Summary: The second of a three part series, ‘Do You Believe?
(Slide 1 up) I am thinking of something that everyone has and that we often receive it during the same time period each day. It can bring pleasure or pain or uncertainty when we receive it. What it is?
(Slide 1a) It is a dream! We all have dreams and most of the time we have them during the night when we sleep (although some people work during the night.) Some dreams bring pleasure; some cause us to wake up upset or afraid. But we all have dreams.
The Bible speaks of dreams and some of dreams or visions that Biblical characters had are recorded. There is Jacob and his ladder to heaven; there is Paul and his dream in which he was caught up to the third heaven (whatever that means); there was John with his heavenly vision or dream that we read of in Revelation; and there was Joseph’s dreams that are a part of our text this morning.
In fact, I would suggest that dreams played a very prominent role in Joseph’s story. He had dreams and he interpreted dreams.
Dreams are the subject of much discussion and are a field of study within the field of psychology itself. What they mean is open to interpretation and while some people take dreams seriously others believe them to be insignificant.
(Slide 2) But Joseph took his dreams seriously. I would even suggest that Joseph dreams were God’s dreams of deliverance.
Let’s quickly review Joseph’s story.
Joseph is one of several sons born to Jacob, who was the son of Isaac who was the son of Abraham that we heard about last week. So Joseph was Abraham’s great-grandson.
Now according to Genesis 37:3, Jacob ‘loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age.’ The passage goes on to say, ‘his brothers hated Joseph because of their father’s partiality. They couldn’t say a kind word to him.’ (I hear the Smothers’ Brothers right now. ‘Mom liked you best!’) Some of us here understand the issue of favorites, don’t we?
Well in short order Joseph has two dreams which appear to his family as setting Joseph (the youngest) above the rest of them. Although, as Genesis 37:11 says, dad gave some thought to what Joseph dreamed.
But the brothers had enough and they sought to rid themselves of this brother they had become extremely jealous of. They were going to kill him but two of them (probably because they were having a change of heart) stopped the rest from doing so.
Instead, they sold him as a slave.
Well off Joseph went to Egypt while the brothers, went home to lie about Joseph’s ‘departure.’
Joseph now begins a life in Egypt first as a household servant that is sexually harassed and then wrongly accused of rape by his master’s wife which causes him to be unjustly thrown into prison.
Then in prison he meets two of Pharaoh’s, the Egyptian king, servants, the cupbearer and the chief baker. Both have dreams and share their dreams with Joseph who makes an interesting statement to them as we read in Genesis 40:8, ‘Interpreting dreams is God’s business.’
Joseph interprets the baker’s dream as a dream about his death. He interprets the cupbearer’s dream as a dream about his restoration. He correctly interprets both dreams.
So now Joseph becomes a dream interpreter. Joseph asks to be remembered by the men when they are released back to the King but he is forgotten, for two years, until Pharaoh has a couple of dreams that no one could interpret.
Then the cupbearer remembers Joseph and Joseph is brought before Pharaoh and correctly interprets his dreams as a forewarning about a coming famine and the need to stockpile food before the famine hits. Joseph’s success creates the condition for his selection as Pharaoh’s number two man in the entire nation and the head of the national Egyptian food bank.
Then when the famine hits, 7 years later, Joseph finds himself face to face with his brothers over whom he has the power to provide food and therefore life or death. Joseph’s wrestling with what I believe is his anger and his conscience is one of the most intense situations in the Bible. Eventually he and his brothers are reconciled and his family is spared starvation.
Both to the cup bearer and baker as well as to Pharaoh, Joseph makes it clear that he is not the one interpreting the dreams that they had but it is God who is doing that work through him. Joseph is also a wonderful illustration of how faithfulness to God pays off over the long term.
But what is it about Joseph’s dreams that should matter to us today? Why should this story be important for us right now at this time and place in our lives?