Genesis 39:21-40:23 When All Hope Seems Lost

            WHEN ALL HOPE SEEMS LOST
        Genesis 39:21-40:23         April 20 2008

    Joseph was imprisoned because his master’s wife lied
about him trying to rape her. Many prisoner protest their
innocence, but Joseph really was innocent. His status as a
prisoner remained unchanged until Pharaoh liberated him
(Gen.41:39). The total length of time of Joseph’s
imprisonment is unknown. according to Genesis 41:1, he
served two years after the release of Pharaoh’s cupbearer
and the execution of Pharaoh’s baker.
    Before his encounter with Pharaoh’s servants, however,
Joseph had served long enough to distinguish himself. He
rose through the ranks until he had authority over all the
other prisoners (Gen. 39:22-23). Joseph’s "success" on prison
was because "The Lord was with Him".

    1. We Can Trust God (Gen. 39:21)

Gen. 39:21   the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness
and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.

    (Gen.39:20-23) (Gen.39: 2-6). (Gen.39:20) The place
where the king’s prisoners were confined. Though
understandably angry (GEN. 39:19), Potiphar put Joseph in
the “house of the captain of the guard” (GEN.40:3 )—certainly
not the worst prison available.

    2. We Can Serve Others (Gen 40:2-3,5-8)

Gen. 40:2   Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the
chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 40:3   and put them in
custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the
same prison where Joseph was confined. 40:4   The captain
of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them.
After they had been in custody for some time, 40:5   each of
the two men —the cupbearer and the baker of the king of
Egypt, who were being held in prison —had a dream the
same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. 40:6  
When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that
they were dejected. 40:7   So he asked Pharaoh’s officials
who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why
are your faces so sad today?” 40:8   “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.”

    Chief cupbeared. Would be the divinely appointed agent
for introducing Joseph to Pharaoh (Gen. 41:9-14). Each dream
had a meaning. Throughout the ancient Near East it was
believed that dreams had specific meanings and that proper
interpretation of them could help the dreamer predict his
future (Gen.20:3). God was beginning to prepare the way for
Joseph’s rise in Egypt. Interpretations belong to God. Only
God can interpret dreams properly and accurately (Gen.41:16,
25,28; Da 2:28). Tell me. Joseph presents himself as God’s
agent through whom God will make known the revelation
contained in their dreams —Israel is God’s prophetic people
through whom God’s revelation comes to the nations
(Gen.18:17 ; Gen. 41:16,28,32).

    3. We Can Seek Help (Gen. 40:9-15)

Gen. 40:9   So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He
said to him, “In my dream I saw a vine in front of me, 40:10  
and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded,
it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. 40:11  
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.”
40:12   “This is what it means,” Joseph said to him. “The
three branches are three days. 40:13   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. 40:14   But when
all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness;
mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. 40:15  
For 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.”

    Lift up your head and restore you to yourposition.
(Psalms 3:3; 27:6). For this meaning of the idiom “lift up
one’s head” (2Ki 25:27 ;Jer 52:31), where the Hebrew for
“released” in the context of freeing a prisoner means lit.
“lifted up the head of.” When all goes well with you,
remember me. Unfortunately, the cupbearer “forgot him”
(Gen.40:23) until two full years later (Gen.41:1,9-13).
Dungeon. Probably hyperbole to reflect Joseph’s despair
(Gen. 39:20). Since the same Hebrew word is used, the
author of Genesis has established a link with Joseph’s
earlier experience at the hands of his brothers (the word
is translated “cistern” in Gen.37:24).

    4. We Can Be Patient (Gen. 40:20-23)

Gen. 40:20   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: 40:21   He restored the chief cupbearer to
his position, so that he once again put the cup into
Pharaoh’s hand, 40:22   but he hanged the chief baker, just
as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation. 40:23  
The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph;
he forgot him.

    Lift off your head. A grisly pun based on the same idiom
used in(Gen. 40:13). Pharoh’s birthday. Centuries later, the
birthday of Herod the tetrarch would become the occasion
for another beheading (Matt 14:6-10).

            Summary:

            The use of the parallel phrases did not remember
Joseph and forgot him emphasize Joseph’s seemingly hopeless
situation would not be resolved any time soon. Though Joseph
had helped the cupbearer understand his favorable future, the
cupbearer did nothing to help him in return. He would have to
languish in prison for two long years more because the
cupbeared forgot him (Gen.41:1). If Joseph was to receive
help, that help would have to come from God Himself.