Joseph & Interpreting Dreams — Joseph’s testing in prison & promotion by Pharaoh.
Reading 1: Genesis 40
Reading 2: Genesis 41
Reading 3: Psalm 105:13-22
In our last reading we saw how God blessed Joseph through many trials. Today we see further testing as Joseph accurately interprets the dreams of the baker and cup-bearer who are in jail with him. In our way of thinking, such a supernatural “success” would lead Joseph out of prison. But that was not the case – Joseph has a further test to pass. The cup-bearer is released as Joseph predicted, but forgets about Joseph. The passage does not tell us this directly, but I wonder if Joseph is still trying to work things out in his own strength? He explains to the cup-bearer about his own unjust imprisonment and asks for the cup-bearer’s help to set him free.
Maybe we see the purpose for that testing in the words of our reading from Psalm 105: “Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character.” It was not yet Joseph’s time, and his character still needs to be tested, because God knows the assignment that is coming will test Joseph to the limit.
In Chapter 41 we see the completion of the test – two whole years later! It is not until Joseph is ready to say “It is beyond my power to do this, but God can tell you what it means and set you at ease.” (Chapter 41 verse 16). In other words, Joseph has stopped trying to fulfill God’s promise in his own strength, and is willing to rely completely on God rather than himself (or a mixture of the two).
Imagine being unjustly imprisoned for years. We don’t know how long Joseph was in jail, but it was long enough for him to rise to the place of being trusted to run the prison before Pharaoh’s servants were imprisoned, and then they were there for “quite some time” before their dreams. So this handsome young man (Joseph was 17 when he was sold into slavery) was likely in Potiphar’s house for 8 to 10 years, then in prison for 3-5 years. we know that he was 30 years old when he was released and given the task of ruling Egypt as Pharaoh’s regent.
What a turn-around! All those times that Joseph did the right thing, working hard for whomever God placed him under, finally led him to a place of submission to God and great influence. But it took 13 years. How long would you be willing to wait for your time of destiny? Abraham was 99 when God changed his name and gave him the promised son. Moses was 80 when God called him to lead the Israelites out of slavery. There are many Bible characters who waited a long time for their fulfillment. The lesson for us again is to trust God, obey Him, and be patient as we submit to His plan. Then there is no limit to what might happen. God’s plan is God-sized; we see that again and again in these stories, which are each part of HIS Story.
You are part of history today – have a great day!