When the Trial Gets Hotter
“Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.” -Genesis 40:23
Being cast into prison changed nothing between God and Joseph. As we are told in 39:21-23, God prospered Joseph in the prison in the eyes of prison warden. Just as God prospered Potiphar’s house because of Joseph, so He did for the prison warden. Joseph did not allow the horrible injustice he was suffering to embitter him against God or people. Rising to the place of assistant to the warden, Joseph served his fellow prisoners with grace and genuine concern.
This is obvious in his response to the sadness he saw upon the faces of the two men recently imprisoned from Pharaoh’s personal staff, the butler and the baker. He not only takes the time to listen to the cause of their sadness, but gives himself as one willing to help in removing their sadness. Joseph’s confidence in who God had revealed Himself to be through all that he had gone through shines as hope for these men. He assured them that the dreams that troubled them could be interpreted by God. Take note that Joseph doesn’t say he will interpret them, but that he’s confident that as God’s servant, God will reveal them to him.
Joseph serves them without ever knowing whether any possible good could be conferred to himself. God does give the interpretation through Joseph. One of the dreams reveals that one of these men will return to the palace to work directly under the Pharaoh as his personal butler. Knowing this, Joseph asks the butler to seek Pharaoh for his release from prison, since Joseph was imprisoned on false charges. But all this does is to intensify Joseph’s trial of faith when the butler callously forgets all about Joseph. At this point, most of us would have given up. Sold as a slave, falsely imprisoned for attempted rape, and then forgotten by a man Joseph cared for in his own sadness, and now left to rot in prison.
But after all of this, he still believed God would somehow, some way fulfill the prophetic dream God had given him. Joseph’s life will end up proving the principle that the intensity of the tests of our faith are often equal to the greatness of blessing faith in God will create.
The Prisoner's Dreams
1 It came to pass after these things that the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their lord, the king of Egypt. 2 And Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief butler and the chief baker. 3 So he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison, the place where Joseph was confined. 4 And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he served them; so they were in custody for a while.
5 Then the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison, had a dream, both of them, each man’s dream in one night and each man’s dream with its own interpretation. 6 And Joseph came in to them in the morning and looked at them, and saw that they were sad. 7 So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in the custody of his lord’s house, saying, “Why do you look so sad today?”
8 And they said to him, “We each have had a dream, and there is no interpreter of it.”
So Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell them to me, please.”
9 Then the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, “Behold, in my dream a vine was before me, 10 and in the vine were three branches; it was as though it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and its clusters brought forth ripe grapes. 11 Then Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.”
12 And Joseph said to him, “This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days. 13 Now within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your place, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand according to the former manner, when you were his butler. 14 But remember me when it is well with you, and please show kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this house. 15 For indeed I was stolen away from the land of the Hebrews; and also I have done nothing here that they should put me into the dungeon.”
16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said to Joseph, “I also was in my dream, and there were three white baskets on my head. 17 In the uppermost basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, and the birds ate them out of the basket on my head.”
18 So Joseph answered and said, “This is the interpretation of it: The three baskets are three days. 19 Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head from you and hang you on a tree; and the birds will eat your flesh from you.”
20 Now it came to pass on the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast for all his servants; and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants. 21 Then he restored the chief butler to his butlership again, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand. 22 But he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them. 23 Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.
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