From Genesis, Chapters 37-50
Joseph had dreams and told them to his older brothers. Bad move? So it seemed. His brothers already hated him because they thought he was their father’s favorite son. Moreover, they must have believed his dreams had significance for they became jealous and angry and plotted how to get rid of him. Why? Because the dreams sounded like he, a younger brother, would become a ruler over them. Was this possible?
And this familiar theme has been running through families and friends ever since. Joseph’s dream and his subsequent life have been the topic of numerous sermons and motivational speeches. I’ve heard three in the last week—and I’m about to add my thoughts to the story. Obviously it has relevance to life in general and especially to the life of a Christian. Have you lost friends because you were favored over them for a job promotion, for a position in the church? Or maybe because you shared with them dreams and visions God gave you?
Let’s follow the sequence of events:
*Joseph had a dream in two parts. First, “We [Joseph and his brothers] were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”. Second, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” The first dream dealt with his relationship to his brothers. The second dream included his parents.
*It wasn’t long before their chance came. Joseph’s brothers ripped off his coat and threw him into a pit. Can’t you just imagine Joseph’s thoughts? Lord, you gave me a dream, I end up in a pit! Just doesn’t make sense. What did I do to deserve this?
*When the brothers heard a caravan coming, they got Joseph out of the pit and sold him to the Midianites as a slave. Lord, you gave me a dream about my brothers bowing down to me, and here I am being driven far, far away from my family. Something is going terribly wrong.
*The Midianites took him to a slave market in Egypt where they sold him to Potiphar, a government official. Because God was with Joseph, everything he touched prospered. Potiphar was pleased indeed, and he gave Joseph complete administrative responsibility over everything he owned. Lord, you’ve been good to me. I miss my family, but maybe this is your place for me. If I hadn’t told my brothers the dream, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity. Thank you, Lord. And help me to keep blessing Potiphar and all of his house.
*Potiphar’s wife began to lust after handsome Joseph. He refused her advances. She insisted that he sleep with her. He refused, saying, “How could I do this thing and sin against my God?” So she came from behind and grabbed him. He jerked himself loose and ran away, but she pulled his cloak off as he ran. She falsely accused him. Potiphar believed her and arrested Joseph and threw him in prison. Lord, I have been faithful to you and to my master. Everything was going great. Why did you allow this to happen?
*In prison, God was with Joseph and gave him favor with the warden. Soon he was put in charge of the other prisoners. The warden had no more worries, because Joseph took care of everything. The Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed. Lord, am I here in prison to see too it that these other prisoners are treated well? I will treat them as you would—with love and compassion.
*Some time later, the Pharaoh’s cup-bearer and baker offended him in some way, and he cast them into prison where Joseph was now in charge. One night they both had dreams but they couldn’t interpret them. Now Joseph knew a little bit about dreams. “Interpreting dreams is God’s business,” Joseph replied. “Go ahead and tell me your dreams.” Lord, did you send me here to interpret dreams for these two outcasts? I trust you for the interpretation.
*The dreams came to pass just as Joseph had said. The cup-bearer was restored to his position and the baker was executed. Joseph had asked the cup-bearer to mention that he was in prison as the result of false accusations and plead with Pharaoh to let him out. But as is often the case, people forget us after we do them favors. Lord, Please let the cup-bearer remember me to the Pharaoh.
*Two years later, Pharaoh had two dreams that troubled him. He called all of his magicians and wise men to hear them, but none could give the interpretation. The cup-bearer, hearing about this, suddenly remembered Joseph. He told the Pharaoh how Joseph had interpreted his dream and that of the baker and both had come to pass exactly as he said. Pharaoh sent for Joseph. Thank You, Lord. My trust is in You.
*Pharaoh told Joseph the dreams and asked if he could interpret them. “It is beyond my power to do this,” Joseph replied. “But God can tell you what it means and set you at ease.”
Lord, my trust is in you.
*So Pharaoh asked his officials, “Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?” Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, clearly no one else is as intelligent or wise as you are. You will be in charge of my court, and all my people will take orders from you. Only I, sitting on my throne, will have a rank higher than yours.”
Joseph had to go from being a favored son in his father’s house to the pit. From the pit to the slave caravan. From a slave bidding block to Potiphar’s house. From Potiphar’s house to prison. When God decided it was time, the very steps that took him down into prison brought him back up to be prime minister of Egypt, and his destiny was about to be fulfilled. Those dreams God gave him as a young teenager were about to come true.
We are in testing times. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken. Trials and testing come to everyone, including those in the Kingdom of God. But just as Joseph had a destiny, God has a destiny before each one of us.
Our testing and trials won’t end in a funeral. They end in the wedding supper of the Lamb. They won’t end in defeat. They will end in victory. Do you feel like you’re on the slave caravan? Are you being tried and tested. Do you feel like your hands and feet are tied and you’re in a prison? Get ready! Because God will surely bring you out!
Like Joseph, are you hurting? Have your desire and vision have been knocked out of you? Do you find yourself suffering embarrassment and humiliation even though you’re innocent? You didn’t do anything to deserve it? You want to see it accomplished but it doesn’t happen? You ask, if the Lord was with me, why does this have to happen? Why have I been forgotten by the people I have served and stood with? Does it seem like you’re standing alone without encouragement or sympathy? Are your hurts and dreams and expectations all put on hold because of the actions of others? Are you struggling with the selfishness of your brothers and sisters in the church? Remember Joseph.
Joseph gave God all the credit for his ability to interpret dreams. His faith was in the power of God. And so it is with us. We must keep the desire to be faithful to God no matter what happens. We cannot be moved by falsehood or scorn. We must be anchored in faith believing that God is God and our deliverance is in Him and Him alone—regardless what the circumstances look like.
*At long last, Joseph’s time of testing and trials came to an end. Other countries were in drought and famine while Egypt was a land of plenty while—all because God strategically placed Joseph to interpret the dreams of the nation’s ruler.
*And Joseph’s teenage dreams came to pass. Finally his brothers came to Egypt, and before they knew who he was, they bowed down before him to ask for mercy and food. After several trips, Joseph revealed to them that he was the brother they had sold into slavery. “But don’t be upset,” he told them, “and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives…and to preserve many survivors.So it was God who sent me here, not you!”
When times are difficult and we feel God has forgotten—even forsaken us—we need to remember Joseph’s analysis of his life story as he spoke it to his brothers and forgave them: “What you intended for evil, God turned into good.”
Have you pondered your dreams lately? Old dreams? Recent dreams? Daydreams? Night dreams?
May we remember that further down the road, we will be able to look back and say, “What the devil intended for evil, God, turned into good.” Thank you Lord for dreams that help us keep our faith and hope alive through every manner of test and trial.
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