Family Ties

“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”  Matthew 18:19-20

So, Joseph was the favorite son of Jacob – born of the favorite wife, Rachel, who then died while giving birth to another son, Benjamin. Joseph’s favored status (and his dreams of being elevated above his family) caused such a strain with his brothers that they hated him – enough to wish him dead – enough to act upon it. Some of the older brothers took Joseph and roughed him up and threw him into a pit, later selling him as a slave. They ripped his famous coat of many colors, covered it with blood and led his father to believe he’d been killed by wild animals. Joseph wound up a slave in Egypt, then wrongfully imprisoned, before being released by Pharaoh. He found himself installed in the second highest office in the land because of his dream interpreting abilities. Turns out, those dreams of his came true. This begged the question: Was all this really brought on by sibling rivalry? Seriously? What was really going on?

As my friend always says, ask God a question and you’ll get an answer. It occurred to me recently, that this was not just about family squabbles but more about destroying this family and trying to prevent them from fulfilling their destiny. Jacob, or Israel, was the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham. God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations but he made a special covenant through the descendants of Isaac. From Isaac came twin sons, Esau and Jacob. The covenant carried on through Jacob’s descendants – twelve sons, destined to become 12 tribes and the nation of Israel. Israel the man became Israel the nation, through whom all the nations of the world would be blessed, for Jesus comes from the line of his son, Judah.

Incidentally, Judah is the brother who sold Joseph into slavery for twenty pieces of silver. Selling him was a compromise – Judah initially wanted to kill him. Wow. What better way to thwart Judah’s future than to have his brother’s life on his hands? Imagine the guilt of that. To Judah, this probably seemed like a good plan to derail Joseph’s future but thankfully, God had a better plan. God used this horrible betrayal to put Joseph IN power, in a land of plenty, during a time of famine, so that he could save his family. Think about it – no Joseph, no food, no future. God took these evil events and used them to fulfill his good purpose so Judah was forgiven for the part he played. Joseph was restored to his father and treated as the firstborn – he received a double portion among his brothers. His one tribe was reckoned as two, according to his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. It was a good thing for all that Joseph’s brothers were not able to destroy him, his future and by extension, their own future with their actions.

I thought of the story of Joseph and his brothers and related it to my own family squabbles. Everyone has a story of sibling rivalry. But is it really about the squabble or about something bigger and deeper? What’s really going on? Is there a bigger picture to consider, a destiny for your family to fulfill? What if in tearing down your sibling, you are tearing down yourself or affecting your future? It came to me that there is so much power in unity. But therein lies the problem – unity is dangerous to evil. Divided we can do little but together we can accomplish so much. We can be a force to be reckoned with! But we allow petty squabbles to divide us and cause us to compete with one another to keep us from fulfilling our true purpose. Family is strength. Family is where our power lies. It’s our foundation for everything – for our churches, for our society. Families fall apart and so goes everything else. It’s all dependent on the family unit. So it follows, as we destroy our family relationships it will affect our future.

When my friends admit to me that they enjoy talking or visiting with siblings that they normally don’t get along with, they sound amazed AND a little bit guilty. A friend of mine recently confessed to me, she sounded surprised, that she really enjoyed some time she spent with a sibling. Like, she shouldn’t be having a good time with someone who has previously tormented her. But why be surprised? This is the natural order, not the rivalry – even though that’s been going on since Cain and Abel. That unity, God’s plan for the family, predates fratricide. More people, being of one mind, equals more power. That’s why group prayer is so powerful. Studies have been conducted to prove it. That’s why our family unit is so important and why it constantly comes under attack. That is why marriages are failing and families are estranged. It is so our power will be diluted and we will stand defenseless against the enemy.

My sister recently remarked to me, “Your first reaction is always negative.” My response: “What? ME? You!” And we went back and forth about it for a few minutes. I was a little steamed because I felt misjudged, especially since I try very hard to be encouraging. Apparently, she has been missing out on that most excellent part of moi. I let it go (this time!) because even though it’s untrue, it’s her perception and might as well be true. I didn’t realize that was how she saw me. But I’m not willing to let that divide us because it is so small. Our number has dwindled. We’ve lost a sister and a brother so losing each other has become a real possibility. And some of us are not as close, geographically and relationally. So what we have, we hold on to, we treasure. We stand by each other. My brother told me recently that he is praying for me – that was touching and powerful. I am grateful for his prayers. I need them. I feel stronger just knowing that. I think now, at this stage in our lives, we’re getting past the sibling rivalries. Like Joseph and his brothers, we’re realizing we need each other to stand and to be strong and to have a future.

Be blessed,


P.S. You can find the entire story of Joseph in the book of Genesis, chapters 37 thru 50.

11 Replies to “Family Ties”

  1. I have always felt that family comes first. I also secretly feel that my family is some sort of elite group which makes me feel so blessed and honored to be a part of. I try to instill that in my children as well. Not necessarily the part of the elite group, but about the importance of family. We were all raised by the head of our family, my grandparents, to stand by each other come what may. And for the most part, we do. Great article, Loria! And BTW, I have always felt encouraged after our conversations and it is an excellent part of you!

  2. @ Lici, that’s because you’re not my sister! LOL! Our family gets to know us in a more intimate way – we let them see all of us, the good and the bad. I realize that my family needs to know me as the rest of the world knows me. Just one more thing to work on …
    @ Brenda, thanks! You are so very encouraging! And you always appreciate my messages. Thanks, again.

  3. So many inspirational points to this story, It’s amazing to see God’s Word come to fruition. Joseph’s life is a prime example of God’s awesome promises. Isaiah 43:2 says “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Not only did God protect Joseph through his turmoil, he made him shine like a diamond in the rough. God took a despised brother and turned him into a beloved hero.

  4. Amen! Years ago I asked God to bring my sister and I closer together and he did and to unite our family and he did. God loves to answer prayers concerning families because he loves families. Thank You for that inspiring message.

  5. “He loves families” – that sums up the whole message! Thanks, Val! You all are on fire today! In a minute we gone have to have bible study!

  6. The book of Genesis is my favorite book of the
    Bible, I’m so glad you expounded upon a lot of it’s meaning, especially the sibling rivalry which can be traced back to Isaac and Ishmeal, thanks for sharing.

  7. Love me some Genesis, too! I figured with Passover and Easter coming, this would be a good time to go back to “The Beginning”!

  8. While I am an only child, I have several sisters and brothers in Christ. Therefore, I feel blessed beyond measure. Family is everything…much too precious to let it slip away.

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