What Will Become of Your Dreams?

“And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him. And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” Gen 37:18-20

God gives men dreams to help them through the rough places that often come about before a dream is fulfilled. If it came from God instead of man’s own heart, God is responsible to fulfill the dream. Man’s part in the process is to keep the dream alive in his heart until God does the work. This requires faithfulness on our part and being consistent in our walk with the Lord.

The enemy cannot attack the dream, so he must attack the dreamer. The enemy will use our brothers and sisters to cause us to abandon the dream from God. Those who we feel should understand the dream are often the very ones the enemy uses to try to tear down the dream. Others do not always view what God has shown us with spiritual eyes. Many times, they allow their own baggage to taint their view of our dream. They become perfect tools of the enemy in his attempt to disrupt the work of God.

The fruit of forgiveness will always triumph over resentment and bitterness. But the seed of forgiveness is sown with tears and weeping. The fruit is cultivated many times through years of faithfulness and sacrifice.

Destroying the Dreamer

“And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him.” Gen 37:18

Jacob sent his favorite son Joseph to check up on his other sons. The brothers were supposed to be at Shechem tending their flocks. But Joseph caught up to them at Dothan. It was the perfect storm; everything fell into place for the brothers to do something nasty to their younger brother.

There will always be a Dothan in your life. Dothan is just beyond the familiar and safe environment. Dothan is just beyond the shadow of the altar. Dothan is a place where men are outside their element and feel free to do things they wouldn’t normally do. When you travel to Dothan you need to keep your head up and anticipate the unexpected.

There is much to be said about setting boundaries in your life. Not that you will never be forced to travel outside your comfort zone, but so that when you do, you are prepared. Most of the momentous mistakes that change the entire complexion of life happen in Dothan. Dothan is the Las Vegas of our spiritual life. And what happens in Dothan does not stay in Dothan. Preparing for the unexpected is what setting boundaries is all about. You see, in Dothan you have not only your own actions to be concerned about, but also the actions of those around you. Many people have ended up in a pit because they trusted their future and their life to someone else when they were outside their comfort zone.

Why did the brothers hate Joseph so? They hated him because they believed their father loved him more.

“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

They hated him for speaking the truth – “…and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.” Gen 37:2

They hated him for his dreams – “And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.” Gen 37:8

They hated him for sharing his dreams.

Others will hate you for the same reasons. Not that the Father loves believers more, but it appears that way to others who are not close to God. They will hate you for speaking the truth about their actions. Sin is sin but they don’t want to hear this. They will hate you for the dreams God gives you. They will hate you for sharing those dreams.

When we harbor evil thoughts and hatred in our hearts, eventually we will have an opportunity to act upon those feelings. Hatred and jealousy will always produce a crop. There will be fruit, but will that fruit be something that will commend us before God? The fruit of forgiveness and reconciliation causes brothers to become united. The fruit of hatred and jealousy causes brothers to do nasty things to their brethren. When the opportunity presents itself, those filled with bitter fruit will do nasty things to others.

“And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” Gen 37:19-20

Joseph’s dreams became the lightening rod for his brother’s hatred. They couldn’t destroy the dreams, so they attempted to destroy the dreamer. Their original plan was to slay Joseph first and then throw him into a pit. In Dothan there were lots of dry wells and empty pits.

Compromising with Evil

“And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him. And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again.” Gen 37:21-22

Reuben was just as resentful as the other brothers, but he was not prepared to kill the young boy. He thought that the other’s anger would pass, and he would return and fetch Joseph out of the pit later. Perhaps he thought it would do Joseph some good and teach him a lesson to spend some time in a pit. Reuben thought that he would return later and set Joseph free. However, Reuben returned to find that Joseph was already on his way to Egypt as a slave.

Rather than confront the other brothers who had blood in their eyes, Reuben tried to take an incremental approach. This is the classic case of compromising with evil. Since Reuben also felt resentment toward Joseph, he did not feel comfortable with an open confrontation of the others. While he was not prepared to go as far as them, he also was not prepared to stand up for what was right. The older brother, who should have stopped this folly, refused to do so because of his own heart. And so, Reuben chose to land somewhere in between. That is what compromise is all about.

Compromise might work in many areas, but not when it comes to evil or sin. There is no other way to mitigate evil except meeting it head-on. The most common reason that folks attempt to compromise with evil is because they have not cleansed their own heart. For example, Reuben thought that it might do Joseph good to spend some time in a pit. The problem is that if you are willing to throw him into a pit you don’t know what could happen to him next. If you are willing to act on evil impulses, how do you control how far it will go?

Good intentions will never erase your guilt or bring your brother back. You cannot unsay what you have said or undo what you have done. Ultimately, those who act in anger, hatred, or jealousy will have to bow down and ask forgiveness from those they have wronged. There is no other way to remove their guilt and to have reconciliation.

When those who have wronged you ask for forgiveness, you are presented with an opportunity for greatness. Many would rather hold on to their cherished hurts rather than allow reconciliation. That is because they have nursed their hurts while in bondage rather than nursing their dreams. They treasure their “right” to be hurt more than the desire to be reconciled to their brothers.

The pit and the prison cannot destroy your dreams, but bitterness and unforgiveness will. What will become of your dreams will depend upon how you react to adversity. Will your use your quiet time to nurse your hurt feelings and cherish your wounds, or will you keep the dream alive? Regardless of anything else, the dream for Joseph meant reconciliation with his brothers. Joseph’s finest hour is when the brothers asked forgiveness and he embraced them. He was able to do this because he nursed his dreams instead of his hurt feelings.

Don’t let the opportunity for greatness pass you by. You are never so great as when you release the “right” to remain hurt and embrace those who have done you wrong.

Sold into Slavery

“And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him; And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.” Gen 37:23-24

Joseph’s path to greatness began with betrayal. That path took Joseph to a pit, went through Potiphar, prison, and the palace. But God’s purpose for Joseph’s life was not fulfilled until he forgave his brothers and ministered reconciliation to his family.

The mark of distinction was removed from Joseph as the brothers removed his coat of many colors. Joseph was separated from the love of his father. All that remained to Joseph was his integrity and his dream. The path of suffering is a lonely path, yet often it is the path to greatness. If you feel that you have nothing else, yet if you still have your integrity before God and your dream, you have plenty!

Judah offered another compromise with evil. Rather than slay the boy, why not sell him into slavery?

“And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.” Gen 37:26-27

Rather than do violence to him, Judah was willing to profit from his suffering. “After all, it serves him right!” There have always been industries that profit from and traffic in other’s suffering. While slavery might be illegal, yet there are significant industries that cater to the suffering of bondage and addiction. Gambling, drugs, alcohol, prostitution, pornography, abortion, are industries run by people willing to profit from other’s bondage and suffering. And this traveling band of Ishmaelites is still in business. So, the seventeen-year-old Joseph was sold to a band of Ishmaelites on their way to Egypt.

A Bloody Coat

“And they took Joseph’s coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood; And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son’s coat or no.” Gen 37:31-32

Having rid themselves of the cause of envy, the brothers now attempted to cover up their sin. They took the coat of distinction and dipped it in the blood of a goat. They tried to cover their guilt with the blood of a goat. Without saying that Joseph was deceased, they showed his coat to Jacob. And Jacob’s imagination took over.

“And he knew it, and said, It is my son’s coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces.” Gen 37:33

Some people are very negative in their thinking. The boys knew their father and his negative tendencies. Some folks are so busy thinking of all the bad things that can happen that they are unable to have faith. They spend so much time trying to avoid the negative that they seldom take time to explore the possibilities. These people tend to spend a lot of time depressed or melancholy. Jacob was this way. Jacob decided that he would be unhappy for the rest of his life.

“And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days. And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.” Gen 37:34-35

Grief is a natural response to tragedy. Everyone reacts to grief differently. There is no “correct” way to deal with grief. However, it is a serious mistake to make a conscience decision to remain grief stricken. Jacob refused to be comforted but instead vowed to go to the grave mourning.

This is a decision that many make. They feel guilty if they allow themselves to have any enjoyment. They might even be surrounded by others who love them, yet they insist on mourning for the rest of their days. I am not one to tell others how to deal with grief, but I believe it is a mistake to attempt to “honor” the departed by refusing comfort.

Joseph’s brothers thought they were eliminating the cause of division in their family. In fact, the division and suffering only intensified. They were daily reminded of their guilt by their father’s mourning. Nothing they did for Jacob would allow them to go forward as a family. They were stuck in the past. The only hope for reconciliation in this dysfunctional family was on his way to Egypt.

Summary:

God gives men dreams to help them through the rough places that often come about before a dream is fulfilled. The path to greatness often begins with betrayal. In order to keep the dream alive during our times of hardship requires faithfulness on our part and being consistent in our walk with the Lord.

The fruit of forgiveness will always triumph over resentment and bitterness. But the seed of forgiveness is sown with tears and weeping. The fruit is cultivated many times through years of faithfulness and sacrifice.

There will always be a Dothan in your life – a place just beyond your comfort zone where danger lurks. Dothan is a place where men are outside their element and feel free to do things they wouldn’t normally do. When you travel to Dothan you need to keep your head up and anticipate the unexpected. It is best to have firm boundaries set before you travel to such a place. Preparing for the unexpected is what setting boundaries is all about. Many people have ended up in a pit because they trusted their future and their life to someone else when they were outside their comfort zone.

Joseph’s brothers hated him for the same reason that unbelievers and sometimes even your brothers will hate you. Because it appears that the Father favors you. They will hate you for speaking the truth about their actions. They will hate you for the dreams God gives you. They will hate you for sharing those dreams.

It is impossible to successfully compromise with evil. Rueben tried to postpone evil and correct it later, but found he was too late. Judah tried to lesson evil by profiting instead of slaying. Both were unsuccessful in avoiding guilt.

Both methods failed to remove the cause of division in the family. Compromise with evil will never remove the cause of division in God’s family. This is true because the real source of division is evil in the heart. At the heart of sin is sin in the heart.

What will become of your dream depends on what you do when you are betrayed. The path to greatness often begins in the pit of betrayal. Will you nurse your hurt feelings, or will you instead forgive others and cling to your dream?

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