Activated - - NEWS - By Sa­muel Keat­ing

Two dreams were the start of Joseph’s trou­bles.

“Lis­ten to this dream,” Joseph told his 11 broth­ers. “We were out in the field, ty­ing up bun­dles of grain. Sud­denly my bun­dle stood up, and your bun­dles all gath­ered around and bowed low be­fore mine!”

In Joseph’s sec­ond dream, the sun, the moon, and 11 stars had bowed to him.

The mean­ings of the dreams were ob­vi­ous. Even his fa­ther, Ja­cob, who loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, took of­fense and re­buked him pub­licly.

Ja­cob may have for­given Joseph, but Joseph’s broth­ers didn’t. When the op­por­tu­nity pre­sented it­self, they sold him as a slave to some for­eign traders mak­ing their way to Egypt.

Af­ter many years as a trusted stew­ard in the house­hold of Potiphar, the cap­tain of Pharaoh’s guard, Joseph found him­self un­justly locked away in the king’s dun­geons. Potiphar’s wife had tried un­suc­cess­fully to se­duce him, and then falsely ac­cused him of try­ing to rape her. God was with Joseph, though, and soon the war­den en­trusted Joseph with the daily run­ning of the prison.

More years passed be­fore Joseph’s life was once again shaped by dreams.

For of­fenses not ex­plained in the Bi­ble, Pharaoh had his but­ler and baker cast into the same prison.

One morn­ing, the but­ler and baker were both clearly trou­bled. Joseph asked why, and they told him: “We both had dreams last night, but no one can tell us what they mean.”

“In­ter­pret­ing dreams is God’s busi­ness,” Joseph replied. “Go ahead and tell me your dreams.”

The but­ler told Joseph his dream first: “In my dream, I saw a grapevine in front of me. The vine had three branches that be­gan to bud and blos­som, and soon it pro­duced clus­ters of ripe grapes. I was hold­ing Pharaoh’s wine cup in my hand, so I took a clus­ter of grapes and squeezed the juice into the cup. Then I placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.”

“This is what the dream means,” Joseph said. “The three branches rep­re­sent three days. Within three days Pharaoh will lift you up and re­store you to your po­si­tion. Please remember me when things go well for you. Men­tion me to Pharaoh, so he might let me out of this place.”

When the baker saw that the in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the but­ler’s dream was good, he told his own dream to Joseph. “I had a dream, too. In my dream there were three bas­kets of white pas­tries stacked on my head. The top bas­ket con­tained all kinds of pas­tries for Pharaoh, but the birds came and ate them from the bas­ket.”

The in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the baker’s dream wasn’t good, so one can imag­ine Joseph’s in­ward strug­gle as he ex­plained what God had shown him: “The three bas­kets also rep­re­sent three days. Within three days, Pharaoh will have you put to death.”

Three days later, which hap­pened to be Pharaoh’s birth­day, the but­ler was re­stored to his po­si­tion and the baker was put to death, ex­actly as Joseph had pre­dicted. Un­for­tu­nately, the but­ler quickly for­got about Joseph, who con­tin­ued to lan­guish in prison.

Two years later, Pharaoh had two dreams the same night. In the first, seven healthy cows were de­voured by seven ugly, gaunt cows. In the sec­ond, seven heads of grain came up on one stalk, plump and good. Then seven thin heads, blighted by the east wind, sprang up and de­voured the seven full heads.

When Pharaoh awoke, he called for his ma­gi­cians and wise men to in­ter­pret the dreams for him, but none of them could. Fi­nally, the but­ler came forward and told Pharaoh about Joseph and his abil­ity to in­ter­pret dreams. Pharaoh sum­moned him from prison.

As Pharaoh re­lated his dreams, God showed Joseph that He was giv­ing Pharaoh a glimpse into the re­gion’s fu­ture. There would be seven years of plenty, fol­lowed by seven years of famine. His mes­sage to Pharaoh was that he should pre­pare for the years of famine by stock­pil­ing pro­vi­sions dur­ing the years of abun­dance.

Joseph’s coun­sel pleased Pharaoh, and he chose Joseph for the job of over­see­ing the col­lec­tion and stor­age of the sur­pluses dur­ing the seven good years. He also el­e­vated Joseph to sec­ond-in-com­mand over all the land of Egypt.

But what about Joseph’s dreams of his broth­ers and parents pay­ing homage to him?

A few years later when the famine reached Joseph’s na­tive land of Canaan, Ja­cob sent Joseph’s older broth­ers to Egypt to buy grain, and they bowed be­fore Pharaoh’s deputy, who un­be­knownst to them was their younger brother. Joseph then con­cocted a com­plex scheme to find out whether they were re­pen­tant, and when he was con­vinced they were, he re­vealed him­self to them.

As we read Joseph’s story in Gen­e­sis chap­ters 37 through 50, we can’t help but be struck by how his char­ac­ter was molded by his re­ver­sals of for­tune. From spoiled boy to lowly slave, to de­pend­able ser­vant, to con­demned man, to trusted pris­oner, and fi­nally to Pharaoh’s right-hand man, each twist and turn played a part in the mak­ing of God’s man and the work­ing of God’s plan. Per­haps Joseph summed it up best when, re­fer­ring to his be­ing sold into slav­ery, he told his re­pen­tant broth­ers, “God meant it for good.”

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