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.”
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.”
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.”
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. Genesis 40:5-22
Both men sought Joseph’s interpretations of their dreams but only one was glad he had asked. From an early age Joseph had these dreams. It’s why he was where he was. As we would say today, “It’s a gift…and a curse.” Somebody’s unique gift to the world can also be that person’s “curse.”
For me, it’s noticing minor punctuation and spelling errors in brochures, church bulletins, and the like. Fortunately, that “skill” enabled me to earn a living as a technical writer and editor but when I point out these types of errors to those who are not seeking such proofreading skills, it is just annoying to them. And it’s much easier noticing errors to text I have not written. You’ve probably noticed an error or two over these last 10 years, some more egregious than others.
But Joseph had to use the skills and talents God gave him. He had to. It’s what God gifted him to do.
Somebody reading this right now is not using the skills and talents that God has given them. For whatever reason, you gave up on that gift, but it’s in the back of your mind. Step slowly back into your gift and talent. God can and will use you mightily.
Others are not using your gift to its fullest potential. Step it up. You know you want to and need to but again, you’re not using your gifts the way they should be used.
And as you go further with your giftings, God will richly bless you.
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. Genesis 40:1-4
Apparently it was not easy serving Pharoah and his staff. What did the cupbearer – the most trusted member of his administration – and the baker do to offend? No one knows, but into the prison they went.
Fortunately for them, they had company. Joseph was commanded to serve and attend them, something he had plenty of practice doing for Potiphar.
It’s tough to imagine living and breathing at the whim of one man – a dictator. One word and he could send you to prison – or worse. He could also elevate you to a higher position with the right words.
We enjoy freedoms in the West that many in the world only dream about. As flawed as our governments are, they provide a reasonable quality of justice. Yes, there are cases to be made that there might be two justice systems, one for the elite, and one for everyone else. I wouldn’t argue that case. But do know that people are risking their lives trying to our shores despite the way it’s portrayed in the media and in Hollywood. They recognize we have basic freedoms that are lacking where they come from.
Pray for this great land. Pray for its legislators, judges, and President. Pray that they would seek his will and guidance in the decisions they make.
But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did. Genesis 39:20-23
Once again, we arrive at a passage that talks about the favor of the Lord being on Joseph multiple times. Through no fault of his own, Joseph landed in prison.
But God was looking out for Joseph.
I doubt prison life back then was easy at all. The conditions were probably harsh and bare.
But God was looking out for Joseph.
The warden didn’t even have to worry about Joseph’s detail because even though he was in prison, Joseph must have been a model prison, if there was such a thing.
God was looking out for Joseph.
This passage obviously screams out to me that He was indeed looking out for Joseph even in the harshest of conditions.
The same God who looked out for Joseph is alive and well today as I write this in 2019.
As Joseph must have called upon the Lord in his time of need and plenty, so we should follow his example.
God will look out for you and me as well.
13 When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, 14 she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. 15 When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”
16 She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. 17 Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. 18 But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”
19 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. 20 Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. Genesis 39:13-20
Joseph is about to go into the valley again. He went from being a servant to the King’s right hand man to the dungeon. Unfortunately he could not win this battle because of his status.
This was now his official lot in life.
Recently my niece came home with a saying someone in authority taught her. “You get what you get so don’t throw a fit.” Its application, as simple as it is, can be across all walks of life and situations. It’s much better and less cliched than “If life deals you lemons, make lemonade.”
Joseph had to accept his lot as miserable as it was. He could wonder why his brothers sold him and even why his father questioned him about the multicolored coat. Anything he came up with would be merely speculation.
It was absolutely unfair of the wife to accuse him of something he had no intention of doing. But he was never going to win with her or her husband either.
But at this point, he only had God. Quite literally. He had improved his lot for a short while but that rug was pulled out from under him.