Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pharaoh’s Prisoned Servants Have Dreams - Genesis 40:5-8

Then the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in jail, they both had a dream the same night, each man with his own dream and each dream with its own interpretation. When Joseph came to them in the mourning and observed them, behold, they were dejected. And he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were with him in confinement in his master’s house, “Why are your faces so sad today?” Then they said to him, “We have had a dream and there is no one to interpret it.” Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell it to me, please.”

God has Joseph and the king’s cupbearer and baker all in the same prison at the same time. The text says that both the baker and the cupbearer had separate dreams on the same night. It clearly states these dreams had their own interpretation. This, in my mind, is a significant statement. Clearly some dreams do have interpretations. What we are not told from this passage is that all dreams have interpretations – they may not. Dreams can be explained but they do not necessarily predict the future. The fact that the author of Genesis indicates these two dreams did have an interpretation, further supports the idea that all dreams do not. I do not believe we are to go about seeking an interpretation of each and every dream that we have. It may have just been the overabundance of chili peppers we had for supper the night before.

In the morning Joseph, being in charge of the prisoners, personally goes to check their well-being and finds the baker and the cupbearer very depressed. The text actually says he “observed them”. Here is Joseph in jail himself and he continues to do his assigned work with great care and diligence. These men were fellow-prisoners, confined with him. Why would he bother to treat them so well? Yet he enquires of them as to the cause of their woes and finds out that it is due to having no one who could interpret their dreams. And he does not just say, “oh, I see” and then moves on. I am reminded of a dear lady at a church I attended lately. As I often saw her in the lobby, I would call out, “how are you?” and keep on going. One day she blocked my path just as I had uttered the usual question and put her hands on both my shoulders and said, “Please don’t ask me how I am unless you really care and can stop long enough to have me respond. Instead, just say ‘hello’ and keeping on going.” Wow. That stunned me and I have never since asked anyone “how are you?” on the fly. Joseph was not ‘on the fly’ with the people he was in charge of. The question remains for us, “Would we go that far when we ourselves are imprisoned in the affairs of life?”

Although I have never had this desire or curiosity, I am told most people crave to have their dreams interpreted. That’s why when you ‘google’ “dream interpreters” on the Internet these days you get thousands of hits. But Joseph, indicating his actual awareness of God and his desire to bow to His authority, tells the baker and the cupbearer that “interpretations belong to God”. Now, here is the interesting perspective that Joseph had. I believe he realized he had a special relationship with God and it is for that reason he felt comfortable acknowledging that interpretations do belong to Him and at the same time to ask the prisoners to tell him their dreams so through God’s guidance and direction, Joseph himself could interpret them.

Have you ever been in a situation like that? Have you ever felt close enough to God to honestly believe that you could speak or interpret for Him? Many of course think they are there all the time. I would, however, caution us to be careful in that regard. I would point out Joseph had done nothing special, as far as we know, to acquire that gift. He could not boast that he deserved it or earned it. It was clearly all God’s choosing. He was simply someone God wanted to use. And he himself may not have even known it. In fact, he certainly didn’t have to go around telling people “I have the gift”. I would caution against those that do just that.

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