift in there which needs using, but which needs some character development before it can be released to be as effective as it might be?

There’s a place for challenging… but not for condemning.

Challenge can sometimes refine.

Perhaps in our groups this week, we need to be prepared to make ourselves accountable to one another and say honestly ‘How do I measure up?’

In doing so, it may be to our encouragement and up-building… and it may be to our refining for the better.

Well, we come to the final section of our account of the life of Joseph for today.

I’ve headed it  Deceit & Devastation

I don’t intend to say a lot about it, but as we read from v12 to the end of the chapter, just let the overwhelming emotions expressed in the narrative touch your life, and we’ll reflect briefly on some of the themes as I conclude…..

READ Genesis 37:12-36

Bereavement is a tragedy. It can bring devastation to people’s lives.

We have seen this in our community this past week with the sad loss of a young man – thank you to all who came out on the streets to pray for this community last night, and to those who prayed from at home.

For Jacob, he could not reconcile all his hopes and dreams with the loss of his son Joseph.

The tragedy of the situation is that the devastation Jacob felt was the product of deceit by his other sons…. and his emotions would have been very different if he had known the truth that his son was not dead, but had been sold as a slave.

It’s amazing how real threat can change thoughts and feelings – Reuben may not have liked his brother…. but he was his brother…. and the thought of killing him was too much…. sadly, family problems can lead to violence…. and even death… we need to guard ourselves wisely…. if there are problems, we need to address them before they lead to worse… if you are facing family issues… don’t ignore them…. don’t fight within…. get support! If nothing else, get prayer today.

As we conclude, I feel it would be appropriate to pray into some of the areas raised….

1. those who have not been the favoured one, and identify with the hurt and pain of Joseph’s brothers

2. those who have received a hard time from siblings or others because they have been the favoured one

3. those who know that their personality type, their character causes difficulty for others

4. those who struggle with coping with others because of their big headedness, real or felt


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