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Garment of Exultation

Genesis 39:20-21 

So Joseph's master took him and put him into the jail, the place where the king's prisoners were confined; and he was there in the jail. [21] But the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer. 

Last week, Joseph rejected Potiphar's wife's sexual advances. She in turn, accused him of doing what she did-making advances toward her. She used what we've called the garment of accusation-Joseph's garment that she tore off his body as he ran from her- as proof of her allegation. Potiphar was enraged when he heard the accusation and threw him in jail. Joseph's day's looked numbered, and I supposed they would be except that the Lord was with Joseph and caused the chief jailer to take a liking to him. Once again, Joseph rose to the top, becoming, in essence, the assistant jailer.

While fulfilling his duties, Joseph noticed that two fellow prisoners were dejected and downcast so he asked them what was troubling them. Both of them were Pharaoh's officers, one was his cup-bearer, and the other was the baker. They answered: "'We have had a dream and there is no one to interpret it.' Then Joseph said to them, 'Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell it to me, please.'" (Genesis 40:8 NASB)

You will remember from a couple of weeks ago that Joseph was a dreamer. In our culture, dreams are relatively unimportant, but in the Ancient Near East and for that matter in the East today, dreams are significant.

In Bangladesh, it is as natural for Muslim men to talk about their dreams to pass the time of day as it is for American men to talk about the Pennant Race, a football game or how their golf swing is doing. They don't interpret dreams as "wish fulfillments," as Freud did, but they do believe that they have meaning. Our missionaries are reporting that many Muslims are finding faith in Christ through their dreams. I recently spoke to one of our missionaries to Bangladesh who told me some stories about Muslims that he knew about that came to faith in Christ through a dream. The most commonly reported dream, is of two people standing beside one another. One is Mohammad, the other Jesus. Mohammad is pointing to Jesus and saying, "Not me, follow Him."

One conversion he had a first-hand knowledge of happened after he made a decision to take a break from spreading the gospel among the roads to explore more remote regions of the country. A volunteer from First Baptist Church in Portland, Oregon, with a local translator, paddled a boat down the river to distribute Bibles. They paddled up to a man who was bathing and handed him a Bible. The man thanked them, and said, "I just had a dream two days ago that Allah would put truth in my hand. I believe that this is the truth that Allah spoke of." According to the missionary, they haven't been able to follow-up on the man, but in the region that he lives, there is a report of about 75 baptisms and he believes that this man has taken the gospel back to his people like the Ethiopian Eunuch did to his.

So these dreams were serious business to the cupbearer and the baker. They believed the interpretation of the dreams would disclose their future. Joseph had good news for the cup-bearer. He would be restored to his position in three days. After telling him the good news, Joseph pled with the cup-bearer to remember him and tell Pharaoh how he'd been kidnaped, taken to Egypt against his will and falsely accused of the crime that led to his imprisonment. Of course, the cupbearer promised that he'd mention Joseph to Pharaoh when he got out.

The Baker was encouraged by the interpretation of the cupbearer's dream so he told Joseph his dream. "'I also saw in my dream, and behold, there were three baskets of white bread on my head; [17] and in the top basket there were some of all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, and the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.' [18] Then Joseph answered and said, 'This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days; [19] within three more days Pharaoh will lift up your head from you and will hang you on a tree; and the birds will eat your flesh off you.'" (Genesis 40:16-19 NASB) Not good news for the baker.

Three days later, on Pharaoh's birthday, he sent for the cupbearer and the baker. Just as Joseph said, Pharaoh restored the cupbearer to his high-level security position and hanged the baker. Unfortunately, the cupbearer was not as dependable as Joseph was and did not tell Pharaoh about the young Hebrew man that was kidnaped, sold into slavery and thrown into the dungeon for a crime that he didn't commit.

I wonder if Joseph began to mentally leave the dungeon when he saw the cupbearer and the baker depart? How do you think Joseph felt as the third, the fourth or the tenth day rolled past? I would have thought about all the people that had done me wrong. If Joseph was anything like me, he would be thinking about his brothers, who stripped him of his coat of favoritism, threw him in the pit and sold him into slavery and the sleazy seductress, Potiphar's wife, who lied about his character and didn't stop her husband from throwing him into the dungeon after falsely accusing him. And now the latest, the cupbearer who turned to Joseph when he was down, but forgot about him when he was up and in a position to do something for him.

Two more years passed-that's a long time to be sitting in a dungeon, wrongly accused of a crime waiting for a friend to keep a promise to try to get you out-until the cupbearer made good on his promise. Pharaoh had a troubling dream and told the cupbearer about it, who in turn told Pharaoh about a Hebrew who interpreted his dream when he and the baker were thrown in jail. Pharaoh sent for Joseph and Joseph told him that God would show him the meaning of the dream. Here's what happened next. Reading from Genesis 41:25-42, "Now Joseph said to Pharaoh, 'Pharaoh's dreams are one and the same; God has told to Pharaoh what He is about to do. [26] The seven good cows are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years; the dreams are one and the same. [27] And the seven lean and ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, and the seven thin ears scorched by the east wind shall be seven years of famine. [28] It is as I have spoken to Pharaoh: God has shown to Pharaoh what He is about to do. [29] Behold, seven years of great abundance are coming in all the land of Egypt; [30] and after them seven years of famine will come, and all the abundance will be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine will ravage the land. [31] So the abundance will be unknown in the land because of that subsequent famine; for it will be very severe. [32] Now as for the repeating of the dream to Pharaoh twice, it means that the matter is determined by God, and God will quickly bring it about. [33] And now let Pharaoh look for a man discerning and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. [34] Let Pharaoh take action to appoint overseers in charge of the land, and let him exact a fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven years of abundance. [35] Then let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming, and store up the grain for food in the cities under Pharaoh's authority, and let them guard it. [36] And let the food become as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which will occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish during the famine.' [37] Now the proposal seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his servants. [38] Then Pharaoh said to his servants, 'Can we find a man like this, in whom is a divine spirit?' [39] So Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'Since God has informed you of all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you are. [40] You shall be over my house, and according to your command all my people shall do homage; only in the throne I will be greater than you.' [41] And Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'See I have set you over all the land of Egypt.' [42] Then Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand, and put it on Joseph's hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen, and put the gold necklace around his neck."

Wearing the garment of exultation, Joseph holds the future of Egypt and as we'll later see his own family, in his hands. Will he be able to live up to the confidence that Pharaoh placed in him? And what about his family back home, will they know to prepare for the famine, or will they be caught without enough to eat? We know how Joseph acted in adversity, but how will he do during this season of prosperity? Will he exact revenge on the cupbearer who forgot about him or Potiphar's wife who lied about him? How will he use his power? Will he remain faithful to his God, or while in Egypt will he do as the Egyptians do? To find the answers to these questions, you'll have to come back next week.

But for now, let me ask you if you can equally be faithful to God during times of adversity and prosperity? Sometimes it is harder to remain faithful during good times-that's what we are going to talk about in tonight's service. Are you the kind of person who only turns to God when you are in trouble? Or perhaps you are the type of person who blames God during hard times. Which situation are you in now? Regardless, will you commit yourself to follow Him and trust in Him? 

Impact Preaching: A Case for the
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