Glimpse of Hope

Genesis 40:1-8

1Some time later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt. 2Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined.

4The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them.

After they had been in custody for some time, 5each of the two men—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison—had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.

6When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. 7So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why do you look so sad today?” 8“We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.” Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.”

Tornado

What is the worse situation, the most extreme danger or toughest difficulty you’ve been through in your life that you have found no solution just yet?

Have you seen a tornado? In August 2018, a 77-year-old man was found dead outside his destroyed residence after a tornado touched down in the Alonsa, Manitoba area. Alonsa community is 165 kilometers northwest of Winnipeg, and 10 kilometers west of Manitoba Lake. It was reported that the tornadotornado may have been on the ground for up to 45 minutes.

This spring, there was flooding in southern Manitoba. In our city, police officers and concerned citizens are busy responding to criminal activities. Personal or communal problems affect everyone. Such is a reality that we’ve got to accept. Believers should be ready to seek God’s help.

Most often, we want to understand why God allows us to encounter difficult problems. Can we readily accept and have peace in your heart and mind that God is preparing something great for us when He allows problems? How can we understand more clearly about His plan? We need wisdom from God.

God has already prepared a series of events pleasant and unpleasant to prepare us, educate us intellectually, strengthen us physically, mentally and spiritually, and develop our character proportionate to the design He had for us. Events are significant part of God’s plan for you, can you agree? James 1:2-5 says, 2Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

The Lord generously gives wisdom without finding fault to all who ask Him. Such is a wonderful privilege but it has not been taken advantage of, why?

Again, it takes faith to believe it. It takes wisdom to understand it. Human wisdom cannot explain God’s wonders but we can ask God for godly wisdom.

It says in 1 Corinthians 1:21-25, 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

Ancient Greeks have high respect for the intelligent. They loved wisdom.

Human intelligence and wisdom can never know God. We can only know God personally and intimately through faith in Christ. Actually, if you are very certain that you received Christ’s Spirit, you’ve received the wisdom of God. Yet, why is it that it’s hard to understand events He allows to happen, then? We must allow Christ to lead, guide, and teach us more intimately.

After the Lord revealed in a dream about his future to become greater than his brothers, Joseph may have been expecting a great life. In excitement, he told his brothers and father about his dreams but they did not like what they heard.

Instead of smooth sailing to greatness, undesirable but favorable turns of event brought Joseph into prison. How can one become great when imprisoned? Nevertheless, the Lord made him successful in everything he did even in jail. Then, a glimpse of hope occurred when Pharaoh King of Egypt got angry.

1. Angry

1Some time later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt. 2Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined.

It’s good that this even did not happen in this generation. Pharaoh could have been criticized endlessly through social media. The cupbearer and the chief baker could have uploaded their concerns in their social media accounts and their followers would rally behind them. Leaders who are smiling and politically correct are more famous than angry leaders these days.

When Pharaoh was angry with his cupbearer and chief baker, did God prevent him not to execute them immediately but send them first to the captain of the guard? Was the captain of the guard the same captain of the guard named Potiphar who put Joseph in prison? Probably yes, but it is possible that the captain of the guard was also newly appointed in the position.

Subsequently, the cupbearer and chief baker were place in the same prison cell where Joseph was confined, and they were assigned under the jurisdiction or authority of Joseph. It appears like high profile prisoners were confined in the same prison cell, where Joseph was in charge of.

What did the cupbearer and baker do to make the king angry with them?

Did they appeal for leniency? Nothing was mentioned about those details. The story illustrates the sovereign power of Pharaoh King of Egypt.

It says in Proverbs 14:35, 35A king delights in a wise servant, but a shameful servant arouses his fury.

And in Proverbs 16:13, 13Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value the one who speaks what is right.

Whatever foolishness that the cupbearer and baker did was not significant.

The king of Egypt was angry and decided to get rid of them. That’s all!

The cupbearer and chief baker were servants of the king of Egypt. The king had an ultimate authority and power over his servants. The king decides what is right and proper in his eyes. Servants may appeal for their case but still it’s the king’s prerogative and preference to favor one or disregard the other.

We believe and proclaim that Jesus Christ is the King of kings. He is more powerful than the king of Egypt and all kings and authorities in the entire world combined. Nobody can stop Him if He is angry. God has all the rights to be angry with us and punishes for our sins but He chooses to show His love for us. Christ the King of kings, the Lord of lords was crucified to pay the penalty of our sins.

Romans 5:8-9 says, 8God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 

We have sinned and deserve punishment. Yet, the Lord forgave us when we repented of our sins and trusted Christ as our Lord and Savior. If we trust that God can save us from eternal punishment, do we believe that the Lord can also save us from temporary punishment caused by problems?

In comparison, the cupbearer and chief baker did something that caused the king of Egypt got angry. Immediately, they were imprisoned. Do you think they deserved punishment? Did the king investigate if they committed a crime?

Probably, the cupbearer was wrongfully accused together with the baker. The cupbearer was restored to his position and the chief baker was executed subsequently. In prison, both of them were assigned to Joseph’s care.

2. Assign

4The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them.

After they had been in custody for some time, 5each of the two men—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison—had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.

Joseph attended to the needs of the cupbearer and chief baker who were assigned to him. Joseph was imprisoned much earlier and knew prison life better.  He attended to the needs of prisoners assigned to him. Joseph was a picture of Christ attending to the needs of humans imprisoned by sin. How?

Christ was persecuted and suffered the worst problem of mankind. Christ understands our problems completely, and no problem of mankind that the Lord cannot solve. Really? What is the worst problem of mankind that we can never solve? Death! When Christ resurrected, He proved once and for all that He is the Lord of lords who can attend to our needs, and solve our problems, even death.

King David advised in Psalm 55:22, 22Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.

We are also instructed in Hebrews 13:5, 5Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

It is by faith we believe that God will never leave us nor forsake us. But why is it that we still worry so much about our future? One thing that may cause us to worry is when we are not freed from the love of money. When we sense no contentment with things the Lord has given us, it practically proves a shaky faith.         The phrase, ‘love of money’ can also be interpreted as covetousness, materialism or greed. Most often, greed can cause us trouble.

Fishing Season

Fishing season has opened. In the countryside somewhere in Asia, fishing is not regulated. In the previous generation, fishermen catch fish as much as they can. Some greedy fishermen used dynamites and killed small fish.

When older people tell stories about the abundance of fish in their generation, the present generation may wonder what happened, where the fish go. It’s wise for Canadian government to regulate fishing but some unconcerned individuals still try to catch fish more than the limit required by the government.

Last year in August 2018, it was reported that Manitoba Conservation Officers confiscated 122 walleye from a group of Americans fishing near Lynn LakeAmericans fishing near Lynn Lake. Lynn Lake is located 1,077 kilometers north of Winnipeg, or more than 13 hours drive. After pleading guilty, their fines totaled $6,992.

There are endless ways humans would covet something they want. Most often, criminal activities pay the price. Learn to be satisfied with what you have, and you will discover that the Lord won’t leave you nor forsake you. It’s real!

It was not just a coincidence that the cupbearer and chief baker were assigned under Joseph. They were imprisoned for God’s purposes. Did Joseph see a glimpse of hope when he told the cupbearer and chief baker of the King of Egypt that God can answer their confusion about their dreams?

3. Answer

6When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. 7So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why do you look so sad today?” 8“We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.” Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.”

Joseph was diligent and responsible that was why the warden entrusted to him his duties and responsibilities. When it says that Joseph came to them the next morning, it implies that his part of duties was to make sure that prisoner were alright. Joseph observed them dejected and sad-looking, and asked why.

Was Joseph kidding? Why did Joseph ask them why they were sad? Are there prisoners who don’t feel sad being in prison? Did Joseph not feel sadness being in prison? Probably, the cupbearer and baker were not really sad being in prison at first. Maybe they were expecting to be released soon.

That morning, it’s not imprisonment that made them sad or worried. The king should have trusted the cupbearer for his wine and chief baker for his food. Those were prominent positions they have lost. Both the cupbearer and baker had dreams related to their respective occupations. They were nervous about it.

Joseph said that interpretation of dream belongs to God. When Joseph instructed them to tell him their dream, did Joseph pray about it? Did he ask God to reveal to him the meaning of their dreams? Turns of events seem favorable to Joseph. He was confident that the Lord will interpret their dream for him.

Daniel

Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon had a dream and could not sleep. He asked magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to interpret his dream but didn’t tell his dream. Of course, nobody knows anybody’s dream, right? The king ordered to kill them all, including Daniel and his friends. Daniel asked and the king granted time so that Daniel might interpret the dream for the king.

Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends, and urged them to plead for mercy from the God concerning the mystery of the king’s dream. During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision.

He declared in Daniel 2:20-23, 20“Praise be to the name of God forever and ever; wisdom and power are his. 21He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. 22He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. 23I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king.”

Interpreting a dream you don’t know is impossible but, the Lord showed that nothing is impossible to Him. How did Daniel and his friends find favor in the eyes of the Lord? They resolve not defile themselves. Daniel and his friends were exiled in a foreign land but they continued to trust the Lord.

Before Daniel became prominent in Babylon, it says in Daniel 1:8-9, 8Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. 9Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel.

Royal food and wine are very enticing for sure. Would you not like to feast with royal food so that you would spend much when you celebrate birthdays and anniversaries? What is your favorite cuisine or restaurant? Not a few would save money to treat themselves regularly with royal food and wine.

Yet, Daniel said that he did not want to defile, desecrate or make himself unclean with royal food and wine. He was satisfied with vegetables and water. How does eating royal food and wine pollute our body?

One practical reason why Daniel refused to eat the royal food was that they were training for at least 3 years to serve the king. Daniel disciplined himself not to take advantage of the generosity of the king, and God honored his decision. They were chosen among many young people to serve the king. Eventually, together with his friends, Daniel became prominent in Babylon.

It says in Proverbs 12:26, 26The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.

Daniel had resisted the temptation to defile himself by indulging in royal food and wine. Similarly, Joseph resisted temptation in Egypt. Both Joseph and Daniel became prominent figure in places away from their place of birth.

Joseph was imprisoned in Egypt. Daniel was exiled in Babylon. To be imprisoned or exiled cannot be very desirable situation but both of them became prominent in those situations because they chose to obey what pleases the Lord.

Are you in a situation where you did not wish to be?

Are you facing a difficult problem that you have found no solution, just yet?

Can you believe that God has allowed you to be in that situation because of His special purposes for you?

Remember Daniel when he resolved not to defile himself.

Remember Joseph when he decided to resist temptation.

Pray that you may be able see a glimpse of hope of His great plan for you.

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