Daily Reading – Genesis 40
Joseph has conducted himself with honor throughout his life and has received nothing but evil from men in return. In the story today, Joseph has been in prison for years, and we know from Psalm 105 that God sent him there. However Joseph does not let the perception of his cirucmstances dictate his view of God. His emotions are not controlled by how the prison walls make him feel. Instead, he is rooted in the promise that came to him through the Word of the Lord years ago.
God revealed to Joseph in a dream that one day he would rule, and even his father and mother would bow down to him. That promise seemed a long way away in the confines of an Egyptian dungeon, but Joseph did not waver in his conviction despite years of being mistreated and forgotten.
Joseph’s faith rings true in his words to the baker and the cupbearer. Having received divine messages in their dreams, they are downcast because they do not know what they mean. Then Joseph steps in and offers help. Jospeh knows that God sometimes uses dreams to communicate and that God alone has the power to interpret the dream and see it fulfilled. Joseph lets them know that the interpretation of their dream belongs to God, and whatever he says will come to pass.
Though Joseph is confident in God’s ability to deliver messages and see them through, his own dream will not come true until he spends two more years in prison.
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11
God’s program of preparation is not at all what we would choose. Even the Christ had to be made perfect through suffering. (Hebrews 2:10) However, suffering serves a tremedous amount of purposes in the unfolding plan of God, and the promise that one day we will rule with Jesus should sustain us through the pain and trials.
The Bible shares a lot about God’s purpose when our life is in the pit.
In our suffering, God is refining our faith so that it may be proved genuine and may result in a hope that carries us through.
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:6-7
“…but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-4
God also uses suffering to give his servants the opportunity to spread the gospel.
“But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” 1 Peter 3:14-15
When people see us suffer well, they have the opportunity to see Jesus. Paul even says we are filling up what is still lacking in Christ’s afflictions in our suffering. (Colossians 1:24)
Finally, God allows suffering to continue because he is patient with us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
Life in the pit is part of the program that Christians sign up for. As we follow Jesus, who suffered outside the city gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood, let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. (Hebrews 13:12-14) And in the midst of the pain, we have the promise that one day we will rule as coheirs with Christ, provided that we suffer with him.
“and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” Romans 8:17
Like Joseph and Jesus, we will have to walk through the valley in order to reach the mountain top. In the middle of the valley we must not let our eyes fix on the momentary afflictions, for the things that are seen are temporary, but the unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18) And the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18)
Joseph had a dream to hold on to that served as an anchor for his soul even when everything was against him.
Jesus, for the joy set before him, endured the cross.
We have something to look forward to as well:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
The Emmaus Trail is a devotional study that explores the theme of God reconciling himself to the world through the redemption of his Son which is found in all of Scripture.
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.