God gave Joseph power to overcome temptation (chapter 39). Now, He gives him power to interpret dreams. Here, Joseph the dreamer (37:5-11) becomes Joseph the interpreter of dreams. Joseph may be viewed as a prophet: ‘Surely the Lord does nothing, without revealing His secret to His servants the prophets’ (Amos 3:7). As a true prophet, he gives the glory to God alone: ‘Do not interpretations belong to God?’ (8). Joseph became the forgotten man (23). For Joseph, life had become very difficult. He had known prosperity (39:2-3). Now, he was suffering adversity. God is in both our prosperity and our adversity. He uses adversity to produce in us a heart of humility. What was Joseph doing while he was in prison? He was keeping close to God, waiting patiently for his ‘time to speak’ (Ecclesiastes 3:7).
‘After two whole years’, Joseph was still the forgotten man. Then Pharaoh had a dream (1). This was the beginning of the next stage of God’s plan for Joseph. In the interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream, Joseph directs attention to God: ‘It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favourable answer… God has revealed to Pharaoh what He is about to do… God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do… the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass (16,25,28,32). Joseph spoke with divine authority because ‘the Spirit of God’ was living in him (38). God was at work in Joseph, enabling him to forget his hardship and to be fruitful in his affliction (51-52). This is the work of divine grace – a reversal of human expectations. By God’s grace, hardship and affliction lead not to bitterness and resentment but to a deeper love for the Lord.
‘Joseph’s brothers… bowed themselves before him’ (6). Remember Joseph’s dream (37:5-11)! God is fulfilling His purpose. This has nothing to do with the glory of Joseph. It has everything to do with the glory of God. Joseph was exalted to a place of honour because he was a man of God: ‘I fear God’ (18). All the glory belongs to God alone! Joseph’s treatment of his brothers seemed harsh. In verse 24, we see another side of him: ‘he turned away from them and wept’. Joseph loved his brothers. Behind his ‘harsh’ words, there was love. He wanted them to recognize their sin (38:18-33). He was paving the way for his reunion with them in brotherly love. God loves us. Sometimes, His ways seem harsh, but they are always for our best (Revelation 3:19; Hebrews 12:5-11). He shows us how much our sin hurts Him so that we might see how much He loves us.