Dr. Gary Baker is an independent columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email him at pastor@gracebaptistpaso.org.

I want to start a series of messages on a character study of the life of the patriarch Joseph. I’m currently preaching on this topic in my Sunday morning sermons, which has resulted in a positive response from my congregation. I believe this is happening because the Bible records actual and historical events in the life of people that have very real practical lessons for our lives today.

Human nature and behavior have changed so little over the centuries. The Bible records the truth about many of life’s problems and their solutions. This is very helpful in overcoming some of life’s perplexing dilemmas. The life of Joseph is a great commentary on the causes of a dysfunctional family and how Joseph overcame this serious problem by displaying forgiveness, kindness, grace, and mercy.

Joseph was one of the twelve sons of the famous patriarch Jacob whose father was Isaac, and grandfather was Abraham, who was the founder of the Hebrew nation (Genesis 12-30). Joseph was part of a large family consisting of Jacob’s four wives, twelve sons, and one daughter. One of the main problems that produced Jacob’s dysfunctional family was the envy and jealousy caused by the attitude of competition.

Jacob’s wives competed for his love and favor. His sons competed because of Jacob’s favoritism of his son Joseph. Much of the fault for causing Jacob’s dysfunctional family was produced by Jacob’s extraordinary love and favoritism of Joseph. Jacob’s favorite wife was Rachel, and her first-born son was Joseph.

Getting through this together, Atascadero

Jacob’s favoritism caused a serious problem of hateful sibling rivalry. Jacob is well remembered for making Joseph a colorful tunic exclusively for his favorite son. It is amazing to see how Jacob’s favoritism caused such serious emotional problems in his other sons. They could not tolerate Joseph, and their jealousy turned into hate. This hate over a period of years caused Joseph’s brothers to desire to murder their brother. God prevented this from occurring, but He allowed Joseph to be sold as a slave who was taken to Egypt.

One of the great lessons in Joseph’s life was how God blessed and cared for him. God had a wonderful plan to fulfill by sending Joseph to Egypt. God has a miraculous way of changing the results of the evil treatment of people who do hateful things. The study of Joseph’s life will reveal how God worked thru the tragedies that Joseph experienced and made him a kind and forgiving man. God can overcome the problems of dysfunctionalism in any circumstance. In future messages, we’ll learn how this occurred in Joseph’s life. God enabled Joseph to overcome the problems of being treated with jealousy, unkindness, and hatred. God can also enable us today to overcome being mistreated through teaching us to be forgiving.