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Sunday Worship Service

Trouble In The Tribe

January 24, 2021

Genesis 37:18-36

By Pastor Josh Munan




Sermon Notes

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Trouble in the Tribe

Genesis 37:18 – 36


Proposition: Sin can delay God’s plans, but sin can never destroy His purposes.


Application: 1. Do not be surprised when people are jealous about the Lord’s work in your life.  2. When envious people seek to thwart God’s purposes in you, the pain may be a part of the process to bring about the promise. 

  1. The powers of darkness seek to deceive God’s people by obscuring the truth. Be a lover of truth and verify the narrative with the standard of truth.



Love between siblings cannot be assumed. As long as there is more than one child in the house, sibling rivalry is certain. Here are a few stories, I would like to share about sibling rivalry. One girl said, “I used to bite my own arm and then start crying, blaming my brother.” Another sibling said: “When I was 7 or 8, my brothers and I thought it would be funny to tell my sister that the jalapeños in the garden were pickles and have her eat one.”

And lastly, “The neighbor boys and I covered an upside-down wheelbarrow with a pile of leaves and talked my little brother into jumping into it. I've expressed regret to him many times and he's forgiven me. But I still feel guilty over the look of betrayal on his face.”

Love between siblings cannot be assumed. In the Bible, we read about hatred between Cain and Abel.  We read about the rivalry between Jacob and Esau.  In this passage, we read about jealous anger between Joseph and his brothers.  The brothers’ level of malice toward Joseph, was so huge they could not even say shalom to him (37:4b).

Proposition: Sin can delay God’s plans, but sin can never destroy His purposes.

  1. Jealous Schemes (37:18 – 24)

Resentment Aroused (37:18 – 20): Jealousy is aroused when someone sees the good fortune in others and is so disturbed by that person’s success they want them to suffer. 

A jealous person is angry that another should be in a better state than they are.   Once a person is seized with jealousy, they lose all sense of reason.  Their minds become blinded to the plainest truth.

Read Prov 27:4

The demons of jealousy had conquered Jacob’s sons. Even from a distance, the sight of Joseph was enough to arouse ill will and the brothers wasted no time to vent their dislike for Joseph.  Notice the swift downward spiral of evil.  It began with jealousy, moved into hatred, and ended in a plot to murder. 

How could the brothers be consumed with such jealousy as to plot the murder of their own flesh and blood?


  1. The first reason, was Jacob’s obvious favouritism toward Joseph. Joseph was the first

child of his most beloved wife Racheal.  It appears, Jacob made no effort to hide his favouritism, causing painful envy among his sons and fierce enmity toward Joseph. 

  1. The second reason the brothers harboured ill will toward Joseph was because he was

a snitch.  Joseph often brought reports back to his father about his brothers’ conduct. 

  1. The third reason was because Joseph was the heir of the birthright. A special garment

was given to him to single out Joseph as the heir. At first, the birthright belonged to Reuben because he was the firstborn. But he defiled Jacob’s bed, and thus lost the birthright. 

Read 1 Chron 5:1, 2


  1. Each one of these alone was not enough to compel the brothers to kill Joseph. But

when combined with the last reason, that of making his prophetic dreams known to his brothers that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  By putting an end to Joseph, they could put an end to his dreams.  What were Joseph’s prophetic dreams?  At some point in the future Joseph would rule over his brothers.  They were outraged by that thought.

Illustration:  Soon after Donald Trump became president in 2017, a movement called Not My President began.  Many did not want President Trump to rule over the US and were very vocal about it.

Jacob’s sons did not want Joseph to reign over them. 

Read Luke 19:14

They could not accept God’s choice of Joseph.  In their minds, the true ruler was Judah not Joseph. 

Read Gen 49:10 

It did not matter, that God destined Joseph for leadership, the brothers refused Joseph’s right to rule and so plotted to do away with him.  Little did they know, the very plans they were scheming would lead to the fulfilment of God’s purposes.

Read 50:20

Sin can delay God’s plans, but sin can never destroy His purposes.

Reuben Arbitrates (37:21, 22): Whereas the brothers wanted to thwart Joseph’s dreams, Reuben wanted to thwart their schemes. As the oldest brother, Reuben would have to give an account to Jacob, for the well being of Joseph.

He wanted to spare Jacob the grief of losing his most beloved son.  Perhaps Reuben saw the extent his own sin grieved Jacob. His stricken conscience troubled him and therefore Reuben was willing to go against the counsel of his brothers. His plan was to rescue Joseph at later time and return him to his father.   

Robe Abandoned (37:23, 24): At last Joseph arrived after a long hard journey.  He was happy to see his brothers. But Joseph did not find a warm welcome. Instead, he was met with hostility. The bothers were upset that Joseph came all decked out with the emblem of his status as the favoured son. 

The robe aroused feelings of hatred and so they stripped it off.  In spite of hearing Joseph’s pleas for mercy, even though they witnessed the anguish of his soul, they remained calloused as they tossed him into a pit.

Read 42:21

  1. Joseph’s Sale (37:25 – 30)

Reuben’s Gone (37:25 – 28): Reuben was absent at this point in the story.  Perhaps he went into hiding, waiting for the right time to rescue Joseph. Or maybe he was guarding the sheep, while the rest of the brothers were feasting.

These men had just thrown their brother into a pit where he would die of hunger.  Meanwhile they indulge their hunger with a meal.  Why would they feast while their brother wasted away?  They may have done this to silence their guilty conscience. 

Making merry obscures the pain of guilt.

Read Amos 6:6

Judah was responsible for the action that spared Joseph’s life. He saw no other way to save Joseph. Better to sell him than to slay him.  They sold Joseph for cheap since they were eager to get rid of him.

Who pulled Joseph out of the pit? The NIV translation insists his brothers pulled Joseph out. But the phrase his brothers is not found in the Hebrew text.  The Hebrew text, suggests it was the Midianites who pulled Joseph out of the pit and then sold him to the Ishmaelites who then sold Joseph to Potiphar (39:1).

Reuben’s Grief (37:29, 30):  Reuben returns to the pit to rescue Joseph and bring him safely back to Jacob.  Turns out Reuben could not complete the rescue mission he began. Joseph is gone.  Reuben tore his garments knowing the horrible anguish his father Jacob would go through upon hearing what happened to his beloved Joseph.

As the oldest son Reuben bore the responsibility for the loss of Joseph. The phrase, where am I to go – means where can I hide from my responsibility as the oldest son.  Where can I hide from my father’s grief? Reuben despaired at the prospect of seeing Jacob’s anguish. 

  • Jacob’s Sorrows (37:31 – 36)

Fabricated Evidence (37:31, 32): The saying goes, deceit covers a multitude of sins – temporarily. Crimes are always covered up by deceit.  Jacob’s sons fabricate evidence to conceal their crime.  They create a narrative to obscure the truth. But deceit is a poor refuge when dealing with the living God.

In the story of Jacob, goats and deceit go hand in hand.  Jacob deceived his father Isaac with goat skins to receive the blessing. Now Jacob’s sons deceive him. with the blood of goats.

Not only did the brothers soak Joseph’s garment in goat blood, they also likely pierced it with holes to prove Joseph was mauled with the fangs and claws of a wild beast.  But it was the brothers’ who were acting like wild beasts.

A Traumatized Father (37:33, 34): Notice the brothers do not inform Jacob of Joseph’s death. They just present the fabricated evidence and let Jacob come to his own judgement.  Jacob draws his conclusion on false yet compelling evidence. The only truth in the evidence was Joseph’s garment.  Jacob’s sorrow was founded on a lie. 

There are three tragedies in this story.  The first, is that siblings can hate each other to such an extent.  The second, is the sale of Joseph. The third, is that Jacob’s horrific grief was based on a lie that had the semblance of truth.  For over twelve years, Jacob mourned the death of his son who was still alive.

In the same way, it is tragic to have our lives disrupted by fabricated narratives and false evidence.  It is so vital, we examine evidence and narratives with the standard of truth.  Once the truth comes out, our troubled souls can be restored.

A Torn Fabric: Pain, grief and mourning are expressed by tearing a garment.  When someone is torn away from us, it is symbolized by tearing a garment.  Jewish people practice this custom even today.  Added to the torn garment, is sackcloth.  Sackcloth is a symbol of repentance.

Jacob may have felt responsible for sending Joseph on this ill-fated mission in search of his brothers.  Jacob tears his garment as an expression of grief and puts on sackcloth as an expression of regret.

A Turn of Events (27:35, 36):  Joseph was Jacob’s favoured son from his favorite wife Rachel. He was not able to find comfort in his anguish. There was not even a grave he could visit to shed his tears. 

Month after month, the sons witness their father’s deep sorrow. Still, they preferred that Joseph be out of their lives, even at the cost of their father’s constant grief. 

Such is the fruit of envy.  Such is the danger of unchecked jealousy.  It clouds out reason. It blinds our minds, to the plainest truths.

Notice, how the deceivers seek to become comforters.  Those responsible for creating the crisis step forward to bring comfort in the crisis.  Although Jacob did not know his sons were to blame for the loss of Joseph, he did know that his sons disliked him.  Jacob rebuffs the comfort offered by those who begrudged his beloved son. 

He was also convinced, he would grieve for Joseph to the day of his own burial.

But while Jacob was mourning his dead son in Canaan, the Midianites were selling the living son, in Egypt. 

Sin can delay God’s plans, but sin can never destroy His purposes.

We leave this chapter with Jacob in despair, but better things are yet to come.  Jacob’s spirit will revive, when he hears the truth that Joseph is alive.  Truth always revives a soul, that has been disturbed by lies.


  1. We should not be surprised that some, even those closest to us, may become jealous

over what the Lord is doing in our lives and then scheme to make our life awful.
2. When envious people, seek to thwart God’s purposes in your life, you may go through painful setbacks.  The pit may be a part of the process to bring about the promise. Sometimes we must pass from one trouble to another, so that we might be made ready for the honours that the Lord has in store.

  1. Our battle, is not with people but with principalities in the heavenly places. The

powers of darkness working through unbelief seek to deceive God’s people with compelling narratives and fabricated evidence.  How do we keep ourselves from being influenced by falsehood?  Distrust and verify.  Jacob knew his sons despised Joseph.

He should have verified the narrative his disobedient sons presented to him. Only truth can expose falsehood. Be a lover of truth, verify every narrative with the standard of truth. Then having exposed the narrative for what it is, stand on the facts of your findings.

Read Prov 30:7, 8


 Download this week's sermon notes 


Trouble In The Tribe
Genesis 37:18-36
Download (182KB)
The Shattered Bonds of Brotherhood
Genesis 37:1-17
Download (391KB)
Bethel at Last!
Genesis 35:1-12
Download (140KB)
Faith Overcoming Fear
Genesis 32:1-12
Download (177KB)
A Surviving and Thriving Church
Jude 20-25
Download (127KB)
Jacob’s Start-Up
Genesis 30:22 – 36
Download (169KB)
Destination Unknown
Genesis 29:1 – 20
Download (141KB)
Lessons from the Ladder
Genesis 28:10 – 22
Download (143KB)
Sermon Notes - A Twin Study
Genesis 25:19 – 34
Download (29KB)
Sermon Note -Let Us Make a Name for the Lord Jesus
Genesis 11:1-9
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Sermon Notes -Surrender and Sacrifice
Genesis 22:1 – 14
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Guided by God
Pastor Josh Munan
Chapter 24:1 - 14
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Sermon Notes - Guided by God
Genesis 24:1 – 14
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The Highs and Lows of Life
Pastor Josh Munan
Chapter 21:1–21
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Sermon Notes - The Highs and Lows of Life
Genesis 21:1 – 21
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The Day God Drew Near
Pastor Josh Munan
Chapter 18:1 - 15
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Sermon Notes - The Day God Drew Near
Genesis 18:1 – 15
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Signed, Sealed and Delivered
Pastor Josh Munan
Chapter 17:1 - 14
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Sermon Notes - Signed, Sealed and Delivered
Genesis 17:1 – 14
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I Did it My Way
Pastor Josh Munan
Chapter 16
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Sermon Notes - I Did It My Way
Genesis 16
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Promise Keeper
Pastor Josh Munan
Chapter 15
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Sermon Notes - Promise Keeper
Genesis 15
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The Great Defender
Pastor Enoch Gray
Chapter 14:14 - 15:1
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Abram and a Lot of Trouble
Pastor Josh Munan
Chapter 13
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Sermon Notes - Abram and a Lot of Trouble
Genesis 13
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Why Israel
Pastor Josh Munan
Chapter 11:31 - 12:9
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Sermon Notes - Why Israel?
Genesis 11:31 – 12:9
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