Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Genesis 40

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

Two men came into Joseph’s prison. [Did you see that it was in the house of the “captain of the guard?” Remember that the captain of the guard was Potiphar!] Potiphar assigns these two men to Joseph’s care (guess that tells us what Potiphar knew about his wife’s charges against Joseph. . .). We aren’t told what offenses landed them in prison, but we can speculate, based on the outcome, that the cupbearer was most likely innocent, while the baker was probably guilty.

Each of these men had a strange dream on the same night, a dream that bothered each man greatly. Joseph saw their sad faces, and he asked them “What’s up?” They gave him the perplexing details of their dreams, and Joseph, the dreamer of dreams, showed his gift from God as an interpreter of dreams. He interpreted the dreams this way: the cupbearer would be restored to his position in three days, but in three days the chief baker would be hanged!  Joseph had one request of the cupbearer:

But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. For 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.” (vs. 14-15)

Sure enough, in three days both men were called out of prison to appear before Pharaoh. The cupbearer was restored to his place of honor, while the baker was taken out and hanged. Joseph must have been anxiously waiting for word to come that he, too, would be freed. However, one of the saddest passages to read is the last ending of this chapter:

The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him. (vs. 23)

Oh, do you feel the weight of this? It is repeated twice for emphasis. Joseph was completely forgotten by the cupbearer! We can imagine Joseph waiting for word of his release, believing it to be imminent. Yet, no word came. First a few days went by, then several weeks, then months - and still no word. Talk about a wilderness experience!

I’m wondering if Joseph ever felt despair. Did he remember his own dreams from his youth and wonder if God would ever fulfill them? Would he ever again see the light of day? Had God forgotten him, even as the cupbearer did? Beth Moore reminds us of the following verses - ones you may want to memorize if you are feeling forgotten by someone or even by God:

But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.”

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! (Isaiah 49:14-15)

Even though we forget Him all of the time, and spend much of our days without thought of Him, God NEVER forgets us - we are in His thoughts constantly (Psalm 139:17-18). And as we wait for the one most important promises of God, the return of Christ, let’s remember that God does not forget that promise, either. God’s timetable is not ours. Joseph ended up waiting for two years before he was finally remembered. The world has been waiting for two thousand years for Christ’s return. During his imprisonment, Joseph was being prepared by God for what was coming, even as you and I are being prepared for an eternity with God. Will we be ready when He comes? It could be today - it could be tomorrow - it could be years. Let’s not get weary in the waiting, but trust that God is doing a work in us to prepare us!


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