JOSEPH AND BEING OUT OF CONTROL
How can Joseph’s dream of ruling over his brothers ever come to pass? Imprisoned, mistreated, and misunderstood Joseph has no way of determining his destiny. His hands are tied, literally and figuratively, so that his future is out of his control. He certainly cannot go to seminars on leadership, learn how to play politics, or get out and meet people in the right places. If this dream of his will ever be fulfilled someone must make it happen for him. That “Someone” of course is the Lord. This passage demonstrates the incredible ways of God— how He can use every event to further His purposes for one individual. There are five key parts to show God arranging things to put His servant in the right place at the right time.
I. GOD USES MISTREATMENT 39:19-23
From all appearances Joseph has been put in isolation. Humanly speaking, there is no way for Joseph to ever get out of prison, much less become a ruler of his brethren. Potiphar and his wife mistreated him by having him imprisoned. This is the wrong place to be from a human perspective, but it is the appointed place for God to piece together a miraculous purpose. This mistreatment is divinely appointed to move Joseph into a place where God can elevate him to a position of authority. Joseph certainly could not see this while there in prison. Yet regardless, God was overseeing.
Is there suffering in your life? God oversees it all to bring about His eternal purposes for us. We never know how some difficulty can have far-reaching consequences which God channels for eternal good. Every detail of our life, even the distant pre-salvation days, is used by God to further His purpose.
II. GOD USES MISTAKES 40:1
Two men, unknown to Joseph, make a major mistake. The cupbearer and the baker somehow offend Pharaoh. We do not know what they did, but their mistakes landed them in prison, the same prison as Joseph. Perhaps the butler spilled wine on Pharaoh, or the baker made a bad batch of cookies. Two people now enter Joseph’s life because of their failure.
This scene could be replayed millions of times throughout history. One person misses a plane that was taken by terrorists. Their sin affects innocent people and the one passenger who missed the plane comes to Christ through this situation. Can you see the mistakes of those who raised you as being for good? Who in your world has “laid down their life” for you to be where you are spiritually?
Another truth here is that God uses their failure to move a key person into Joseph’s life. Joseph could not get out and politic for a position in government. So, God brought the right person to him.
We spend too much time and effort to promote our agenda or even ourselves. God is big enough to bring events and people into our life without our hands being involved. Joseph is minding his own business, just working as to the Lord. God arranges this significant meeting.
III. GOD USES MASTERS 40:2-4
Three authority figures are key players in the puzzle of Joseph’s life. Potiphar, Pharaoh, and the prison authority are directly or indirectly involved in Joseph’s life. Potiphar, Joseph’s former boss throws him in prison on the basis of a false accusation from his wife. Was Potiphar right in his misjudging Joseph? No, but did this mess up God’s plan or was it a part of God’s plan? God took a lost and unfair boss to move Joseph to God’s designed place. Then Pharaoh, out of anger toward his two servants throws them into prison. Another authority using his power at the expense of others. We can just imagine how a lost powerful emperor could abuse his authority just because he was in a bad mood. Yet, even a wicked ruler’s actions are under the control of a sovereign God. Then we have a prison captain, who elevates Joseph to a position over the other prisoners. This action initially sems insignificant, but later would become important for Joseph’s future.
The point of all of these individuals is that they represent authorities in our life. We sometimes have lost or cruel bosses, yet God has placed them over us for a purpose. We never know how God may use an authority figure to direct us or protect us. Authorities can not hinder the plans of God. Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.” God uses authorities to accomplish His will. Pilate and Herod could affirm this for all eternity.
IV. GOD USES MISERY 40:5-22
The butler and the baker end up in prison, but that is not why they become miserable. In verses 6-7 the men were said to be dejected and sad. The reason lies in the facts that both had dreams the same night and were troubled by their meaning. Actually, the meaning was unknown to them, and therein lies the reason for sadness. Joseph just happens to notice their sadness and questions them. God gives to Joseph the interpretation of the dreams, which for the butler was restoration to his position, but for the baker it was death. Joseph’s position, given to him by the prison captain, and the subsequent care for the two servants of Pharaoh, put him in a place to minister to them, and to eventually see God use this to open a door.
What if Joseph, in self-pity, refused to interpret their dream? After all, the last time he talked about a dream it cost him his home and family. It is rather amazing that Joseph would be sensitive to the needs of these men and be willing to minister to them. It is also interesting that God ordained their need to further His own purposes for Joseph.
Man’s misery can be used for good. There is not a week that goes by when I do not see someone miserable that is being set up by the Lord for a greater purpose. Misery in my past led me to Christ.
V. GOD USES MISHAPS 40:23-41:1
Joseph does a little politicking in verses 14 and 15. He asks the butler to remember him once he is released from prison. Joseph even defends himself, something that has not been mentioned about him. The last verse of the chapter says that the butler forgot Joseph. A little human mistake cost Joseph two more years of prison time. If the butler had remembered Joseph, chances are he would not have been released from prison. The time had to be just right for Pharaoh to have his dream and then Joseph would be remembered. God controls mishaps. Human weakness and frailty are used by the Lord to fulfill His purposes. We get angry over accidents, expecting people, including ourselves, to never make a mistake. Yet all the while God has ordained our lateness, our forgetfulness, or our inability to fix something.
Is your life seemingly falling apart? You feel out of control. The same God who used all of the people and circumstances in Joseph’s life controls your world as well.