Freedom in a dysfunctional world
Genesis 34 “ Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. 2 And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her and lay with her, and violated her. 3 His soul was strongly attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the young woman and spoke kindly to the young woman.
4 So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, “Get me this young woman as a wife.”5 And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter. Now his sons were with his livestock in the field; so Jacob held[c] his peace until they came. 6 Then Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him.
7 And the sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it; and the men were grieved and very angry, because he had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, a thing which ought not to be done.
8 But Hamor spoke with them, saying, “The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter. Please give her to him as a wife. 9 And make marriages with us; give your daughters to us, and take our daughters to yourselves. 10 So you shall dwell with us, and the land shall be before you. Dwell and trade in it, and acquire possessions for yourselves in it.”
11 Then Shechem said to her father and her brothers, “Let me find favor in your eyes, and whatever you say to me I will give. 12 Ask me ever so much dowry and gift, and I will give according to what you say to me; but give me the young woman as a wife.”
13 But the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father, and spoke deceitfully, because he had defiled Dinah their sister. 14 And they said to them, “We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a reproach to us.
15 But on this condition we will consent to you: If you will become as we are, if every male of you is circumcised, 16 then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters to us; and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people.
17 But if you will not heed us and be circumcised, then we will take our daughter and be gone.”18 And their words pleased Hamor and Shechem, Hamor’s son. 19 So the young man did not delay to do the thing, because he delighted in Jacob’s daughter. He was more honorable than all the household of his father.20 And Hamor and Shechem his son came to the gate of their city, and spoke with the men of their city, saying:
21 “These men are at peace with us. Therefore let them dwell in the land and trade in it. For indeed the land is large enough for them. Let us take their daughters to us as wives, and let us give them our daughters.
22 Only on this condition will the men consent to dwell with us, to be one people: if every male among us is circumcised as they are circumcised. 23 Will not their livestock, their property, and every animal of theirs be ours? Only let us consent to them, and they will dwell with us.”
24 And all who went out of the gate of his city heeded Hamor and Shechem his son; every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city.25 Now it came to pass on the third day, when they were in pain, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and came boldly upon the city and killed all the males.
26 And they killed Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah from Shechem’s house, and went out. 27 The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and plundered the city, because their sister had been defiled.
28 They took their sheep, their oxen, and their donkeys, what was in the city and what was in the field, 29 and all their wealth.
All their little ones and their wives they took captive; and they plundered even all that was in the houses.
30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have troubled me by making me obnoxious among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites; and since I am few in number, they will gather themselves together against me and kill me. I shall be destroyed, my household and I.” 31 But they said, “Should he treat our sister like a harlot?”
Hebrews 11:17-22 “17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” 19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.
20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.
22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.
Deuteronomy 4:29 29 But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.
1 John 3:1, 2 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
Genesis 39 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there. 2 The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. 3 And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand.
4 So Joseph found favour in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. 5 So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had in the house and in the field.
6 Thus he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand, and he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate.Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. 7 And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.”
8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. 9 There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”
10 So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her.11 But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside, 12 that she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside. 13 And so it was, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and fled outside, 14 that she called to the men of her house and spoke to them, saying, “See, he has brought in to us a Hebrew to mock us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice.
15 And it happened, when he heard that I lifted my voice and cried out, that he left his garment with me, and fled and went outside.”
16 So she kept his garment with her until his master came home. 17 Then she spoke to him with words like these, saying, “The Hebrew servant whom you brought to us came in to me to mock me; 18 so it happened, as I lifted my voice and cried out, that he left his garment with me and fled outside.”
19 So it was, when his master heard the words which his wife spoke to him, saying, “Your servant did to me after this manner,” that his anger was aroused. 20 Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison.
21 But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22 And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing.
23 The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.
Ephesians 6:1-13 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
2 “Honour your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” 4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
5 Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; 6 not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.
9 And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.The Whole Armour of God
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
What surprises you from the Bible verses?
What do they teach you about people?
What do they teach you about God?
Is there a command to obey?
Who do I need to share this message with?
“You already know these things, dear friends. So be on guard; then you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:17-18 NLT
Joseph knew all about dysfunctional families. It started with his great- grandparents, Abraham and Sarah. When Sarah realized that she was barren, she convinced Abraham to sleep with her servant Hagar. As soon as Hagar fell pregnant, the dysfunction began. Growing up in this atmosphere, Ishmael and Isaac took the tension into their own families.
Isaac made a point of favouring Esau, and Jacob spent his life trying to earn his father’s love and respect. Later, Jacob was tricked into marrying the older sister first, but was then also given the one he really loved. The two sisters then competed for his attention through a childbearing race, even enlisting their maids to bear children. The rivalry between the mothers obviously spilled over to the children.
Joseph’s family line knew what it was like to experience betrayal, burdens, and distress. As young adults, Joseph’s older brothers had already massacred the male inhabitants in the town of Shechem.
The oldest brother, Reuben, displayed dominance and defiance to his aging father by sleeping with Bilhah, Rachel’s maid and the mother of several of Jacob’s children (Gen. 35:22). Meanwhile, Joseph’s brother Judah mistook his widowed daughter-in-law for a prostitute and ended up having twins with her (Genesis 38).
Jacob added fuel to the fire by his obvious favouritism toward Joseph in giving him an expensive colourful coat (Gen. 37:3). This was Joseph’s heritage. To further emphasise the family’s dysfunction, he now finds himself at the bottom of a pit as the result of his scheming brothers and sold as a slave to a band of travelling traders.
Any hope of Joseph escaping to find a way back home were quickly dashed upon reaching Egypt, as Joseph was on sold to a prominent household.
Joseph grew up believing he was someone special—the oldest son of the most loved wife (Gen. 29:18). He was his father’s favourite—and the only one with a beautiful coat of many colours (Gen. 37:3, 4).
But who was he now? A slave, someone who could be bought or sold at will. Any freedom that Joseph had was now only a distant memory.
Joseph soon encountered a problem with his ‘owner’s’ wife. She looks at others as “things” that can be manipulated and used.
She wants to “use” Joseph. Joseph is described as “handsome in form and appearance” (Gen. 39:6, NKJV).
The Bible seldom mentions people’s physical traits, because God “ ‘does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’ ” (1 Sam. 16:7, NKJV).
In this case, Joseph’s good looks seem to be more of a hindrance than a help in his pursuit of purity and faithfulness to God’s.
Despite the woman’s insistence, Joseph did something seemingly counterproductive. He applied biblical principles in response to the woman’s advances.
The biblical narrative points out that Potiphar’s wife pursued him again and again (Gen. 39:10), this was not a one-off temptation.
Joseph tried explaining his motivation for his decision (Gen. 39:8, 9), but this did not work.
Joseph realised that he could not control the choices of others. He decided, however, to be free from dysfunction and sexual temptation, to live, love, and treat those around him in a way that would honour God.
This knowledge helped him resist temptation and although a slave, experience and live with integrity.
We can be thankful God’s Word sets out principles for right living. He gives wisdom to guide us in the direction of freedom (James 1:5) and deal with any situations including dysfunctional families that may arise.
Read Psalm 139:17, 18. What difference does this make when you are going through difficult times.
Ephesians 2:19, 20 describes a family that in Christ we are a part of.
Reflect on the idea that, through Christ, you are a member of the “household of God.” What does that mean to you?
“The formation of a noble character is the work of a lifetime and must be the result of diligent and persevering effort.
God gives opportunities; success depends upon the use made of them. “
The Desire of Ages, pp. 223.
FINDING FREEDOM IN REST