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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

Genesis 39:21; 40:23, 515, 2023comment (0)

April 17, 2008

By Jay T. Robertson

Related Scripture: Genesis 39:21; 40:23, 515, 2023


Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile

WHEN ALL HOPE SEEMS LOST
Genesis 39:21; 40:2–3, 5–15, 20–23

We Can Trust God (39:21)
What an amazing turn of events. Joseph had gone from the pit in Shechem up to the penthouse of Potiphar’s estate and now down to the prison of Egypt. Psalm 105:18–19 describes Joseph’s imprisonment: "They hurt his feet with shackles; his neck was put in an iron collar. Until the time his prediction came true, the word of the Lord tested him."

What an awesome example of faith Joseph had become. He had not doubted God, whether in prosperity or adversity. He had been sold into slavery by his own brothers, hauled down to Egypt and faced disappointment after disappointment, yet he believed God was with him. He sensed and appropriated God’s presence in every circumstance. The Lord extended kindness to Joseph, and everyone around him could see it. He saw the Lord’s presence and provision in the pit, in the penthouse and in the midst of Mrs. Potiphar’s lies, and now he saw it in prison. May the Lord help us to trust His promises when we find ourselves in a pit or a penthouse. May we always remember the Lord is our Immanuel in all the circumstances of life (Matt. 1:22–23; 28:20b).

We Can Serve Others (40:2–3, 5–8)
Eleven years had passed since Joseph was sold into slavery. Joseph was now 28 years old, two years away from becoming Pharaoh’s assistant (Gen. 41:1, 46). While overseeing the prison, Joseph was charged with caring for two influential prisoners, Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker. These two men were important in that they held the life of Pharaoh in their hands. They were responsible for the purity of his food. Perhaps Pharaoh suspected them of plotting his death. Joseph became the slave of men accused of treason and attempted assassination. How much lower could he go?

These royal prisoners had dreams that caused them anguish. A number of reasons account for their concern. The ancient Egyptians greatly valued dreams. They believed that dreams enabled them to contact another world while they slept. A pair of dreams indicated certainty of fulfillment. And because of their imprisonment, they did not have access to magicians and wise men to interpret their dreams. The next morning, as Joseph came to tend to their needs, he noticed they looked distraught. He asked them what was causing such concern. Although Joseph could have easily fulfilled his duty to these prisoners without getting involved in their personal affairs, he was moved with compassion for them. Upon hearing the cause for their alarm, he told them God interprets dreams and asked them to tell him their dreams. Through his decade of ups and mostly downs, Joseph never gave up on his dreams. In verse 8, he was implicitly declaring that God would see to it that his own dreams would come true as well.

We Can Seek Help (40:9–15)
Joseph listened to the cupbearer’s dream, and God interpreted it for him. Joseph then declared to the cupbearer that in three days, Pharaoh would restore him to honor. Joseph, miserable in the prison and at the same time confident in the Lord’s interpretation, said to the cupbearer, remember me "when all goes well for you." We must understand that these 11 long years had been an unrelenting test and that here Joseph revealed his inner pathos. Joseph shared his heart with the cupbearer; he had been kidnapped from his homeland and had done nothing deserving of prison. Joseph sought help from the cupbearer. God often works through people to help believers who are going through tough times.

We Can Be Patient (40:20–23)
Dreams do come true. How encouraging for Joseph. For 11 years, he had believed that his dreams would come true. He had never given up hope, despite his circumstances. And now he had evidence that he could interpret dreams. Now he was doubly sure that his own dreams would come true. Now that the cupbearer was back in Pharaoh’s good graces, he would share Joseph’s story with him and Pharaoh would release Joseph from his imprisonment. But the cupbearer forgot Joseph. Joseph had to wait two more years before his dreams would begin to be realize.

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