May 20, 2010

Examining The Scripture VI: Dream On

Dreams were incredibly important to those in the Old Testament because it was often one of the mediums that God communicated through to reveal truths to man or reveal His mighty plans. Joseph is no exception in Genesis 37. Joseph first dreamt that he and his brothers bound sheaves of wheat and Joseph’s stood upright and his brother’s gathered around and bowed down to his. His second involved the sun, moon and eleven stars bowing to him. These dreams clear had a profound affect on Joseph's brothers but not in a positive way. His brothers were clearly jealous of him because they knew that Joseph was Jacob’s favorite (hence the robe of many colors) and quite frankly they were incensed. Reiterating the dreams to his brothers just added salt to the existing wound. The idea was totally perpostuous to the brothers. As we will learn from further reading they wanted to kill him with only Judah and Reuben dissenting in any form.

As for the effect it had on Joseph’s parents, they were not so quick to judge as harshly. It is clear Jacob held Joseph in high regard and saw something in him. Because of this Jacob kept his dreams a bit more seriously and kept the stories of Joseph’s dreams in mind because it wasn’t outside the realm of possibilities that they would come true or have deeper meaning in Jacob’s way of thinking.

As we jump forward in Joseph's life we see him called upon for his ability to understand and interpret dreams that would forever effect the future of his family and subsequently the nation or Israel. Pharaoh was on the banks of the Nile River and saw 7 cows that were plump and came out of the Nile and fed on the reed grass. Seven additional cows came up after the first seven and were thin and ugly and ate the first seven plump cows. Even after the thin cows ate the fat ones they stayed thin. Pharaoh also saw seven ears of corn growing on one stalk. Seven ears withered and blighted sprouted after the first seven. Again, the first seven were eaten by the thin withered ears, just as the cows

Joseph explains to all that the seven good cows are seven years and seven good ears are seven years and the dreams though separate, are one and the same. The seven ugly cows that came up after them are seven years also, seven empty ears blighted are also seven years of famine. There were to be seven years of plenty throughout Egypt’s sphere of influence followed by seven years of famine in which the years of plenty would be forgotton.

These appeared to be prophetic predictions to man but as Joseph explains to Pharaoh, God was revealing to Pharaoh what He was about to do. Because God sees all points in time the same, to God these were not foretelling or prophecy, they were fact. God had a plan.

At the end of Joseph's story we have learned a powerful and profound theological lesson about God. No matter what God is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient and Joseph realizes this. It is God who knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10; Revelation 1:8, 22:13). What may look like a disaster to man is all part of God’s divine plan for all of us and Himself. We often assume that we are being punished for something we did wrong. Often we are correct in this assumption. Sometimes we are not. Sometimes God pushes us through trials that are more about enduring that enjoying. These trials and tests build perseverance and perseverance through trial and tribulations is/are to build our character. These sufferings make us humble and better able to do the will of God. It is through our suffering that God exalts us just as He did his Son in the Kenosis in Philippians 2. Regardless of what happens, good, bad, or ugly, God is in charge, has always been in charge and always will be in charge. He is sovereign over all in His creation (and outside of it).

Another item worth mentioning is the fact that Joseph’s brothers again fell down before him to honor him but this time Joseph rejected this act of reverence because I believe he understood that this is the proper act of reverence and worship that should only be reserved for God Almighty and states as much by asking the rhetorical question, “am I in the place of God”. Joseph understood his place in all of this. He knew he wasn’t really in control even though he had earthly power and was second only to Pharaoh. It was only through Gods “doings”, His mercy, and His grace that things turned our good for everyone and this applies to us all. Joseph knew that he was a servant to the servants of God and that mindset make s true Godly leader in God’s kingdom.

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