How many times have we said to ourselves, “If I just knew what God was up to, I’d join myself to Him!”? How many times do we complain that God doesn’t speak to us; neglects to tell us His plans? But what if God was speaking and we fail to hear Him because we dislike the means or the messenger or perhaps we respond in the flesh to the message and, perhaps, miss it altogether?

Well, it might mean we are living out our own version of a story in the Book …

At age 17, after being favored by his father and hated by his brothers because of it, Joseph has two things going for him: a nifty looking coat and dreams. He couldn’t share the coat. Coats are made for one, after all. But he could and did, perhaps unwisely, share his dreams.

While they have very different responses to hearing the content of the dreams, his brothers and his father understand exactly what they mean. Joseph, then the youngest son, will rule over and have authority over his father and older brothers. Not exactly the way things worked in those days … not even close …

In Genesis 37 Jacob, though he rebukes his son, “… kept the matter in mind.” His brothers, however, hated him … raged against him in their hearts, were jealous and hated him all the more.

So much so that shortly thereafter, when the opportunity presented itself, they first plot to murder Joseph and finally settle on selling him into slavery (to the Ishmaelites, no less, but that’s a whole other post). Their gloating, callous “victory” exclamation was, “Let’s see what comes of his dreams now!”

Joseph spends the next 13 years as a slave. His gifts are recognized by those with authority over him. The Lord is with him and he is shown favor. But he is still – first a slave and then a prisoner. It’s hard to imagine what that would mean in that day and time. Certainly it’s a far cry from his brothers bowing before him …

Despite the bright spots, time after time, he is betrayed by those he generously and faithfully serves. He is falsely accused and thrown in prison by one and forgotten by another for whom his involvement with two more dreams proved a blessing.

In the face of all of this, forgotten but still faithful, Joseph drew ever closer to his God. Each time he confronts another challenge involving dreams we see him maturing and faithful. “Let’s see what becomes of his dreams!”

Until one morning, starting with a dawn that no doubt seemed like every other dawn in recent memory … betrayed by his brothers, discarded by his owner, exploited by his jailer and seemingly forgotten by a man who promised to remember him … who knows how often wondering about those dreams he had at 17 … Until now, at age 30, prison life was interrupted by orders. “Joseph!! Quickly! Bathe, shave and put on these clothes! Pharaoh is asking for you!”

Because of yet two more dreams. God spoke to and through Joseph in dreams for decades! But no one truly realized it. Until Pharaoh!

What his brothers, his owner, his jailer and those whom he served failed to see, despite living in proximity to him and recognizing God’s hand on him, was instantly seen by the most powerful man on the planet … God was with this man in a special way. Pharaoh, a man of unimaginable wealth and power, ignoring the packaging in favor of the value it held.

After years, others only saw the youngest son, the slave, the prisoner … and behaved accordingly.

In minutes, after a brief conversation, Pharaoh saw some very different and behaved accordingly. He asked, ““Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?” He said, “… there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you” and “I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.” “Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and people shouted before him, “Make way!” Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” (Genesis 41)

In an instant, suddenly and blindingly, things changed. The man who woke up as a prisoner laid down that evening as the second most powerful man on the planet! “Let’s see what comes of his dreams,” indeed!

Nine years later, two years into the famine … 22 years after they sold him … Joseph’s brothers arrive in Egypt. In Genesis 42 the very first thing they do is bow down to him. In Genesis 43, on their second trip to Egypt and during a meeting with Joseph in his home, they bow down to him – twice! In Genesis 45, after Benjamin is found to have “stolen” Joseph’s cup and the brothers are forcibly brought before Joseph they don’t merely bow down, they throw themselves at his feet! This is what became of his dreams …

Joseph’s father, Israel, and all his household, almost 70 people, in the midst of the loss and suffering of a global famine, moved to Egypt and were set up in the finest land with all the worldly security they could want. All while the actual Egyptians sold their land, their livestock and eventually themselves to Joseph and Pharoah. This is what became of his dreams …

The very end the brothers considered murder as a means to avoid, they couldn’t escape. The dream and the dreamer they hated and opposed with murderous thoughts, callous hearts, lying tongues – the deception and shame of which bound and tormented them for almost 25 years … the steps they took thinking they were preserving themselves and their position … They failed to recognize and embrace the plan and intent God was speaking to them decades before – that Joseph would be the head and salvation of the family. This is what became of his dreams …

What they hated and violently opposed was really a word from God meant to encourage and bring peace to them.

They wanted to “see what would become of these dreams now!” They did.

Interestingly, the Book never says God planned things to play out the way they did. His character being immutably good, I believe there was a plan He had that didn’t involve lies, murder, slavery, separation and decades of grief.

I believe Joseph’s dreams were meant to be a comfort and had the brothers waited, Joseph’s ability – not just to have dreams but also to interpret them – would also have manifested itself. They would have received a word for themselves as did the Cup Bearer and Pharaoh himself.

Instead, like Abraham before them, the brothers tried to work out and accomplish their destinies using their limited resources. But it was the plans of the brothers that were foiled, not the dreams of Joseph. The very thing they hated and tried hardest, at profound cost to themselves and their family, to prevent was the very thing that God used to save them all.

Are we … am I … really any different? How often have I only heard His plans through my own pain and grief and so failed to understand? Do I fight and stand and rage against what I think is my foe but Who is, in fact, my Father? Do I cost myself decades of peace, blessing and comfort because I decide I am wise and know what is happening when I am really deaf, blind and deceived?

The Book does not say what Joseph did during those long years he was forgotten. Because it’s not a formula to be followed. What the Book does say is that, each time we see Joseph, he is glorifying God  and growing in ability. I don’t have any insight into how to do that beyond daily turning to Him in humility and repentance; asking Him to transform us in the midst of whatever circumstances we’re living in and trusting that the things He has spoken over us He intends to accomplish if we will let Him.

For the display of His splendor ~