Joseph And The War Vet: How Both Were Forgotten

Remember God Memorial Day(From the archives)
It’s Memorial Day weekend, the time we take to honor those who died while serving our country. In today’s post we’ll look at the life of Joseph and what he had in common with one U.S. war vet who died much later than you could imagine.

Genesis 40:8-23

Pharaoh’s chief cupbearer and baker each have dreams on the same night. Joseph, their fellow prisoner, 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.

The cupbearer, says, In my dream I see Continue reading


Forgotten (Photo Credit:

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.

Genesis 40:8-23

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 Him.

Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come.

Ecclesiastes 12:1


Bible Gateway

Blue Letter Bible

Matthew Henry

Chuck Smith

Jon Courson

Chuck Smith Blog Post: Not Abandoned

Laura Hillenbrand (2010). Unbroken, Random House

God, Fire, and Interpretation: Genesis 40:1-8

Four adults and three children were killed in this house fire in Philadelphia (Photo Credit:

Read Genesis 40:1-8

In the last post on Genesis, we saw how Joseph, a young man, in the prime of his life and possessing all the desires young men in their prime possess, somehow avoided succumbing to the relentless propositions of Potiphar’s wife. (see previous post: Joseph’s 5 Steps to Avoid Temptation) At the end of the previous chapter, she (falsely) accuses him of rape. It was the word of a slave, against the word of the wife of a high government official, and, of course, she won. So Joseph finds himself in a dungeon. But, by God’s grace, he also finds favor with the warden of the dungeon. And after awhile, the warden puts him in charge of other prisoners.

In today’s post we’ll learn about two of Pharaoh’s prisoners, the cupbearer and the baker, and their respective dreams. And we’ll look at interpretation as it relates to fire, and as it relates to God.

Genesis 40:1-8

So Joseph has been in prison for some time when a couple of new convicts arrive. They were officials in the king’s court who had offended their master, the Pharaoh. One was the chief cupbearer, and the other the chief baker. And Joseph is assigned to take care of both of them.

They had been in custody for awhile when each of them, the cupbearer and the baker, has a dream on the same night, and each dream has its own meaning. The only thing is, neither of them can figure it out.

When Joseph shows up the next morning he can tell they’re both dejected. So he asks, Why so sad?

They both answer, We both had dreams but there’s no one to interpret them.

Then Joseph says, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.”

Interpretation: Fire and God

On the topic of interpretations, and who they belong to: In my thirty years in the fire service, I have heard of only one person crazy enough to disregard the interpretation of a fire scene by firefighters. Unfortunately I experienced it first hand. The call came in around 7 in the morning, as a house fire with children trapped at 503 Alberts St. When we rolled up we saw the house was well involved with fire. I’ll never forget my surprise when, as we deployed off our fire engines, we were met by a man screaming obscenities. He was, if you will, challenging our interpretation of the fire scene — in no uncertain terms. He continued to scream obscenities at us while we removed three children trapped in a back bedroom of the burning house. Sadly, we were too late to save two of them. One survived.

Later we found out the man screaming was a neighbor, and Vietnam vet, suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. After it was all over, he apologized profusely. He felt terrible. I actually feel sorry for the guy.

Let me ask you something:

If your house was on fire.

And your family was trapped inside.

And you were standing out in the street next to me.

And a half dozen or so fire engines rolled up to the scene.

Would you interpret that fire scene — or would you rely on me, as a firefighter, to interpret it for you?

Of course, you would rely on my interpretation — even though you wouldn’t understand much of what I did. Undoubtedly you’d have questions. Why are you cutting a hole in my roof? you might ask. Why are you using precious time to take your fire hose all the way around to the back? you may question. What are you doing with those big fans? And what does all this have to do with saving my family?

Yes, you would definitely have questions. There would definitely be things you wouldn’t understand. But to give you and your family the best possible chance, you’d rely on my interpretation anyway.

You would put your faith in me, as a firefighter, and you would be wise to do so. If you tried to figure it out yourself, your family could die in the flames.

And yet, the difference between me and you isn’t that great. After all, I’m just a man. My time on the earth may not be as long as yours. My life experience might not be as extensive as yours. My accomplishments probably aren’t as great as yours.

But still, you’d rely on my interpretation.

How much more then, should we rely on Jesus Christ’s interpretation of the scriptures, because of who He is.

I’m not talking about checking your brain. I enjoy discussing questions concerning scripture with others, and also exploring questions about scripture myself. Romans 12:2 says we’re to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. And the Jews of Berea received Paul’s information, but they had questions. So they diligently researched to see if what he was saying was true. (Acts 17:10-12)

Asking questions about the Bible is healthy and should be commended. The people at Berea were said to be of more noble character than others.

What I’m talking about is recognizing who Jesus is compared to who you are and who I am.

So who does Jesus say he is?

He said, He was with God before the world even existed. (John 17:5)

Jesus said to His disciples, If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father. How can you even say, Show us the Father? (John 14:9)

In these and other places in the Bible, Jesus says He is God.

In John 10:33 we see clearly, the Jews understood Jesus claim that He was God: “We are not stoning you for any good work, but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”  they said.

So it makes sense for you to rely on me, a mere man, not much different than you, for the interpretation of a fire scene, and for the salvation of your family from a house fire. How much more then, does it make sense for you to rely on the Christ, who is God, as much as you possibly can, for your interpretation of scripture, as well as your salvation.

The only thing that makes sense is to rely on Jesus’ view of scripture.

And how does He see it?

I think it’s impossible to read the four gospels without coming to the conclusion Jesus viewed (and views) scripture as God’s word.

“But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.” Jesus said, substantiating the account of the destruction of Sodom. (Luke 17:29)

“Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died.” Jesus said, confirming manna fell from heaven (John 6:49)

“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—” Jesus stated, validating Daniel of the Old Testament as a real and genuine prophet. (Matthew 24:15)

Let the reader understand, Jesus really did view the Old Testament as God’s word. He quoted from twenty four different books of the Old Testament. He quoted from it often and as having the weight of God’s authority behind it. He accepted the Old Testament as “that which was spoken unto you by God” (Matthew 22:31) But please, let me encourage you not to take my word for it. Read the gospels and see for yourself.

I don’t think there’s any question, we’ll never understand everything in the Old Testament, or the New Testament for that matter, this side of heaven. The interpretation of scripture is infinitely more complex than the interpretation of a fire scene. If you have questions about a fire scene, it’s only natural you would have questions about scripture. But because Jesus is God, the only thing that makes sense is to view the scriptures as He did.

I know how to rescue people from a house fire (IF, you give me a handful of fire engines and 20 or so trained firefighters). So you put your faith in me. Jesus knows how to raise people from the dead! I know how to extinguish the flames. So you put your faith in me. Jesus created fire, and everything in the earth, and the entire universe!

In fact, because Jesus is God, it makes infinitely more sense for you to rely on Jesus for your interpretation of scripture, than it does for you to rely on me to interpret a fire scene. In either case, if you try to lean on your own understanding, you and the people you love and care about will get burned. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

In the end, what you’re left with is a choice: Will you buy the secular criticisms of the Bible so prevalent on the internet today? Or will you believe God’s word in the same way Jesus did?

Will you believe the critics or Christ?

“Do not interpretations belong to God?” (Genesis 40:8)

Joseph said it well.

Put your faith in Him.