Summary: What did Joseph’s dreams mean for him? For others? For Israel? And did God give our nation’s founders a similar dream for America?
OPEN: A lot of important things can happen to a person while they sleep. For example:
1. Genesis 2:21 tells of someone who had surgery performed on him while he slept.
Who was that? (Adam)
2. Genesis 28:11-15 tells of a man who slept at Bethel and dreamed about angels.
Who was that? (Jacob)
3. Genesis 15:12-16 tells us someone spoke to Abram while he was in a deep sleep. Who spoke to Abram? (God. He “cut” a covenant with Abram promising son and reassured Abram of his promises)
4. One of the books of the prophets speaks of a man who slept in the bottom of a ship as it rolled in a storm. Who was that? (Jonah)
5. Judges 16 tells of a man who slept through a haircut. (Samson)
Like I said, a lot of important things can happen to a person while they sleep. But in the Bible, one of the most important things that happened to someone - while they slept - was that God often gave them dreams.
Here in Genesis 37 we have the story of God giving Joseph 2 dreams with one basic message:
Joseph would someday become a great man.
But Joseph’s dreams also told him about two other things
#1 The dreams were from God. This meant: this was something God would make happen.
#2 Joseph’s dreams would influence more than just himself. They would also affect his brothers and parents.
You see, Joseph’s dreams were only PARTLY about Joseph.
The dreams were a promise from God that Joseph was going to be used by God.
Joseph was part of a larger plan.
Through Joseph, God was going to bring the people of Israel down into Egypt, and in Egypt…
· The people of Israel would be isolated from the influences of other nations and religions in a part of Egypt called “the land of Goshen” because the Israelites were sheepherders and the Egyptians were vegetarians. The Egyptians really didn’t want much to do with them socially – but because of Joseph they were kind toward his descendents.
· Over time Israel grew into a mighty people of somewhere between 2 to 4 million people. And they were able to do that because they were protected by the military might of Egypt. Other nations couldn’t attack them and kill their people.
· And it was in Egypt that Israel became a unified people.
… unified by their common pain of slavery
… and unified their common belief in the one true God.
When Israel left Egypt (by the mighty hand of God) they were prepared mentally and physically to return and to take possession of the land God had promised them through Abraham 100s of years before.
And all this came to pass because God gave Joseph a couple of dreams while he slept.
Dreams are powerful things.
Particularly when it’s God who gives them to us.
Our nation was founded on a dream.
It was a dream that many of us believe was given to us by God.
In the 2nd paragraph of the Declaration of Independence we’re told of that dream:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The founders of our nation believed the promise from Psalm 33:12
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD…”
And they believed that – for our nation to be blessed – it should protect the unalienable rights that their Creator desired for them: amongst which were “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”
The Preamble to the Constitution of our United States declared:
“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.”
Our nation’s founders had a desire to form a more perfect union than man had ever considered. Theirs was a desire to establish a nation based upon Christian principles. And they believed these Christian principles would bring about…
1. the establishment of justice
2. Domestic tranquility
3. the basis for a common defense
4. provide for the general welfare of its people
5. and secure the blessings of God for the liberty for themselves and those who came after them.
They deliberately intended this to be a nation established to be UNDER GOD.
Christian principles were interwoven into the very fabric of how our nation began.
In one of his most famous speeches, Patrick Henry declared something our nation’s current school textbooks have ignored:
"An appeal to arms AND THE GOD OF HOSTS is all that is left us. But we shall not fight our battle alone. THERE IS A JUST GOD that presides over the destinies of nations. The battle sir, is not to the strong alone. Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death."