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The Destructiveness of Sin

Jesus once asked His disciples, “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?” (Matt. 7:3). We are often blind to our own faults. We can also fail to see how those faults affect others, particularly those closest to us.

Today’s passage recounts Joseph’s brothers plotting to kill him, throwing him in a pit, selling him into slavery, and finally deceiving their father about what had happened. Most of the blame for this family’s dysfunction lies at Jacob’s feet. His favoritism of Joseph has escalated sibling rivalry into hatred. What’s more, Jacob does not seem to understand the tension his favoritism has caused. He sends Joseph on a three- to four-day journey to Shechem, far from the reach of his protection, to check on his siblings (v. 13).

Upon seeing Joseph, the brothers first thought about killing him. They were persuaded by Reuben not to kill Joseph but to throw him into a cistern instead. Joseph’s brothers “stripped . . . took . . . and threw” him into the pit, then sat down to a meal (vv. 23–25). The callousness of this act is further highlighted by Judah’s suggestion that they sell Joseph to some traveling merchants. They didn’t think of Joseph as their brother but rather as a commodity to be bought and sold. They completed their crime by deceiving their father into thinking a wild animal had devoured Joseph.

In one sense, their plan backfired. Jacob declared that he would mourn Joseph’s loss the rest of his life. His mourning would continually remind the brothers of their sin and of Joseph’s special place in their father’s affections.

Apply the Word

Our sins can haunt us when we don’t deal with them. Prayerfully reflect on your own life. Are there sins you could be blind to? Ask God to help you see them. If His Spirit reveals any, confess those sins to God and repent. He has promised to forgive and cleanse you and to remove your sin as far as the east is from the west (Ps. 103:12).

BY Ryan Cook

Dr. Ryan Cook has been teaching at the Moody Bible Insititute since 2012. Prior to this, he earned his BA in Bible/Theology from Moody and his MA in Old Testament from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. He also worked in Christian education and served as a pastor in Michigan for five years. During his time as a professor at Moody, he also earned his Ph.D. from Asbury Theological Seminary. He lives with his wife Ashley and their child in the Chicago area. 

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