The Consequences of Bitterness and Hate

Genesis 37:12-35

Dr. Gary M. Barker

In my last two meditations I discussed the reality of the dysfunctional problems that existed in the family of the Old Testament patriarch Jacob.  Jacob had four wives, eleven sons and one daughter in his family. His favorite wife was Rachel and her first-born son Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son.  Jacob’s favoritism of Joseph was extreme and overwhelming and caused intense emotional problems for Joseph’s brothers.  These intense emotions were perpetuated by Joseph’s personal pride.  It is difficult for me to contemplate committing murder against someone. I believe it is a common emotion to dislike someone for many different reasons but to hate another person with the desire to commit murder is both unusual and unique.  Yet in the historical record of Genesis 37:12-35, this is what occurred in the relationship between Joseph and his brothers.  I really don’t believe that Jacob ever envisioned that his sons would commit murder that was caused by his favoritism of Joseph. It seems as you read the biblical account that Jacob never suspected that such bitterness and hate even existed in the lives of his sons.  What is clear is that bitterness generated hate and hate motivated a desire to commit murder. This sequence of harmful emotions and its final result should be a GREAT WARNING to all of us.  Bitterness is the cause of many hurtful and damaging actions.  In Genesis 37, most of Joseph’s brothers wanted to murder him but the oldest brother Reuben prevented this from happening (Genesis 37: 21-22).  Their hatred caused them to lie about Joseph being killed by a wild beast and it caused them to sell Joseph as a slave.  They clearly demonstrated their hatred and lack of love for their father Jacob.  Their actions brought revenge on both their brother and father.  In order to cover up their sinful hatred, the brothers lied to Jacob about Joseph’s death.  I believe they desired to hurt their father because he caused a lot of their emotional pain, bitterness and hate.  Bitterness and hate resulted in causing various people to experience an immense amount of suffering and sorrow.  This is always what sinful actions produce.

Lessons to Be Learned.

  1. Bitterness and hate will cause people to do sinful actions they never thought possible.
  2. Hatred makes a person totally insensitive and uncaring about the harm it will cause.
  3. Hatred and bitterness in reality can emotionally harm the person possessing these emotions as much as the people inflicted by them.

Jesus taught on the Sermon on the Mount that murder could be prevented by having victory over anger (Matthew 5:21-24).  Evil actions can be prevented by desiring to solve conflicts before hatred develops.  Evil thinking always results in evil actions.  When a person can CONTROL HIS THINKING, he can control his actions.