Going Once…Going Twice…Sold!

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Unchecked hatred leads to greater sin.

Genesis(102) (Part of the Origins(100) series)
by Stuart Johns(233) on March 12, 2023 (Sunday Morning(350))

Confession(14), Confrontation(3), Deception(5)


Going Once…Going Twice…Sold!

(Genesis 37:12-36)



“Harriet Tubman was born into slavery on a Maryland plantation in 1822. As she grew up, she was made to work driving oxen, trapping muskrats in the woods, and as a nursemaid. Harriet's owners frequently whipped her. And she endured the pain of seeing three of her sisters sold, never to be seen again. But when her owner tried to sell one of her brothers, Harriet's mother openly rebelled. The would-be buyer gave up after Harriet's mother told him, ‘The first man that comes into my house, I will split his head open.’


Her mother's actions likely implanted in Harriet the idea that resistance to evil was right—and could sometimes be successful. As a child, Harriet herself … would run away for days at a time. But there were rays of joy in her life, as well. Harriet's mother told her stories from the Bible, which developed in her a deep and abiding faith in God.


When Harriet was about 26 years old, she learned that she might be sold away from her family. The time had come to try to escape. She made her way some ninety miles along the Underground Railroad. She traveled at night to avoid slave catchers, following the North Star, until she reached Pennsylvania, and freedom. Once there, she dared to make a dangerous decision: She risked her own freedom in order to give others theirs.


For eight years, she led scores of slaves north to freedom. During these trips she relied upon God to guide and protect her. She never once lost a runaway slave. As Harriet herself later put it, "I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger."


She gave all the credit to God, explaining, “‘Twant me, 'twas the Lord. I always told him, ‘I trusts to you. I don't know where to go or what to do, but I expect you to lead me,’ and he always did.” Her faith deeply impressed others. As abolitionist Thomas Garrett put it, ‘I never met with any person of any color who had more confidence in the voice of God, as spoken direct to her soul.’”


Source: Adapted from Eric Metaxas, "Harriet Tubman, on the Money," Breakpoint (5-6-16).





  • ME

    • Estate auctions in Ohio

        • Judy and I went to several estate auctions when we lived in Ohio

        • We were able to get some pretty nice furniture pieces for a little bit of nothing

        • We had those pieces for a long time before we got rid of them

        • I was always hopeful that the bid would not go too high, since we did not have a lot of money

    • Winners Fellowship Auctions

        • When we used to have the Winners Fellowship Auctions, there were a few things I always bid on

          • I would bid on the large jars of pickled eggs and beets

          • I would also bid on artwork, like photographs and paintings

        • I don’t think I ever won the bid for one of the large jars of pickled eggs and beets, but I did win the bid on a couple of artwork pieces


  • WE

    • Winners Fellowship Auctions

        • How many of us have experienced the excitement of the Winners Fellowship Auctions?

        • What items were bid on the most? (Nancy Tate’s hog maul, Leonard Tate’s raspberry ice cream, Lucy McNair’s pickled eggs and beets, Connie Tate’s paper-thin cookies, and perhaps some other items)

    • Slave trading

        • My guess is that none of us have ever been part of slave trading

        • Slavery is still prevalent today, even though it is no longer legal

        • SumAll.org compared slavery from 1860 to today (2012)

          • There were 25 million slaves worldwide in 1860 and there were 27 million slaves worldwide in 2012

          • The median price for a slave in 1860 was $134 and the median price for a slave in 2012 was $140

          • 78% of slaves were legal in 1860 and 0% of slaves are legal in 2012

          • [https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2016/february/4020816.html]


Last week we talked about the hatred that Joseph’s brothers had toward him. ​​ Their hatred grew and eventually turned into jealousy/envy when Joseph shared his dreams with them. ​​ We will see today the result of having their hatred unchecked. ​​ It went beyond more hatred and envy to something much more serious. ​​ We will see again today that . . .


BIG IDEA – Unchecked hatred leads to greater sin.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Genesis 37:12-36)

    • Pursue (vv. 12-17)

        • Last week

          • Joseph’s brothers hated him, because he was the favored son of Jacob and he had been given a special robe

          • They hated him even more when he told them his first dream about their sheaves bowing down to his

          • They were envious and jealous after he shared his second dream with them about the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowing down to him

          • Jacob rebuked Joseph, but also kept the dream in his mind

          • After all that happened, Joseph’s brothers went 50-60 miles north of Hebron to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem

        • Israel’s request

          • Israel/Jacob reminds Joseph that his brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem

            • Warren Wiersbe asks a couple of good questions for us to consider [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Old Testament, Genesis-Deuteronomy, 143]

              • “Why were Jacob’s sons pasturing their flocks fifty miles from home when there was surely good grassland available closer to Hebron? [Possible answer: ​​ They didn’t want anybody from the family spying on them]”

              • “Why did they return to the dangerous area near Shechem when Jacob’s family had such a bad reputation among the citizens there (remember that Simeon and Levi murdered the Hivites after Shechem raped their sister Dinah)? (34:30) [Suggested answer: ​​ The brothers were involved with the people of the land in ways they didn’t want Jacob to know about]”

          • Israel/Jacob tells Joseph that he is going to send him to his brothers near Shechem

            • “Knowing that his sons hated Joseph, why did Jacob send him out to visit them alone and wearing the special garment that had aggravated them so much?...The answer is that the providential hand of God was working to accomplish His divine purposes for Jacob and his family, and ultimately for the whole world….God had ordained that Joseph would go to Egypt, and this was the way He accomplished it.” [Wiersbe, 143]

            • The reason that Jacob gives for sending Joseph is so he can see if all is well with his sons and the flocks

        • Joseph’s response

          • Joseph is compliant

          • Joseph’s response can be translated as “very well,” “here am I,” “I am ready,” or “I will go.”

          • Joseph’s obedience to his father’s request is amazing, especially in light of the fact that he knows his brothers hate him – they will not even talk to him or greet him

          • This should be an interesting interaction

        • Hide and seek

          • Joseph leaves the valley of Hebron and heads to Shechem [show map]

          • When he arrives in Shechem he can’t find his brothers, so he’s wandering around the fields on the outskirts of Shechem looking for them

            • “The Hebrew word that the NIV translates ‘wandering’ is generally used when someone is lost or straying from the right path. ​​ This same verb described Hagar’s wandering in the 21:14.” ​​ [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 664]

            • Roaming may be a better word to describe what Joseph is doing

          • Anonymous man

            • We are not given the name of the man that finds Joseph roaming around the fields outside of Shechem

            • “Whether the ‘man’ is an angel or a human, the unseen hand of the Lord is apparent here. ​​ He is directing Joseph to discover his brothers so that the divine plan for the salvation of Jacob and many peoples (50:20) might be realized, although it meant a troubling time for the house of Jacob.” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 695]

            • It is not by chance, but by God’s providence and sovereignty, that this man appears and directs Joseph

            • It is also not by chance, but by God’s providence and sovereignty, that this anonymous man overhears the brothers’ plan to go to Dothan (do’-thawn/doth’-a-en)

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – Helping others is pleasing to God.

              • Galatians 6:9, Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

              • Ephesians 2:10, For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

              • Philippians 2:4, Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

              • Hebrews 13:16, And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

              • Is there someone you can help today or this week?

          • Joseph follows the man’s advice and travels another 13 miles northwest of Shechem to Dothan (doth’-a-en)

        • Joseph doesn’t see his brothers yet, but they recognize him as he approaches

    • Plot (vv. 18-24)

        • Murder and deception

          • Their initial plot was to physically kill Joseph, throw him in one of the cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him

          • They were still very angry about his two dreams and they figured that if they killed him his dreams could never come true

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – Sin in the heart can lead to sin outside the heart.

            • Unchecked hatred leads to greater sin.

            • Joseph’s brothers had taken the hatred and envy they had been harboring in their hearts and were now openly talking about taking it to the next level – murder!

            • Had they dealt with the hatred in their hearts, it is most likely that they would not have gone to the next level – they probably would have started talking to Joseph again

            • Most of us have probably never been so angry with someone that we openly talked with someone else about killing them

            • Listen to the words of Jesus as he taught about anger – “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement.’ ​​ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement. ​​ Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. ​​ But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (Matthew 5:21-22)

            • Jesus teaches us that if we are angry with our brother, we deserve the same judgment as someone who has committed murder.

            • We need to confess the sin in our hearts, so that it doesn’t cause us to sin outside our heart

            • Anger is not the only sin in our hearts that can leak

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess the sin I have been harboring in my heart, so that it doesn’t leak outside my heart.

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – Murder is wrong!

            • “You shall not murder.” ​​ (Exodus 20:13)

            • Murder comes in many forms today

              • Actually taking another person’s life

              • Abortion is murder (taking the life of an unborn baby)

              • Euthanasia (taking the life of an elderly person or a terminally ill individual)

              • God’s Word tells us that murder in any form is wrong

          • At least one of the brothers was not blinded by hatred and envy

        • Neglect

          • Reuben’s suggestion

            • When Reuben heard what the other brothers were plotting, he made a suggestion

            • He encouraged them to not take Joseph’s life or to shed any of his blood

              • PRINCIPLE #4 – Confronting sin is always right.

                • Whether or not Reuben saw it that way or not isn’t important

                • He was confronting his brothers about taking Joseph’s life and shedding his blood

                • Confronting sin in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ is always right, but it must be done in love, after we have first examined ourselves

                  • Matthew 7:3-5, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? ​​ How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? ​​ You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

                  • Galatians 6:1-2, Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. ​​ But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. ​​ Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

                  • Ephesians 5:11-12, Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. ​​ For it is shameful to even mention what the disobedient do in secret.

                  • 1 Timothy 5:20, Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.

                  • James 5:19-20, My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: ​​ Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his ways will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

                • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ In love, confront a fellow believer about their sin, after I have examined myself first.

              • That is basically what Reuben was doing by making the suggestion he did

            • He recommended throwing Joseph into one of the cisterns

            • Perhaps what Reuben was suggesting to his brothers was that without food and water, Joseph would die from natural causes

            • Joseph would still die, but it wouldn’t be from their hands – he would simply die from neglect

          • Reuben’s plan

            • Reuben’s real plan was to rescue Joseph and take him back to his father

            • We are not told why Reuben was hesitant to kill Joseph

              • We know that Reuben had fallen out of Jacob’s good graces, because he had slept with Bilhah, Jacob’s one wife

              • Perhaps Reuben is trying to gain his father’s blessing and good graces again

            • God’s providence and sovereignty at work

              • I believe that God is using Reuben and his suggestion to protect Joseph from death

              • God is orchestrating everything that is happening to accomplish is plan and purpose for Joseph and ultimately, Jacob, his family, and even other nations and peoples

          • The brothers obviously agree with Reuben’s suggestion

            • When Joseph met up with his brothers, they stripped off his special robe and threw him into the empty cistern

            • That was probably the extent of what they were going to do to him

            • They would let nature take its course

          • God had another plan in mind

        • As the brothers sit down to eat, God initiates the next step in His plan

    • Plan (vv. 25-30)

        • Ishmaelites

          • The Ishmaelites are also called the Midianite merchants (37:28) and the Medanites (37:36)

            • It is probably referring to the same group of people

            • “When first sighted the ‘Ishmaelites’ were seen (v. 25) and then as they come nearby they are identified as ‘Midianites’ (v. 11:05 AM28).” ​​ [Mathews, 698]

            • “Midianites are descendants of Abraham through Keturah (25:2), while the Ishmaelites descended from Abraham through Hagar, so these are kinfolk…these traders are second and third cousins to Joseph and his brothers. ​​ It is not unusual to find the two clans together since both occupy the Arabian desert region.” ​​ [Walton, 665]

          • Travel route

            • They are traveling from Gilead to Egypt

            • They had been traveling the east-west trade route, but were now picking up the north-south trade route that would take them to Egypt

            • Dothan (doth’-a-en) was right on that trade route – coincidence, no – providence, yes

          • Trade contents

            • Spices

            • Balm (native to Gilead)

            • Myrrh (southern Arabia)

            • These merchants didn’t trade exclusively in spices and balm

            • They were also willing to trade human beings, as we will see in a moment

          • Before the merchants arrive, Judah has a suggestion

        • Judah’s suggestion

          • Probably the reason that Judah speaks up at this point is because Reuben is not with them

          • Judah also recognizes that murder is wrong and perhaps uses his suggestion as an opportunity to confront his brothers about their sinful desire to kill Joseph

            • The Lord is using Judah’s conscience to accomplish His plan and purpose for Joseph

            • Judah is looking at what they can gain by not killing Joseph, but instead, selling him to the Midianite merchants

            • One other interesting note about what Judah says

              • If they don’t kill Joseph, they will not have to cover up his blood

              • “Judah is primarily concerned that he and his brothers not shed innocent blood (v. 26). ​​ His apprehension is that spilled blood cries out from the ground for vengeance when one attempts to cover it (Gen. 4:10; Job 16:18; Isa. 26:21; Ezek. 24:7, 8).” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 421]

              • Genesis 4:10, The Lord said, “What have you done? ​​ Listen! ​​ Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” ​​ (Cain and Abel)

              • Job 16:18, “O earth, do not cover my blood; may my cry never be laid to rest!”

              • Isaiah 26:21, See, the Lord is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. ​​ The earth will disclose the blood shed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer.

          • Sell Joseph

            • The brothers agree to Judah’s suggestion of selling Joseph to the Midianite merchants

            • When the merchants get close, they pull Joseph out of the cistern and sold him for 20 shekels of silver

            • This was close to the going rate for slaves and probably left some room for the Ishmaelites to make a profit

          • The deal is done and the merchants have left with Joseph

        • God’s providence and sovereignty

          • We are not told where Reuben was during the meal and the deal with the merchants

          • We once again see the providence and sovereignty of God

            • Had Reuben been there during lunch and the arrival of the merchants, he would have protested and refused Judah’s suggestion

            • In God’s providence, he was not there and the deal with the merchants was completed

          • Reuben is beside himself

            • He tore his clothes as a sign of grief and despair

            • He returned to where his brothers were – probably finishing up their meal

            • He tells them that Joseph is gone, which wasn’t news to them

            • He doesn’t know where to turn, because he feels personally responsible for Joseph’s safety

            • How will he be able to gain his father’s approval, since Joseph is gone

        • The brothers simply follow through with the deception they had already thought about when they first plotted to kill Joseph

    • Prevaricate (vv. 31-36)

        • The definition of prevaricate is to, “deceive,” “lie,” or “stretch the truth”

        • Deceived by a goat

          • The brothers slaughtered a goat and dipped Joseph’s robe in it to make it look like Joseph had been attacked by a ferocious animal

          • They took the bloodstained robe to Jacob and told him they had found the robe in this condition

          • They then asked him to identify the robe – was it his son’s robe?

          • Jacob positively identified it as Joseph’s robe

          • The brothers did not have to share their “story” about Joseph’s demise, because Jacob immediately draws his own conclusion – some ferocious animal has devoured him and he has been torn to pieces

          • NOTE – Jacob had deceived his father, Isaac, by preparing a goat just the way he liked and by wearing goat hair skin on his arms and neck to make his father believe he was Esau – now he is being deceived by goat’s blood

        • Mourning

          • Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, and mourned for his son many days

            • We are not told how long “many days” is, but Jacob says that he will mourn for Joseph until he dies

            • “But God had a better outcome for Jacob because ‘many days’ (v. 34) proved to have an end—twenty-two years until they were reunited (cf. 41:46; 41:3; 45:6).” ​​ [Mathews, 701]

          • Jacob refused to be comforted by his sons and daughters

            • We cannot forget that Joseph was his favorite son, born to him by his favorite wife

            • “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[21]).” ​​ [Mathews, 701]

            • This is another result of unchecked hatred leading to greater sin

            • Jacob’s sons were going to have to continue the deception for the rest of their lives

          • PRINCIPLE #5 – Deception causes heartache.

            • Jacob’s sons probably knew how devastated he would be when he learned of Joseph’s death

            • Perhaps they did not realize to what extent it would affect him – he would not be comforted and would never stop mourning until his own death

            • Honesty is always the best policy

              • There will be hurt, anger, and distrust for a little while, but eventually healing and restoration will come

              • Being honest also means we do not have to keep up the ruse, the lie, and the deception

              • Perhaps there has been some deception in your family, at school, at work, or in your neighborhood

              • Healing can begin when we come clean

            • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Begin the healing process by coming clean with the individual(s) I have been deceiving.

          • While Jacob is mourning, Joseph is traveling

        • Joseph’s fate

          • The Midianites sold Joseph to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials

          • He was the captain of the guard, which meant that he and his soldiers were in charge of executions


  • YOU

    • Is there some sin you need to confess today?

    • Is there a fellow believer that you need to confront in love?

    • Is there some deception you need to reveal?


  • WE




“Years late, Jacob would lament, ‘All these things are against me’ (v. 36, KJV), when actually all these things were working for him (Rom. 8:28). ​​ This doesn’t mean that God approved of or engineered the brothers’ hatred and deception, or that they weren’t responsible for what they did. ​​ It does mean that our God is so great that He can work out His purposes even when people are doing their worst.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 144]


“A young man from an impoverished background dreamed of a better life for himself and his family than the hardscrabble existence he had known growing up. He saved all he could and went deeply into debt to launch a grocery startup in a town called New Salem. His partner had an alcohol problem, and he ended up so far in the hole that he referred to his financial obligations as ‘the national debt.’ He gave up on ever being a successful businessman, and it took him more than a decade to pay off his failed dream.


He went into law, and then politics, and in 1860 Abraham Lincoln was elected president. He was an avid Shakespeare fan, and his favorite quote came from Hamlet: ‘There is a divinity that shapes our ends, roughhew them as we may.’ He came to believe this deeply about his own life, but also about the nation he led. His entire second inaugural address is an amazingly profound reflection on how God was at work in the Civil War in ways more mysterious and profound than any human being could fathom. What a loss it would have been—not just to him but to a whole nation—if the doors of that little grocery he started in New Salem hadn't closed.”


Source: John Ortberg, All the Places You'll Go. Except When You Don't (Tyndale, 2015), pp. 216-217.