July 12: Joseph’s Dysfunctional Background

Read Genesis 29:31-30:24 (For further reading: Genesis 29:1-28; 30:25-43)

It’s a story of dysfunction and promise. Intrigue based on the baggage and triumph of a young man whose story could only have been written by God Himself. Born into a family of 10 boys and one girl, and those from different mothers, Joseph’s life story probably should have ended badly, like the kind from a tabloid’s headlines.

But God had made a promise to Joseph’s father, and his father before him.

“I am God Almighty . . . A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will come from your body” (Gen. 35:11).

And when God makes a promise, not even dysfunction can thwart His intentions.

We know his father Jacob for the tricks he played on his brother. We’re talking true tricks that changed the course of history. Like when he manipulated his older brother, Esau, out of his rightful inheritance (Gen. 20:19-34). And don’t forget about the elaborate scheme Jacob and his mother cooked up to scam his father and take the family blessing for himself (Gen. 27). Yes, this is the family baggage into which Joseph was born. But God’s promise met the dysfunction even way back then, and He worked His plan according to the promise.

God worked His plan despite the four different women who bore Jacob’s children. God’s promise met the dysfunction and continually turned it around for His own purpose.

His mother tried to use Joseph’s birth as a pawn in the game she played with her sister. A competition  in which each of them would try to use their children to win Jacob’s love. But Jacob loved Joseph’s mom best, with or without babies.

I imagine from Jacob’s perspective, Joseph only served as a reminder of his love for Rachel.

Twelve boys and one girl born from four mothers and one dad. It sounds more like a reality show than the makings of a biblical hero. But God had a plan. One that included taking the young Joseph and making him into one of the most powerful men in the land. God had a plan that proved greater than the greatest dysfunction.

He has a plan for you and me, too. It involves trusting His Son, Jesus Christ, with our lives and letting Him transform our own dysfunction for His glorious purpose.


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