Genesis 37:31-36: Sowing and reaping.

31 Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. 32 They took the ornate robe back to their father and said, ‘We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.’ 33 He recognised it and said, ‘It is my son’s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.’ 34 Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. ‘No,’ he said, ‘I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.’ So his father wept for him. 36 Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard. ” NIV

As I read through this last section of the chapter, it began to dawn on me how many references there are in the entire chapter to Joseph’s ‘’robe’’. Here was the bug bear. It wasn’t the robe as such, but what it stood for. It spoke loudly. It said to them, ‘Your father loves Joseph more than you.’ That’s a terrible thing for any child (including grown up children) to have to feel. Of course it doesn’t excuse the atrocious conduct of the brothers, but it helps us understand the dynamic at play.

Matthew Henry comments that, following one sin, the devil suggests following it up with another, in order to hide the first. But ‘truth will out’, and eventually it does in this wonderful story. He also says that a parent will understand something of Jacob’s grief. How he must have tortured himself with thoughts of his beloved son’s bloody end. Maybe he imagined young Joseph calling out for his daddy, and he wasn’t there. Perhaps he beat himself up for sending him in the first place. His pain must have been almost unbearable, and he was inconsolable.

The Bible repeatedly teaches that we reap what we sow. It tells us this truth in words and shows us in living examples. There is a further irony, then, in the unfolding story. It is that Jacob, who deceived his own father by means of a slaughtered goat (ch.27), was himself deceived by his sons in a similar fashion. As you ‘sow’, don’t imagine you will be an exception to the principle:

‘’Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life’’ (Galatians 6:7,8).