Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Epitome of a Dysfunctional Family

Ask anyone to name five heroes from the Old Testament and undoubtedly Joseph would make most people’s lists. Now if you think you come from a dysfunctional home, you have nothing on the boy known for wearing his coat of many colors. Check out this fact sheet about Joseph’s family.

Joseph’s father was a man named Jacob whose name meant “deceiver” which was a very accurate description of this man’s reputation and character as he tricked his brother out of his birthright and his father out of a blessing.

What goes around comes around and Jacob ends up being deceived himself. He falls in love with a beautiful woman named Rachel and agrees to work for her father, Laban, for seven years in order to marry his love. Seven years later after the ceremony ended and Jacob was with his bride in the bridal chamber and the wedding veil came off, he realized that Laban had tricked him and instead of marrying Rachel, he had married her older sister, Leah (Leah is described in the Bible as having “weak eyes” which may just be Hebrew for the fact that she was “butt ugly”.).

Jacob agrees to work seven more years for Laban in order to marry Rachel as well and so he ends up with two wives who just happen to be sisters. Does anybody else besides me see a problem brewing with this relationship?

Leah bears Jacob seven children…6 sons and 1 daughter named Dinah. But Jacob also adds two of his wife’s handmaidens to his list of wives and between them 4 more sons are born to him. Rachel, however is barren for many years before God opens her womb and she gives birth to none other than our Biblical hero, Joseph.

Once Joseph is born, Jacob decides to move his entire family back to Canaan. On the way they camp near the city of Shecem. Dinah, the daughter of Jacob by Leah, goes into the city where she is taken by force and raped. Her brothers are so angry that they set a trap that resulted in their slaughtering all the men in the city.

To make the journey back to Canaan even worse, Rachel, who had gotten pregnant again, gives birth to another son named Benjamin, but she herself dies in childbirth and Jacob has to bury her.

And if that is not enough, Jacob’s oldest son by Leah, whose name was Reuben, has sexual relations with one of Jacob’s wives who also would have been the mother of two of his step-brothers. Can you say “dysfunctional”?

Maybe you come from a dysfunctional home. Maybe your lineage is littered with mistake after mistake and rebellion after rebellion. Let Joseph be a lesson to you. No matter how dysfunctional you family history may be, God can still make you a hero!

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