Unbeknownst to his brothers, Joseph’s extreme dreams, and God’s interpretation of them, are about to figure big in their survival. As foolish, mysterious or troubling as they seem to some, to Joseph they are very real predictors of what God is planning, doing and going to do in the land and lives of people around him.
When Genesis 41 opens it’s been two years since Joseph’s dream about the cupbearer. And up until now, Joseph was a forgotten prisoner with benefits. Now his boss, Pharaoh himself has a pair of dreams that neither he nor anyone else understand. And that’s when memory cells kick in and the cupbearer remembers the Hebrew dream expert, Joseph.
“I hear you interpret dreams,” says Pharaoh to Joseph. “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.” (Genesis 41:16 NIV)
Not only did Joseph tell Pharaoh the singular meaning of the two dreams (for emphasis), he went on, without being asked, to give him a solution and plan of action to the problem of 7 years of famine following the 7 fat cows and healthy heads of grain. It must have impressed Pharaoh. Joseph immediately, without any further interviewing, lands the job and is put in charge of the entire operation.
It gets even better for Joseph. Pharaoh sets him up with a new wardrobe, new digs, his own set of wheels and a wife. Before the tough times hit he had two kids. First is Manesseh, which means “forget” because God has helped him forget all his trouble, and his father’s household. Second is Ephraim (twice fruitful), because “God made me fruitful in my suffering.” (41:52)
By now there should be no surprise how greatly God blessed Joseph and everything he touched. But soon the famine would be upon all the land. In the end, as these things were measured, it would be as severe to the land as the flood was in Noah’s day. And because of that, Joseph was to remember his brothers and his fathers household once again.
Another of his extreme dreams, this one from twenty years ago was about to come true.
Jacob, having heard news of food supply in Egypt, tells ten of his sons (sans Benjamin) to quit looking at each other and get down there to buy some grain – so they might live and not die.
So they arrive in Egypt, find the governor of the land and bow down with their faces to the ground, a show of respect for someone of such stature. Joseph immediately recognizes his brothers and soon remembers his childhood dream, which has now come true (37:7,9).
This sets in motion a plan to test his brothers’ claims, not of being spies, but on a mission to feed a starving father and another brother, back in the land of Canaaan. To prove they were being truthful, they’d have to return to Canaan and bring their younger back with them. And to make sure they’d comply, Joseph took and bound Simeon right before their eyes. He would not allow him to leave until the youngest brother comes to Egypt.
But he went even further. In addition to filling their saddle bags with grain to bring back home, Joseph returned the silver they had brought for payment.
Could it get any worse for this band of brothers? “What is this that God has done to us?” lamented one very distraught brother.
Upon hearing all the bad news, Jacob could only believe all was now lost, everything was going against him. First he lost Joseph, his and Rachel’s firstborn son. There was no way he’d let their only remaining son, Benjamin depart on such a dangerous journey. The way things were going, he’d most certainly be harmed, or killed.
He couldn’t let that happen. No, they would stay put.
But the dream isn’t dead or completely fulfilled. God isn’t finished making dreams come true.
Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind. (Genesis 37:9-11 NIV)
Yes, somewhere, in the back of Jacob’s mind, from some twenty years ago, the matter is being kept.
Day 14: As hopeless as it may seem at times, God has an extreme dream for you and for me – keep the matter in mind – don’t let go – it will come true.