Joseph: 20/20 Vision (Part III)
God Gives Understanding
When we left Joseph he was put in prison over a false accusation of rape, but remember how his story ended in the previous chapter: “The Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed.” An example of this success was that the warden put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners, and in chapter 40 two more prisoners are put under Joseph’s care. They are Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer and chief baker. Joseph’s interaction with them begins in verses 6 and 7.
“When Joseph saw them the next morning, he noticed that they both looked upset. ‘Why do you look so worried today?’ he asked them.” (Genesis 40:6-7)
How many times have we noticed someone looking upset and we chose not to say anything? We assume they’ll be fine, we decide it’s none of our business, we don’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable. Joseph notices they look upset and he asks why. It’s a simple question and it makes all the difference in their lives and Joseph’s. They tell him that they’ve each had dreams that no one can interpret. Joseph’s reply reflects his confidence and constant proper perspective.
“‘Interpreting dreams is God’s business,’ Joseph replied. ‘Go ahead and tell me your dreams.’” (Genesis 40:8)
Their problem was that no one had been able to interpret their dreams. Joseph first states that interpreting dreams is God’s business and they had been relying on man. Joseph does not give credit to himself, he doesn’t tell them he is going to interpret their dreams, he does not brag or boast. He says this is something God can handle and then he confidently tells them to tell him their dreams. His confidence does not lie in himself but in God to interpret the dream through him.
The cup-bearer goes first and his dream is interpreted to mean that in three days Pharaoh will restore him to his position. Joseph then asks a favor of the cup-bearer to remember him and mention him to Pharaoh because he was kidnapped and imprisoned but he did nothing to deserve it. The cup-bearer does not know Joseph’s family and Joseph certainly could have badmouthed his brothers and blamed them for his plight, but he does not blame them nor does he speak ill of them.
“Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you.” (James 4:11)
The chief baker then tells Joseph about his dream, no doubt looking forward to the interpretation, but his dream is not so positive. Joseph tells the baker that in three days Pharaoh will impale him on a pole. Of course three days later the interpretations prove to be right: the cup-bearer is restored and the baker is impaled. The chapter ends with verse 23.
“Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer, however, forgot all about Joseph, never giving him another thought.” (Genesis 40:23)
But he got the dreams right! That was his purpose for being imprisoned and put in charge of the prisoners: to interpret the dreams. How could the cup-bearer forget Joseph? Especially after seeing that Joseph was also right about the baker! How could the cup-bearer possibly never give him another thought?
“‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord.
‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
God is in control and Joseph knew this. Sometimes our story does not go the way we think it should. All signs and human reasoning can tell us it should go one way, and we find out it goes a completely different way. Those times can be extremely confusing and frustrating, especially when it’s due to no fault of our own. But we have a God who is always in control and His ways are not our ways. Joseph knew this and God’s purpose in all of this begins to become clear in the next chapter. For now, remember it is God who gives understanding and it is God who is always in control. Always.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.