Joseph, The Butler And The Baker

Genesis 40:1-23. “It came to pass after these things that the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their lord, the king of Egypt.
2. And Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief butler and the chief baker.
3. So he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison, the place where Joseph was confined.
4. And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he served them; so they were in custody for a while.
5. Then the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison, had a dream, both of them, each man's dream in one night and each man's dream with its own interpretation.
6. And Joseph came in to them in the morning and looked at them, and saw that they were sad.
7. So he asked Pharaoh's officers who were with him in the custody of his lord's house, saying, “Why do you look so sad today?"
8. And they said to him, “We each have had a dream, and there is no interpreter of it." So Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell them to me, please."
9. Then the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, "Behold, in my dream a vine was before me,
10. and in the vine were three branches; it was as though it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and its clusters brought forth ripe grapes.
11. 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.
12. And Joseph said to him, “This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days.
13. 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.
14. But remember me when it is well with you, and please show kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this house.
15. For indeed I was stolen away from the land of the Hebrews; and also I have done nothing here that they should put me into the dungeon."
16. When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said to Joseph, "I also was in my dream, and there were three white baskets on my head.
17. In the uppermost basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, and the birds ate them out of the basket on my head.
18. So Joseph answered and said, “This is the interpretation of it: The three baskets are three days.
19. 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."
20. Now it came to pass on the third day, which was Pharaoh's birthday, that he made a feast for all his servants; and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants.
21. Then he restored the chief butler to his butlership again, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh's hand.
22. But he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them.
23. Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him."

This brief episode in the life of Joseph, recorded in Genesis 40, is very interesting.

Why would God choose to record these dreams of comparatively unimportant people in the Bible? It was so we might have a picture of Christ where we might least expect it, in an Egyptian prison. The scarlet cord that speaks of Christ runs through the Bible from start to finish.

The Old Testament is a picture gallery of the truths that are revealed in the New Testament, and there is a prophetic picture of the gospel of God's grace in this story. God had the sequence of all of these events planned and timed so they fell into an order that accomplished His will.

Joseph had been imprisoned through a false accusation. While in prison he was a servant to the other prisoners, among them Pharaoh's chief butler and baker. Each of these men had a dream and God enabled Joseph to interpret those dreams.

In the butler’s dream, he saw a vine that had three branches which budded, sent forth blossoms, and bore clusters of ripe grapes right before his eyes. He took the grapes, squeezed the juice from them into Pharaoh’s cup and presented it to him.

The interpretation was this; in three days the butler would be out of prison and restored to his position as chief cup bearer to Pharaoh.

The chief baker dreamed he had three white baskets on his head full of all kind of baked goods that he himself had made, and the birds came and devoured them.

The interpretation was this; in three days Pharaoh would hang him. Both dreams came true according to Joseph's interpretations.

The cup bearer’s dream pictures Christ’s offering to God that can release the sinner from the prison of his sins and from Satan's power. The vine speaks of Jesus, the true vine. In his dream, the butler took the fruit of the vine, squeezed the juice into the royal cup, and brought it to Pharaoh, his lord, for acceptance.

On the other hand, the baker, in his dream, brought the fruit of his own good works and found it would not gain him acceptance and he was hanged on a tree.

This pictures how God has accepted or rejected men throughout the ages. Those who bring their own works will find to their eternal loss that they are not accepted. No matter how sweet and attractive those baked goods were, they were just food for the birds and they would bring the baker no nearer to his lord who held his final destiny.

If we try to find redemption on the grounds of our own works, we’re denying God's Word and are on our way to a lost eternity just as surely as the baker was on his way to the gallows.

Romans 4:5. “To him that works not, but believes on Him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted unto him for righteousness." Salvation comes by faith, not by works.

In his dream the butler brought nothing of himself. He dreamed he pressed the juice from the grapes into his lord's cup and presented the cup to his lord who then accepted it. This pictured the fact that he would be brought into his master’s presence and forgiven the sin that had imprisoned him, and he would be made acceptable before his lord.

This pictures Calvary's cross where Christ, the true vine, stood before God. The hands of man crushed and bruised Him in death when He paid for our sins on the cross so that we might stand before our Lord, forgiven and accepted. Isaiah wrote "He was wounded for our transgression; He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed."

The three branches in the butler's dream signify three days, and those three days must have seemed an eternity to the butler as he waited for the promised fulfillment of his dream.

By the same token, Jesus lay in the tomb for three days and three nights while the disciples waited for Him to raise from the tomb. Wouldn’t the three days and nights seem like an eternity to them while they waited to see the promise fulfilled that Jesus would rise again?

The fruit pressed into the cup speaks of the blood of Christ that flowed from his wounded side and the cup pictures the cup of endless blessing that He presented to God the Father.

The butler was restored to the place of acceptance, his sins forgiven and his sentence canceled, and he was brought back to his lord.

This points us to Christ our redeemer, who had no sin and was made sin for us. His sacrifice paid the price of our redemption. He filled the cup of blessing that brought honor and glory to His Father and brought endless favor and acceptance to everyone who trusts in Him.

Verses 14-15. “But remember me when it is well with you, and please show kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this house. For indeed I was stolen away from the land of the Hebrews; and also I have done nothing here that they should put me into the dungeon."

This is a very touching scene in this story of Joseph’s life in the dungeon.

As a boy of 17, Joseph had been sold by his jealous older brothers to some Midianite traders. He was later sold to Pharaoh’s captain of the guard and there he became overseer of all that this official, Potiphar, owned.

Potiphar’s wife made advances towards Joseph and he refused her, she lied about it and he ended up in prison. He would now have been about 30 years old and was still in prison for a wrong he didn’t do. This is where we found Joseph at the beginning of chapter 40.

He was to be the instrument in God's hand that brought the good news of deliverance to the chief butler, and Joseph asked the butler to "make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this house." Yet verse 23 tells us, "The chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him."

Many centuries later, Jesus gathered the disciples around Him for His final Passover meal. It would be a supper they would celebrate again and again in remembrance of Him. They were going to be separated from Him; He was going to die on the cross for the sins of the world and return to heaven above. His disciples would be left behind to spread the news of the salvation His death would win for mankind.

A simple memorial feast was spread on a low table on the second floor of a friend’s house. A loaf of bread and a cup of wine were all that was on the table and the men reclined on the floor around their Savior on this last night He would be with them.

He wanted to leave with them a tangible token of His love for them. He chose two very common items for this supper that would remind them forever of what He was about to do for them. Before another day would pass, His broken body would be an offering for their sins. The loaf would always remind them of that. Some of them would witness Him hanging on a cross, His blood flowing from His side just as wine pours from grapes in a winepress. The cup would always call that to mind. He made a simple, poignant request, "This do in remembrance of Me."

At a later time, the apostle Paul would come face to face with the risen and glorified Lord and he recorded this in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: 24: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25: After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26: For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come."

According to Acts 20, the early Christians met together on the first day of the week to observe this remembrance feast. They remembered their Lord's request.

The butler did not remember Joseph’s request to "Remember me when it is well with you."

As true believers in Christ it’s our privilege to partake of the broken bread and the cup in remembrance of the Savior. If we fail to do this, Jesus must feel about us somewhat like Joseph must have felt when the butler didn’t remember him but forgot him.

The only requirement to partake of this remembrance feast is that we have Christ in our heart as our Savior and Lord.

Isaiah told us that Jesus would be taken from prison and given a portion with the Great. He would go from being a prisoner of man to a seat at the right hand of His Majesty on high.

Genesis 41 continues the story of Joseph and tells how he went from prison to the second highest office in Egypt in one day.

In this chapter we have the forgotten prisoner, a dreamer's image of cattle coming up out of a river, the release of the forgotten prisoner by the king himself, and Joseph’s dramatic ascent to power and glory.

It had been two long years since the chief butler had been returned from prison to his place of favor in the royal household. All was well with the Egyptian butler, but Joseph, the Hebrew slave who had waited on him in prison, had been forgotten by that man. But God had not forgotten him and He arranged a night vision for Pharaoh that would cause the butler to recall Joseph in a grand way.

Pharaoh had a dream. Seven fat cows came up out of the river to graze; another seven lean cows came up after them and devoured the fat ones, yet they were still lean and ill favored.

Then he had another dream, this time seven heads of grain came up on one stalk, plump and good, followed by seven thin heads that were blighted by the east wind. The seven thin heads devoured the seven plump and good heads but the thin heads remained thin.

The king called for an interpreter but all the wisdom of Egypt failed to interpret the meaning of the dreams. Then the chief butler remembered Joseph, and Joseph was called from the dungeon to give the interpretation. Seven years of plenty were to be followed by seven years of famine. A man discreet and wise must be chosen to store up food during the seven good years to prepare for the seven years of famine ahead. The man chosen was Joseph.

Joseph, the prisoner, became Joseph, the prime minister, and his name was known throughout all Egypt. By royal decree he was given unlimited power and God gave him the wisdom to use that power to bring about a universal blessing. Pharaoh gave him a special name. He was called Zaphnath-paaneah which had a double interpretation. In Egyptian it meant "Revealer of Secrets," and in the Hebrew it meant "Savior of the World."

Joseph is a type of the Lord Jesus and Jesus is the true revealer of secrets as well as the Savior of the world.

When the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman accused of adultery to Jesus, He stooped down and wrote in the dust with His finger. We don't know what He wrote but the secret sins of the men who accused her of being a sinner must have been recalled to mind and they all went out from His presence from the oldest to the youngest. He was the sinless One, the only One who had the right to stone the woman taken in sin, yet He said "Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more."

He is the light of the world and He can bring the innermost secrets of the heart to light in His presence.

Jesus has another name just as Joseph did, Jesus is "the Savior of the world." The One who knows the dark secrets of our heart still loves us perfectly and He gave His life to save us from our sins there on the cross.

In a night time conversation with Nicodemus, a Jewish ruler, Jesus used an Old Testament incident to illustrate why He had come to earth in the form of a man. John 3:14-15, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." In scripture, Satan is called the serpent, and the Son of Man had to be lifted up on the cross before we could be saved from the serpent's bite. And with this revelation He has told us as plainly that "whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." That is one secret that He wants everyone in the world to know, how to be saved eternally.

Joseph told Pharaoh there was a day of famine coming and Jesus tells us there is a spiritual famine coming to the world. Today is God's day of grace and mercy, but famine is coming when the mercy of God will no longer be shown to the unrepentant sinner.

The word that went out throughout the land of Egypt in Pharaoh's day was "Go to Joseph." The king's word was: "Without you shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt." If you went to Pharaoh for food, he would tell you to “go to Joseph.” Pharaoh made him "lord of his house and ruler over all his substance." You couldn’t earn any bread; you had to go to Joseph and receive it from his hand.

God's provision for the sinner today is like this. That same Jesus whom men crucified, God has made both Lord and Christ. You have to “go to Jesus” for the bread of Life, for salvation. That is where even God will send you. All authority has been put in His hand and He is God's only administrator.

On one occasion Jesus stood near the shore of Galilee and fed a multitude of five thousand men plus many women and children with only five loaves of bread and two fish. They were all filled and He provided for them above and beyond their needs and wants. He was the anti-type of Joseph who fed the known world for seven years.

This world has nothing to satisfy the soul, Jesus is the only One the sinner can come to and receive the bread of life that can satisfy his heart. Jesus said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven, if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever."

The famine is coming in the form of God’s judgment on sin, but those who take Christ as their personal Savior will never be judged. Those who refuse Him as Savior will be forsaken in the day of judgment.

Those of us who know Christ as our Savior need not be unduly worried about this decaying world. God is on the throne, working everything after the council of His own good will just as He did in this story.

His promises are steadfast and sure for His own beloved children. Romans 8:29 tells us our destiny is "to be conformed to the image of His Son."

The main concern of the believer in Jesus Christ should not be the nation’s economy or his own troubles, even though they are legitimate concerns. The main concern should focus on telling others of His saving grace, and to tell it far and wide at every opportunity.

Tell anyone who will listen that they have the opportunity to bow the knee to Christ now of their own free will, and to confess Him as Lord and Savior, and to accept the sacrifice He made on the cross for their redemption.

God will never go back on His word: Romans 10:9. “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

That is God's only way of salvation. This is the day when God's goodness and mercy for salvation is available for everyone. There is no promise of that for tomorrow.

2 Corinthians 6:2. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

Joseph was greatly loved by his father but he was hated by his jealous brothers. He was sold as a slave to a caravan of spice merchants who sold him for profit in a land where he was a foreigner. His journey then led downward step by step to a dungeon in Egypt, but God's time came when the slave climbed to the highest office in Egypt.

Jesus was greatly loved by His Father but in His incarnation he was hated by His Jewish brethren. He was sold for the price of a slave. His journey here on earth led ever downward until He was made a prisoner when He was guilty of no offense. He died on the cross to save all men from their sins and today He is seated in His rightful place at the right hand of God in heaven.