Both the day and the night are yours; you made the sun and the moon. You set all the limits on the earth; you created summer and winter. Psalm 74:16-17
God doesn’t have a favorite season. Winter isn’t too dreary to him. Summer isn’t too hot for him. He sees relief in the days ahead of a long, oppressive summer. He sees beneath the frozen ground of winter to the possibilities lying dormant beneath. He knows what was left behind from the previous harvest and is rotting below the surface to nourish the soil and prepare it for the next planting.
Joseph gives us a great example of a dormant dream. God was working every step of the way even though it seemed his dream was dead. We have the benefit of seeing the entire story, but Joseph was living it. All he could see was what was right in front of him and what was behind him. He chose to trust God for what was ahead.
Joseph was one of many brothers. He was favored by his father, Jacob, because Joseph’s mother, Rachel, was the love of Jacob’s life. Joseph had a dream and shared it with his brothers, who didn’t appreciate it.
“Listen to this dream I had: We 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.”
His 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.
Then 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.”
When 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?” His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind. (Genesis 37:6-11)
The seed was planted. For Joseph, the dream was a vision of the future. For his dad, Joseph’s dream was puzzling but worth remembering. For his brothers, Joseph’s dream was infuriating. And they couldn’t let go of it.
When have you had a dream that didn’t come true?
Consider the difference between your dreams and God’s dreams.
Joseph’s brothers decided to do something about the dreams. First, they tried to bury them:
“Here comes that dreamer! ” they said to each other. “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.” (Genesis 37:19-20)
Brothers Reuben and Judah decided killing Joseph and burying the dreams along with him wasn’t a good idea. So the next idea was to sell the dream:
So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt. (Genesis 37:28)
Joseph was headed in a direction away from his home and family. It seemed his dreams were in the past, but this was no simple childhood dream that Joseph had for himself. This was God’s dream for his life. God continued to work even though the dream seemed to be thrown into pits and handed over to other people many times.
- The Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard. (Genesis 37:36)
- Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. (Genesis 39:4)
- Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph, and although it didn’t work, the appearance of indiscretion was enough to place Joseph in prison. (Genesis 39:7-20)
- But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him kindness and caused the prison warden to like Joseph. The prison warden chose Joseph to take care of all the prisoners, and he was responsible for whatever was done in the prison. (Genesis 39:21-22)
- Joseph interpreted dreams of fellow prisoners, the king’s cupbearer and baker (Genesis 40), and although the cupbearer was released only a few days later, Joseph sat in jail two more years. The cupbearer finally remembered Joseph when the king had a dream that needed to be interpreted. Because God was with Joseph and he interpreted the king’s dream well, he was appointed as the ruler over Egypt. He would manage seven years of good crops in preparation for seven years of famine, consistent with the king’s dream (Genesis 41).
- Once the famine surged across the land, Joseph’s brothers reentered his life because they needed to find provision for the family. Through many twists and turns, Joseph revealed himself to his family:
So Joseph said to them, “Come close to me.” When the brothers came close to him, he said to them, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold as a slave to go to Egypt. Now don’t be worried or angry with yourselves because you sold me here. God sent me here ahead of you to save people’s lives. No food has grown on the land for two years now, and there will be five more years without planting or harvest. So God sent me here ahead of you to make sure you have some descendants left on earth and to keep you alive in an amazing way. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. God has made me the highest officer of the king of Egypt. I am in charge of his palace, and I am the master of all the land of Egypt. So leave quickly and go to my father. Tell him, ‘Your son Joseph says: God has made me master over all Egypt. Come down to me quickly. Live in the land of Goshen where you will be near me. Your children, your grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all that you have will also be near me. I will care for you during the next five years of hunger so that you and your family and all that you have will not starve.’” (Genesis 45:4-11)
Consider Joseph’s response as his dream came full circle.
Again, we have the benefit of knowing the ending of Joseph’s story as we read through his trials. Of course, he did not. There were times his dream seemed buried or sold but definitely not fulfilled. It seemed as if it was buried in the remote, cold wasteland of a dreary winter. But the winter season was sandwiched between a fall and spring. The fall was the preparation for the winter season. The dream began to blossom in spring. And the summer?
Then the king said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you, and you may choose any place in Egypt for them to live. Give your father and your brothers the best land; let them live in the land of Goshen. And if any of them are skilled shepherds, put them in charge of my sheep and cattle.”
Joseph obeyed the king and gave his father and brothers the best land in Egypt, near the city of Rameses. And Joseph gave his father, his brothers, and everyone who lived with them the food they needed. (Genesis 47:5-6, 11-12)
How are you handling your God-given dreams through the seasons of your life?