Summary: When your God-given vision is interrupted, it’s a part of God’s plan.
When you were young, what did your dream about? What did you imagine you’d do with your life? Who did you envision you’d be? As a follower of Jesus Christ, what do you dream about? Did you ever think about doing something great for God? Have you ever had even a fleeting thought that perhaps the Lord could impact this world through you, that He could use your life to bring honor and glory to His name?
Call me naïve, but I’m convinced that God plants, within each of His children, a dream. There’s a task we were created to do. There’s a purpose we were specially designed to fulfill.
It’s exciting when you discover that dream, but … when you take the first step toward reaching it … you’ll encounter a delay. If it’s a God-given dream you will inevitably face obstacles, detours, and dead ends. Sometimes you’ll be so far from the dream that you’ll chide yourself as a fool to believe such a thing was even possible. It’s in those moments we must remember that the delay is all a part of God’s plan.
This was the case with Joseph, the hero of the final chapters of Genesis. To say that he was significant is to put it mildly. I recently heard one preacher say: creation was only given two chapters in Genesis, but Joseph received thirteen. He played a crucial role in God’s redemptive history. Had it not been for Joseph, the nation of Israel, the chosen people through whom Jesus Christ was born, would have certainly perished from the face of the earth.
Early on Joseph dreamed big things for himself, but those God-given dreams were delayed. This morning we’re going to discover why. Along the way we’re going to learn some amazing things about God. In addition, I want you to realize perhaps why your dreams have been delayed. No matter what your age, it is my sincere hope that you’ll start dreaming God’s dream again.
Interpretations of a Vision Interrupted
At this point in the Genesis narrative, the lead character changes. Jacob becomes a supporting actor while his 17 year old son takes the starring role. Jacob loved his boy Joseph, he favored him above all his children because he was the firstborn son of his favorite (but deceased) wife Rachel. It appears that Joseph showed some aptitude for leadership early on. He took it upon himself to file job performance reviews on his older brothers. He gave them a poor rating to Jacob and his brothers hated him for it.
You’d think that Jacob could see trouble brewing, but somehow he missed the bitterness growing in his family. Rather than calm the situation he totally removed Joseph from the manual field work and promoted him to manager. His brothers hated him even more for this. The youngest and lowest man on the totem pole was promoted to supervisor. The so-called “coat of many colors” Jacob gave Joseph in the Hebrew is literally a “tunic of extremity.” It had long tight sleeves and extended down to the ankles. The coat’s inflexibility and ornate decorations prevented Joseph from doing common labor with his brothers. The snot-nosed 17 year old was in charge of the family sheep business.
Jacob looked at Joseph, saw his potential, felt an overwhelming love for his boy and mistakenly concluded that he was ready to lead. Joseph, already possessing a high opinion of himself because of his father’s love and after receiving two symbolic dreams, also erroneously believed that he was qualified to take charge right then and there. He must have been emotionally devastated when the dream of leadership was delayed.
This reveals our first interpretation. Sometimes a vision is interrupted because …
1. God’s person is not ready for the dream
Leaders require strength in two traits: competence and character. Competence is the ability to do the job and do it well. You can’t lead people somewhere that you haven’t been. Character is who you are as a person. Leaders must be viewed as trustworthy and selfless, among other things, before people will follow.
Joseph had the makings of a leader, but he wasn’t ready to assume the role yet. His competence needed to be refined. Verse 15 find him lost and wandering in a field. Getting yourself lost is not a good sign for a shepherd. You have to know the land well or the sheep will die under your care. How could Joseph’s brothers respect and follow him without this basic skill?
His character is questionable too. There’s no indication that Joseph was a bad guy, but the signs of immaturity surrounded him. He showed no qualms tattling on his brothers. They probably did do something wrong, but the wording of the original language indicates he brought a “bad report” to purposefully tarnish their reputations, possibly for self advancement. He’s like the co-worker who patiently waits and watches for you to do something wrong so they can report you and get your job or be promoted over you. Joseph also appeared totally oblivious to his brothers feelings. Knowing their envy and hatred he nonetheless shared not one, but two dreams about how he’d rule over them. That’s called adding insult to injury. A person so totally unaware of other people and their feelings does not yet have the character to lead, therefore Joseph’s dream was delayed.