Standing on the Hinge of History

Genesis 37:12-20 (NIV)

12   Now his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem,

13   and Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.” “Very well,” he replied.

14   So he said to him, “Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.” Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron. When Joseph arrived at Shechem,

15   a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, “What are you looking for?”

16   He replied, “I’m looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?”

17   “They have moved on from here,” the man answered. “I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan.

18   But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.

19   “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other.

20   “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”

Hebrews 1:14 (NIV)

14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

Hebrews 13:2 (NIV)

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

Isaiah 30:21 (NIV)

21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

The whole “Joseph” narrative depends on this stranger in verse 15:

  1. Joseph was being obedient to his father, Israel (Jacob)
  2. Joseph was wandering
  3. Joseph’s wandering attracted the attention of the stranger
  4. The stranger initiated the conversation
  5. The stranger’s question: “What are you looking for?”
  6. The stranger’s directions: “They have moved on…”
  7. Joseph’s new destination

This anonymous man’s seemingly minor role in the story impacted:

  • Joseph
  • The brothers
  • The entire history of Israel

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