Written by Dave Urbanski
One of the wonderful things we’re seeing develop in Joseph’s life is his attitude. And as we learned this past Sunday in our study of Genesis 40 and 41, Joseph’s strategic and God-focused attitude is making all the difference for him and for others.
At this point Joseph’s in a fairly decent position with influence and responsibility — if you call being condemned to prison “decent”! I doubt any of us, all things being equal, would have anything positive to say about Joseph’s unjust stint in the slammer. No one wants to be a prisoner; and Joseph certainly doesn’t belong there given the fact that Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him — when in fact she was the guilty party! Talk about a moment when even believers in the Lord will naturally wonder, “Where is God in this situation?”
But as we’ve also learned, the Lord was “with Joseph” — in the false accusations, in the injustice, in the nightmare and shame of prison.
And we got a hint of God’s presence in a tangible way when Joseph, lo and behold, was placed in charge of all the prisoners — just as he was placed in charge of Potiphar’s house. God’s hand was on Joseph, and that was even obvious to non-believers around him.
Then God worked another miracle: Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker were jailed as well, and Joseph was charged with looking after them. And we can assume based on Joseph’s track record that he did a great job — above and beyond the call of duty. See, Joseph got to know them quite well — so well that after they both experienced disturbing dreams, Joseph asked them why they seemed troubled. Not your everyday question from a fellow prisoner.
But as Pastor Scott explained, it was a heart-opening question. And a simple one. Sometimes that’s all we need to do in our personal relationships — you never know when someone has been hoping and badly wanting to unload their burdens. Maybe we can help take others’ problems into the light of a biblical worldview that they couldn’t see before. What about you? Whom has God brought into your life? Just as God brought Joseph and the two prisoners together, he also brings people into our lives in strategic ways for his purposes. Divine appointments!
So, Joseph interpreted the cupbearer’s dream (he would be restored to his position) and the baker’s dream (he would be put to death), and both interpretations came to pass. When Joseph gave the good news to the cupbearer, he asked him to pass along a good word about him to Pharaoh — but the cupbearer failed to do so.
Now, for many folks, this could be their final coffin nail. It was yet another disappointment for Joseph during his time in Egypt, and he could have just given up on God. But he didn’t. As Pastor Scott noted, Joseph’s emotions trailed behind his beliefs. And that kind of God-focused attitude was exactly what kept him on the path God had for him — for another two years!
By chapter 41, Pharaoh had disturbing dreams as well — seven skinny, ugly cows devouring seven plump cows; seven skinny, ugly ears of grain devouring seven plump ears of grain. What could these dreams possibly be about? Indeed, no one — not even magicians and wisemen — could figure them out. And then the cupbearer reentered the picture and recalled to Pharaoh how Joseph correctly interpreted his dream and the baker’s dream.
That’s all Pharaoh needed to hear. He summoned Joseph, whose attitude again came into play, telling Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” And the Lord did just that. Joseph told Pharaoh his dreams meant there will be seven years of abundance in the land followed by seven years of famine — which led to mass storage of grain so the Egyptians could survive. Naturally Pharaoh was grateful, and as we’ve seen previously, Joseph again was placed in charge. He became Pharaoh’s right-hand man.
What a change from prison life! And we’re talking the culmination of 13 long years of up-and-down — but mostly down — circumstances as a slave in a foreign land. But at the end of it, since Joseph didn’t give up on the Lord, he received a signet ring and gold chain around his neck and held a special office of authority in Egypt.
Is there a famine in your land today? Do you feel like a slave to your circumstances? Are you feeling like you want to give up on God and send your faith packing? Remind yourself of Joseph’s life and what he endured and what kind of attitude he placed ahead of all his troubles. And the same God who was with Joseph the whole time also is with you and me. Today. Right now. And God isn’t far away. The Lord is right there with us in all of our trials. And as hard as it may be sometimes, we must be willing in our pain and disappointment to take the difficult step of asking, “What is God doing in this situation?” Or maybe we need to ask, “Is Jesus truly who he said he is?” Or perhaps, “Is the Bible truly the word of God?” Whatever question you need to ask of God, fear not. The Lord knows what question you have for him before you even knew what it was! And then ask away — and expect God to reveal some incredible, life-changing truths as you take that next step on the path he’s placed before you.