Thursday, October 20, 2016

TheLifeOfJoseph : Genesis 40

"Dreams played a very important part in the life of leaders in Egypt, and the ability to interpret dreams was a highly respected skill. So far, Joseph had pondered his own dreams, but this is the first time he interprets the dreams of others. The fact that he noticed the looks of dismay on the men’s faces shows that he was a caring and discerning man, and the fact that Joseph gave God the glory (Gen. 40:8) shows he was a humble man." (Wiersbe Old Testament Commentary)

Joseph had a powerful ministry - enough to bring comfort (or further discomfort) to those that he interpreted for. Though interpretation of dreams tends to be something of a 'do not touch' law within Christendom today, meaning, many do not hold dreams with much importance, I do believe it is a very real ministry that blesses many still today. I do believe that the LORD still uses dreams today. It is definitely a real phenomena overseas. People have not only met the risen Christ in their dreams, but have come to faith (something that challenges my theology for sure, but I cannot say that the LORD cannot work in mysterious ways as He is very apt to do this and many more that seem to challenge my theology often). Dreams are real and they have real consequences in people's lives, as we see with this dialogue between the baker and the cup-bearer and Joseph.

But what I'd like to focus on in this text is Joseph's one statement to the cup-bearer half-way through the text: Only keep me in mind when it goes well with you, and please do me a kindness by mentioning me to Pharaoh and get me out of this house (Gen. 40:14). An honest request from an honest worker. Joseph, three times now, has been put in places that were less than desirable, but he, within those places, thrived and was recognized by others as having gifts in leadership and he seemed to prosper (even in a prison). Though we find him now within the confines of a jail, we read, '...the LORD was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer. The chief jailer committed to Joseph’s charge all the prisoners who were in the jail; so that whatever was done there, he was responsible for it. The chief jailer did not supervise anything under Joseph’s charge because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made to prosper' (Gen. 39:21-23). 

At this point in the story I think many would be thinking the same as what Joseph speaks. He is clearly getting agitated within the walls of yet another prison and so he asks the cup-bearer to remember him after he is released. Not an unjustified request. He had just clearly spoken words of comfort into the life of the cup-bearer (notice he doesn't ask the same of the baker), and so it would be 'just desserts' wouldn't it? I'd probably ask the same thing. 'I help you, you help me...' many would say in our culture today. Reasonable request, but somehow the LORD seems to work under different rules. Notice this paradoxical law at work in response to Jesus' teaching on giving: Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you (Matt. 6:3). The same rule applies in the life of Joseph.

Notice, again, the text in Genesis 39:21-23. It wasn't the chief jailer who was with Joseph, though he gave him charge over all the prisoners, or gave him prestige, even within the walls of the prison. Notice that it was the LORD who made him prosper. Joseph, in his small request to the cup-bearer, in his weary state, forgot this very important point, as we all are prone to do. I am reminded of a life-verse that my mind has often come back to: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5, 6).

Trust in the LORD, not in men. Trust that He knows what He's doing and He, when the time is perfect, will grant to us all that we need. May we believe this because He is Good. He is a good Heavenly Father Who knows how to give good gifts to His children (see Matt. 7:11). These are easy words to type on a screen. Even easier to speak into people's lives, but to believe them ourselves - this is MUCH harder. 

May we learn, re-learn, and receive this lesson of trust today. Even though it may be a fine balance of how to trust in people (without elevating them to a position of power or influence) and trusting in the LORD, many we seek the true and living God who says, 'Trust Me' in our moments of greatest weakness, in either physical or emotional prisons. 

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