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In Between Times 17.8: Between Sleep and Awake: I can’t; God can


Issue 365

Learning to see things from all angles

Have you noticed how events take on different flavours, textures and meanings, depending upon the point from which you view them? Let me invite you to consider one event which continues our theme of ‘in between ‘times, focusing on ‘in between sleep and awake’. We are currently looking at the story of Joseph.

Here is the event: Pharaoh, the absolute king and ruler of Egypt, has had two dreams, separated by a short period of being awake; this morning his mind is troubled.

As we look at the events, don’t be lulled into thinking that this is so far away in time and geography that there is little for you to take to work this week – the sequence is dripping with lessons for you. Here we go:

From Pharaoh’s point of view, he wanted some interpretation – he believed dreams meant something; he was boss, CEO, Chairman, Commander In Chief and he wanted some meaning; he had no interest in the God of Jacob at this point but he was spiritually sensitive and longing for an interpretation. So lesson one: don’t be surprised if your boss wants meaning; don’t be surprised if your boss believes in dreams and don’t write him or her off because of an apparent lack of interest in your God.

For Pharaoh’s specialist staff on dream interpretation, the dreams made no sense. Here comes lesson two: people will look for meaning in a variety of places – self-help, astrology, psychology, alternative therapies, as well as hard science and management studies. They may find some meaning, but there are puzzles which are too hard to solve this way.

From one staff member’s point of view, however (the chief cupbearer), the event was a memory jogger. Two years earlier, Joseph had interpreted his dream in prison and he had promised to put in a good word for Joseph. Next lesson: people carry memories of spiritual events in their minds; whatever you have done as an act of faithfulness will be a deposit in another’s memory bank, but from the reverse point of view, have you remembered to follow-up on a promise you made to a faithful co-worker?

From Joseph’s point of view, this dream is the opportunity he has been waiting for all his life and has been aware of for 13 years; this is his chance – it is the biggest moment in his career; this is his time for glory’but here is the lesson: Joseph demonstrates before Pharaoh a profound and deep truth: he does not own this gift of dream interpretation; he does not own his insight or wisdom; he has been entrusted with it; so he says “I can’t; God can”. This is a big risk because Pharaoh has his own gods and could have Joseph executed for a religious offence.

So when you reach moments of high achievement, your big breaks, your defining times, it would be worth capturing Joseph’s work style here, because it is the doorway to progress. By handling this moment well, Joseph moves from a prison ‘in between’ time to a position second only to Pharaoh’s in Egypt. This led him to another ‘in between’time, which we will look at in another piece.

But before you move on, check out the view point of Jacob (Joseph’s father) and his family. As yet, they have no idea that this moment , which they cannot see, has affected their history. Lesson: there are events which you cannot see and which will change your life, without you knowing it.

The last but one view point: Egypt and all the countries around were affected by the strategic business decisions made on that day; countless lives were saved; from their point of view, this was, literally, their rescue.

If we can look at it from God’s point of view, we can learn that God was so loving that he gave Pharaoh, who didn’t believe in him, a dream; as the events unfolded, Joseph’s life, Israel’s life, Egypt’s life, and all the surrounding people were affected.

Because Pharaoh took his dream seriously and was humble enough to receive meaning from an unexpected source, everything changed. All this took place within a working environment – it still does.


Genesis 41:1-16

1 When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile, 2 when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. 3 After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. 4 And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.

5 He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. 6 After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted-thin and scorched by the east wind. 7 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream.

8 In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him. 9 Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings. 10
Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard. 11 Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. 12 Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of
the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. 13 And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.” 14 So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh. 15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it
said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” 16 “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”

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Series: In Between Times
Module: 7
Season: -
Daily Guide: No

Tags: dream, gift, honour, humility, love, opportunity, remember, rescue, unaware

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Geoff Shattock

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