“And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed …” Gen 41:1
The will of God is often found when the dreamer is called upon to help others understand their own dreams. God desires to communicate with men. However, men are not always equipped to understand what God is saying. The Lord wants to use His people to bring light and understanding to the world. This was God’s purpose for the Hebrew people and it is His purpose for the Church.
What frees believers from the prison of self-pity and bitterness is a willingness to minister to others. Your dream will always involve other people. If you are unwilling to help others understand the will of God for their lives, God will not be able to fulfill His will in your life. The will of God for His People always involves others. You cannot fulfill God’s plan in your life without the participation of others.
The tactic of the enemy is to encourage withdrawal and despair. When believers withdraw into themselves due to suffering, it lessens the opportunity to minister to others. Since others are required to fulfill our dream, the ability to realize our dreams is tied to our attitude toward others. Withdrawal causes the death of our dreams and the loss of hope. Despair, regret, and bitterness fuel the engine of depression and imprison many inside the jail of their own smallness.
The only way to break free from our prison is by reaching out to those around us. Our freedom will come as a result of getting outside ourselves and ministering to others. Our dream is fulfilled when we are willing to help others understand the voice of God in their lives. When we are able to get outside ourselves, we can see that God is communicating to others and the realization of our dream will involve other people. As we minister to others, we are allowing God to intervene and work in miraculous ways to bring His perfect will to pass.
After Two Full Years
“And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river.” Gen 41:1
It had been two full years since Joseph interpreted the dreams of the butler and baker. God gave them each a disturbing and vivid dream while they were imprisoned with Joseph. God used Joseph to bring understanding to them concerning the Lord’s communication.
God speaks to men frequently. While nocturnal dreams are not the preferred method, it is often the best opportunity men give the Lord to speak to them. When at rest the mind is more open to communication of a spiritual nature. If you are a believer and the only time God speaks to you is when you are asleep, something is wrong! But for unbelievers, when they are at rest there is an opportunity for spiritual communication to take place.
The spiritually insensitive are not equipped to understand these dreams. The ability to help others understand what God is saying is not so much a supernatural gift as it is a result of being attuned to the voice of the Lord. Joseph was always careful to not claim personal credit in this area but to remind folks that if dreams are given by God, He therefore is the One who owns the meaning of dreams. If God is not the source of the dream, then there is no real spiritual “meaning.”
Joseph helped the butler and baker understand what God was saying to them. For the baker it was a warning that went unheeded. The baker was executed. For the butler God’s communication was an opportunity to reevaluate his life and calling. It was also an opportunity for the Lord to expose the butler to His will for the nation of Egypt. As Joseph interpreted the butler’s dream, the butler learned about a Hebrew man who would become the salvation of his nation. This was the will of God and the butler had a role to play in the fulfillment of God’s will.
There are times when the fulfillment of God’s will rests on “unlikely” sources. You and I would not place this much emphasis on someone outside the faith. Yet you and I are not in the miracle business; we are in the believing business. God used Joseph’s willingness to share with others as a tool to involve others in the fulfillment of His will. The fulfillment of a God-given dream in your life will always involve other people. Quite often this will happen in a most unexpected way. God will cause your path to cross the path of someone else; someone that you might never dream would be so intricately involved in the fulfillment of your dream. The key for a child of God is to be open to the move of God and to refuse to withdraw from others.
And now two full years have passed since Joseph’s path crossed that of the royal butler. The butler was restored to his position and soon forgot the Hebrew man that helped him understand what God was communicating. Joseph could have become embittered and resentful because of the injustice of his situation. Instead he continued to walk with God and keep the dream alive in his heart. It is not necessary for us to understand how God will bring the dream to pass. All that is necessary is that we continue to walk with Him. The fulfillment of the dream God has given you is forever dependent upon your relationship to the dream giver.
Joseph was seventeen when his older brothers sold him into slavery. He is now thirty years of age. For thirteen years Joseph has suffered betrayal at the hands of those he is the most vulnerable to. He was betrayed by his older brothers, betrayed by Potiphar and Mrs. Potiphar, and now the butler who he helped to understand the voice of God forgets him. It would have been easy to slip into bitterness and despair, but Joseph walked with God. Being able to encourage yourself in the Lord is an important trait for any child of God.
“And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river.” Gen 41:1
Two full years later, God begins to move again. It has been thirteen years since his brothers had betrayed a young idealistic lad. Joseph had learned to forgive and had continued to grow in his walk with God.
What Joseph did not understand is that in order to bring healing to his family, Joseph would have to model forgiveness. Breaking a generational trend that created division and open hostility would not be easy. It would require reconciliation for the entire family. In order to lead his brothers in this kind of reconciliation, Joseph would have to model forgiveness and restoration on a grand scale. Joseph would have to conquer his own bitterness and hard feelings.
God’s method of preparing Joseph for this role of healing was first exposure to the pain of separation. He was separated from his family. He was then betrayed by others in his new life. And finally, Joseph was isolated in prison.
The next method God would use to prepare Joseph for the role of family healer was to bless him exceedingly. In this chapter of Joseph’s life, God gave him a bride and two strong boys. The first was Manasseh, which means forgetting.
“And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house.” Gen 41:51
The second son born to Joseph was Ephraim, meaning fruitful.
“And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.” Gen 41:52
If we are able to forget the injustices done to us, God is able to make us fruitful. This is how the Lord prepares us for the ministry of reconciliation.
Two years after the release of the butler, Pharaoh dreams two dreams. He is so disturbed by these two dreams that he is unable to find peace. Somehow Pharaoh senses that God is speaking to him.
“And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh.” Gen 41:8
It was now time for the next phase of Joseph’s preparation. The butler is uniquely positioned by God to mention Joseph to the king at the right moment. The king was troubled, and no one could help him understand what God was saying. That is when the butler had a moment of divine recollection. This man was divinely positioned for a specific moment and given divine recollection at that precise moment. Isn’t it a remarkable coincidence how things just accidentally fall into place for God’s people?
Joseph was hastily summoned into the palace and the presence of Pharaoh.
“Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh.” Gen 41:14
I would like to pause our story at this incredible scene. Joseph, a Hebrew slave who is now an inmate at the federal penitentiary, is hastily transported out of jail and into the palace. As a freshly shaved Hebrew stands before Pharaoh, consider what God had done to bring Joseph to this position. Consider the set of divine “coincidences”:
- Thirteen years ago, one of His brothers had enough compassion to suggest that he not be killed but tossed into a dry well until later.
- Thirteen years ago, it happened that a traveling caravan of Ishmaelites passed by as Joseph’s brothers debated what to do with him.
- It just so happened that an influential man named Potiphar purchased Joseph.
- It was a coincidence that rather than have Joseph executed for attempted rape, Potiphar threw him into prison.
- It was another chance meeting that Joseph encountered the royal butler and interpreted a dream for him.
- It was yet another great coincidence that the butler forgot all about Joseph until the king was extremely agitated and ready to listen to anyone who could tell him what God was saying.
This is certainly a lot of coincidences stacked up, isn’t it?
God uses others to bring His will in our life. Never dismiss as insignificant the contributions others make to prepare and shape your life. God exposed Joseph to the pain and heartache that separation and betrayal brings. This was necessary so God could use Joseph to bring healing to his family. Now it was time for God to show Joseph the blessing and fruitfulness that comes from forgiveness and being willing to forget. And so, God worked the events in Joseph’s life to cause him to stand before the king.
Standing Before the King
I want to bring to you three progressive truths from the ancient book of wisdom. I want to relate these truths to the dream God has given you and your pursuit of the same. At the time Joseph stood before Pharaoh, these words of wisdom had not yet been penned, but embracing these truths today will help you achieve God’s design for your life. They involve your spirit, your heart, and your gift. The work of God in your life will involve these three aspects in order to develop these qualities so that you can grow into your dream.
Your spirit is what sustains you in times of infirmity. “The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear” (Prov 18:14)? Your spirit must be surrendered to God. It is in times of infirmity that God can strengthen a surrendered spirit. The unforgiving nurse their wounds instead of allowing God to strengthen their spirit.
Your heart is how you gain knowledge and understanding. “The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge” (Prov 18:15). A heart that is surrendered to God can be directed into truth that otherwise remains obscure. The unforgiving focus upon the evil done to them instead of seeking knowledge and gaining wisdom from their unfortunate situations.
Your gift, if it comes from God, will make room for you. “A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men” (Prov 18:16). You do not have to make room for your gift by promoting it or touting it before others; your gift will make room for you. If you focus your attention upon your spirit and your heart, God will develop your gift.
These lessons are learned in captivity – in that tight place where your options are limited. The lessons of prison are what prepare you for the palace.
We have been called to the ministry of reconciliation. Before we can execute the ministry of reconciliation, we must first learn the lessons of reconciliation.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” 2 Cor 5:17-19
Before we can reconcile others to God, we must first reconcile ourselves to God’s will for our lives. Often the will of God involves hardship, struggle, and even suffering.
I never understood when God first gave me the dream of a ministry as a church planter how this dream involved so many others. It included many of you who are reading this message today. Realizing the dream includes times of victory and times of struggle. The lessons of captivity do not come cheaply. It is the prison experiences that prepare you for the palace.
In 1983 my wife and I visited the town of Castle Rock and prayed as we parked in the north parking lot of the property our congregation calls home today. We had a dream about raising up a strong church for the name of Jesus. We asked God if this was the place He wanted us to labor. Every time I prayed about God’s will for our ministry, I could almost picture myself parking in the north parking lot and coming into that building to preach. Twenty years later, in 2003, our little congregation purchased that very building. Over the years we have seen the house of God filled with people from our town and the surrounding area. It has been 37 years since the beginning and God has just begun to fulfill the dream.
Seeing the dream realized involves many more people and their dreams. It involves helping others understand what God is saying to them. It involves using the lessons of captivity. It involves reconciling myself to God’s method so that He can involve me in His ministry. It involves focusing on my heart and spirit and allowing God to develop my gift.
What about you? You keep the dream alive in your life by maintaining your relationship to the dream giver and being sensitive to His leading. Fulfilling your dream will involve the dreams of others.