Dreams should come with a warning label—Handle with Care. They are notoriously difficult to deal with. Joseph, eleventh son of Jacob (Israel), discovered that while he was a teenager. When Joseph’s brothers saw him coming, they pointed, “Here comes the dreamer.”1 It was not a compliment; Joseph’s reputation elicited a sneer. What was wrong?
Like many problems, the roots lay in relationships. Jacob had made the mistake of favoring Joseph among his children and Joseph had ratted on his older brothers.2 Then Joseph had two dreams that deepened their hatred.
The first was a reaping scene. The brothers’ sheaves bowed to Joseph’s. In the second, a sun, moon, and eleven stars prostrated themselves before Joseph. Even Jacob rebuked him.
“What is this dream that you have had? Shall I and your mother and your brothers actually come to bow ourselves down before you to the ground?” His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind. (Gen. 37:10-11)
In a patriarchal culture ruled by elders, with oldest sons next in line, number eleven normally ran errands and had no thoughts of leadership.
Several brothers plotted to kill Joseph and his irritating dreams. However, after Reuben and Judah intervened, they sold Joseph to slave traders headed for Egypt. In fact, God had intervened; He wove Joseph’s inhumane treatment into His greater purposes.
There are lessons for us when it comes to dreams or any word that we think the Lord is giving us for others.
- Broken relationships make it difficult to minister. We must do everything we can to resolve problems. Not every tension is our fault, but Joseph did not have to tell tales about his brothers and perhaps he should not have rubbed salt in their wounds by telling them the dreams.
- When God reveals something to us, we should not assume He wants us to share it. We should ask the Lord what it means and what He wants us to do with it. Sometimes the interpretation is personal and sometimes it is for intercession. Perhaps He will give more specifics about how and when to share it.
- We are not the main subject of most revelation that God gives us. In humility, we should assume that God has a bigger purpose and that our role in it is secondary. Joseph lacked the maturity to assure his family that bowing to him in a dream probably did not mean he would Lord it over them in reality, God was doing something more subtle.
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