Joseph's Example - Part 3
While Joseph is in prison there are two new prisoners brought into the jail, the Pharaoh’s cup bearer (or butler) and head baker. They had done something that had upset Pharaoh so he had them imprisoned. Joseph was placed in charge of these two prisoners. One night they both had dreams and in the morning they were upset because they did not understand the dreams that they had. Joseph came in to them in the morning and could see that they were upset. He asks them why they are down.
This is another spot in this story that gave me pause. How many times in my life have I seen people visibly upset that I have avoided asking them why they were upset? Sometimes I have felt like I was “too busy” at that point of the day to have a conversation with someone. Sometimes it was because I “just didn’t want to hear it” from someone complaining. Is this the attitude that God wants me to have, even with unbelievers? Should I not be willing to go out of my way to help others that are downcast? What if Joseph would have ignored their feelings that day? In the world we live in today we are so fast paced that we often ignore the situations God is putting right in front of us! Joseph takes the time to ask them and they tell him about their dreams. Joseph then tells them that interpretations of dreams belong to the sovereign God! He does not say that he has some special power to do this but gives the glory to God! We would do well to remember that anything we can do is only because God has blessed us with this ability.
The two prisoners tell Joseph their dreams and Joseph gives them the right interpretations. He only asks that the cup bearer remember him and mention him to Pharaoh, how he was stolen away from his family and wrongly imprisoned. The cup bearer is elevated back to his position and forgets to mention Joseph (Gen 40:23). This, of course, is all according to God’s sovereign plan. God has a very specific situation that will cause Joseph to be brought before Pharaoh.
The text tells us that it was another full 2 years before Joseph was mentioned to Pharaoh. Joseph continued to faithfully serve in the prison until the time God had appointed to bring him out. Pharaoh has two dreams that greatly trouble him. Pharaoh calls for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt but none of them can tell him the interpretation of the dream. No doubt this is God concealing the meaning of the dream from the wicked heathens so that He could raise up Joseph to his rightful place in Egypt. At this time the cup bearer remembers Joseph and tells Pharaoh that he knows of a Hebrew man that can rightly interpret dreams. Pharaoh sends for him. Joseph is cleaned up and brought before Pharaoh. Pharaoh tells Joseph that he has heard Joseph can interpret dreams and once again we see Joseph give the glory for his gift to God.
This is how we should all be with the gifts that are given to us to serve the church. God has gifted us all in specific ways to edify and build the church. 1Corinthians speaks of these gifts and the fact that they all find their source in the Holy Spirit, not in us. We must be careful not to become prideful in our gifts and act as if they find their source in something great within us, we are what we are by the power of God (1Cor 15:10). Let us always be willing to deflect all glory to its rightful recipient, God! Let us pray that God would protect us from becoming puffed up and prideful. Joseph sets a great example for us in this.
Joseph, through God’s wisdom, interprets the Pharaoh’s dreams correctly. He not only interprets the dreams but gives Pharaoh advice on how he should handle the coming 7 years of plenty and 7 years of famine that will follow (Gen 41:33-37). The wisdom of God, displayed through Joseph, is so impressive to Pharaoh that he immediately makes Joseph second in command over ALL of Egypt (Gen 41:38-44)! He knows that Joseph can get them through the coming famine. Just think of how amazing that is, God took Joseph from being despised by his brothers, sold into slavery, thrown in jail, to being second in command over all Egypt. This would seem impossible to men but we know that with God ALL things are possible (Matt 19:26). Joseph was faithful through all that he faced. He served God and trusted him no matter what the circumstances around him looked like and now God is rewarding him by raising him to the station that was promised to him through his dreams so many years ago. God had worked all these things for Joseph’s good in the same way He works all things for our good (Rom 8:28). We, like Joseph, should trust in God no matter what our circumstances look like at the moment! Let us look to his example and not lose faith through the times we suffer in life, knowing that in this world we are promised to suffer (Phil 1:29) but this suffering will work God’s purposes in our life.