29 When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his clothes 30 and returned to his brothers and said, “The boy is gone, and I, where shall I go?” 31 Then they took Joseph’s robe and slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. 32 And they sent the robe of many colors and brought it to their father and said, “This we have found; please identify whether it is your son’s robe or not.” 33 And he identified it and said, “It is my son’s robe. A fierce animal has devoured him. Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.” 34 Then Jacob tore his garments and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father wept for him. 36 Meanwhile the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard. Genesis 37:29-36 ESV
(Disclaimer: I love Jacob and I am in no way out to malign his character nor call into question his favored position with God by sharing this.) I am always amazed how Jacob responds to Joseph’s plight. While Jacob has been both the deceiver (Gen 27) and deceived (by Laban Gen 29 and in this passage), the deception that occurs in Genesis 37:29-36 is both tragic and prophetic.
Isaac, due to his failing eyesight questioned Jacob numerous times to hear and feel if he was really Esau (Gen 27). Jacob questioned Laban’s deceit in marrying Leah (Gen 29:25). Yet, no questions were asked in Genesis 37:29-36. Jacob’s sons commanded him to identify (hiphil, imperative, 2ms) if this was his’s sons robe or not (v 32). Jacob identifies it and automatically without doubt assumes that Joseph was devoured by a fierce animal and torn to pieces (v 33). Jacob does not ask one question. Jacob blindly accepts that what he sees is the truth. Jacob does not give any consideration to the fact that he is being deceived. Due to the sons hatred for Joseph they willfully deceive their father. The sons could have alleviated Jacob’s heartache by confessing “they sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver” (37:28) and that the blood on Joseph’s robe belongs to a goat (37:32).
This perception of the truth results in Jacob tearing his own garment and putting sackcloth literally on his loins and mourned (v 34); refusing to be comforted (v 35). Mathews states, “Jacob performed the traditional acts of mourning the dead. Scruffy “sackcloth” was worn (here, lit., “on his loins”) by mourners to inflict on themselves biting discomfort…That Jacob refused his children’s consolation was uncommon, revealing the intensity of his grief (cf. Isa 22:4), for his rejection of comforters meant the most aggravated anguish (e.g., Ps 69:20)…Typically, a period of mourning would be appointed (e.g., 27:41; 50:4; Deut 34:8), but in Jacob’s mind no end to his sorrow is possible (e.g., Isa 51:19); therefore he believes he will die “in [the state of] mourning” (v. 35), finding relief only in meeting his deceased son “in Sheol” (K. Mathews, Genesis 11:27-50:26 NAC, 2005, p. 701).
For 22 years Jacob believed that Joseph was dead. But God, in His mercy allows Jacob to reunite with Joseph after 22 years! (For my thoughts on Jospeh and Potiphar click on the hyperlink.) “What happens to Joseph foreshadows all that will happen to the sons of Jacob. They will be carried into Egypt and will be put into slavery. In this sense, then, Jacob’s final words set the focus of the narratives to follow: “in mourning will I go down to the grave [Sheol] to my son” (v. 35). Ironically, the narratives about Joseph conclude with Jacob’s going down (46:3–4) to Egypt to see his son and then end with his own death (50:24–26)” (J. Sailhamer, “Genesis” REBC, 2008, p. 275).
What happened with Jacob is again, tragic and prophetic. It is equally tragic and prophetic that the sons (children) of God are being deceived today. There is no question that end time deception is upon us and Jesus’s words are coming to life in real time: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household” (Matt 10:34-36). Not all family members share in our joy of our faith in Christ. Not all family members accept that we hold the Bible as our standard of Truth. Not all family members have the same view of current events.
We are living in a time where it is easy to be manipulated. Dear reader, you do not need me to tell you that we have access to information at rates never before imagined. Not every act of deception is intentional and nefarious (some really are unintentional); however, now more than ever do believers need to ask questions about what they see, read and hear. We need to exercise wisdom, discernment and common sense when it comes to what we take in and what we share with others.
It is concerning to me how often believers share information without checking to see who wrote the article and if what they are sharing is valid. 22 years is a long time to wait before asking questions. The way this world is moving we may not have 22 years to wait to find out the truth like Jacob did and learning that Joseph was alive.
We need to start asking questions now. We need to be like the Bereans and examine if what we are hearing is in line with Scripture (Acts 17:11). Truth be told, it is always easier to see how someone else is being deceived rather than self-reflecting if our own beliefs/thoughts/perceptions are true. There is no longer any excuse, the time has come for each believer to “test the spirits to see if they are from God” (1 John 4:1).
Lord God, thank You for Your Word. Thank You Lord that in Your Word we learn who You are, who we are and what You require of Your people. Lord God, have mercy on believers. Lord God, fill those of us who are in Christ with wisdom, discernment and common sense. Lord God, for those whom You have called to be watchmen, help them to be vigilant in being on guard. For those who You have called to shepherd Your people, may they lead, feed and protect Your people well. Lord God, help us to what information to take in and what information to discard. Help us to investigate to the best we can if what we are reading, hearing and seeing is true.
Lord God, thank You for this reader. Lord God, for the reader who is in Christ may they set their hearts and minds on You and not the things of this world. Lord God, for the reader who does not know Christ, I ask with a heavy and burdened heart for today to be the day of their salvation. Lord God, You abhor sin. You abhor deceitful scales and lying tongues. Lord, help Your people to be Ambassadors of Christ today: pointing the lost to Jesus and building up Your Body. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.