Have you ever tried to tell someone about a dream you had, and they laughed at your explanation? I dream often and when I try to explain them to my husband, most of the time he is thoroughly confused. It is typically hard to explain dreams once you are awake, unless you are someone who keeps a dream journal. That wasn’t the case for Joseph. He had a dream and explained it to his brothers very well. The only problem was that Joseph’s explanation had all his brothers bowing down to him, the youngest of the brothers.
Joseph was seventeen when he had this dream:
He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”Genesis 37:6-7, NIV
His brothers had already hated him because he was the favorite son, and this only added to their hatred of him.
Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers, “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”Genesis 37:9, NIV
This time his brothers were jealous and looked for an opportunity to get back at him.
Their opportunity came when they were all grazing their father’s flocks and Joseph came up to check on them. They seized Joseph, threw him in a cistern, and then decided to sell him to some passing merchants while they covered his robe in blood to make it look like an animal had killed him.
Joseph was sold again in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials. Because God was with him, Joseph was eventually put in charge of the whole house. Potiphar’s wife soon tried to seduce Joseph and got him thrown in prison. But God was with him there as well and he was shown favor and put in charge of all the prisoners. He helped some inmates interpret their dreams and in return expected them to mention him to Pharaoh. Unfortunately for Joseph, they forgot, so he was still stuck in prison. Finally, Pharaoh had a dream that none of his servants could interpret and he was informed of Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams. Pharaoh sent for Joseph who was able to accurately interpret the dream.
So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and people shouted before him, “Make way!” Thus he put him in charge of the whole lad of Egypt.Genesis 41:41-43, NIV
I love that God never left Joseph through his whole journey. From being thrown in a cistern as a teenager, to being wrongfully imprisoned and forgotten, to being second-in-command, God was always with him giving him favor and success in whatever he did.
After Pharaoh freed Joseph, a famine struck the land. Because Joseph had correctly interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, Egypt had plenty of grain. Joseph’s brothers, still living in Canaan, had run out of food. They traveled to Egypt to buy grain, not knowing that Joseph was still alive, let alone in charge, and they bowed down before him as they came. Joseph revealed his identity to them and how God had orchestrated everything so that he could take care of them. With this act, Joseph’s dream had finally come to pass.
How could Joseph be so patient through all these events? Joseph had his dream when he was 17, entered Pharaoh’s service at 30, and was around 39 when his family came to buy grain during the famine. That’s 22 years of patience! That’s a long time to wait for the fulfillment of a dream, literally. The most important theme I see in this story is how God was always with Joseph, no matter where he was or what was going on. God never left him. That is so comforting when we are all struggling to wait for our dreams to be fulfilled, or waiting for anything actually. God is with us through it all. Patience seems to be part of God’s plan, more often than not, so I guess it’s something we are going to have to keep working on.