Joseph’s Life and Lessons, Part 3

February 5, 2019 at 10:51 AM 1 comment

In our last article in this series – Part 2 – we highlighted what happened to Joseph after he had been unmercifully sold to a traveling caravan of Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt and sold him to a man by the name of Potiphar, who, as it turns out, was an officer under Pharaoh and captain of the guard. His wife took a shine to young Joseph and tried to seduce him on numerous occasions, but failed. Finally, when she cornered Joseph in the house all alone one day, she tried once more and failed again. This time however, she managed to get his outer cloak and used it to bolster her claim that Joseph tried to rape her.

When Potiphar found out, he sent Joseph immediately to prison. In all likelihood, Potiphar could have had Joseph killed given his position and authority in Egypt, but that was not God’s plan so it didn’t happen. Joseph was simply incarcerated with an open-ended sentence.

Genesis 40 highlights the time in Joseph’s life where his path crossed the paths of two other men in Pharaoh’s service, the chief cup bearer and the chief baker. The cup bearer’s job was literally to fill the cups at Pharaoh’s table. Obviously, the person in such a position had to be someone that Pharaoh could trust implicitly because anyone could slip something into one of Pharaoh’s drinks that could kill him. Because of this possibility of someone putting a poison into a drink, on occasion, the cup bearer would be required to taste the wine or drink served to Pharaoh; not a job I would want, yet it came with plenty of esteem, honor, and benefits.

One day, these two men found themselves in the same prison that housed Joseph. Of course Joseph, since he was given the responsibilities of dealing with the prisoners – the warden came to trust Joseph the same way Potiphar had trusted in him previously – he would cross their paths. In fact, according to Genesis 40:4, we are told that the captain of the guard assigned Joseph to oversee these men.

It is interesting that Potiphar was the captain of the guard under Pharaoh and here is another reference to the captain of the guard. Was it Potiphar? We don’t know, but if it was Potiphar, it was he who directed Joseph to deal with the cup bearer and baker by attending to them. I find that interesting.

As the narrative of Genesis 40 continues, we learn that these two men each had a dream that they didn’t understand. The dreams clearly disturbed the men (v 6), causing Joseph to ask why they were upset as could be seen by the looks on their faces (v 7). They both indicated that they’d had dreams but there was no one to interpret the meaning of the dreams.

It’s important to remember that God gave dreams and prophecies to people before the Bible was completed. It was one of the ways He worked to provide knowledge of His will. Bear in mind also that many ancient people believed wholeheartedly in the “gods” using dreams to communicate so this situation is not unusual. In fact, if you talk to the average “religious” person today, they will often talk about dreams they’ve had and believe them to be God’s means of communicating with them. While it’s possible, it’s probably doubtful, in my opinion. If you disagree, that’s up to you. We have the entirety of God’s Word now and to put stock in dreams moves us away from His Word.

If a person spends a great deal of time researching a particular subject for instance, it is likely that their dreams might reflect that. It does not mean that God has given them a dream. It may simply mean that their subconscious mind is working overtime parsing all the data that they have studied in earnest. Our minds continue to work even as we sleep.

There is no indication here that the either the chief baker or cup bearer were believers in the one, true God. This did not stop God from sending dreams their way that would ultimately reveal what would happen to them in the near future. The Old Testament is filled with numerous examples of this happening. Nebuchadnezzar is another well-known example (Daniel 2).

Today, God works differently, in my opinion, due to the completion of His Word as contained in the Bible. Does the Bible contain all there is to know about God? Of course not, but it contains everything God wants us to know about Him in the here and now. We’ll begin learning the rest once we leave this life and enter eternity. There, we will be minus the sin nature and also have glorified bodies. We will be a perfect position to begin to understand the true depths of God.

At any rate, these two servants in Pharaoh’s court were imprisoned for alleged crimes against Pharaoh and each had a dream that was similar but different enough to have separate meanings for each individual.

After complaining to Joseph that they had no interpretation for their dreams, Joseph responds with a rhetorical question: “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me” (v 8b). Immediately, Joseph points to God as the Interpreter. Please notice that. His following statement “Please tell them to me” is not an attempt on Joseph’s part to imply that he is God. He is simply saying that God is the One who provides interpretations to dreams He sends and Joseph was interested in knowing the content of the dreams because he obviously believed God would give him the interpretations.

Both would be “lifted” out of their situations, but the chief baker gets bad news – his head will be “lifted” and tied with a noose to be hung in execution – while the cup bearer receives good news that he will be “lifted” back out of prison into the service of Pharaoh once again as cup bearer. We can infer that the baker may have been part of a plot to poison Pharaoh. Since he and the cup bearer were both imprisoned, Pharaoh may have initially thought they were both part of it and wanted to do some investigating before pronouncing sentence. Apparently, after three days, Pharaoh came to understand that only the baker was the guilty party and not the cup bearer.

In any event, Joseph calls it by rightly interpreting the dreams as God revealed to him. Again though, Joseph clearly gave God all the credit by saying that only God interprets dreams. Certainly, God can share the meaning of dreams He sends with others, in this case Joseph, but in the end, the dreams and the interpretations come from God. It’s also possible that Joseph had been given the gift to interpret dreams as evidenced by the fact that he had dreams from God several years before when he was only 17. Daniel had this same gift, but also gave all glory to God.

This should be the way all Christians deal with any gift they have because that gift(s) – whatever it is as outlined in Scripture is from God, period. We have gifts at all not because we’re special, but because God gives them to us and does so for His glory, not ours. An ability to preach and rightly divide the Word to listeners is a gift from God that needs to be fanned into flame (Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12-14; Ephesians 4). Examples of gifts include hospitality, leadership, preaching, serving, etc (Romans 12). All gifts need to be “fanned” by using them. Remember the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), and the evil servant?

The one thing Joseph asked the cup bearer to do was to bring his case before Pharaoh. He tells the cup bearer that he had been stolen from the land of the Hebrews and was innocent of the charge that he had raped Potiphar’s wife (v 15). Joseph wanted out of prison (as we all would), and did not understand at this point God’s purposes in why he had been sold to the Ishmaelites, then to Potiphar, only to end up in prison for something he had not done.

Have you ever felt like the world was caving in on you. Have things occurred (maybe are occurring), that cause you to think God has abandoned you, that He couldn’t care less about your situation? Or, as my pastor recently said in a sermon, are we thinking that God was slapping his forehead crying, “Oh, I forgot about you!“?

Intellectually, we know that God does not forget. He is not ignorant of the obstacles and problems we face in this life nor is He complacent about coming to bat for us. The problem is that He has a will for us and included in that will is timing – when things are to happen. He brings them about in His way and in His time.

The remainder of the chapter tells us that after three days, the cup bearer was restored to Pharaoh’s service while the baker was executed. Incidentally, on this third day, we learn that it was also Pharaoh’s birthday, a time of tremendous celebration.

Unfortunately for Joseph, while this chapter ends on a high note for the cup bearer and Pharaoh, it ends on a low note for Joseph.

Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. (Genesis 40:23 ESV)

We might wonder why the cup bearer did not remember Joseph and the astounding way he rightly interpreted the cup bearer’s dream, but he did. Ultimately, the cup bearer did not remember Joseph (at that time), because that was part of God’s plan, wasn’t it?

Difficult times in Joseph’s life probably caused him to pray more and draw closer to God. How do you react to the problems that occur in your life? How do I? Do we become angry at God? Do we move away from God or do those events bring us closer to Him?

I’ve done both things, but in the end, I’ve always come back to God and that is only due to God’s grace. The fact that I’ve come back to God and pursued Him is testament to the fact that He draws me close to Him. He puts up with my flustered or even angry reaction (though He still expects me to confess when I sin), and brings me to an awareness and understanding of Him that I previously did not have. These are the “Red Sea Crossing” moments for all of us.

I’m going through one of those trials right now in fact. I’m not sure how it will work out but I’m trying to trust that the Lord will mold me into the person He wants me to be because of this existing situation that I cannot control. It is completely out of my hands.

If you’ll pray for me that I would conform to His image in this situation, I’d really appreciate it. I know if I try to do things in my own “wisdom,” I’ll fail miserably and I’ve proven it many times. I don’t want to do that.

Joseph undoubtedly learned a great deal of patience through these situations and gained much wisdom. I’m sure he was scared and at times, probably overcome with fear (imagine if you were accused of sexually harassing someone and you knew it to be untrue, yet you were not believed and went to prison for it). Over time, as Joseph trusted God, God did provide and He brought Joseph through these difficult situations.

Ultimately, just like Job, Joseph came to the realization that all that happened to him was by God’s design. We’ll get to that in upcoming articles.

Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, christianity, israel, Judaism, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: , , , , , , .

Joseph’s Life and Lessons, Part 2 Voiding Logic to Uphold Late Term Abortion

1 Comment

  • 1. Joseph’s Life and Lessons, Part 4 | Study - Grow - Know  |  February 13, 2019 at 12:08 PM

    […] Previously, we followed Joseph from his homeland and family, to Egypt, carried there by a Gentile caravan, who were descendants of Ishmael. From there, Joseph was sold to a high official and captain of the guard in Pharaoh’s kingdom; Potiphar. We also learned that after Joseph had been falsely accused of raping Potiphar’s wife, he was sent to prison for an indeterminate period of time. […]


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