Dreams and Suffering

Joseph dreamt his brothers were sheaves of wheat that bowed to his sheaf; he dreamt the sun, moon, and 11 stars all bowed to his star.  His brothers hated him because of his dreams, and because he was his father’s most loved son.  

One day, their hatred brimmed over.  They stripped Joseph of the multi-colored robe his father gave him and threw him in a pit.  Some wanted to kill him but instead they sold him to Ishmaelite traders as a slave. Then they smeared animal blood on his robe and presented it to Jacob.  Jacob concluded his beloved son was torn apart by beasts.  Joseph was later sold in Egypt.

Joseph’s brothers committed a hateful, vicious crime against him.  But the outcome of that crime was even more incomprehensible.  The attack on Joseph led to the fulfillment of Joseph’s dreams and, years later, saved the brothers from famine.  Multitudes of others were also saved from famine as a result.

After years of suffering, Joseph was noticed by Pharaoh because (with God’s Spirit) he could interpret dreams.  Based on Pharaoh’s dreams, Joseph predicted seven years of famine.  He gave Pharaoh a plan for surviving the famine.  Because of his God-given wisdom, Joseph became Pharaoh’s right hand man.

Because of Joseph’s planning, Egypt had stores of grain when the famine came.  Multitudes sought food in Egypt, including Joseph’s brothers.  In fulfillment of Joseph’s dreams, his brothers became subject to him.  But Joseph also saved them from famine and gave them a new life in Egypt.  

The parallels to Jesus leap from the page.  Joseph was his father’s favorite, and Jesus is God’s beloved Son.  Joseph suffered at the hands of his Israelite brothers just as Jesus suffered at the hands of the Israelites.  Out of suffering, Joseph was promoted to Pharaoh’s right hand; Jesus was raised from the dead to the right hand of the Father.  Joseph’s suffering and promotion saved many lives just as Christ’s death and resurrection saved the world.

What is truly humbling is that God uses humanity’s worst crime—murdering His Son—to save us.  Acts says, “Though He was delivered up according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people to nail Him to a cross and kill Him” (Acts 2:23).  Joseph gives a similar view to his brothers: “You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about…the survival of many people (Gen. 50:20).  

This, above all, shows that God is God.  His forgiveness cannot be matched.  His love is powerful: He brings healing from the heinous, glory from the gory, heaven from hell.  It is not as though we are all pretty good after all.  We are all Joseph’s treacherous brothers.  Jesus is the brother that suffered our hatred and our hands so that we would live and not die.  

Grace is a paltry word to describe Jesus’s gift.  As a word, it doesn’t even touch the measure of our unworthiness—which overflows the creation itself.  Neither does it touch the measure of God’s generosity—which swallows the unworthiness of creation in forgetful love.  “But where sin multiplied, grace multiplied even more” (Rom. 5:20).

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Robert Mayne says:

    I have recently, from the Holy Spirit realized that the brothers were in me warring against Joseph. It is only when these things become so personal, and we stop putting them off to “ history “ or some other thing that they will finally bow to allow the firstborn to have His place within.

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. mrteague says:

      That’s so true. Our flesh often persecutes Christ within. Lord, let the beloved Son have His rightful place in us! Thanks, Robert 🙂

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