Genesis 40: Dreams and Interpretations

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Songdove Books - ocean beachDreams.  Depending on who you talk to, dreams can mean too much pizza last night, or they can mean the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  Somewhere in between is the truth.

All throughout Scripture, God reveals either Himself or His plans to various people through dreams and visions.  We also see our archenemy the devil trying to influence people by dropping bad thoughts into their heads or playing up on temptations.  This is why the helmet of Salvation is so important to the armour of God.  It is why we are to take every thought captive to the things of God.

Dreams are often categorized in various ways.  Some dreams are nonsense.  They make no sense and are often forgotten as soon as you wake up.  Some dreams are information-dumping dreams – rehashing the previous day’s events or mashing together conversations, concerns and scenes of varying levels of importance to the dreamer.  Sometimes these dreams are so wild that they are remembered when the person wakes up.  Other dreams are best described as nightmares, horrible dreams causing intense fright or terror.  The enemy can use these dreams as cover for spiritual attack.  This isn’t always the case, but it does happen.  Then there are dreams that don’t fit any of those categories.  These dreams may seem like a nightmare, but with an overarching concern or the sense of a hidden message that must be searched out.  These dreams might be calm and peaceful, but appearing to put a finger on something in a person’s life that needs further insight.  They might be entirely realistic but of another time or place, or seemingly of one’s own time and place but in a different dimension.  Many times the dreamer will wake up and get no rest till they have sought out someone to help them interpret such dreams and only then receive peace.

Here in Genesis 40, we see Joseph being called on to interpret two dreams that servants of Pharoah have had.  One interpretation is positive, the other is negative.  In both cases, the dreamers woke up and thoroughly remembered their dreams and were bothered by them.  What did they mean?  As this passage shows, not all dreams sent from God will have positive interpretations.  There are those who teach today that if the message isn’t positive and uplifting, that it’s not from God.  As we see in this passage, such teaching is false.  God showed both servants what would happen in three days’ time.  For one, it was restoration to service while for the other it was death.

We are told in Joel 2:28  And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:

The giving of dreams and visions did not stop with those found in the pages of Scripture.  God continues to speak to people through dreams and visions to this day.  Generally when God speaks in a dream, it has one of two imports.  The interpretation will either be personal or it will be for a larger purpose and situation.  In both cases, God expects the person to act on what they have been told.  Sometimes a dream is given to pray for someone half-way around the world.  Sometimes the dream is given to correct a person because if they don’t change their ways, drastic consequences will follow.  Other times the dream is given to a person to have them warn others, reach out to others, or inform others of something God will be doing.  God sending an angel to appear to Mary’s betrothed husband, Joseph in a dream was to give him peace over Mary’s situation the first time, and to spare the young Jesus’ life the second time.  The first dream was his action to marry Mary in spite of her pregnancy and the second was to take action on behalf of another, namely his half-son, Jesus.  One related to him directly, the other related to someone else.  In both cases, he was to act.

For Joseph in Genesis 40, the desired action on the part of the butler was to remember Joseph and plead his cause before Pharoah.  Sadly, the butler is recorded to have forgotten this directive and Joseph remained in prison.

When God gives us visions or dreams, and when we are privileged to learn what they mean, let us pray for wisdom for the required actions that must be taken in response.  It is my prayer that we would not be as the butler and forget the corresponding action to the interpretation of the dream, but that we would be like the Joseph of the nativity, and take action that would not merely benefit ourselves, but those around us.

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