Read Genesis 40:8-23
Last post on Genesis, we looked at Joseph’s comment about interpretation and how it relates to fire, and more importantly, how it relates to God. (see previous post: God, Fire, and Interpretation)
In today’s post we’ll see how Joseph is used by God to interpret the dreams of two of Pharaoh’s prisoners: Pharaoh’s chief cupbearer, and his chief baker. We’ll also look at even more parallels in Joseph’s life that continue to paint a prophetic picture of Jesus. Jesus Himself said in Luke 24:44-45, “Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.
Finally we’ll look at what it feels like to be forgotten.
Pharaoh’s chief cupbearer and baker each have dreams on the same night. Joseph sees they’re dejected because they recognize the dreams as having meaning, but they can’t figure out the interpretation. So Joseph asks them the rhetorical question, “Do not interpretations belong to God?”
So the cupbearer decides to share his dream with Joseph.
He, the cupbearer, says, In my dream I see this vine in front of me, and it has three branches. As soon as the vine buds, it blossoms, and it’s clusters ripen into grapes. In my dream, Pharaoh’s cup is in my hand so I take the grapes, squeeze the juice out of them into Pharaoh’s cup, and put the cup in his hand.
Joseph says, This is the interpretation, The three branches are three days. Inside of three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and call you back up to your former position. You’ll put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand just like you used to. Now listen, when you’re back in Pharaoh’s good graces, remember me and do me a favor, mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. I was taken by force from the land of the Hebrews, and I’ve never done anything to deserve a life sentence in a dungeon.
When the baker sees that the cupbearer received a favorable interpretation he decides to share his dream as well.
I also had a dream, the baker says. In my dream I have three baskets of bread on top of my head. Inside the top basket there are all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the only thing is, birds are eating them out of the basket on my head.
This is what it means, The three baskets equal three days. In three days Pharaoh will have your head and impale your body on a pole. And the birds will eat your flesh.
Cut to three days later and it’s Pharaoh’s birthday. He gives a feast for all his officials. Pharaoh lifts up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, in front of all his administration. He restores the chief cupbearer to his old position, so he’s serving Pharaoh his cup once again. But he has the chief baker impaled. Everything happened just as God, through Joseph, had interpreted.
But the chief cupbearer forgot about Joseph and his request.
Joseph and Jesus:
The picture of Jesus painted in Joseph’s life continues as we see still more parallels between them:
1) Both were sentenced based on false accusations: Joseph accused of raping Potiphar’s wife, and Jesus of inciting rebellion against the established government. (Luke 23:1-4)
2) Both were numbered with two transgressors: Joseph with the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and Jesus with the two thieves on either side of Him as He hung on the cross. (Mark 15:27-28)
The baker of bread and the cupbearer of wine also speak of Jesus’ command for us to take communion. And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” (Luke 22:19-20)
3) Both endured feeling forgotten: Joseph thought he was forgotten by the cupbearer, but he wasn’t, as we’ll see later. And Jesus, felt forsaken when He was separated from His Father for the first time in eternity. He cried out “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) (Matthew 27:45-50)
I spoke with a good friend of mine day before yesterday and he shared with me how he’s feeling forgotten. He’s separated from family, he has financial problems, and he has health problems. Maybe you’re feeling forgotten. Maybe you’re not stuck in a dungeon but stuck in a job, or stuck on unemployment, or stuck in a house that’s upside down financially, or stuck in debt, or stuck in a tough marriage.
You know, just one chapter previous, the Bible says of Joseph, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness. (Genesis 39:21) Given Joseph’s story so far, you might be saying to yourself right now, “Are you kidding me? The Lord was with him? The Lord showed him kindness? What kindness? Joseph’s family badmouthed him behind his back, they plotted to kill him, they tossed him into a cistern, they sold him into slavery, they told his father he was dead, then he was falsely accused of rape, tossed into a dungeon, and now… Now the cupbearer’s forgotten about him altogether and he’s rotting in this dungeon for who knows how long! Kindness you say?”
Speaking of God the Father, Jesus said, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45)
In other words, we all have problems.
Jesus said it again, even more directly, when He stated, In this world you will have trouble. (John 16:33)
It’s not surprising then that Joseph has had trouble, serious trouble. We all either do have, or will have trouble. You either have, or are going to have trouble, serious trouble. Every single person on the planet experiences problems. No one escapes. Not one of us. No matter what we do.
Because we live in a fallen world, we have no choice when it comes to troubles, we’ll all have them. The choice we do have though, is whether or not we want the Lord with us in the dungeon, whether or not we want Him to show us kindness when we’re stuck in that tough situation, when we’re in the midst of our trouble. Walking through problems with Him can make our difficulties so much better than they would be otherwise.
Last night a man named Louie Zamperini was interviewed on a talk show. Louie was a juvenile delinquent who seemed to turn things around when he became a track star as a teenager. He went to the Olympics and it appeared he had a bright future ahead of him. Many thought he’d be the first to break the four minute mile barrier. But before the next Olympics, World War II started. Louie enlisted as a bombardier. During a rescue mission his plane crashed into the middle of the Pacific Ocean. He was lost at sea on a life raft with two fellow soldiers for 47 days, longer than any other person in history. During that time he was nearly killed by starvation, sharks, storms, and a Japanese bomber that strafed his raft — twice.
But that wasn’t even the hard part. On the 48th day they were captured by the Japanese. Louie was tortured mercilessly by a Japanese guard, nicknamed “the Bird” by the prisoners. This went on for years.
During his time lost at sea and as a P.O.W. Louie prayed fervently for God to spare his life. In return, Louie promised he would serve Him.
Miraculously, Louie did survive the war but afterwards he suffered from post traumatic stress disorder. He had intense horrific dreams of his tormentor, the Bird, every single night. He even attempted to find him in Japan so he could kill him in revenge. He started drinking heavily. He had trouble holding a job. He was at rock bottom. Eventually his wife told him she was filing for divorce.
Then one day his wife attended a Billy Graham crusade. She made a commitment to Christ and came home a changed woman. She announced to Louie the divorce was off. She also drug Louie to the next crusade meeting. He was resentful and angry about it. But then she talked him into attending another, and as he listened to Billy Graham that second time, it hit him.
I have forgotten!
On the talk show he said, I thought to myself, what an idiot! Here I had told God if He saved me I’d serve Him for the rest of my life. God kept his end of the deal, but I had forgotten mine. So I committed myself to Christ. Up until that time I dreamed of the Bird every night. But since that day I committed myself to Christ, I haven’t dreamed of him once, and I haven’t had any drinking problems. (Unbroken)
The point is, God didn’t forget Joseph while he was in the dungeon. And God didn’t forget Louie Zamperini, not even while he was stranded at sea and suffering torture from the Bird.
But Louie forgot Him!
It’s not a question of God forgetting you. It’s a question of you forgetting Him!
I’m telling you right now, remember Him. Whatever you do, remember to TAKE HIM WITH YOU, into the dungeon you’re dwelling in currently. Remember Him. Remember to TAKE HIM WITH you out in whatever sea you’re stranded in. Remember Him. Remember to TAKE HIM WITH you into whatever torture you’re enduring.
Take Him into your heart and mind by reading His Bible. Take Him into conversation by praying to Him. Take Him into your company by worshiping Him at His house, with His people.
And do this in remembrance of Him — take communion.
He hasn’t forgotten you.
Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come.
Chuck Smith Blog Post: Not Abandoned