Genesis 37:12-17

12 Then his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock in Shechem. 13 Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing the flock in Shechem? Come, and I will send you to them.” And he said to him, “I will go.” 14Then he said to him, “Go now and see about the welfare of your brothers and the welfare of the flock, and bring word back to me.” So he sent him from the valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.

15 A man found him, and behold, he was wandering in the field; and the man asked him, “What are you looking for?” 16 He said, “I am looking for my brothers; please tell me where they are pasturing the flock.” 17 Then the man said, “They have moved from here; for I heard them say, `Let us go to Dothan.'” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.

What was it that made Joseph the favored son of Jacob? The initial reason was simply that he was the firstborn of Rachel, the wife that Jacob had worked fourteen years to win. However, had Joseph turned out to be a snotty little brat, it is likely that Jacob’s favor would have turned elsewhere, perhaps to Benjamin. But here we see a simply characteristic that Jacob valued highly, and which seemed to be missing from his other sons. Jacob asked Joseph to go visit his brothers and bring back a report. Joseph is obedient, and says he will go. He gets a bit lost on the journey, but he doesn’t give up, and finally finds them with the help of a man in or near Shechem. What about his brothers? Were they obedient? They were certainly out watching over their father’s sheep, which was not a fun task. However, there must have been some cause for Jacob to wonder about them (besides fatherly concern) and the sheep. The other brothers were apparently not trustworthy or obedient. Obedience is such a simple thing, but it can make all the difference in the Kingdom of God. Show yourself faithful, and God will be well pleased.

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