And Joseph Dreamed a Dream

“And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.” Gen 37:5

Talk about a “blended family!” Jacob’s family was not unlike many families in our country today. Jacob was married and had children by four different women. The only thing that would make Jacob’s family different from many families in our society is that Jacob was married to all four at the same time! And they all lived together!

Genesis chapter 37 begins with Jacob. This is the story of his “generations” and took place during his lifetime. But beginning in chapter 37, God’s spotlight passes from Jacob and on to his son Joseph. Joseph dominates the rest of the Book of Genesis. In fact, the exodus from Egypt and settling in the Land of Promise is in part Joseph’s story. The freed people carried Joseph’s bones out of Egypt and laid them to rest in Canaan’s land. Why? Because Joseph made them promise to do so. The narrative of Genesis begins with a promise and ends with a dream.

In Joseph, God found someone to which He could communicate something of His purpose. He used Joseph to bring about healing in a family and unity in a future nation. But God did not do this by showing Joseph all the details and what would happen. Rather God communicated a snapshot of the future that expressed how He would use Joseph. The details were not revealed because the enemy did not need to see them.

God gives man a glimpse of His purpose not so that we can go about to fulfill that purpose. God expects us to remain faithful to Him while He works out the details. God is the dream giver and the dream fulfiller. Our part is to embrace the dream He gives us and keep it alive through our relationship with Him.

Dreams Come from God

Ambition originates in men’s hearts. Plans, goals, and cherished hopes germinate in man’s own need to feel accomplishment and achievement. They are reached through the strength of men’s determination.

But dreams come from God. The types of dreams we will be speaking about in the course of this series are not of the human variety. They are inspired by God and depend upon God’s veracity and power to be fulfilled. The only thing that man must provide is faithfulness.

The fulfillment of God-inspired dreams rests firmly upon the God who inspires such dreams. Man’s part is to keep the dream alive in his own heart. Man is not responsible for fulfilling the dream, only for embracing and cherishing it. We must by faith seize upon and treasure the dreams God gives. This is how we keep the dream alive for ourselves and for the benefit of others that God wants to make beneficiaries of our dream. It is when we tenaciously cling to what God has communicated to us that we develop the quality that reflects our Creator – faithfulness.

God spoke to the patriarchs and delivered a promise. God communicated to Joseph and conveyed a dream. The patriarchs were Joseph’s great grandfather, grandfather, and father. God spoke promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God communicated dreams to Joseph. Promises spoken are easily received and understood. Dreams given are somewhat vague to the natural man and are therefore received by our spirit first.

The natural man would like an ironclad contract that was sealed with the blood of a sacrifice. As when God entered into a blood covenant with Abraham. The Almighty briefly appeared as a smoking lantern moving between the separated halves of the sacrifices. So firm was God’s promise to Abraham. And yet afterward God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the patriarch and the Most High spook to Abraham in a dream. God’s promise to you of salvation is as sure as the blood of Calvary. But God’s dreams will not be realized simply because you show up.

God does not rely upon you to fulfill the dream He has given. But you must remember the dream, embrace the dream, and keep the dream alive.

Be Careful Who You Share Your Dreams With

“And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.” Gen 37:5

Jacob married sisters – Leah and Rachel. The two sisters competed for Jacob’s love. Rachel was the woman that Jacob loved more than life, but he was tricked by his father-in-law into marrying Leah first. He worked seven years for Rachel and ended up marrying her older sister, Leah. He worked seven more years for Rachel.

The two sisters became highly competitive and the best way to please Jacob was by giving him children.

“And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years. And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.” Gen 29:30-31

Leah bore Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah. Rachel had no children, so she gave her maid, Bilhah to Jacob to have surrogate children. Bilhah bore Dan and Naphtali. Leah gave Jacob her maid, Zilpah, and she bore Gad and Asher. Leah later bore Issachar and Zebulun. Finally, God caused Rachel to conceive and she bore Joseph and Benjamin. She died giving birth to Benjamin.

So, Jacob had only two sons by the woman he loved. Joseph was the firstborn of Rachel and the pick of the bunch, as far as Jacob was concerned.

“Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours.” Gen 37:3

It is easy to see that this blended family was highly competitive and there was lots of drama underneath the surface. The six sons of Leah were a group. The four sons of the concubines were a group. And the two sons of Rachel were favored by Jacob, with Joseph being his prize. It was not always one big happy family. In fact, this competition was bred into the boys and supported by parents who showed favoritism. The mothers can hardly be blamed, but Jacob was a different story.

The bane of marriage has always been polygamy and infidelity. The Bible simply tells the story of what happened. We observe the facts and see the result. Polygamy is never presented in a positive light in the Scriptures. Jesus tells us God’s plan for men and women: “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.” (Mark 10:6-8)

So, Jacob favored one son above the others. As a young man of seventeen years, Joseph responded to this favoritism. The family was filled with intrigue and competition. They were by no means united and loving toward one another. A blended family requires extra care that fairness and love are distributed evenly to avoid conflict. Jacob and wives had not read the latest parenting books. On top of blatant favoritism, Jacob relied on Joseph to be the family snitch.

“Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.” Gen 37:2

Again, this was done openly and blatantly.

How did the other sons of Jacob react to this inequity in the family? Joseph became a lightning rod for them to express their feelings of resentment.

“And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.” Gen 37:4

Joseph was young and inexperienced. His brothers were grown men, yet they carried ill feelings that they did not understand and were unable to deal with.

Into the mix of an already volatile situation, is introduced a spiritual component. God begins to speak to Joseph in dreams.

“And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.” Gen 37:5

A dear preacher friend has told me for years, “be careful who you share your dreams with.” Again, I am not talking about a dream that you have with you are asleep. I use the term dream to denote a God-given vision of something the Lord wants to accomplish in your life. These dreams are a spiritual thing. You cannot expect people embroiled in hatred and resentment to appreciate things that are designed to minister to the spirit man.

Dreams come from God. Our tendency is to share our dreams with those we love. The enemy often uses those who we expect to understand and appreciate our dreams. Satan uses God-given dreams to drive a wedge between those who listen to God and those who do not. He will use our carnal loved ones to discourage and ridicule our walk with God and the things God is showing us. Be careful whom you share your dreams with. Don’t share your big dreams with little people.

This is a lesson that Joseph learned in the course of his life. Late in life, I believe God gave Joseph a dream about things yet future. He gave instructions to his brethren on his deathbed concerning his bones.

“And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.” Gen 50:24-25

The part of the dream that I believe Joseph did not share with his brethren has to do with why he wanted his bones buried in the Promised Land. I believe God showed Joseph what resurrection morning would be like and he didn’t want to wake up in Egypt.

Dreams Require Enactors

“And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.” Gen 37:5-8

The fulfillment of dreams requires enactors. The reason your dream is not yet a reality is because all things are not yet ready. One of the most important areas of preparation concerns yourself and other people. Joseph was not personally ready to step up to this elevated position. Neither were his brothers ready to bow down to him.

The reason God gives us dreams is to give us something to hold on to through the trials required to set the stage for fulfillment. How could God join this fragmented family into a nation? How would the Lord weld together this miss-mash of competing interests and goals? How can God take such a disjointed and dysfunctional family and make them into an army able to conquer and rule such a pivotal area as the Promised Land was? He must bring them through the fire.

God prepares us for the rough places we must go through by giving us a glimpse of the end result. This is God’s purpose for communicating with us through dreams. The fulfillment of your dream requires other people. God wants you to hold to the dream while He sets the stage for its fulfillment. The dream is but a smidgen of what God is doing behind the scenes. He wants you to have something to hold to while you go through the changes required to put things together. The Lord does not expect us to fulfill the dream but rather to keep it alive in our hearts while He assembles the details.

You cannot expect everyone to embrace and accept your dream because God has not brought the details together. Those details will involve other people. They might not be aware, but they do not have to understand. The fulfillment of your dream will involve other people and details that are not yet in place. God will work to bring people and circumstance to the right place and then the dream will become reality. For now – you are not ready, and others are not ready.

The Enemy Attacks the Dreamer

“And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.” Gen 37:9

A God-given dream has the fingerprint of the Almighty upon it. It breathes the breath of God and speaks of His power. It is the plan of God and therefore it is part of God. John 1:1 tells us that God’s plan (His logos or Word) is not a separate entity. It is not even a distinct person. It is God!

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us …” John 1:14

We know that the Word, God’s plan was made flesh (John 1:14). When God’s time comes, His plan becomes a reality.

A God-given dream is God’s revelation of His plan for you, as well as others around you. You must embrace the dream and keep the dream alive in your heart. And when God’s time comes the dream will become reality. All the Lord needs is for someone to keep the dream alive by walking in faith. All you must do is receive it, embrace it, and walk in it! God does not need someone to fulfill the dream; He only needs someone to keep it alive.

Then enemy cannot attack a dream that has not yet materialized in the see-and-touch world. And therefore, he is left to attack those who embrace the dream. He can’t come against the dream except by coming against the dreamer. And he will use every means to attack the dreamer and kill the dream in his heart.

A) Satan Uses Other People to Attack the Dreamer

“And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth? And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.” Gen 37:10-11

The enemy uses other people to attack the dreamer. It might even be people you believe should understand your dream. Most will not because the time has not come, and God has not put the details together.

Do not be discouraged by others who fail to embrace or even appreciate your dream. Remember the reason God gave you a dream is not so that you will go out and fulfill it. God gave you a dream to help you through the tough times. God is working behind the scenes to prepare people and circumstances. Your job is to keep the dream alive.

B) Satan Uses Human Weakness to Attack the Dreamer

Our study of the life of Joseph will show how the enemy uses our own weakness to attack us. He tempted Joseph to succumb to the lust of the flesh. It would have been easy for him to surrender to the flesh and commit sin with Potiphar’s wife.

The temptation was to accept something other than what God was preparing for Joseph. This would have disqualified Joseph and frustrated what God wanted to do. The enemy could not destroy the dream, so he tried to destroy the dreamer.

This is why it is important that we understand our position in the cycle from dream to reality. Our role is to pursue God while God prepares people and circumstances. We are not to pursue the dream; God takes care of that. We are to pursue the One who gave us the dream. If your relationship with the Lord is strong, we will be able to withstand the temptation to accept a substitute.

C) Satan Uses the Passage of Time to Attack the Dreamer

Joseph was a lad of seventeen years old when God gave him the dream. The dream was fulfilled when Joseph was a mature man of forty. Twenty-three years passed between having a dream and the dream becoming reality.

Twenty-three years after his brothers sold Joseph into bondage, they came to call upon the prime minister of Egypt. Twenty-three years after God gave Joseph a dream about this scene, it finally came to pass. Joseph could have dismissed his dream years ago. But the passage of time does not erase the impression God makes on a willing and tender heart.

The enemy would like to use time against the dreamer. He wants you to forget what God has shown you. He wants you to become preoccupied with other things and let the dream die in your heart. You must keep the dream alive.

D) Satan Uses Circumstance to Attack the Dreamer

Joseph could have allowed the dream to die when was sold into slavery. But he continued to walk with and trust God. Joseph could have allowed the dream to die when he was thrown into prison for a crime he did not commit. But he continued to walk with and trust God. Joseph could have become frustrated when the prisoner was released and failed to recommend him to Pharaoh. But he continued to walk with and trust God.

What was happening in all these things was an attack of the enemy on Joseph. Satan used circumstances to attack Joseph’s walk with God. Satan attempts to disrupt the dream by attacking your walk with God. The fulfillment of your dream is tied up in your relationship with God. And so, Satan tries to discourage you and cause you to give up in your walk with God. Keep the dream alive by continuing to serve the Lord.

E) Satan Cannot Touch the Dream

The enemy cannot stop the dream, so he tries to stop the dreamer. The greatest weapon against his tactics is faithfulness. You are not responsible to fulfill the dream, but you must continue to walk with God.

If you are successful in your walk with God, the dream God gave you will come to pass. There is no weapon formed in hell that can prevent God’s purpose being fulfilled in those who walk with Him. Satan cannot touch your dream, but you must keep it alive.

Conclusion:

Does God see in you someone to whom He can communicate something of His purpose? Can the Lord use you to bring healing to others, to bring unity to believers, and to benefit His Kingdom? If so, it is doubtful He will show you all the details, but perhaps just a sort vision of His plans to use you. The enemy will be watching also, and God don’t want to give away His secrets.

If you have been the recipient of a dream from God, a vision of how He wants to use you, then your job is simple. He does not expect you to fulfill that dream, but only to be faithful to Him. Walk with Him and keep the dream alive.

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