We catch up with Joseph in prison ‘some time later’ (Genesis 40:1). That phrase is so short and describes so little. The detail loving part in me wants to know HOW LONG? The Bible doesn’t say exactly but we do know that Joseph has been given favour and is in charge of all those held there so it will be some time later. Two new inmates have been put in prison who have connections with the Pharaoh … and they just happen to be put in the same place and under Joseph’s care as they await trial.
GOD revives Joseph’s gift. The some time later does not matter and He chooses this moment to see what Joseph will do.
The new inmates, the cupbearer and the baker, after a little more time, have dreams on the same night. Joseph sees them the next morning and asks why they are so sad.
Joseph acts in a way that shows his discernment. The cupbearer and baker are in prison so why shouldn’t they be sad? Joseph realises that there is something more than the present circumstances that are bothering the men. He knows the atmosphere in the prison and was able to pinpoint a change.
When asked, the cupbearer and baker speak of having dreams. Now at this point Joseph shows himself to be GOD fearing and not man fearing when he says, ‘Do not interpretations belong to GOD? Tell me your dreams.’ He knew what interpreting dreams had done to him in the past, he knew the potential for trouble, but instead of just walking away, he stepped up. These people had no idea of who he was, why he was in Egypt and what had put him in his dire position. Joseph could have just carried on doing his thing in the prison and no one would have known anything different.
But I think Joseph was responding to a nudge from GOD. GOD had caught Joseph’s attention with the change of atmosphere and had begun to speak. He was speaking in a language that Joseph understood. I expect Joseph’s heart was racing as he heard GOD’s voice all over the dreams.
Have you ever been nudged by Holy Spirit? I wonder if you have had a similar experience to Joseph. Have you noted a change in the atmosphere? Has something happened in front of you or someone said something to you that you can’t just shake off. It can be an uncomfortable place to be. ‘Go and speak to that person’ ‘Ask if they would like you to help’ ‘Invite them around’ ‘Offer what you have’ … GOD speaks everyday. It isn’t just at church or in small group, He speaks in real life too!
Joseph didn’t shy away from an encounter. He reminds me of that bit that Mordecai speaks over queen Esther as he urges her to take action.
14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14
Joseph did not realise that stepping into this moment and asking to hear the dreams would be the instant that his family would be saved. Joseph didn’t remain silent and his obedience at the nudge from GOD made all the difference to the nations. Have you ever considered that before … one small act of obedience, on your part, impacting nations?
Do you think that Joseph knew what his little gift of interpreting dreams would eventually do? He knew what GOD had said all those years ago, and no doubt that was encouraging (yet quite remote) but I wonder if he had connected it to the act of interpreting dreams. He might have considered his gift as fairly insignificant, but he was faithful with it.
I have sat at my Bible and journaled for over eight months. I have used my skills and gifting in art and words. I spend hours (and years) writing books … yet have felt they are insignificant. But I think that is a lie! I recently heard someone talk on the enemy fighting the hardest in places where he doesn’t want us to go. It has been a battle to keep writing … so I guess that I shouldn’t stop! Even if just one person reads this post or picks up my books, it will not return empty … but you know what, GOD won’t limit the impact of an act of obedience. He loves it, breathes on it and blesses it. Have you put down something that you found to have a battle on the other side? Perhaps now is the time to stand firm!
13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:13-17
“GOD’s timing is perfect!” – Have you ever heard that? I know that I have … and have felt like I want to punch the person for their lack of perfect timing in telling me. But the frustration of not being in that timing doesn’t take away the perfection of it.
Joseph interprets the dreams, asking the cupbearer to remember him. But when the cupbearer leaves the prison it seems like Joseph is forgotten once again. How can GOD’s timing be perfect then? It seems that GOD speaks to Joseph and then just drops him again. But the timing to leave wasn’t right. The cupbearer had to forget Joseph for a while because the Pharaoh hadn’t had his dreams yet. What would have happened if the cupbearer had remembered Joseph? It is likely that the cupbearer would not have told the Pharaoh about Joseph but some other official that he thought might be able to help … but imagine if he had approached Pharaoh and delivered the following lines … “Hey Pharaoh, you know you threw me into prison, well this guy told me that you were wrong to do it and said I would be out by your birthday!” Hmm, I’m not convinced that either the cupbearer nor Joseph would have survived such a conversation stopper. GOD’s timing was right. The Pharaoh had to be in such a place of distress over his dreams and the cupbearer had to be in a place of being the only one who could offer any kind of help to be heard by the world leader.
Why did GOD wait two years? I don’t know! I think that many times we think we are ready for ‘the thing’ to happen when really we are not. Joseph would have learnt a great deal more whilst in the prison. He added Egyptian culture and language to his formal education given by his father. His favour in the prison allowed him to learn order, management, people skills, community, rationing … etc … GOD knew what He was doing and that was all we need to know. He is always looking at the bigger picture. The main thing that we must comprehend is that although Joseph was forgotten by the cupbearer, GOD never forgot Joseph.
Some thoughts and challenges to leave you with … 1. Put aside and say sorry the times that you have walked away from the nudges of GOD – be bold and step into the next time He nudges you! 2. Pick up your armour and your giftings that have laid dormant. 3. Trust in Him again for perfect timing.
P.S. Just in case you would like to check out my books click here …!