In Genesis chapters 40 and 41, we find God speaking to unbelieving people about what will happen and he uses the strange medium of dreams. Joseph is used to bring the interpretation but the emphasis is on God speaking, this is important here as God is absolutely central to the story of Joseph, if we centre on Joseph we are mistaken and miss the thrust of the Bible’s own emphasis. Joseph quite clearly gives the glory to God and he acknowledges that it is impossible to interpret dreams without God’s revelation. Sometimes today in Church circles dream interpretation is turned into a technique with certain colours meaning something and numbers meaning something, Joseph would have been horrified at such a thing and we should be too. When we reduce dream interpretation to a technique we dishonour God and loose sight of the fact that we need him to reveal the interpretation.
Joseph was sensitive to the needs and moods of his fellow prisoners and, therefore, was able to communicate with them sensitively but at the same time time, he was sensitive to the Lord. This combination of sensitivity to both the Lord and man made him able to serve his fellow prisoners. He interprets their dreams accurately, The chief cup bearer is restored to his position but the baker is hanged. Perhaps we are puzzled about the baker why did he need to know that he was going to be hung in a few short days, perhaps it was so so he could repent of his sins and be at peace with God, the biblical narrative as a whole shows God reaching out to sinners in his great love and, therefore, this is not far fetched. It seems on the other hand that the Chief cup bearer is only interested in his own future, he forgets Joseph as soon as he is in a place of comfort and it is only when Pharoah and his court are faced with great perplexity that he remembers Joseph.
Joseph before Pharoah: once again Joseph stresses that the interpretation of dreams come from God alone, especially when confronted with such strange dreams as Pharoah had, the court magicians were nonplussed, they just hadn’t a clue. On the other hand, when Joseph is summoned because he has already interpreted some strange dreams with pinpoint accuracy, he then reminds everyone that God can and will reveal his purposes. He shows that the meaning of the dreams is the foretelling of seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine, he also shows that this is fixed and cannot be changed. God is sovereign and is in control of history when God speaks in this way we can know that this is certain. Most of what Joseph had to say was frightening, countries in that part of the world knew what famine was like, so he is not predicting easy times ahead.
One thing we must stress is that to Joseph the fact that God had decreed this event did not mean one just sat back and accept it but rather he saw it as the basis for radical action. Joseph’s advice ios based on the fact that God has revealed what he has decreed. The fact that God has revealed it means that God wants the people of Egypt to take action. God’s decree in Joseph’s viewpoint is the basis for activity, not complacency. Hyper-Calvinists teach a type of fatalism which is incompatible with the Biblical revelation, the fact that God is the sovereign Lord implies the responsibility of Man.
When we have dreams today which we believe are significant we should test them against the teaching of Scripture and if it is in accordance with the Word of God, we then need to pray over the meaning of it. We must remember that the interpretation of dreams belongs to God and we may need to seek godly counsel to what the dream means. We may also have to wait a long time before the dream is fulfilled, Joseph had to wait over seven years before he saw the evidence that the dream was coming true. We must notice that in scripture in dreams are often used to warn people of danger, we often want dreams to be pleasant but they often are not. Even if they are not warning dreams they are often warned of difficulty in the accomplishment of the dream. We are not meant to seek dreams but rather to live our lives in the power of the Holy Spirit in line with the teaching of the word of God. On the other hand, we must be people who are open to God speaking to us in many ways including dreams, and prophecy, therefore we must not despise any way that God reveals his will to us. However, we will remember that God never contradicts himself and therefore, we will always hold to the supreme authority of the Word of God for doctrine and practice. If we subject everything to the authority of Scripture we will not go wrong.