Family Dysfunction Redeemed Part 1

Liberty Baptist on August 9th, 2020

Yes, the cinematics are terrible. My apologies.

Message Title: Family Dysfunction Redeemed Part 1
Theme: Redeemer of Stories
Main Text: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28;
Scripture Reading: Romans 10:5-15;
RCL Scripture: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28; Psalm 105: 1-6, 16-22, 45b; 1 Kings 19:9-18; Psalm 85:8-13; Romans 10:5-15; Matthew 14:22-33
Focus: Abraham’s family dysfunction is generational but not sanctioned by God.
Function: To fight our desire to use favoritism or power in the church and purse a healthier family dynamic.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Romans 10:5-15 Moses writes about the righteousness that comes from the Law: The person who does these things will live by them.[a] But the righteousness that comes from faith talks like this: Don’t say in your heart, “Who will go up into heaven?” (that is, to bring Christ down) or “Who will go down into the region below?” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the message of faith that we preach). Because if you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and in your heart you have faith that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 Trusting with the heart leads to righteousness, and confessing with the mouth leads to salvation. 11 The scripture says, All who have faith in him won’t be put to shame.[e] 12 There is no distinction between Jew and Greek, because the same Lord is Lord of all, who gives richly to all who call on him. 13 All who call on the Lord’s name will be saved. 14 So how can they call on someone they don’t have faith in? And how can they have faith in someone they haven’t heard of? And how can they hear without a preacher?15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the good news.


Trigger disclaimer: Family dysfunction and abuse will be talked about today. Please feel the freedom to step back if this is a topic you can’t tackle at this moment.

BOOK INTRO: Matilda by Roald Dahl

  1. Details about Book:
    1. Author: Roald Dahl, British writer
    2. Date Published: 1988
    3. Setting: In a small British village lived a family of four: Mr & Mrs. Wormwood, Brother, and Matilda.
  2. Focus of today:
    1. Matilda was a unique little girl with a skilled mind. At 5 ½ she could read. She thought and spoke critically for someone so small. ButMatilda’s parents didn’t like her. Matilda’s principal didn’t like her.
      1. Narrator specifically talks about how there are 2 types of parents: the parents who see their kid as perfect and exceptional & the parent who despises their kid
      2. Matilda’s parents were both at the same time. They loved Matilda’s brother and hated Matilda. Matilda was smart for a young girl, smarter than her parents, and her parents only saw her as a puny, insignificant creature. They favored her brother because he behaved like them.
    2. Matilda has a teacher named Miss Honey. We learn that Miss Honey suffered abuse by her aunt & caregiver after her mother died and even more after her father died. Her aunt hated her, all children really, and made Miss Honey suffer.
  3. Though Matilda is a children’s book, there are some dark and heavy themes of family dysfunction and abuse present.

TRANSITIONS: In our text for today we will see some family hatred much like what Matilda and Miss Honey experienced.  My hope is we can engage in a conversation about a healthier family dynamic through this text.

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28; Join me in turning to Genesis 37 as we examine the dysfunctional family dynamics of Israel and his sons.

ENGAGE: Background/Family Tree

  1. Anyone know who the first son of Israel was?(Reuben)
  2. Anyone know who the last was? (Benjamin)
  3. How many sons did Leah give birth to? (Five)
  4. How many sons did Rachel give birth to? (2… though not yet)
  5. Wiki deets:
    1. The sons of Leah; Reuben (Jacob’s firstborn), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun
    2. The sons of Rachel; Joseph, and Benjamin
    3. The sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaid; Dan, and Naphtali
    4. The sons of Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid; Gad, and Asher

Vs 1-4 Jacob lived in the land of Canaan where his father was an immigrant. 2This is the account of Jacob’s descendants. Joseph was 17 years old and tended the flock with his brothers. While he was helping the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives, Joseph told their father unflattering things about them. 3Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons because he was born when Jacob was old. Jacob had made for him a long robe. 4When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of his brothers, they hated him and couldn’t even talk nicely to him. ….

  1. Jacob is now called Israel.
  2. Basically, Joseph tells his older brothers that their moms’ suck.
  3. Israel likes Joseph the best
    1. Israel has a favorite son, the only son from his favorite wife (however, she eventually has a second son before she dies).
  4. Joseph, the youngest, gets new clothes.
  5. The brothers hate Joseph. Perhaps it’s for good reason. Could Joseph be this clueless?

Vs 12- 28 12 Joseph’s brothers went to tend their father’s flocks near Shechem.13 Israel said to Joseph, “Aren’t your brothers tending the sheep near Shechem? Come, I’ll send you to them.” And he said, “I’m ready.” 14 Jacob said to him, “Go! Find out how your brothers are and how the flock is, and report back to me.” So Jacob sent him from the Hebron Valley. When he approached Shechem, 15 a man found him wandering in the field and asked him, “What are you looking for?” 16 Joseph said, “I’m looking for my brothers. Tell me, where are they tending the sheep?” 17 The man said, “They left here. I heard them saying, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them in Dothan. 18 They saw Joseph in the distance before he got close to them, and they plotted to kill him. 19The brothers said to each other, “Here comes the big dreamer. 20 Come on now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of the cisterns, and we’ll say a wild animal devoured him. Then we will see what becomes of his dreams!” 21 When Reuben heard what they said, he saved him from them, telling them, “Let’s not take his life.” 22 Reuben said to them, “Don’t spill his blood! Throw him into this desert cistern, but don’t lay a hand on him.” He intended to save Joseph from them and take him back to his father. 23 When Joseph reached his brothers, they stripped off Joseph’s long robe, 24 took him, and threw him into the cistern, an empty cistern with no water in it. 25 When they sat down to eat, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with camels carrying sweet resin, medicinal resin, and fragrant resin on their way down to Egypt. 26 Judah said to his brothers, “What do we gain if we kill our brother and hide his blood? 27 Come on, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites. Let’s not harm him because he’s our brother; he’s family.” His brothers agreed. 28 When some Midianite traders passed by, they pulled Joseph up out of the cistern. They sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver, and they brought Joseph to Egypt.

  1. The text drops to the reaction to the brothers post conversation about a dream Joseph has where his brothers will all bow to him. No wonder this section comes next.
  2. “Here comes this dreamer”—Resentment of the favorite one.
    1. Plot to kill him
    2. Reuben suggests they not kill him but put him in a cistern (great well)
    3. Judah suggests instead that they sell him in to slavery to the Ishmaelites instead of ‘harming’ him.
  3. Brothers sell Joseph into slavery to the Midianite traders/Ishmaelites. 
    1. Weird discrepancy in the text: was it Ishmaelites or Midianites?
    2. Midianites are not the same as Ishmaelites, though they are both from Abraham.
      1. Midianites are from Midian, Abraham’s son by Keturah
      2. Ishmaelites are from Ishmael, Abraham’s son by Hagar
    3. Indicator of an “other” though they’re technically related (PF)
      1. These “others” exist because of sibling rivalry and favoritism.
      2. “ignorance of the other”–easy to not engage in learning about our neighbor, ‘the other’
  4. Regardless of who purchased him, Joseph is sent to Egypt as a slave.
    1. Don’t worry! This isn’t the end of the story, there’s more coming next week!


  1. A frustration I have with this story involves a frequent view of Joseph as this spotless or perfect.
    1. SW: Joseph is favored and hated by the rest of his family. An image of what it is like to be ‘elect’ and hated by the rest of the world. (SW)
    2. Truth: This perspective is missing the point -the father fails in this situation by picking a favorite child. The father causes division in his family. But honestly, Joseph is not innocent in this story, he revels in his favored status. This whole family reeks of dysfunction.
  2. The Problem is Favoritism: This problem isn’t new.  We seethe sins of the father acting out favoritism, repeated throughout OT (PF)
    1. Jacob & Esau were estranged because of favoritism
    2. Joseph and his brothers estranged because of favoritism
    3. The system of inheritance to the oldest son was part of the problem.
    4.  But the system doesn’t mean God likes it or endorses it.
  3. Jacob/Israel’s favoritism does not represent God’s favoritism. God does not treat the 12 tribes according to Jacob’s preference in the Promise Land. (PF)
    1. If you look forward in the story for Israel (post exodus) we see that God did not give prominence to the 12 tribes based on who the original sons were in Genesis: (PF)
      1. David comes from the tribe of Benjamin, not Joseph
      2. Joseph’s tribe isn’t noted for doing amazing things
      3. (Jesus is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah)

APPLICATION: To fight our desire to use favoritism or power in the church and purse a healthier family dynamic.

  1. Family dysfunction: It’s natural to consider your own family dynamics as we investigate this story from scripture.  Therefore,I want to take a moment to state the obvious with you, which means we’re going to be heavy for a moment.
    1. God does not endorse abuse. God does not put people through abuse to teach lessons. Gods’ desires don’t always match what creation chooses to do.
    2. Remember, we’re in a series called Redeemer of Stories. This isn’t about making excuses for God, because God isn’t to blame for abuse, humans are.
      1. Humans are imperfect and do not represent God infallibly. Hurt people hurt people and we perpetuate a cycle of pain because we refuse to be the one that changes.
  2. Church dysfunction: In the same way, there is family dysfunction, there is church dysfunction. After all, we refer to the church as a family. We use money, popularity, and power to maintain our personal vision of church, Christianity, or religion. We allow our preferences and the misconception of favoritism to divide the family of God.
    1. Favoritism doesn’t bring the Gospel to those in need.
  3. What does a dysfunctional family redemption look like?–not going to lie, I don’t have this all figured out. I am a work in progress. But I know there are a few key things in healthy relationships:
    1. Communication: finding healthy ways to communicate about our thoughts and feelings.
    2. Humility: recognize when you’re right (and not being a jerk), admit when you’re wrong (and not being a jerk), or acknowledge when you don’t have enough information (and not being a jerk). 
    3. Adaptability & Teachability: a willingness to learn and shift when you know better.
    4. Team-minded: Thinking not only of the self but of the whole.
  4. Redeemed Stories:
    1. Matilda helped redeem Miss Honey’s story by helping Miss Honey get her home back.
    2. Matilda’s story gets redeemed when Matilda gets adopted by Miss Honey.


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