If You Have Ears to Hear

– Henry Neufeld

The cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison, each had a dream. Both had a dream on the same night, and each dream had its own meaning. When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they looked distraught. So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why are your faces sad today?”

“We had dreams,” they said to him, “but there is no one to interpret them.”

Then Joseph said to them, “Don’t interpretations belong to God? Tell me [your dreams].”      Genesis 40:5-8 (HCSB)

One of our problems in reading the Bible is that we rush, trying to get to the answer to our current question or looking for “just the facts.” We often miss the story, while we’re looking for the facts. You might want to do a slow, meditative read of Genesis 40 before you read this devotional. It might help you get the picture.

Pharaoh’s birthday is coming up. We aren’t told that until after the dreams have been interpreted, but it surely would have been know, and I doubt that Pharaoh suddenly decided on a feast three days before his birthday. Further, if you think about it a bit, I suspect you’d get the idea that the cupbearer’s dream is positive and the baker’s dream is negative. A little more thinking and you might start to guess that the symbol for three comes out so much and it’s three days until the party.

I think our narrator is trying to hint to us here that these two servants of Pharaoh are not all that bright, or better, that they’re not seeing things that are right in front of them. Now I’m not trying to take away from the miraculous aspect. They would have to guess, while Joseph would know. The related dreams are clearly a sign. As he said, interpretations belong to God.

God is going to use the blindness of these two servants to advance Joseph’s career. Note that poor Joseph gets to predict a resolution in three days for these servants while he has to wait two more years for a resolution to his own difficulties.

But I want to take this story in a different direction. How many times do we fail to discover what God wants us to do because we aren’t listening, aren’t watching, or even because we know what to do but we don’t want to do it? One of the most common prayer requests is for guidance. I’ve never done a survey, but I’m guessing it comes right up there with healing and financial needs. What does God want me to do?

I think we ask sincerely, but we often deceive ourselves. I was riding once with a pastor, a great evangelist, who suddenly said to me, “You know, you can hear God’s voice more often. You just have to obey what you hear. If you obey, God will speak to you more.”

Interesting, no? I think I’d add to that, if you have an attitude of obedience, one that says, “I’m going to do whatever God wants me to do whether I really like it or not,” then you’re more likely to hear when God does speak to you. We complain about God not speaking to us, but I think the problem is much more often that we aren’t really listening, or we aren’t listening for what God actually says.

God may be saying to work out your marital problems, while you’re hoping that God will release you to ditch your spouse.

God may be saying to keep working in an obscure place without recognition, but you want to hear him calling you to great things that impact millions. (Or the reverse! I fear large crowds. Would I even hear it if God told me to go speak to one?)

God may be saying to keep working when you can’t see the fruit right now, but you’d rather change direction. (Or the reverse. You may be comfortable in the rut, and hope God doesn’t want you to change.)

The key here is not that you need to find the uncomfortable thing and assume God is calling you to that. It may be that you don’t want to do certain things because those are not your gifts. But it may also be that you can’t hear what God is saying, because you know he can’t possibly be saying that.

It may be that the “Pharaoh’s” birthday moment of your life is three days away and God is laying out “threes” to you in your dreams, but you’re thinking God needs to fix things today, or maybe you had in mind a month or a year from now.

If God lays it out to you, will you be listening? Will you be watching? Will you be open to the message? Or will you be downcast?

 

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