Joseph the Dreamer is a unique figure that we cannot overlook in our reading through the Old Testament. He has a key role in Israel’s lineage and God’s plan for deliverance. However, Joseph did not know in the process of his journey where he was going to end up, what he was going to, or when or how his life will end. He was sold into slavery by his brothers as a teenager, a servant for 11 years, and an innocent prisoner for 2 years. He didn’t think he was doing anything wrong, he didn’t intend harm, and he did what he does best – interpret dreams. As a servant, he was humble and wise enough to avoid the temptation to be with Potiphar’s wife. When imprisoned, he did not dwell in anger over the injustice that happened to him. It seemed like he was doing everything right, at least nothing wrong. But, why was his life such a mess?
God does not seek to manifest Himself in the lives of those who have all things together. The more perfect our lives appear to be, the less room we leave for us to appreciate the things God has put in our lives and honor Him for it. It is in our humble circumstances that we are able to recognize God is still true and constant even when our lives are falling apart. And Joseph was a man who stayed faithful to God for who God is and not what he received from God. When the Pharaoh chose Joseph as the Second in Command in all the land of Egypt, Joseph did not have the wealth, family background, political power, leadership experience, or a tested set of administrative skills to qualify him. But the Pharaoh recognized that the Spirit of God was in him. The Pharaoh was drawn towards Joseph because of who he was inherently.
We can observe from today’s reading Joseph held certain characteristics that were important for determining his steps towards his rule in Egypt. Initiative. Authority. Patience. Humility. They are not only characteristics of a successful man, but also of a true leader.
Joseph shows initiative after he notices the downcast faces of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker. He bothered to enter into their personal lives even though he did not know them. It doesn’t take much effort to say “what’s wrong?” or “are you doing okay?” But, we often pass by those in need thinking that they are not in need of OUR help, they surely must have friends to support them, and our interruption in their lives may be rude.
Joseph claims the authority over spiritual matters that God has revealed to him. As a follower of God devoted to the things of God, we can be sure God will give the power and knowledge over spiritual matters when we ask for it. (yes, God doesn’t always answer our prayers as we ask them and desires a sincere heart) To his fellow prisoners who were puzzled by their dreams Joseph tells them that “interpretations belong to God, so tell them to me.” Is Joseph claiming to be God, or like God? No. He is simply recognizing God is his Lord and is willing to work through him.
Joseph shows patience through his two full years spent in prison. He was in there for no fault of his own and wasn’t getting any closer to either returning home to his father or establishing a stable life in the new land. What’s worse is that the cupbearer forgot about Joseph after gaining his life back! The golden opportunity had passed! But, Joseph continues to trust in God and waits on the Lord. He still does not know if he will make it out of there alive, but he can wait because he is sure that God will be with him, and that’s all that matters.
Joseph frames everything around God. He attributes to God his ability to interpret dreams. In his humility, he does not recommend himself when he advises the Pharaoh to make a new position for saving and rationing the nation’s crops. He points to God yet again in regards to his purpose. He tells his brothers that the reasons for ending up in Egypt were within God’s hand. It is God who wanted Joseph in Egypt so that Israel can continue to multiply and fill the earth in spite of the famine. It is God who provided hope in his tough circumstances. It is God who brought forth light out of darkness, life out of chaos.