Summary: Waiting is one of our greatest challenges. Our timetable is usually not the same as God's. God has a lot to teach us during our waiting periods. Let's see how God used the waiting period to grow Joseph.
A. The story is told of a man who went shopping with his wife at a local department store.
1. They purchased a piece of luggage and a cooler.
2. As the man was waiting for his wife to finish the rest of her shopping he dragged the luggage and cooler with him to the shoe department where he found a place to sit.
3. A clerk asked if he could be of assistance.
4. “No, thank you,” the man replied. “I’m just waiting for my wife.”
5. At that point, a man nearby said, “I’m waiting for my wife, too, but I never thought of bringing a cooler of food and an overnight bag with me. What a great idea!”
B. How many of us enjoy waiting?
1. Most of us don’t like waiting for anything.
2. We don’t like waiting at traffic lights.
3. We don’t like waiting in check-out lines.
4. We don’t like waiting in waiting rooms at doctor’s offices or hospitals.
5. And we certainly don’t like waiting for God to answer our prayers and waiting for God to change our difficult circumstances.
C. That’s exactly where we left Joseph a couple of weeks ago – in a dungeon prison, waiting on God.
1. For the most part, Joseph’s experiences in life have been difficult.
2. He may have been born a favored son, but his life was filled with disappointment, mistreatment, and rejection.
3. He had experienced slavery, false accusations, and imprisonment.
4. Two weeks ago, we left Joseph alone in prison.
5. Now, after a gap of two full years, we pick up his story again.
D. If you remember, when we left him, he had told the cupbearer two years earlier, “Now that I’ve told you the meaning of your dream, don’t forget me. Keep me in mind when things go well with you, and when you get restored to your position.”
1. But as we discovered, the cupbearer failed to remember or mention Joseph.
2. Two full years passed after that event – that’s a long time to be forgotten!
3. After all Joseph had been through, why would God allow something like that to happen to him?
4. The answer is that God was still at work in his life and was preparing him for a special assignment.
E. Those two years must have been very difficult.
1. They represented a long, dull, slow-moving grind.
2. That’s what it’s like when we’re in a period of waiting.
a. Nothing seems to be happening, just wait, wait, and wait some more.
3. What we don’t realize is that although it seems that nothing is happening, in reality a whole lot of things may be happening.
a. God is usually very much at work during these times of waiting.
b. God is working on us during those times, and God is working out situations apart from our involvement.
4. So, let’s return to our story.
I. The Story
A. The Bible says: When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile, 2 when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. 3 After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. 4 And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.
He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. 6 After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind. 7 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream.
In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him. (Gen. 41:1-8)
1. Imagine Joseph’s situation that day – it was a day like any other day.
a. That morning dawned like every other morning over the previous two years.
b. Joseph had no idea that he was about to experience a major turning point – an amazing promotion.
c. Unknown to Joseph that morning was the fact that during the night before, Pharaoh had a bad dream.
2. The king of the land dreamed of seven fat cows who were devoured by the seven gaunt, starving cows.
a. Surely he awoke thinking that something he ate wasn’t sitting too well on his stomach.
3. Before long he fell back asleep and his dream continued.
a. This time he saw a stalk of grain with seven plump and healthy ears, then seven thin, scorched ears sprang up and devoured the seven healthy ears.