“And they replied, “We both had dreams last night, but there is no one here to tell us what they mean.” “Interpreting dreams is God’s business, “ Joseph replied. “Tell me what you saw.” Genesis 40:8 New Living Translation
There has been a change in Joseph’s situation. Granted, the change is a subtle one, but it is a change nonetheless. At a point not long before in Joseph’s past, Potiphar’s wife accused Joseph of seeking to rape her. The accusation was not true, and everyone knew it, even Potiphar. But honor, his reputation, his name, even how others would see the Pharaoh left Potiphar with very few choices. Yet God provided for Joseph and Potiphar a way of escape. As Captain of Pharaoh’s guard, Potiphar had the responsibility for the Pharaoh’s prison. What better place to put Joseph? Exactly where he could be watched over. Benefit for the Warden? He receives the blessings God pours out through Joseph.
“The chief jailer had no more worries after that, because Joseph took care of everything. The Lord was with him, making everything run smoothly and successfully.” Genesis 39:23 New Living Translation
Integrity has become the definition of Joseph’s life, whether as a slave to Potiphar, in prison as a criminal, or as we know it, the end of the story! As the second most powerful man in the then-known world, Joseph approached life with the same goal. Honor God at all times, bring no shame to the one he served, be sure the reputation of his father was one that engendered respect, and Joseph could hold his head high. What allowed Joseph to stand tall was his confidence in God and all God had accomplished in him, for him, through him. God had taken a frightened 17 year old boy and one day made him an amazing man after God’s own heart. However, before we get to the end there is more to Joseph’s journey.
“…Pharaoh’s chief-cupbearer and chief-baker offended him (Pharaoh), …and he put them in prison where Joseph was…” Genesis 40:1,3 New Living Translation
For some reason unknown to us, the Wine Steward and Head Baker angered the Pharaoh and he sent them to prison. There, Joseph is put in charge of them, and here is an interesting note, …Potiphar assigned Joseph to take care of them. Have you noticed all of these subtle little instances where God is protecting, preparing, providing for Joseph’s future? Now, I’m not sure if it had dawned on Joseph yet that not only was God directing, God had a purpose bigger than Joseph.
Have you had the discovery that God has a purpose for you bigger than you ever imagined? Or maybe it’s an impact on someone’s life you won’t know about until after Jesus comes. It is hard to believe God uses us, mostly it’s hard because we listen to the wrong voice. I do, way too often. Nearly my entire life has been spent believing lies about who I am, what I can or can’t do. Old tapes repeat painful words I heard when I was a child, “You’re just a stupid kid.” “You knot head!” “Can’t you do anything right?” And these are the tapes which play most, the ones I can’t believe I still end up believing! The really sad thing is so do most of you in some form or another, it is a disease common to mankind, Never Good Enough.
I’m sure thoughts very like these were running through Joseph’s mind. Each day as he was moved further and further from home and family, the self-destructive mind tapes began to play. However, God was there to shut them off! And the truth is He will shut them off for us, as well. I don’t know what method He will use for any of us, but for Joseph it would be a process taking at least 13 years.
One morning more than ten years after he had arrived in Egypt, Joseph found himself in conversation with two very troubled men. He asked to know what had caused them such stress and agony! Both men told him they’d had dreams and they were scared because they didn’t know what the dreams meant.
So, time out! I never know what my dreams mean! If I hadn’t been convinced that everybody dreams, I’d have believed I never dreamed at all, let alone remember what I’d dreamed. However, these two men remembered their dreams, and they were extremely distressed. In their culture, dreams were incredibly significant and it was important to know what the dreams meant, because they believed the gods were speaking to them through dreams.
You can already see this is a God planned opportunity. Joseph invited them to tell him their dreams, letting them know that his God would show favor and give the meanings. “Interpreting dreams is God’s business…”
The Wine-Steward’s dream: “In my dream,” he said, ‘I saw a vine in front of me. It had three branches that began to bud and blossom, and soon there clusters of ripe grapes. I was holding Pharaoh’s wine cup in my hand, so I took the grapes and squeezed juice into it. Then I placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.’ ” Genesis 40:9-11 New Living Translation
This was a great dream, it was good news and Joseph was truly happy to give this dream an interpretation since it would be a way out of prison for the man. God revealed through Joseph the explanation for the Wine-Steward. In three days he would be returned to his former position in Pharaoh’s court! As the Wine-Steward rejoiced at the news Joseph made a request, “And please have some pity on me when you are back in his favor. Mention me to Pharaoh and ask him to let me out of here. For I was kidnapped from my homeland, the land of the Hebrews and now I am here in jail, but I did nothing to deserve it.” Genesis 40:14,15 New Living Translation
When the Chief-Baker heard that the first dream had such a fantastic meaning, he told his dream to Joseph, too. “In my dream,” he said, “there were three baskets of pastries on my head. In the top basket were all kinds of pastry goods for the Pharaoh, but the birds came and ate them.” Genesis 40:16,17 New Living Translation
Sometimes when we chose to serve God there will be difficult “assignments” God may ask us to follow through to completion. Not everything God asks us to do is easy, that is why we are called to be a people of prayer. Prayer keeps us focused on God’s agenda and keeps our agenda focused on God. Bottom line, if it doesn’t have God at the center, if God is not the CEO of everything, all we touch without Him will one day turn to dust. This can be a heavy responsibility; think of the old testament prophets!
The meaning of the Chief-Baker’s dream was far more difficult to tell. Joseph could have lied and told the man everything would be fine, but he chose obedience and integrity over the easy out.
“This is what the dream means,” Joseph told him. “The three baskets also represent three days. Three days from now Pharaoh will lift you up and impale your body on a pole. Then birds will come and peck away at your flesh.”
“Pharaoh’s birthday came three days later, and he prepared a banquet for all his officials and staff. He summoned his chief cup-bearer and chief baker to join the other officials. He then restored the chief cup-bearer to his former position, so he could again hand Pharaoh his cup. But Pharaoh impaled the chief baker, just as Joseph had predicted when he interpreted his dream. Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer, however, forgot all about Joseph, never giving him another thought.” Genesis 40:18-23
Three days later, the Wine-Steward was reinstalled to his former position. The Chief-Baker was killed, just as God had told Joseph and Joseph had told the two men.
Wouldn’t you expect the Wine-Steward to be so relieved, so grateful he’d tell Pharaoh about Joseph? Just think, Joseph would be the Hero! He might even get to go back to Potiphar’s house, or maybe even get to have his own house, or best of all maybe he could go home to his father’s house!
No, the story says the Wine-Steward went back to the palace and didn’t give Joseph another thought.
I’d bet most of us can relate to how that felt; people we’d helped and we’d thought would help us in return, didn’t. We’ve been baffled and hurt. How could they have forgotten us? Sometimes it seems like maybe God has forgotten us, too. He says He has plans for us that are good and promises us a future; then we’re left standing in the mud, thigh-high.
Several years ago, we were living through tough times. Although we had grown closer to God than ever before, things just kept getting harder; our income was nearly non-existent and we were trusting God for every bit of life. We were able to go to a Christian music concert at a nearby church where we heard Bryan Duncan and this song, I’ll Not Forget You, for the very first time. It was a good reminder.
If you would like to listen to the song, here is the link:
But Zion said, “I don’t get it. God has left me.
My Master has forgotten I even exist.”
“Can a mother forget the infant at her breast,
walk away from the baby she bore?
But even if mothers forget,
I’d never forget you—never.
Look, I’ve written your names on the backs of my hands.”
Isaiah 49:14-18 The Message
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