God’s dream for Joseph was one of national and international greatness. But God’s path for Joseph would lead him through the bowels of a pagan culture, destitute, despised, forsaken. All too often we are eager to embrace the dream, but reluctant to take the path.
I saw a comic strip recently at which I snickered. A grandfather, stretching his arm against the sky, said to his grandson, “Johnny, for you the sky is the limit.” Johnny’s dreams of becoming an astronaut were instantly shattered.
I guess one proof text for dream doctrines would have to be Joseph, the son of Jacob. He had two dreams that are traditionally considered two dreams with the same meaning. Ironically, Joseph did not interpret his own dreams. You may remember from childhood, Joseph’s first dream involved Joseph’s brothers’ sheaves of wheat bowing before Joseph’s sheave. The interpretation for this dream was given by his brothers who hated him for it. Their interpretation was that Joseph would rule over them. However, hindsight would would suggest that, while there was certainly truth in that interpretation, another interpretation exists. It is clear that the dream indicates that Joseph would govern the grain. Later, when Pharaoh would have a dream that needs interpreting, Joseph would interpret the dream, but then, seizing the divine moment Joseph would suggest a way whereby grain stores could be manipulated to offset the pain of the famine. Pharaoh recognizes that this plan is good and gives Joseph authority to implement it; this, the first dream is fulfilled in Genesis 41:49 (Thus Joseph stored up grain in great abundance like the sand of the sea, until he stopped measuring it, for it was beyond measure.)
The second dream of Joseph is similar, however, this time the sun, moon, and stars are bowing down to Joseph. This time Jacob interprets the dream erroneously as meaning that the sun and moon must refer to Jacob and Rachel. Jacob rebukes Joseph. This dream is greater than the first. At this point in Egypt’s history they had become well known worshiped of the sun God, and the moon God. The sun and the moon therefore refer to Pharaoh and all of Egypt bowing down to Joseph. However, the eleven stars are not Joseph’s brothers, but rather the eleven nations of Canaan described in Genesis 10. In fact the motif of “eleven nations” figures prominently in scripture, from Genesis to Revelations, as referring to the gentile nations. Thus the second dream is fulfilled in Genesis 41:56-57 (When the famine was spread over all the face of the earth, then Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold to the Egyptians; and the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. The people of all the earth came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the earth.)
God’s dream for Joseph was one of national and international greatness. Joseph’s family did not understand this. They interpreted his dreams as having “tribal” fulfillment. But the reality is that these dreams would be fulfilled as a foreigner and alien in the largest and most powerful country on the earth at that time. So often, our limited understanding of God causes us to chase after dreams and fancies that barely scratch the depths of what God really had planned for our lives.
In contrast to a dream of greatness, God’s path for Joseph would lead him through the bowels of a pagan culture, destitute, despised, forsaken. We are all too ready to embrace God’s dream for our lives, but fewer are willing to walk the path He has chosen for us to fulfill that dream. To follow God fully, we must be able to abandon any preconceived notion of where His path should lead, and how it should best be fulfilled. If one wants to follow God’s path, then I suggest that you just sit back, fasten your seat belt, and hold on tight, because it will likely be a very bumpy ride. But I can promise this; this I promise: God will do immeasurably more than we can ever dream or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.