Focus: Genesis 37-50
Athletes have them. Politicians have them. Even high school graduates sometimes have them. They all have dreams. It may be to win the World Series or to make lots of money as a doctor. Yet the problem with many of those pictures is that they are all about the dreamer. Great dreams include others. It is the person who wants to find a spouse and have a family. It is the person who wants to find a cure for cancer or feed the hungry in a third world country. These require surrendering something of ourselves for the good of others. Joseph starts with a dream that is all about him like a picture taken with a selfie stick. God gives him a big picture dream that will change the history of the world. His life is a lesson in why we need to stop focusing on ourselves and look at God’s big dreams for us.
Taking a kingly selfie Gen. 37:9 He is the arrogant seventeen year old son of Jacob. He is not afraid to snitch on his brothers because he is a teenager who thinks he knows it all. He has two self-centered dreams picturing his family bowing down to him as if he is the king. He shows his immaturity by rubbing his brother’s faces in this self-portrait instead of keeping the dreams to himself. His pride shows that he is not yet ready to be a leader in the family.
In a prison photo Gen. 37: 27 His brothers hate him for his arrogant dreams. When Jacob sends Joseph to report about his brothers, the brothers bind him and sell him as a slave to traders in a caravan bound for Egypt. So much for the self-proclaimed king. In Egypt, he is falsely accused, thrown in prison and forgotten. His conceit has taken him from prince to dungeon. Thirteen years of hardship will mold him and refine him into a useful tool for the Lord.
The big picture Gen 41:25 God sends Pharaoh a dream of warning. Seven healthy cows are eaten by seven sickly cows. No one is able to interpret the dream. Suddenly, someone remembers Joseph. A humble Joseph gives God the credit and offers to give God’s message to Pharaoh. He tells the Pharaoh that there will be seven good years and seven years of famine. His words will save the Egyptian people from starvation. Because of the importance of the task, Pharaoh gives him the assignment of putting God’s dream into practice.
A family photo Gen 45:7 For seven years, the harvest is abundant, but then the years of famine come. Jacob and his sons need food or they will die. Now, fifteen years after they last saw Joseph, the brothers bow before him and ask for food just like his dream of long ago. On the second visit, Joseph reveals himself and forgives them. Hardship has changed Joseph into a humble servant. He feeds them all and makes them a home in the best part of Egypt. Joseph has given up his dream for God’s dream.
Joseph’s original dreams were like selfie stick photos taken at the expense of others. God used hardship to refine Joseph so that the arrogant young man matured into a meek servant who would save his people and the nation of Egypt from famine. God will break into our dreams of self glory. He will let those dreams crumble and blow like dust in the wind. Those who listen to the Lord will become people whom the Lord can use for greater dreams. Put down your selfie stick for God has something better. He will make us part of the big picture so we can impact the world in which we live. If you swap your dreams for His, you can see a brighter picture develop around you.