The Dreams of Others

“And they dreamed a dream both of them, each man his dream in one night, each man according to the interpretation of his dream, the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, which were bound in the prison. … And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you.” Gen 40:5, 8

God speaks to people any way He can get through to them. He does this sometimes to warn and sometimes to encourage. Even people who do not serve the Lord can experience these nocturnal visitations. This is certainly not a measure of spirituality but rather an indication of God’s eagerness to intervene in men’s lives.

Those who walk with God and are serving God in truth are often uniquely positioned to bring understanding to others. Part of our calling as dreamers is to bring light to those whose lives God is touching. If believers are so preoccupied with their own troubles and trials, it is difficult for God to use them to speak His truth to others.

Joseph eventually found deliverance from his own bondage by ministering to others who were also bound. This would not have been possible had Joseph allowed bitterness to find a home in his heart. God used Joseph’s excellent spirit to minister to others and as the vehicle for his own deliverance.

All the while, God was directing events that would result in the fulfillment of Joseph’s dream. The prison experience was part of God’s preparation for the palace. A prison experience is a “tight place” where one’s options are seriously limited. It is in the quiet confines of your prison experience that God can develop the qualities needed to guide your life into the palace. You can trust God with your dream – after all, it came from Him.

What makes the difference between a prince and a prisoner is the way they deal with their prison experiences. Many people are unable to focus on anything except the harm done to them by others while in a tight place. For them, prison becomes a breeding ground for resentment and bitterness. They are unable to relate to God or to be a blessing to others. Consequently, if they ever are released from their prison, they are never truly free from bondage. As a result, they have allowed others to control their lives and to rob them of their dream.

Favor With God and Men

“And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.” Gen 39:20

Joseph was wrongly accused and thrown into prison because he refused to compromise his relationship with God. There have been many who have tried to justify unfaithfulness because of their dream. They reason that pursuing their dream is more important than maintaining their walk with God. Their failed reasoning says that if God allows this pressure to compromise then He must expect them to surrender to it. “After all, what is a child of God to do in circumstances beyond his or her control?” How about, living for the Lord and being a Christian witness?

Joseph placed his walk with God before any of his hopes and dreams. Pressure to compromise his walk with God was recognized as evil and resisted with all his spiritual might. Joseph recognized the temptation to commit adultery with Potiphar’s wife for what it was.

“…how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Gen 39:9

Your dream can survive time in prison. If it came from God, your dream will not dissolve because you suffer a time of trial of persecution. However, your dream may not survive a lack of faithfulness in your walk with God. The reason is that God is the dream giver and your dream is forever tied to your relationship with Him. Your dream can survive temptation and even prison but can your relationship with God.

Joseph went to prison through no fault of his own. In fact, he went to prison precisely because he refused to compromise his walk with the Lord. It would have been easy to surrender to despair and blame the Lord for all that was wrong in his life. Instead, Joseph chose to walk with God and be a blessing to others.

“But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper.” Gen 39:21-23

God can bless this type of attitude. When we maintain our walk with God, the Lord can make even our prison experience a blessing. Joseph was prepared for the palace by his experiences in Potiphar’s house and by his experiences in prison. Does our attitude reveal that we only believe God can use our experiences of exaltation to prepare us for the fulfillment of His dream? We cherish the Potiphar experience but shun the prison experience. We even go so far as to justify failure when tempted because we believe God should have prevented those circumstances.

And yet the biblical pattern is that a life that is lived close to God can prosper even in prison. A life that is pleasing to God can overcome temptation. A life that is pleasing to God will not focus on injustice experienced. A life that is pleasing to God can experience blessing even in the worst circumstance. A life that is pleasing to God can become a tool of reconciliation and blessing to others. We want to be delivered from persecution but not through persecution.

The Butler and the Baker

“And they dreamed a dream both of them, each man his dream in one night, each man according to the interpretation of his dream, the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, which were bound in the prison.” Gen 40:5

The butler and baker of Pharaoh offended the king. They were delivered to prison and Joseph was given the responsibility of attending to them. We are not sure what they did or how they offended Pharaoh. Perhaps charges were being investigated while they cooled their jets in the political jail.

One night, God spoke to the butler and baker. Each was given a dream. The dreams were so intense that each man awoke the next day and could not get the dream out of his head. More often than not, dreams are the result of what we eat before bedtime, or something that weighs heavy on our mind. But God does sometime speak to men in dreams.

I believe God speaks to unbelievers far more than we recognize. If men were more sensitive, dreams would not be the communication medium of choice. In fact, God would much rather speak to men with that internal voice He uses when we pray. But if men do not pray, God is left to speak in other ways. Far from being evidence of spirituality, the fact that God is left to resort to dreams is often proof of a lack of prayerfulness and spiritual attuning. How can I say this? Notice that neither man understood his dream and they both were troubled by their dream. So, God communicated to them and they were troubled and confused. Carnal people do not understand spiritual things.

Joseph noticed that the men were sad and perplexed the next day. He asked them what was wrong. They replied, “We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it” (Gen 40:8). This is where those who do not know the Lord find themselves. When God speaks, they are not able to discern what God is trying to say to them. They must constantly rely upon someone else to interpret what God is saying.

Here was an opportunity for Joseph to minister to others. God was speaking to others who could not understand His voice. What would Joseph do? A bitter person might say, “Keep your dreams to yourself! Those things never work out for me anyhow!” A disillusioned person might say, “You just ate too much pizza before bed. God doesn’t speak to men in dreams.” A self-centered person might say, “Don’t tell me about your silly dreams! I have problems of my own to worry about.” When the opportunity to minister to others presents itself, are you too preoccupied with your own situation to respond? It just might be that in ministering to others you will find the liberty and release you desire.

Joseph remained humble before God.

“And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you.” Gen 40:8

Whatever gift we might be blessed with is not our sole possession. Spiritual gifts belong to God. He is the possessor and distributor of spiritual gifts. If God has used us in any way, it is the result of our relationship and not due to our superior spiritual capacity. The butler and baker each told his dream to Joseph and God used Joseph to give them understanding into what God had revealed.

A Message of Hope

“Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place: and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh’s cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler.” Gen 40:13

God speaks to people in many different ways. For the unbeliever, nocturnal dreams can hold a spiritual significance. It would be much more convenient and meaningful for God to simply have a conversation with man. But in the case of unbelievers or the spiritually dull, dreams are sometimes the best vehicle for the Lord to communicate spiritual things. However, these communications are often misunderstood and end up only perplexing the recipient.

This is where the people of God come in. The royal officers said, “We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it” (Gen 40:8). A dream without understanding results only in confusion and perplexity. If the dream comes from God, there is an interpretation.

Why does God give unbelievers dreams? Because He desires to communicate something important that relates to their life. Because He wants to draw them into a relationship. Because He wants to speak words of encouragement that give hope, or a warning to prompt repentance. Because He wants to draw unbelievers to people of faith and receive glory as a result.

God’s message to the butler was a message of hope.

“Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place: and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh’s cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler.” Gen 40:13

This dream and the interpretation of the same were designed by God to make a lasting impression on the butler. God desired to draw him to Joseph and fix his mind upon spiritual things. Joseph asked the butler to remember him when he was restored to his former position in the palace.

But for the unbeliever, an encounter with the supernatural is often just a fleeting curiosity. “Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him” (Gen 40:23). The lasting impact and implication of God’s communication is brushed aside in the hustle and bustle of life.

A Warning From God

“Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thy head from off thee, and shall hang thee on a tree; and the birds shall eat thy flesh from off thee.” Gen 40:19

God’s message to the baker was a message of warning. Why does God speak such a warning? To prompt men to repent. A message of judgment from God should be understood as an opportunity to repent. Several times in the Scriptures God spoke of judgment was a warning to prompt repentance. Jonah’s message to Nineveh was “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them” (Jonah 3:4-5).

If God communicates to man concerning pending judgment it is because He is looking for the fruit of repentance.

      • God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
      • “For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.” Ps 86:5
      • “But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.” Ps 86:15
      • “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.” Ps 103:8-10

The only thing that can stand between men and God’s justice is repentance. God is merciful and slow to anger. God has been known to turn from His wrath in response to sincere repentance. But when men stoically accept God’s judgment instead of repenting, there remains nothing but the fulfillment of God’s Word. God’s Spirit will not always strive with man.

Forgotten Blessing

“And he restored the chief butler unto his butlership again; and he gave the cup into Pharaoh’s hand: But he hanged the chief baker: as Joseph had interpreted to them. Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.” Gen 40:21-23

You had better remember your dream. Don’t count on others to remember theirs. You must keep your dream alive. You do this by continuing to walk with God. Faithfulness is the measure of your relationship with the Lord.

Whether others remember their dream or not, walking with God will allow you to keep your dream alive.

Conclusion:

Your walk with God will allow you to bring understanding and light to others. Unbelievers struggle to gain understanding, even when God speaks to them. Part of our calling as dreamers is to bring light to those whose lives God is touching. If believers are so preoccupied with their own troubles and trials it is difficult for God to use them to speak His truth to others.

You will find deliverance from your own bondage by ministering to others who were also struggling. It will not be possible for you to help others if you allow bitterness in your heart. God used Joseph’s excellent spirit to minister to others and as the vehicle for his own deliverance. As you seek to be a blessing to others, God will use your efforts to further your own cause and fulfill your dream.

Your prison experience is part of God’s preparation for the palace. What makes the difference between a prince and a prisoner is the way they deal with their prison experiences. You must refuse to focus on harms suffered and evil deeds done against you. To do so is to allow others to control your life and to rob you of your dream.

 

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