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September 13, 2020 | Doug Sauder
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“Then the chief butler told his dream to Joseph . . . ‘A vine was before me, and in the vine were three branches; it was as though it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and its clusters brought forth ripe grapes. Then Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.’”—Genesis 40:9-11 (NKJV)
The plot thickens in Joseph’s story as his fellow prisoners, who had each served and offended the Pharaoh, recount their dreams in hopes of receiving an interpretation from him. Pharaoh’s butler shares his dream first and Joseph, with the assistance of God’s Spirit, gives the dream’s interpretation, which is also a prophecy: “This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days. Now within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your place, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand according to the former manner, when you were his butler” (Genesis 40:12-13 NKJV).
This was good news! According to Joseph’s interpretation the butler would soon be restored back to his favored position. Imagine the baker’s delight in hearing these tidings.
So, he undoubtedly shared his dream with similar expectations: “I also was in my dream, and there were three white baskets on my head. In the uppermost basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, and the birds ate them out of the basket on my head” (Genesis 40:16-17 NKJV). But this time Joseph’s interpretation, which was also a prophecy, took a decidedly different turn: “The three baskets are three days. Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head from you and hang you on a tree; and the birds will eat your flesh from you” (Genesis 40:18-19 NKJV).
If you’re that baker, you just got a sobering lesson in the spiritual reality that God deals with us on an individual basis. We don’t know what this baker did or if he was deserving of the punishment that was just pronounced against him. But we do know that the portion and prophecy for his fellow servant was not the same as his. He had been individually weighed and found wanting.
Obviously, our application here isn’t apples to apples, yet there is a truth here tied to our experience as Christians: We are each responsible and rewardable on an individual level. The reward isn’t salvation, but rather the rewards we will receive in heaven in return for our faithful service on earth. The Lord is keeping track of what we do and why we do it and will reward each to their own (2 Corinthians 5:10). This should motivate us . . . not to out-earn others, but to be faithful to make the most with the things we’ve been personally entrusted with.
DIG: How were the butler and baker dealt with differently?
DISCOVER: What principle in this story applies to the Christian life?
DO: Consider what you’re doing with what God has entrusted to you and why you’re doing it.