Scripture: Some time after this, the cupbearer of the king of Egypt and his baker committed an offense against their Lord the king of Egypt. And Pharaoh was angry with his two officers… and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined… After two whole years, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile… Genesis 40:1-2, 41:1 ESV
Observations: As Joseph’s story continues, the author provides a couple of vague timelines regarding his incarceration. First, after Joseph’s promotion to the overseer of fellow prisoners, we learn that some time has passed (40:1 above) before the next significant event that would eventually lead to Joseph’s ultimate promotion as second in command of all of Egypt. Pharaoh sends two of his key servants to prison, where they come under Joseph’s supervision (40:1-2). Distressed by bizarre dreams, the cupbearer and baker share their visions with Joseph, who provides interpretations that prove to be accurate. Three days later, the cupbearer is restored to his position on Pharaoh’s court while the baker faces execution.
Secondly, while Joseph had earlier asked the cupbearer to say a good word to Pharaoh when restored to Pharaoh’s court, the cupbearer failed to remember Joseph (40:23). But after two years (41:1), when Pharaoh distresses over two disturbing dreams and seeks interpretations, the cupbearer remembers Joseph and follows through on his promise (41:9-13), leading to Joseph’s unfathomable promotion to the regent of all of Egypt.
Takeaway: When the Lord grants us a vision of his calling on our lives, often, he does not reveal his timing. Joseph was just seventeen years of age when the Lord showed him in two dreams how he would rise to a position of authority where all his brothers and eventually his father would bow down to him (37:2). Now, thirteen years later, at age thirty (41:46), Joseph rises to his destined position of authority and, in approximately eight years, Joseph will see his dreams fulfilled in entirety.
So why might the Lord conceal his timing? It would be disastrous for me and others with a driven, take-control personality to know the Lord’s timetable; we would struggle to wait on God and likely make a mess of things. Others who are more fear-oriented would probably avoid or delay anticipated painful moments that lead to the fulfillment of the vision. So how do we press on toward the goal when God’s timing fails to meet our expectations? Like Joseph, one step at a time: pushing forward through seasons of struggle, relying on God’s grace to make the most of the opportunities before us.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you that you are a gracious and good God who gives us the desires of our hearts in your perfect timing. Would you please help us exercise patience and humility to wait on you to fulfill your promises and rely on your grace to lead us one step at a time? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling