Summary: please enter a brief summary Is there a once cherished dream that comes to mind? Between the dream dreampt, and the dream realized, life happens. Like Joseph, during the in-between time, we have the choice to be faithful or write the dream off.
September 16, 2012
“Joseph’s Precarious Path to ‘Providence’ ”
Genesis 37:1-28; & 50:15-21
Joseph was born to Rachel, the true love - favorite wife of Jacob, but only after many long years of childlessness. Immediately doting Jacob starts showing extra favor to young Joseph, even though he was younger than ten other sons, and in fact gave him an elevated status over them. Because of Jacob’s favoritism, Joseph was given a lavishly rich, multi-colored robe, that displayed openly the loving esteem his father had for him. It seemed Joseph could do no wrong in his father’s eyes, and was allowed to act with superiority, and tattle on any of his brother’s bad behaviors. Add to this, the seemingly grandiose dreams that Joseph received, interpreted, and bragged about - to his already peeved brothers, and you have a recipe for trouble. Father Jacob desired great things for his son, although he did question what the dreams meant - as to every one bowing down before Joseph. God also seems to be showing special interest in this younger son of Jacob.
Yet, our scripture narrative this morning ends on a bleak note. Because of his status, attitude, and dreams, Joseph is hated, to the point where the ten other brothers began plotting to kill him. Joseph nearly is murdered, but is spared when one of the brothers came up with the idea of selling him as slave to a caravan that happened to be passing by. This band of evil brothers take Joseph’s coat of many colors, smear it with blood, and make the false claim to their father - that he had been killed by wild animals. The fulfillment of Joseph’s dreams seems headed over a steep cliff. As we hear the story unfold, we wonder if Joseph will ever accomplish the dreams that God has given him. Hear our scripture text from Genesis 37:
If we read on in Genesis, we find that after Joseph was sold into slavery he lived his life faithfully, and became the lead servant/slave in Potiphar’s household. But then, he was falsely accused of assaulting Potiphar’s wife, who in a jealous rage uses another abandoned garment of privilege, conferred by Potiphar, to convince her husband to have Joseph thrown in prison. Despite this turn of events, Joseph lived his life faithfully in prison, earning the respect of the prison warden, who put Joseph in charge of the affairs of the prison. During his time there, Joseph was able to give two other prisoners interpretations of their troubling dreams. He did so, on the premise that they would remember him to Pharaoh when they got out. The days must have been disappointing and lengthy, as Joseph waited, looking up every time the door opened, in hopes that one of them had spoken well of him to Pharaoh. And yet, they had forgotten their promise, and Joseph languished for two long years, wondering if he would ever be free again.
As you can see, Joseph’s dreams were frustrated many times over, but that didn’t change the reality of God’s presence with him. It didn’t stop Joseph from clinging to hope, and doing what was right, nor did it change the fact that ultimately the dream would be realized. Finally, after two years of waiting, Joseph was at last remembered - and the prison door swung open. The reason: - Pharaoh had received two deeply troubling dreams, and couldn’t find anyone to interpret them. The royal cupbearer, hearing this, suddenly remembers Joseph’s ability to accurately interpret dreams, and on his say so Pharaoh called for Joseph. Pharaoh related to Joseph his mysterious dreams: ‘Seven ugly, thin cows came and gobbled up seven healthy, fat cows. And in the second dream, seven scorched, thin heads of grain ate up seven healthy, full heads of grain’. God enabled Joseph to rightly interpret the meaning of the dreams: - that there would be seven years of plenty, during which time it would be important to store grain and food, because that would be followed by seven years of famine. Pharaoh recognized Joseph’s abilities, and not only freed him from prison, but made him to be the equivalent of Prime Minister over all of Egypt. However, it would be still another seven plus years before Joseph saw the reality of his own initial dreams come true.