We were talking in our life group yesterday about signs and wonders. We were looking at the story of Moses trying to persuade Pharaoh to let the people go, and we were thinking about how signs and wonders these days influence how people respond to God and the Gospel. Some people are really drawn in to finding out more about God when something amazing happens; but sometimes people harden their hearts, and explain it away as just a coincidence. That’s a possibility when it’s just one amazing thing; but when two amazing things happen simultaneously, there’s a better chance of them taking it seriously.
For Joseph, in Genesis 40:6-22, there were two simultaneous signs and wonders. The two palace officials, the cupbearer and the baker who were in prison with Joseph, both had significant dreams on the same night. Joseph took a bold step of faith in offering to interpret them. It so happened that the first to speak told of a dream of fruitfulness – a vine blossoming and producing grapes to be squeezed into Pharaoh’s cup. The interpretation was one of fruitfulness – that the man would be restored to his position. The baker, emboldened by the cheery prospect of his comrade, told his story. It was one of loss – the birds eating away his produce. The interpretation told of an unhappy outcome, that the baker would be hanged.
On first glance, it seems rather random that these two palace official should receive such different outcomes to their very similar predicaments. Of course Joseph needed one of them to survive in order that his case might come to Pharaoh’s attention, and a contrast of fortune served to highlight his accuracy of interpretation. But it did seem rather unfair!
But looking again at the dreams – perhaps the cupbearer was a fruitful man, probably falsely accused, otherwise Pharaoh would never have restored him to a position so exalted and close to himself. The baker only spoke out his dream when he saw the good outcome for the cupbearer. Perhaps he was an opportunist, and his punishment was the due reward for a crime he was guilty of.
My guess is, God had collected these two, to be in prison for very different reasons, at just the same time; he had given them both dreams with very different meanings. What ensued for them was the result of their lifestyles, not of Joseph’s interpretation. For Joseph, the contrast demonstrated unequivocally that God was with him.
God is with us too. Am I, are you prepared to stick our necks out and demonstrate it with bold steps of faith – signs and wonders, acts of kindness, inspired words or any other means to show that He is God and we are his people?