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Genesis 40:1-23

February 12, 2014 I read in the news this week about a pastor who converted to atheism because his first pastor-boss was mean and domineering. The poor guy had to work sixty hour weeks while his boss golfed twice a week. And through this terrible suffering, he somehow figured out that there is no God; because if someones not nice to you, then God must not be real. At the same time I read the story Im also studying the life of Joseph in Genesis. So far hes has been the victim of a murder plot, thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, falsely accused of rape, and imprisoned; hes not even thirty years old yet! And so what should we say to our pastor friend? If people are mean to you does that disprove God? If life is hard and evil seems to prevail does that mean we have no real hope? Does that mean Joseph should just give up? If the last several chapters of Genesis are true, then we have to say this other man is wrong. From what appears in the rest of our text God has a purpose and a plan behind every hurt and setback. I want to be careful to make this the main theme. Too many commentators see Josephs story as nothing more than an example to follow. Hes a visual list of dos and donts. God deserves our loyalty so we have to stick with Him no matter what happens. But thats not the main point. Surely we can see Josephs example and be inspired by it, but the main point is that God is faithful to us even when evil seems to prevail. He has a plan, and that plan includes suffering for us, but in the end He is glorified and we are shown to be His sons. And so rather than asking, What does this teach us about what to do? we should ask, What does this teach us about God? Lord willing, this will be our goal as we read through now. As I said, God has a plan. This plan includes all that Joseph has already seen and now we come to the events of chapter forty: And it came to pass after these things, that the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker had offended their lord the king of Egypt. Now, remember what were asking: what does this teach us about God? Well, if all the days of our lives are truly written even before the first one comes to pass, and if God is as sovereign as we believe, and if this event leads to Gods ultimate goal of promoting Joseph to power in Egypt, then this vers e shows us Gods work outside of the prison and outside of the people of Israel.

These guys are probably Egyptians. Theyre almost certainly Gentiles. But God has a plan for them and Hell use them to fulfill the promise made to Abraham. We dont know how they offended Pharaoh but we do know why. They needed to go to prison for Josephs sake. They needed to be there for the saving of many lives. And so they go:
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And Pharaoh was wroth against two of his officers, against the chief of the butlers, and against the chief of the bakers. 3And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound. 4And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he served them: and they continued a season in ward. I dont know if its important or not but the captain of the guard is probably Potiphar (39:1). Joseph served him at home and now, likely, he serves him at work with the same results. The two men are brought in and Josephs charged with serving them because hes in charge of the whole prison. Theyre under his care and he makes sure they get what they need and that they do what theyre supposed to do. We dont know how long they were with him, but one day is particularly interesting:
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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. 6And Joseph came in unto them in the morning, and looked upon them, and, behold, they were sad. 7And he asked Pharaohs officers that were with him in the ward of his lords house, saying, Wherefore look ye so sadly to day? This almost makes me laugh because it should be obvious. If I were in an Egyptian prison with the threat of death over my head Id probably look pretty sad too. But maybe they look extra-sad and it makes him ask why.
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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. Now, we could go off-course here and talk about dreams and how they work and why, but its not the point. We want to know what this chapter teaches us about God. Weve already said that Hes sovereign. Hes brought these three men here, Hes given two of them dreams and sad faces, and He causes Joseph to notice. These men are sad because they dont have access to a special interpreter; they dont have a way to find the meaning of their dreams. But what Joseph realizes is that the ability to reveal the hidden things is something only God can do. Later

Pharaoh will ask Joseph if he can tell dreams, but Joseph says, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace (41:16). And so with these two men he says, Hey, cheer up. You dont need anyone special. If God wants you to know the meaning He can tell anyone. Tell me about it and lets see if God answers.
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And the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, In my dream, behold, a vine was before me; 10And in the vine were three branches: and it was as though it budded, and her blossoms shot forth; and the clusters thereof brought forth ripe grapes: 11And Pharaohs cup was in my hand: and I took the grapes, and pressed them into Pharaohs cup, and I gave the cup into Pharaohs hand. 12And Joseph said unto him, This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days: 13Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place: and thou shalt deliver Pharaohs cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler. 14But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and shew kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house: 15For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews: and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon. So the butler tells Joseph the dream and right away Joseph understands its meaning. In three days everything is going back to normal for the butler! This man will know for sure that Joseph told the truth and hell know that God must be with him. He might also believe that Joseph really is innocent. This is Josephs chance, and so he says, Please, tell Pharaoh Im down here and get me out. Then the baker tells his dream:
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When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said unto Joseph, I also was in my dream, and, behold, I had three white baskets on my head: 17And in the uppermost basket there was of all manner of bakemeats for Pharaoh; and the birds did eat them out of the basket upon my head. 18And Joseph answered and said, This is the interpretation thereof: The three baskets are three days: 19Yet 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. I imagine the bakers face was bright after hearing the cupbearers interpretation ; he was excited to tell his details. But then I also imagine Josephs face dropping when he realizes the meaning of the dream. One mans head will be lifted up but the other mans head will be lifted off.

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And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaohs birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants: and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants. 21And he restored the chief butler unto his butlership again; and he gave the cup into Pharaohs hand: 22 But he hanged the chief baker: as Joseph had interpreted to them. 23Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him. Everything went just as predicted. But Josephs hope is not yet answered. Hell be in the prison for another two yearsall because of Gods plan. So what does this teach us and what can we learn? #1- God plans the events of our lives according to His own purposes . The immediate plan was to save Israel from the coming famine and to bring them to Egypt. Of course this would become the land of their slavery and God would free them from it and lead them to the Promised Land. But did God have to do it that way? Why couldnt He just speak some special land into existence and give it to Abrahams descendants? Why not save Himself and everyone else of all the trouble? But how would Joseph had been so certain of Gods sovereign work and goodness unless Hed seen it firsthand? He cant help but look back at all these things that seemed so terrible at the time and then conclude that this is the way God chose to reveal His unfailing love and mercy. The Lord was with him! And that wasnt going to change at the bottom of a well, in the chains of slavery, or in the depths of a dungeon. Joseph knew because hed been there. Were reminded that theres no greater love than when a man lays down his life for his friends. We know Christs love for us because He let us fall with Adam in our trespasses. He allowed us to desert Him and hate Him in our minds. And then He came to seek and save us. Now He lets us suffer and endure the trials of this life to remind us that He is our Lord and our home is with Him. He will neither give us too little nor too much. He gives us enough grace and provision for the day and He leads us by faith towards the promise and the ultimate purpose of eternal union with His Bride. Everything that happens is for our good; one day well look back on all this and say, Oh. Now I see. Yes; the Lord really is good. But theres more to this. Not only does He plan the events of our lives for His own purposes, but: #2- God reserves the right to do with His creation as He desires . We get pretty focused on Joseph in this passage but what about the butler and the baker? Would we be wrong to say that God created them and ordered their lives simply for His

own purpose? Ok, maybe we can concede that the butler was created for the purpose of getting Joseph out of prison, but do we deny the same for the baker? His storyhis deathgave credence to Gods work; its what got Joseph in front of Pharaoh. Now think about the Exodus: And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 14For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth. 15For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth. 16And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth (Ex. 9:13-16). Pharaoh existed for Gods glory and he was used in keeping the promise to Israel. By experience they learned of His power and faithfulness and theres no one who can question Gods fairness in using Pharaoh in such a way. The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil (Prov. 16:4). Every wicked person whos ever come along has done so according to the plan of God. Its not just Pharaoh. Its not just guys like Hitler either. All the wicked Canaanites were made for a purpose. Every oppressor of Christianity throughout history was made by God, known in the womb, with a book of events and deeds all written down before the first one started. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. 18Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. 19Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? 20Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? 21Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, 24Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? (Rom. 9:17-24).

Do you see? Its all according to the plan. He has the right to use all of creation however He wants. If He wants me to be rich and famous He can do that. If He wants me to suffer unjustly for years on end He can do that too. If He wants me to live in obscurity or in pain or in want or whatever: this is for Him to decide. But the end result is this: He will make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy. That is ultimately for our good. newgracebaptistchurch.wordpress.com