Summary: Sometimes we let our life-circumstances shift our focus away from God’s commands. Circumstances aren’t the prerequisite to letting God's Light shine. We can’t let others’ choices become an excuse for us, as-to-why we don’t let God’s light shine.
God in the Ebb & Flow of Life:
Opportunities, Assistance & Amnesia
Scripture Text: Genesis 40.5-23
Good ole Joseph has been through a lot, hasn’t he!?! When we left him last-week, …he was sitting in the pit-of-prison!... Have you ever been behind bars?
Not-a-fun-place to-be! But, when you’re used-to-living a favored-life ~ …like Joseph was used-to-living, …it must’ve-been miserable!
But, …that’s-where Joseph found-himself. It wasn’t his fault… which might’ve-tempted him to- become bitter ~ His boss’-wife pointed a lying-finger in his direction, …and that-was-that! No more cloak-of-honor; …no-more position-of-prestige; …no-more strolling through the master’s-palace. Now, he’s relegated to a dark-and-dingy dungeon.
But, he’s not-there all-alone. There’s a warden. And supposedly there were other prisoners because Joseph is put in charge of all-the-others. I don’t know if you consider that a ‘glimmer-of-hope’, ~ …but, even in the pit-of-prison, …Joseph is put-in-charge. It just seems that there’s something about his-character that’s-emerging ~ …something that others notice, …something that leads people like Potiphar and this prison-warden to trust Joseph and-to put him in charge.
But, there-he-was, …takin’-care of his responsibilities, …when he comes across two-dudes that aren’t havin’ the best-of-days! These are guys-like-him: …they used to have good jobs; …they used to rub-shoulders with big-wigs; …they were trusted and respected and life-was-good. The chief-baker was the head-chef ~ (as-though his title didn’t give it away!). Now keep-in-mind, he was no-ordinary fry-cook! He was the chief-baker for Pharaoh – …the king-of-the-land. I’m not sure what the qualifications-were for that-kinda-position, …but I’d expect that he was artistic and talented and could manage the pressure of making sure his king was pleased with each morsel that he placed in his mouth! It’s a tall order!
I am not Pharaoh, …and I’m not-a-king ~ …so I hardly-feel-worthy of the ‘chief-baker’ that graces my house! Amy is an absolutely-wonderful-cook. If you’ve had-the-chance to sit down to one-of-her-meals, …you’ll understand why I’ve gained almost 40 pounds in our 18-years-of-marriage! But-truly, …there’s only one-time (in all-those-years), …only-one-time that she made something that I just couldn’t stomach. We have laughed-about-it; …but, in Pharaoh’s house, …such an offence could-have-gotten the chief-baker kicked-to-the-curb!
What-was-it that got Pharaoh upset with the baker? Did he put too-much-salt in the Belgian-waffles? Did he experiment with ramen-noodles and caramel-topping? Or, did he try to sneak lima-beans and brussel-sprouts into his strawberry-smoothie? ~ Who knows! More-likely, …Pharaoh got sick to his stomach and thought that the chief-baker was trying-to-poison him! Seriously!... Was it food-poisoning; …or, was it deliberate-poisoning!?!
The king’s cupbearer had a very prestigious job, as well. You-might-think that it’s no-big-deal to carry Pharaoh’s-mug!... But, the job actually entailed a little-bit-more than-that… He had to taste-test Pharaoh’s drink before passing the goblet! “Why would he have to do that?”, you ask… Well, that was Pharaoh’s-way of making sure that his drink wasn’t poisoned! If somebody had-it-out-for-the-king, …and slipped some-cyanide in the punch, …the cup-bearer would take the first drink, …and hit-the-deck before Pharaoh ever-got the glass-to-his-lips!
So, Joseph’s new-companions in-prison were from the halls-of-power in the greatest-nation on the face-of-the-earth, at the time! They were used-to receiving Pharaoh’s praise for an artfully-prepared-meal, …or a fine-choice of wine to compliment the evening’s-entertainment. They were used-to walking the halls of Pharaoh’s palace, …and being admired by lower-servants. They were used-to holding the king’s-trust ~ …not enduring his scorn!
And-so, it’s not-hard-to-imagine that these two were down-in-the-dumps ~ …their faces were down-cast. Life was miserable! I’m sure that in their wildest-dreams, …they never-imagined that they’d find-themselves in such a low-place!
But, there they were! And to make matters-worse, …they each had a dream. They were troubled by the dreams. They didn’t know what-was-up with the dreams; …and there wasn’t anyone-in-the-dungeon to help-them-understand!
Now, when I have a dream ~ …I usually chalk-it-up to the big-bowl of ice-cream that I ate at 11:30! ~ …Maybe you attribute-it-to the pastrami-sandwich or the deer-jerky that you ate for a mid-nite-snack! But, in the ancient-world, …people believed that dreams meant-something; …they often thought that their-god was speaking to them ~ …and, in-fact we have examples of the Lord-God speaking to His people through dreams… Abraham had a dream: …and in-the-dream, God told him to “count the stars” (referring to his descendants); …Jacob had a dream, and he saw angels going up-and-down a ladder that stretched-up-to-heaven. And many-other-times did-God speak to His people through dreams.
But, God also would-speak to other-folks - …not-just His faithful-followers – …and God would give them a message in-a-dream: It won’t-be-long before God will give Pharaoh-himself a dream; …and many hundreds of years-later, God will give the Babylonian-king a dream.
But-here, now, two-royal-servants from Pharaoh’s household ~ …they’ve each had-a-dream and they don’t understand what their dreams mean! They are-just-sure that the dreams mean something; …and if they mean something - whatever-it-is - …it must-be significant! But they can’t figure-it-out. And-so, they’re down-in-the-dumps!