The Imagery of the Law Court
Joseph Dreams of His Future
1. I think it is fairly typical for young people to be dreaming of their future.
2. The culture in which I grew up seemed to prompt you to think about this. Family friends would prompt you with such questions as “What are you going to do when you grow up?”
3. I remember a when I was 17 or 18, about the same age as Joseph in the account we have just read. I was about ready to graduate from High School. My government and economics teacher went around the room and asked all of us what our plans were.
4. She knew we were dreaming about our future. Perhaps you are dreaming about your future.
Perhaps you are thinking about where you will go to school after you graduate from High School. Perhaps you are thinking about what vocation you will choose. You may be thinking about whom you will marry or how you might serve the Lord. All of these are legitimate considerations.
5. But I am here to warn you, sometimes your future takes unexpected turns and that was certainly the case for Joseph.
I. Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son and while this resulted in special blessings to him it made his brothers hate him (37:1-4).
A. Sometimes parents are not fair and equitable with all their children.
1. The text plainly says Jacob loved Joseph more than all his brothers. “He was the son of his
2. That resulted in Jacob treating Joseph with special favors.
a. One example was that he made Joseph a “varicolored tunic.”
b. That tunic symbolized the special relationship that Jacob had with Joseph.
c. The brothers were probably angered every time that saw that tunic.
3. There may be times in your life when you feel like your parents are not treating you fairly
and the fact is they may not be. They are at fault for that, but try not to let that make you
feel any less. You are made in the image of God and you are just as valuable and
important as anyone else.
B. Joseph’s brothers did not handle the preferential treatment very well.
1. They hated Joseph.
2. They could not speak to him on friendly terms.
3. The circumstance was hard for them, but it did not justify hatred, nor unfriendliness to
C. But then Joseph did some things that made the problem worse.
1. He gave a bad report about his brothers to their father.
2. He told them his dreams that made them hate him even more.
3. If you have a problem in your family do not do things that make it worse.
4. “But Joseph is a victim here,” you object. But everyone is responsible for his or her own
actions and how I respond to a situation can make it worse or make it better.
5. Yes father Jacob should have done differently and yes the brothers should have done
differently, but Joseph’s actions made it worse.
6. As you think about your future determine that you will work to take control and do what is
right no matter what. Do not give in to being a victim. Do not succumb to taking your self
image from how others treat you whether that is your father or some other. Do not allow
someone else’s wrong behavior to destroy your relationship with another.
D. Young people, these are principles you need to use the rest of your life. They will make you
strong and independent and able to serve the Lord in the way that He wants you to. If you
choose to be a victim you will be disempowered and weak and your service to God and others
will be hampered. Accept responsibility for your life. Determine to do what pleases God no
II. Joseph had two dreams about his future. They were given by God and interpreted by his brothers and his father (37:5-11).
A. His brothers interpreted the first dream to the effect that he was going to rule over them.
B. The second dream was interpreted by his father who rebuked him and said, “Shall I and
your mother and your brothers actually bow down before you?”
C. His brothers were jealous of him.
1. They wanted such honor for themselves.
2. All of us want to have the honor and respect of our parents. All of us want to excel and to
do well. Perhaps even to be the most prominent one in our family. To be the one that is
most successful. To be the one that becomes the family leader.
D. These dreams were given by God to communicate events that would transpire in the future
not only for Joseph but for his whole family.
1. God was active in their lives, not just in Joseph’s.
2. God would use Joseph to save their lives.
3. God is probably not going to communicate with you this way. Nevertheless you need to
be receptive to His communication in Scripture and recognize that He is active in your
4. Give yourself to serving Him in whatever way He chooses to use you. Do not just think
about materialistic pursuits—good education so you can make big money and enjoy
yourself. Think how you can serve the Lord and contribute to His kingdom and the well
being of others. Think about these things as you “dream” of your future.
III. Things were about to go in an unexpected direction for Joseph (37:12ff).
A. His brothers plotted to put him to death.
B. Reuben planned to rescue him.
C. Judah came up with the idea to sell him as a slave rather than to kill him.
D. Observe that both Reuben and Judah were interested in preserving Joseph.
1. Not everyone is against him.
2. The way that they acted reveals that their loyalties were torn.
3. They wanted to be in good with their brothers, but did not want to go along with their
plan of murder.
4. Although murder was averted Joseph was sold into slavery.
5. The sensitivity of Rueben and Judah to doing right was used by God to preserve Joseph
and to get him to Egypt.
IV. Jacob grieved over the loss of Joseph (29-36).
A. The sons deceived Jacob into believing that Joseph was dead.
1. Parents beware children will deceive you.
2. In this case it lead to grief for Jacob. Parents, grief is part of being rewarded with
children. It is part of loving them and being loved by them.
3. Grief from the death of a child must be beyond comprehension.
4. Even though his family tried to comfort Jacob he refused to be comforted.
5. Joseph probably never knew the grief that his father experienced. Perhaps there are
people that are grieving your circumstances but are powerless to bring you relief.
B. Sometimes children bring hurt upon their parents unnecessarily.
1. These sons watched their father grieve.
2. They had brought the grief on their father.
3. Perpetuated it by not revealing the truth.
4. Young people try not to bring grief on your parents unnecessarily.
C. It should be realized that Jacob’s preferential treatment of Joseph had contributed to the
circumstances. Parents do what you can to treat your children with equity and fairness
perhaps then you can avoid some grief.
1. It would appear that Joseph’s dreams would never be realized, instead he seems doomed to a life of slavery, but the Lord does not forget him.
2. God is still active in his life, but Joseph is going to have to be patient before his dreams will be realized.
3. Young people recognize that God will use you to whatever degree that you give yourself to be used by Him. Recognize that He is active in your life.
4. Work to avoid jealousy and hatred. Do not treat others maliciously. I know you may feel like murdering. You may want to deceive someone in order to protect yourself in some way. Don’t go there!
5. Entrust your way to the Lord even if it seems that things are not going well for you. The Lord is concerned about you and will bring about good in your life. There are going to be tough times, but He will be with you through them.