We are in the World Stream and learning more about the life of Joseph, the dreamer. We are reading from the New International Reader’s Version this week.
40 – We have seen the way God speaks to Joseph through dreams. His dream as a child revealed that God spoke to him directly about future events. It also revealed that Joseph needed to grow a bit. Here, years later, he is in an Egyptian prison and two inmates have salient dreams about their destiny. One is restored to being the King’s wine taster. The former baker is brought up out of prison and executed. Joseph called it exactly. One subtle note – some people read this and think, “hey, God is sure mean here!…” uh, people, Pharaoh is the mean one – not God. Joseph tells the dream as God told it to him so that WE, as we are reading it, realize that we are to pay attention; pay severe attention when Joseph has a dream or interprets one. World History is about to hinge on whether his dreams and his ability to interpret dreams are heeded or not.
41 – We know Joseph can understand dreams, but he sits in prison for two more years and then his time of release and advancement arrive after Pharaoh himself has dreams. Pharaoh is troubled as he knows the dreams have significance. No one can interpret them; not even the magicians nor the wise men. Then the wine taster/server remembers that he had left Joseph in prison and forgot to give a good reference to get Joseph out of there. He finally ‘fesses up and tells of Joseph’s ability/gifting to interpret dreams. It’s interesting that Joseph doesn’t scurry into the palace but cleans up, shaves and all, then
he goes in to meet with Pharaoh. Something seems different about him now. Joseph has undergone a transformation that surfaces in his exchange with Pharaoh. His slavery, years of service, and years in confinement have humbled him to think more like a servant that God can use. His first dream years ago brings his pompous announcement that his brothers would bow to him- his parents too. The dream event in the Egyptian prison, before the wine taster and the baker, has him responding confidently that he’s “the man” to interpret the dreams. Right before Pharaoh explains his dream he tells Joseph that rumor has it that he interprets dreams. Joseph declared, “I can’t, but God can.” Noe that Joseph has changed He is a humble man now. And God can take a humble man to any height he sees fit. Joseph is about to be one of the most powerful men that ever lived! He hears Pharaoh’s two dreams, and he interprets them spot on. Pharaoh realizes that he needs to put someone wise in charge of this colossal agricultural assignment. Well, who but Joseph could supervise such an undertaking? Joseph is put in charge of all Egypt. Only Pharaoh was above him. Notice the symbolism and acceptance of a prominent ring, and robe of fine linen and gold. Jesus tells of these similar gestures being offered the prodigal son upon returning in Luke 15:22. Jesus obviously knows this Joseph story from 1800 years prior.
The bounty years come and, the surplus is beyond huge. Things are well. Joseph is given a wife, then he has two sons. These sons are the namesake of the future tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim. By the end of this chapter, the famine has struck and people from all over the world have no place to go but to come to Egypt to buy food. And Egypt has food because of Joseph; great grandson of Abraham. God told Abraham that all the world would be blessed through him – and it’s happening. Fascinating.
42 – The famine has hit back where Jacob is living and there is one option –> go to Egypt and buy food. The 10 brothers go south while Benjamin stays behind. The brotherly interaction with Joseph (who hides the fact that he is their brother) is dramatic and intense. They had not seen each other in 13 years! Joseph interrogates and it can appear to be merciless. But there are things that Joseph needs to know. He grills them – knowing they are not spies. He is very moved as he listens to them argue back and forth and try to sort out the fate they have walked into. Again, Joseph must know that they are changed men before proceeding –> The past jealousy, the plotting, the pondering murder, the simulated murder, the slave trading, the lying, the acting detached while their father grieved the “death” of Joseph – all that needs to be past and over with. They are not going to get a pass on this. Joseph must know that they haven’t pulled the same cruel stunts toward Benjamin – and Joseph also wants to see his father alive again.(though he hasn’t said so about his father at this point). As ornery as he may have felt toward his “big” brothers, he still cared and blessed them on their way – [surprise! all the food was free.] They return home and tell Jacob their father the whole story. And he is heavy-hearted at the mere thought of sending Benjamin away too. It’s sad but the scheming Jacob spent most of his life doing is still biting him. 42:36 summarizes his life perspective, ” … everything is going against me!” Apparently there is a vortex that needs to be walked through before the family can be reunited and at peace.
“Jesus, we thank you that your Holy Spirit has plans for us and that all things are going to work together for good for those who love you and are called by you. We are called and loved and you have told us this repeatedly throughout our lives. For this and for you, Lord, we are grateful. Amen.”