< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Genesis 40

Monday, August 03, 2015

Genesis 40

Genesis 40:1-8 Some time later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt. 2 Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3 and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined. 4 The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them.

After they had been in custody for some time, 5 each of the two men—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison—had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.

6 When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. 7 So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why do you look so sad today?”

8 “We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.”

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

So Joseph had been made the head overseer of the prison and now the king’s butler and king’s baker who apparently had been in jail for awhile each had a dream the same night. Joseph asked them what was wrong and when they told him he offered to help.

Genesis 40:9-15 9 So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He said to him, “In my dream I saw a vine in front of me, 10 and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup in his hand.”

12 “This is what it means,” Joseph said to him. “The three branches are three days. 13 Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. 14 But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. 15 I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.”

As Joseph gave the good news to the butler he asked for one “kindness” for himself. To tell the Pharoah that Joseph was in prison and hadn’t done anything wrong. And as the cup-bearer to the Pharoah – (a high position) – he would have opportunity to do that.

Genesis 40:16-19 16 When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given a favorable interpretation,he said to Joseph, “I too had a dream: On my head were three baskets of bread.[a] 17 In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.”
18 “This is what it means,” Joseph said. “The three baskets are three days.19 Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and impale your body on a pole. And the birds will eat away your flesh.”

Apparently the baker had committed a pretty bad crime. And decapitation was a common Egyptian form of execution.
Genesis 40:20-23 20 Now the third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials: 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand— 22 but he impaled the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation.
23 The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.

Joseph’s interpretation was literally fulfilled. But the butler didn’t tell the Pharoah about Joseph. And in Genesis 41:1 we see that 2 more years pass.

Eleven years had passed since Joseph had been sold into Egypt, and he was still in prison. But God was working on him. Undoubtedly, his suffering and close contact with suffering in the prison was preparing him for his future work. If Joseph had chosen to pity himself he would never have noticed the butler or baker. Through all the little challenges and his daily response to them, God was preparing him for rulership over many things. It was his abandonment to God’s will and acceptance of it in humiliation and suffering which produced gentleness, modesty and ability to bear greatness without touching the glory for himself which Joseph so outstandingly manifested after he was exalted.

Probably if Joseph had been put into the position he’ll soon occupy when he was 20 he would have been proud, domineering, unsympathetic and inclined to see his exaltation as his due. Instead he has had such a deep experience of God’s presence in the midst of suffering that he knew how to help others who suffer. He had learned to take no glory for himself, but offer it all to God. 

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