Dreams and Disfunction – Genesis 37

January 10, 2018

January 2018 marks the beginning of a new NHF sermon series on the life of Joseph. We’re calling it “Joseph,” but it’s not really the story of just one man; it’s the story of a family and the epic history of a nation. God willing, as we study this narrative, we’ll glean wisdom and insight into many aspects of life. More than that, we’ll see that woven through the entire narrative is an even more important plot line: God’s plan to rescue the world through someone greater than Joseph, a man named Jesus, the Son of God himself. 

This past Sunday we were introduced to Joseph’s family and, well, it’s a train wreck. Thankfully, God likes to use messed up families to accomplish his perfect purposes! That was good news for Joseph, and it’s good news for us. 

Here are some questions to help you reflect on and apply God’s word.

Questions for Reflection/Discussion

  1. Upon reading Genesis 37, what’s your initial impression of Joseph? What (if anything) do you think this opening chapter of Joseph’s story reveals about his character or personality? 
  2. What symptoms of family disfunction can you identify in chapter 37? (Yes, there are lots!) 
  3. What specific reasons does the narrator give for the brothers’ hatred of Joseph? 
  4. This chapter and the ones that follow illustrate the effects of generational sin (or family sin). For instance, notice how Jacob’s favoritism echoes that of his father (Genesis 25:27-28), and how Jacob’s sons’ deceit echoes his own in Genesis 27. Have you noticed the repetition of certain sinful patterns in your own family over the generations? If so, how is it that you think these sins were passed down? 
  5. Have you noticed a pendulum effect in your family, where one generation rejects the past generation’s sins by swinging to an opposite extreme? 
  6. Have you ever talked and/or prayed about generational sins with your family members? What resulted from the conversation(s) and/or prayer? 
  7. God is able to break the pattern of generational sins in our families by the power of his Spirit who dwells in all his adopted children. Have you seen this happen in your own family? If so, how? Have you seen even slow, incremental progress when it comes to breaking patterns of family sin? 
  8. God isn’t mentioned at all in Genesis 37, but what are some signs that he is present and active in this story? 
  9. The original audience for Genesis 37 (and the entire story of Joseph) were the Jews who were sojourning in the wilderness following their Exodus from Egypt. Remember that they often doubted God’s goodness (see, for instance, Numbers 14 and Exodus 16). Why would the story of Joseph be important to them? How might the story of Joseph have helped them as a people? 
  10. Please read Psalm 13 verse by verse. When you feel that God is absent, how can this Psalm help you to process how you feel and find comfort in truth?

One Response to “Dreams and Disfunction – Genesis 37”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: