“6 When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. 7 So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, ‘Why do you look so sad today?’8 ‘We both had dreams,’ they answered, ‘but there is no one to interpret them.’Then Joseph said to them, ‘Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.’9 So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He said to him, ‘In my dream I saw a vine in front of me, 10 and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup in his hand.’12 ‘This is what it means,’ Joseph said to him. ‘The three branches are three days. 13 Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. 14 But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. 15 I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.’16 When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given a favourable interpretation, he said to Joseph, ‘I too had a dream: on my head were three baskets of bread] 17 In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.’18 ‘This is what it means,’ Joseph said. ‘The three baskets are three days. 19 Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and impale your body on a pole. And the birds will eat away your flesh.’20 Now the third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials: 21 he restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand – 22 but he impaled the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation.23 The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.”NIV
‘Give them what you’ve got!’
That was the advice of an older, wiser pastor, freely shared with two rather ‘green’ Bible college students who were being let loose on his church for a couple of weeks.
‘Just give them what God gives you.’
“For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you” (1 Corinthians 11:23).
In prison, Joseph did not sit in a corner moping. He’d had a raw deal for sure, but he was even reserved and circumspect in talking about it (15). He didn’t point the finger or name names. As we have already seen, there in the jail he was available to serve these men, using the gifts God had given him (8), and giving all the glory to God.
Matthew Henry makes this excellent point:
“The chief butler’s dream foretold his advancement. The chief baker’s dream his death. It was not Joseph’s fault that he brought the baker no better tidings. And thus ministers are but interpreters; they cannot make the thing otherwise than it is: if they deal faithfully, and their message prove unpleasing, it is not their fault.”
Joseph was faithful to ‘give them what he’d got’, without tinkering under the bonnet of the message. He didn’t change a thing. It is not the messenger’s place to dilute or alter the message.
“To the one we are the smell of death; to the other the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.” (2 Corinthians 2:16, 17).
One more thing, Warren Wiersbe points out that although Joseph was temporarily forgotten (23), the fact that he could interpret the dreams of the baker and the butler indicates that he understood the meaning of his own dreams. He knew that one day his brothers would bow before him.