Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Praying for you, your family, your community, and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the COVID-19. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Potiphar took Joseph and threw him into the prison. Potiphar was Joseph’s master and owner, and Joseph was Potiphar’s slave. Joseph was not born as a slave, but he was born as the most beloved child among Jacob’s twelve sons. Jacob got Joseph at his old age from his wife, Rachel. Jacob gave the best to Joseph, and Joseph enjoyed his life.
On the other hand, the other brothers felt that Joseph monopolized their father’s love. No one said a kind word to Joseph. Joseph also reported to his father the bad things his brothers were doing, which more aggravated the relationships.
One night Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him more than ever. “Listen to this dream,” he said. “We were out in the field, tying up bundles of grain. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles all gathered around and bowed low before mine!”
His brothers responded, “So you think you will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?” Then they hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about them.
Soon Joseph had another dream. Joseph should have held his dream to himself, but again he told his brothers about it. “Listen, I have had another dream,” he said. “The sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed low before me!”
This time he told the dream to his father as well as to his brothers, but his father scolded him. “What kind of dream is that?” he asked. “Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow to the ground before you?” But while his brothers were jealous of Joseph, his father wondered what the dreams meant. Joseph’s brothers and Joseph’s father responded quite differently.
Soon after this, Joseph’s brothers went to pasture their father’s flocks at Shechem. When they had been gone for some time, Jacob said to Joseph, “Your brothers are pasturing the sheep at Shechem. Get ready, and I will send you to them.”
Joseph was a good son. He immediately left home to find his brothers. But when his brothers saw him coming, they recognized him in the distance because Joseph wore a colorful robe that his father specially prepared for Joseph. As he approached, they made plans to kill him. “Here comes the dreamer!” they said. “Come on, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns. We can tell our father, ‘A wild animal has eaten him.’ Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams!”
But they could not kill Joseph. After all, Joseph was their brother. Instead, they sold Joseph for twenty pieces of silver to Ishmaelite traders, taking a load of gum, balm, and aromatic resin from Gilead down to Egypt. And the traders arrived in Egypt, where they sold Joseph to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. Potiphar was captain of the palace guard.
Joseph, who used to receive all of the care and love of his father, suddenly became a slave in a foreign land. It was all done by his brothers with whom he ate, slept, and played together. Joseph could not believe what had happened, but it was a cold reality. And nobody cared for Joseph because Joseph was just the newest addition to Potiphar’s slaves. All other slaves were senior to him, and they demanded a lot from Joseph instead of helping out Joseph. Joseph had to please both his master Potiphar and all other slaves.
On the first night, Joseph tried to sleep, but he could not sleep at all. He felt doomed with no exit to get out. He got out and looked up at the night sky filled with stars, which were so many that he could not count. Joseph looked up the stars aimlessly for a long time.
He suddenly heard a voice, “Remember your dreams.” Joseph tried to forget his dreams since his brothers sold him to the Ishmaelite traders as a slave. Joseph was in a chain, and the Ishmaelite traders treated him like a merchant. They dragged him out from the brothers’ hands. His brothers kept watching Joseph taken away with vicious smiles on their faces. He vividly remembered his brothers splitting the twenty silver pieces among them, which were the price of himself. After that moment, Joseph made every effort to forget his dreams, the source of all the troubles experiencing.
Therefore, Joseph resisted the voice initially. Not recalling his dreams was a small comfort that he could get after being sold to slavery. Remembering his dreams added more pain and drove him into a deeper misery of being a slave. Joseph resisted with all his strength, but the voice got louder and louder. Joseph did not know what to do. Joseph kept fighting. Joseph was completely exhausted to the point that he gave up his fighting. Then suddenly he heard no more voice. Then Joseph became still and silently looked up at the night sky filled with sparkling stars.
Joseph became calm along with the world, which also became calm. He kept watching the stars and could not remember how long he stared at the stars. It must be quite a long time. Then Joseph suddenly woke up from the mindless state. The dreams came back to him again. For this time, he could see the dreams as they were real even though he did not sleep. He saw his brothers’ bundles of grain bowed low before his bundle. He also saw the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed low before his star. Joseph realized that he could not get rid of the dreams because they were part of him. Indeed his dreams were stronger than all the pain, agony, and misery that he was experiencing. Joseph realized that the dreams were the very source of the strength that made him go.
Joseph, then, became no more sad or resentful. He knew he possessed the unique dreams that nobody had except him. Joseph was determined to live out his dreams. As the morning dawned, Joseph started the day to be the best slave. He made every effort to be kind and faithful to his master and his fellow slaves. Joseph worked very hard regardless no one watched him or not. He kept hearing the voice of God, and Joseph believed in God, who gave him the dreams.
Most of all, God was with Joseph. Joseph succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. Potiphar noticed this and realized that God was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did. This pleased Potiphar, so he soon made Joseph his personal attendant. He put him in charge of his entire household and everything he owned. From the day Joseph was put in charge of his master’s household and property, the LORD began to bless Potiphar’s household for Joseph’s sake. All his household affairs ran smoothly, and his crops and livestock flourished. So Potiphar gave Joseph complete administrative responsibility over everything he owned. With Joseph there, he didn’t worry about a thing—except what kind of food to eat!
Joseph was a very handsome and well-built young man, and Potiphar’s wife soon began to look at him lustfully. “Come and sleep with me,” she demanded. She tempted Joseph multiple times, but Joseph refused. Finally, she made a trap. One day, no one else was around when he went in to do his work. She came and grabbed him by his cloak, demanding, “Come on, sleep with me!” Joseph tore himself away, but he left his cloak in her hand as he ran from the house.
She used Joseph’s cloak and accused Joseph when his husband Potiphar came back. Potiphar was furious when he heard his wife’s story about how Joseph had treated her. So he took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king’s prisoners were held, and there he remained.
Joseph was really depressed at this time. First, he did good to his brothers, and he was sold to slavery. Instead of cursing his brothers, he followed his dreams while trusting God, and all worked out well. He saw God’s hand, although he was a slave in a foreign land. Joseph was truly comforted by what God did to him. As a result, despite the Potiphar wife’s temptations, Joseph resisted the temptations and stood upright before God because he thoroughly trusted God, which was his faith. Then what happened? God did not protect Joseph. His master Potiphar, whom he also trusted, sent him to jail because Potiphar believed his wife’s lie.
Joseph faithfully followed God by repetitively refusing the Potiphar wife’s temptations, but the result was imprisonment. Joseph felt even God betrayed him like his brothers. His brothers sold him as a slave, and now God sent him to jail.
Joseph was completely disoriented. He felt that there was none to trust, either his brothers or God. The result was bitterness. Joseph struggled many nights in jail.
But one thing kept coming back to him again and again, which was his dreams. Joseph could not forget his dreams. His world became dark again, but his dream never became dark. It radiated brightly in the darkness. As the world got darker, the dreams came back even brighter to him. It was not all. Joseph heard a comforting voice, “I am with you always.”
Joseph realized that the voice owner was the same God, who spoke to him under the stars in the night sky of the first day after being sold to Potiphar as a slave. Then he went to a corner of the jail cell, and he prayed. God came and heard Joseph’s prayer. Joseph felt God’s merciful and loving hand as he was praying to God. Then Joseph arose again and stood firm on the faith in God. Joseph overcame the 2nd betrayal after that of his brothers with the strength given by God. God rejoiced as He watched Joseph standing up again in faith.
God was with Joseph in prison and showed Joseph His faithful love. Joseph again worked hard to be the best inmate among his fellow prisoners. God then made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden. Before long, the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison. The warden had no more worries because Joseph took care of everything. God was with him and caused everything he did to succeed. Joseph finally won again over his life misery.
Sometime later, Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer and chief baker offended their royal master. Pharaoh became angry with these two officials, and he put them in the prison where Joseph was, in the palace of the captain of the guard. They remained in prison for quite some time, and the captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, who looked after them.
While they were in prison, Pharaoh’s cup-bearer and baker each had a dream one night, and each dream had its own meaning. When Joseph saw them the next morning, he noticed that they both looked upset. “Why do you look so worried today?” he asked them.
And they replied, “We both had dreams last night, but no one can tell us what they mean.”
“Interpreting dreams is God’s business,” Joseph replied. “Go ahead and tell me your dreams.”
So the chief cup-bearer told Joseph his dream first. “In my dream,” he said, “I saw a grapevine in front of me. The vine had three branches that began to bud and blossom, and soon it produced clusters of ripe grapes. I was holding Pharaoh’s wine cup in my hand, so I took a cluster of grapes and squeezed the juice into the cup. Then I placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.”
“This is what the dream means,” Joseph said. “The three branches represent three days. Within three days, Pharaoh will lift you up and restore you to your position as his chief cup-bearer. And please remember me and do me a favor when things go well for you. Mention me to Pharaoh, so he might let me out of this place. For I was kidnapped from my homeland, the land of the Hebrews, and now I’m here in prison, but I did nothing to deserve it.” Joseph made a plea to the cup-bearer because he believed the cup-bearer surely would be restored to the old position and served the king again.
When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given the first dream such a positive interpretation, he said to Joseph, “I had a dream, too. In my dream, there were three baskets of white pastries stacked on my head. The top basket contained all kinds of pastries for Pharaoh, but the birds came and ate them from the basket on my head.”
“This is what the dream means,” Joseph told him. “The three baskets also represent three days. Three days from now, Pharaoh will lift you up and impale your body on a pole. Then birds will come and peck away at your flesh.”
Pharaoh’s birthday came three days later, and he prepared a banquet for all his officials and staff. He summoned his chief cup-bearer and chief baker to join the other officials. He then restored the chief cup-bearer to his former position, so he could again hand Pharaoh his cup. But Pharaoh impaled the chief baker, just as Joseph had predicted when he interpreted his dream. Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer, however, forgot all about Joseph, never giving him another thought.
Joseph soon heard the chief cup-bearer was restored and served the king again. Thus, Joseph waited and waited while expecting the chief cup-bearer made a plea for him to the king. Many days and months passed, but he was still in prison. Joseph realized that he was again betrayed. Joseph, however, was not disappointed or dismayed this time. Joseph had gone through twice before, and just yet another one came, which could not crush Joseph.
Joseph was neither deterred nor perplexed. Joseph knew either men or God would surely not give him what he wanted and made him feel betrayed. However, the betrayals were just superficial, just appearance to his eyes, but not the substance. The substance only came from God, who was always faithful to him. Sometimes superficially, even God let him have evil, although he did faithfully good before God. He learned that it was just for his eyes. God’s infinite goodness never changed. It was not all. God was always with him under all circumstances, whether he was weak in faith and doubting or strong in faith by standing firm on the rock of faith in Him. Joseph was calm, and he never ceased praying to God. Of course, he wanted the chief cup-bearer to give his plea to the king to be freed from jail. But the time had not yet come. And Joseph was able to wait because he believed in God, and he believed God surely would do good in His time.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Roman 8:28)
In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the LORD. (Jeremiah 11:12-14a)