Friday, December 03, 2010

Joseph Interprets The Chief Baker’s Dream In Prison - Genesis 40:16-19

When the chief baker saw that he had interpreted favorably, he said to Joseph, “I also saw in my dream, and behold, there were three baskets of white bread on my head; and in the top basket there were some of all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, and the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.” Then Joseph answered and said, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days; within three more days Pharaoh will lift up your head from you and will hang you on a tree; and the birds will eat your flesh off you.”

You will remember that the chief baker also had a dream the same night the chief cupbearer did and so when his colleague got a great interpretation from Joseph, he wanted the same. In a very odd way this is a depiction of what most of us are like. We see something that others have received and say, “We want that too.” But it may not be good for us. It may not be in our best interest to get it. In this case, the baker could have spared himself three agonizing days knowing he has going to be hung imminently. He could have just taken his chances with his dream. I suppose, though, there is something to be said about wanting to know what the future holds, be it good or bad. If I were dying of cancer, I’d want to know sooner rather than later.

Clearly the baker’s dream was very different in its content. In it, the baker seemed helpless as to what was happening and took no action on his own. The birds in the dream were in charge. Joseph, as the dream interpreter, could not ignore these differences. Can you imagine being Joseph and having to communicate such an interpretation? I am thankful I do not interpret dreams.

As a career counselor, management consultant, and mentor, I have had the opportunity to work with people who really wanted something which clearly was not within their reach, sometimes because of reasons beyond their control, but more often because of their unwillingness to sacrifice what was required in order to achieve their goal. Sharing reality with them is always very difficult. In doing so, I try to provide some more realistic alternatives. Those not receptive to such guidance sometimes dismiss me out of hand. Others, have come back to thank me for my honesty. In our passage here, the baker unfortunately would not have that opportunity.

What we cannot ignore in these verses is the clear lesson that two things often accompany being used by God in a very special way as Joseph was. First, we are called to do things for which we can only rely on God to do well. In this case, Joseph knew that the interpretation of dreams belonged to God (Genesis 40:8). Secondly, often the things we are called to do are very difficult and involve telling it like it is (he had to tell the baker he was about to die). My prayer is that you and I can both realize exactly how God does use us when He chooses to, as well as be committed to being used in that way.

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