Introduction: How does Isaac Watts describe the security of the believer in his famous hymn, ‘Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken’ (# 345 in our Hymn Book)?
“Round each habitation hov’ring, see the cloud and fire appear for a glory and a cov’ring showing that the Lord is near: thus deriving from their banner light by night and shade by day, safe they feed upon the manna which he gives them when they pray.”
May we learn this week how secure we are in the Lord even in the most dangerous and dark places and times. Just as Joseph in prison had his feet firmly fixed on the Rock of his salvation, so may we appreciate in a new way how God’s presence in our trials makes us like Joseph more secure than the most mighty men in their success and fame.
Monday: read Genesis 40:1-4. Any survey of speeches by world leaders gives the impression that, if global problems could be solved by self-confidence and resolve, then the future looks rosy. For example, at the UN this week one speaker promised to “welcome real and human exchanges… and actively engage in global reforms,” and called for a “return to monotheism and justice.” Such words give us hope until we realize that they were uttered by one of the most brutal dictators of the present day, the President of Iran. Such is the contradiction inherent in all godless human leaders: they appear to be kind and generous, promising reform and hope, but prove to be vicious and capricious in their actual exercise of power. Pharaoh may have been such a leader. One day his closest officials enjoy favor, trusted by the king of Egypt to give him his wine and his food (Gen. 40:1-2); the next they are imprisoned as objects of his wrath. Such is the slippery slope of fame and favor in this world.
Meditate and Pray: Aren’t you glad that the Divine Favor which you enjoy as a child of God is not based on caprice? 1 John 1:9 promises: “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Forgiveness and Grace are promised to us by the God who “does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). If God offers His Son to save you from your sins, which He surely does, then He will not repent of such a costly gift. The transaction is done, and your favor under God is secure by faith. If you have not closed this transaction of believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, now is the time to do so – unshakeable eternal security which the world can never give will then be yours.
Tuesday: read Genesis 39:1; 40:1-4 & Psalm 76:8-10. What a comfort, even in the midst of Joseph’s dark imprisonment, that the LORD superintended all his relationships and duties: even ensuring that Joseph would win the absolute confidence of the prison warden who put “all those held in the prison under his charge” (Gen. 39:22). This is even more incredible when we discover that this “warden” would have been under the direct supervision of Potiphar himself, who was “captain of the guard” as Gen. 39:1 says. It was into Potiphar’s prison as the “captain of the guard” that the baker and the cupbearer were placed in Gen. 40:3, eventually becoming the direct responsibility of Joseph in Gen. 40:4 when Potiphar assigned them to him! How quickly Joseph won over not only prison wardens but even Potiphar himself to trust Joseph again even as he had done when Joseph was his personal slave! In this way Psalm 76:10 proves true in Joseph’s life: “Even the wrath of Potiphar” when he put Joseph into prison (Gen. 39:19) turns into praise as God for His own glory exalts Joseph to the highest place!
Meditate and Pray: How secure Joseph is in his lowly position in jail compared to the shaky status of Pharaoh’s officials in their fall from his court into imprisonment! Thank God for the security which He gives us – even in the most lowly position – because we belong to Him. He guards us from all ill even while great and mighty men like the cupbearer and the baker are falling around us! Be assured of the truth of Psalm 91 in your life:
“For He shall with His watchful care preserve thee from the fowler’s snare, yea, He shall be thy sure defense against the deadly pestilence.”
“His outspread pinions shall thee hide, beneath his wings shalt thou confide. His faithfulness shall ever be a shield and buckler unto thee” (Hymn # 90 verses 3 & 4, Trinity Hymnal).
Wednesday: read Genesis 40:4-8. Behold how children of God, like Joseph, can be so secure in the midst of their own heartbreaking situations (like false imprisonment) that they are free to show compassion to others. In Gen. 40:6-8 Joseph comes in to find his two most important prisoners in despair because of the mysterious dreams which they had both had the night before. Instead of bitterly and coldly refusing to come to their aid (After all, had not dreams from God and their interpretation been Joseph’s downfall when his brothers sold him into slavery?), Joseph generously offers to tell them the truth of God’s communications to them – all the while giving all glory to God and no credit to himself in their interpretation!
Meditate and Pray: Ask God to give you Joseph’s generous spirit which comes from knowing that God is in control of our problems and trials and therefore we can graciously afford to help others in theirs – especially seeking to encourage fellow believers in Jesus. As Hymn # 583 puts it:
“But thou hast needy brethren here, partakers of thy grace, whose names thou wilt thyself confess before the Father’s face.
“And in their accents of distress thy pleading voice is heard; in them thou may’st be clothed and fed and visited and cheered.” (Philip Doddridge, 1702-1751)
Thursday: read Genesis 40:5-22. There is nothing haphazard or by chance in these dreams which Joseph interprets. They are synchronized by God to occur on the same night and they speak without error of what actually comes to pass. They are both sufficiently powerful to lay both men low, touching the consciences of them both so that they realize their very lives hang in the balance.
After the glorious hope of the cupbearer’s dream is revealed by Joseph in Gen. 40:12-13, the baker steps forward hoping he also will hear good news. But the truth of God in Gen. 40:16-19 is anything but good news for him. Pharaoh’s anger is only satisfied by the death of the baker (Gen. 40:20-22), while his pleasure was to restore the cupbearer to his place of honor. In this way, God’s revealed truth spoke to the actual destiny of both these men. And God mercifully spoke the truth to both these men before it happened – who knows but that Joseph’s demeanor, authority and words of truth could have accomplished much spiritually in the lives of one or both of these officials of Pharaoh?
Meditate and Pray: Thank God for His truthful approach to all mankind. The verdict is clear: “Let God be true and every man a liar” (Romans 3:4). The Pharaohs of this world promise justice and favor, but often give their servants ultimate destruction in the end. But God is up front with all His created creatures, especially man, created in His image. And all men’s consciences will bear witness in the end that God all along has dealt honestly with them. “God the Judge of all the earth will do right” (Genesis 18:25).
Friday: read Genesis 40:14-15 & 40:23. As we see Joseph faithfully attending to his duties and even going beyond the call of duty to take a compassionate interest in his two most important prisoners’ dreams, we do well to repeat what we said at the end of Gen. 39 last week about Joseph’s faithful perseverance:
“Look at how God’s faithful kindness made Joseph stronger than all his foes and able to rise above his painful imprisonment. No ploy of the Devil can stop Joseph from “faithfully attending to his duties… Evidently Joseph had “good works ordained by God” to accomplish (Ephesians 2:10) and not even all the powers of Hell could prevent those good works from being successfully carried out!”
But alas, such faithful attention to every detail of prison life and prisoner welfare is not recognized or appreciated as it should have been by those around Joseph. Though he pleads with Pharaoh’s butler to “remember him and to show him kindness” when he is restored to favor (Gen. 40:14-15), this man forgets Joseph and God’s Word through him as soon as his fortunes take a turn for the better. As Gen. 40:23 says, “The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.”
Meditate and Pray: Thank God at the end of this week for His faithful remembrance of His people. He will not forget us. Though we languish unappreciated in lonely places like Joseph did, let us be assured that one day, God Himself will own us and our good works done in His Name. “God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them” (Hebrews 6:10).