No Ordinary Dream

Genesis 37:5-11

5Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7We 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.”

8His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. 9Then 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.”

10When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

Introduction

Have you ever dreamed of an event that came into reality in your life, yet? Before their children can play musical instruments, a seminary student had a daydream. It was like a fantasy imagination. He had a vision of their family as itinerant Christian Music Band similar to concert tour conducting worship services in the park or public squares where his family would be playing musical instruments, leading the worship and preaching the gospel.

At present, as he watches his family lead worship services, he recalls the daydream he had in past. He may have concluded that his daydream was actually a revelation from the Lord for his family. It may have been like daydream fantasy that have brightened his day but eventually, it has turned into reality.

Some Bible scholars suggest that dreams are lowest grade of prophecy but the Lord had repeatedly used dream to reveal His plans. Does God still use dreams in our generation to inform us about His will? Does the Bible teach that God stopped using dreams? God has unlimited ways to reveal His will.

Actually, after they were filled with the Holy Spirit, Apostle Peter preached in Acts 2:16-18, 16This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17“‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.

Does it help us realize that prophecy did not cease or stop? We need also to be prayerful because there are individuals who try to deceive others. And since, the Holy Spirit inspires a person to prophesy about His plan, Christ the Lord Himself will convince believers who are filled with the Holy Spirit.

It teaches us in 1 John 4:1-4, 1Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

To acknowledge Jesus Christ is to accept Him as Lord and Savior, publicly agree and declare that Christ was born as human Jesus, died on the cross for the remission and forgiveness of sin of all who believe, and follow Him in His death and resurrection through water baptism.

Such practical evidences in a believer’s life had been taken for granted. And many deceive themselves to go through the process but don’t really believe.

Therefore, we should be more discreet, careful and prayerful and not to easily believe people who claim to be prophets or messengers of the Lord. The Spirit of Christ lives in us. If so, would not the Lord tell us first personally about His plan for us as individuals? When His messengers tell about God’s plan, it should serve as confirmation of what He has already told us. How is that?

If we claim the Christ wants to have a personal relationship with us, it’s not very proper that He won’t directly inform us His will but use others. Right?

Think about this: You have very close and intimate friend, and you like to appreciate his/her hairstyle. Would it be proper for you to instruct a stranger and say, “Kindly tell my best friend that I really like his/her hairstyle?” Absurd, right? Would you not tell it yourself, “I really like your hairstyle!” Make sense? Now, if a stranger suddenly express appreciation, “I like your hairstyle!” then, your friend would know that what you’ve said earlier is real and confirmed by a stranger.

Apostle Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 2:13-15, 13This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. 14The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things.

It is very crucial for believers to be filled with the Holy Spirit always. Pray and ask God to help and always remind you to seek the empowerment of His Spirit in everything you plan, decide and do, practical or spiritual.

Apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 1:9-10, 9We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.

Last week, we learned that Joseph brought their father a bad report about his half-brothers. Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son and his brothers hated him.

And then, Joseph had a dream of himself becoming somebody someday. He told his dream to his brothers and they were furious about it. Should Joseph have not revealed his dream to his brothers, would they be furious of him less?

1. Reveal

5Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7We 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.”

What’s wrong with telling his dream to his brothers? Why did Joseph’s brothers hate him when he told them his dream? Was his dream ordinary?

The word translated “told” is more properly interpreted as “conspicuous.” When Joseph revealed his dream, he intended to attract attention, to be noticed.

The translation when Joseph said, “Listen to this dream I had,” it projected his appeal or demand to be heard, that what he says should be taken seriously. His brothers hated him being their father’s favorite child. He had been given the best robe available, and now Joseph implied that he will become their master?

Would you be happy for the person you hate to become your boss?

Surely not! Even if the person is telling the truth, it would be very difficult to accept or accommodate him. But why were they furious? Why not just ignored him? Did they assume that his dream will eventually happen in the future?

Interestingly, they were shepherd, yet, Joseph dreamed about sheaves of grain. Why did God not use sheep instead of grain? Did God reveal to Joseph the situation when his brothers will be bowing down to him?

The sheep they pastured belonged to their father, whereas, it should be fair for all of them when grain was used because they were not farmers. They may have observed farmers harvest, bind and horizontally arrange the sheaves of grain on the ground to be dried under the sun. And of course, arranging the sheaves vertically is unusual. They would fall to the ground if improperly arranged.

How would you arrange the sheaves to stand and not fall down? When the sheaves of grain are carelessly or unmindfully arranged, they will fall to the ground. Such is a picture of life lived carelessly and unmindfully. Most of our mistakes happened when we are careless or unmindful, especially when nobody is watching or when we don’t sense accountability with our actions.

Moses Complaint

The Israelites, like many of us, are prone to disregard the commands of the Lord. Moses felt the burden of leading the Israelites and he complained before the Lord in Exodus 33:12, 12“You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” 14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

The Lord who told Moses is the same Lord who offers rest in Matthew 11:28, 28Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

What is this ‘rest’ that Christ offers? Is He concerned only about spiritual life? Christ is the author of our life and perfecter of our faith. The term ‘rest’ is not limited only to physical rest after completion of task. It includes necessary pause, refresher or intermission from toil, labor, burden, or trouble. Anything that makes us weary or fatigue, emotionally, physically and spiritually, Christ offers us rest.

When Joseph’s brothers refused to appreciate after he told them about his dream, their hate of Joseph must have been very intense so that they took it too seriously how Joseph narrated his dream and use that moment as ground or basis for them to express openly their refusal to entertain his dream.

2. Refuse

8His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.

When it says that ‘they hated him all the more,’ furious about his dream added to the emotional burden for Joseph’s brother. Don’t you feel tired when you hate someone? Each time the person you hate cross your mind, don’t you feel the heaviness of your heart? It must be burdensome to be angry, right?

Joseph informed his brothers that in his dream, ‘he and his brother were binding sheaves of grain when suddenly his sheaf rose and stood upright and the sheaves of his brothers gathered around and bow down before the sheaf of Joseph.’ It must have been a very vivid dream, and Joseph may have described it with enthusiasm and confidence so that his brothers hated him all the more.

When they said, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” they took what Joseph said very personally. It’s like: Joseph against all of them kind of stance. They hated Joseph and he will rule over them? No way, sir!

When one is favored and has domineering confidence, one can hardly see humility. And, it is tough to appreciate such kind of person. Joseph’s brothers may have felt less care and love from their father because they did not get a special ornate robe for themselves, and they also were envious of Joseph.

Joseph was younger than his brothers who hated him. And for sure, like most siblings, older brothers or sisters desire to be the first, to be recognized, regarded or respected by younger siblings. Can you identify with the brothers of Joseph? The refusal of Joseph’s brothers to acknowledge the privilege that Joseph may have in the future was just common to anyone in every generation.

Daniel

Daniel 6:1-4 says, 1It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, 2 with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. 3 Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. 4At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.

Satraps are similar to provincial governors and Daniel was appointed to oversee those satraps. The satraps and the 2 administrators did not like Daniel when King Darius favored him because of his extra-ordinary abilities and trustworthiness. The story says that they schemed for Daniel’s death. He was thrown into the lion’s den, but God sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths.

Doing what’s right is not always attractive to others, especially to people who are envious of you. Daniel’s story is very similar to Joseph’s.

When Joseph told his father about his dream, Jacob rebuked him.

His father may have tried to prevent Joseph from becoming conceited or arrogant. Nonetheless, Jacob did not totally disregard what Joseph said.

3. Rebuke

9Then 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.” 10When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

Not satisfied with the first dream, the Lord made Joseph dreamed similar dream, and it was more imaginable. The sun and moon and eleven stars bowing down to Joseph, the message was very clear not just Joseph’s brothers but also to his father. Parents bowing before children–that’s not very ideal sight, right?

The reason God gave Joseph two similar dreams was because He was determined to do what he revealed to Joseph, and perhaps, to warn Joseph’s brothers and father. Joseph may have understood it very clearly. His brothers and father understood it clearly what he wanted them to grasp about his dream.

God may speak or give instructions in dreams, circumstances, prayer, the Bible, and through fellow believers. The person who hears God’s word and responds according to His instruction testifies to his/her faith in the Lord.

Joseph the Other Dreamer

Another man name Joseph who had a dream. Joseph was about to marry Mary when he found out that Mary was pregnant. Joseph was righteous and did not want Mary to be publicly disgraced. So, he planned to divorce her quietly but an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.

It says in Matthew 1:20-24, 20But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  23“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). 24When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.

Joseph the husband of Mary heard and obeyed the will of God because he was always conscious of living a lifestyle pleasing to the Lord.

It is God’s will for us to live lifestyle that pleases God. When Christ’s Spirit prevails in us, our lifestyle is pleasing to Him. One result of being filled with the Holy Spirit is to know and understand that God’s will is the best lifestyle we can ever experience. It is for our benefit and betterment to live life pleasing to God.

Not a few people are very open on their claim that they cannot appreciate Christian lifestyle even if Christian lifestyle is the best lifestyle we can ever have on earth. Why? There are individuals who exaggerate on living religiously.

Christian lifestyle is not the same as being religious.  To be religious is not totally Christian lifestyle. Genuine Christian lifestyle is inspired by Christ’s Spirit. It’s not prompted by the desire to be seen as religious person. How is that?

Christians commit mistakes which are part of Christian life. In comparison, to be religious, there are sets of religious ethics or traditions to be followed.

We may see religious lifestyle similar in the time of Jesus on earth.

It stated in Mark 7:5, 5So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”

It’s not only about ‘washing of hand.’ Traditional religious activities and practices that are not biblical may have been practiced in the church or among religious communities. Such practice of religious tradition may have been helpful in one generation but not necessarily applicable in another or next generation.

Time of worship, order of worship, song or musical instrument during worship, church building and furniture, media or high technologies, many of which we want to imitate or see to be done in our context. Should do it that way?

It says in Romans 12:2, 2Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

To ‘conform to the pattern of this world’ is to follow what other people do or say without seeking God’s guidance, first. There are many seemingly great principles we can find or search in the internet that can be true to others but not necessarily true to you or they can be applicable to you also, but which one?

Desire and ask God to transform your mind if you wish to know the good, pleasing and perfect will of God for you.

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