why were dreams given?
Grandpa’s eyes gleamed with excitement, “Very good question, Micah. It is because our sovereign God is very wise. He knew that if the brother’s hatred was allowed to fester below the surface, the family would stay together until Jacob died. But after Jacob’s death, the brothers’ hatred would boil over and tear the family apart, and there would be no nation.
“When the sovereign God sent the dreams to Joseph, His purpose was not to stir up more trouble but to clearly show the brothers what His plan was for Joseph. The dreams told the brothers that unlike them, the sovereign God didn’t hate Joseph, see. In fact, they could see that the sovereign God’s intent was to make Joseph the head of their family. Now, that knowledge should have been enough to turn the brothers from their hatred, because were hating someone whom God didn’t hate and meant they were going against God. But they didn’t listen to God’s message and so their hatred for Joseph increased out of their jealousy.”
Now Micah was getting into the story, and asked, “Does that mean God failed in His purpose for sending the dreams, because the brothers rejected the message?”
Grandpa shook his head, “No, because there was a dual purpose in the dreams. Our sovereign God is very wise and He designed the dreams so that the brothers could have only two possible responses. Either they would listen to the message of the dreams and lay aside their hatred for Joseph, or their hatred for him would increase because they would so despise the idea of him ruling over them.”
“Why would God want that to happen?” Micah asked with a wrinkled brow.
“Because He wanted to use their hatred to remove Joseph from the family. Their hatred needed to get to a level where they were willing to disregard their father’s feelings of sorrow from losing Joseph.”
“What does ‘disregard’ mean?”
“Ah, let’s see. I guess it means, ‘To ignore, or, to not pay attention.’ See, even though the brothers didn’t like how Jacob played favorites with Joseph, they still loved their father and normally wouldn’t do anything that would cause him anguish of heart. Just like you wouldn’t want to do anything that would break your father’s heart, right?” Micah nodded. “So, if the brothers rejected God’s revealed plan, God wanted their hatred to increase to the point where it would push aside their love for their father and make them act without thinking.”
Micah thought about what Grandpa John had said for a minute while Grandpa John took another sip of sweet tea. It still wasn’t making sense to him, so he asked, “I don’t get why would God want their hatred to grow like that.”
Grandpa John set his tea down and explained, “Because if they did something that would break their father’s heart AFTER he died, then they wouldn’t see his grief. But if their hatred was expressed BEFORE Jacob died, then they would have to live under the cloud of their dear father’s immense grief until they fully and entirely regretted what they had done.”
Micah’s face cleared, “Ohh, I get it. God sent the dreams to tell the brothers to stop hating Joseph. But if they didn’t listen, then the message of the dreams would make them hate Joseph more, and that would make them get rid of Joseph. Then they would become sorry for what they did because their father cried so much for Joseph.”
His grandpa clapped him on the back, saying with a wide smile, “You are a sharp child! I think you must take after your grandma!”
Micah beamed at the compliment. Leaning forward again, Grandpa said intently, “See how the sovereign God worked: He put them in a situation where no matter what they chose to do, it would work out to accomplish God’s purpose.
“Now, watch closely to see what I mean. God wanted the brothers to stop hating Joseph, and He showed them that through Joseph’s dreams, right?” Micah nodded. Grandpa continued, “If the brothers refused to turn from their hatred, then God wanted Joseph to be removed from the family so that the brothers would experience their father’s sorrow, right?” Micah nodded again. Shifting to the edge of his seat, Grandpa asked, “What did God use to remove Joseph from the family?” Micah looked at his grandpa expectantly, wide-eyed. “He used the brother’s hatred!” came Granpa’s triumphant answer. “The very thing that was an obstacle to accomplishing His purpose of creating a nation, He actually used to accomplish His purpose! Is that wise or what!”
Micah blinked. He hadn’t thought of it like that before. It was kind of amazing when you thought about it from that angle.
His grandpa shifted back into his seat, “You see, Micah, it didn’t matter what the brothers chose to do; whatever they chose would work towards accomplishing God’s purpose. If they turned from their hatred, then good. But if they refused to give up their hatred, well, then He would use their hatred. This is how God works in His sovereignty. He doesn’t accomplish His purposes by overpowering people, but by working with whatever they choose to do. We will see more examples of this as we continue Joseph’s story.”
Micah shivered in excitement, eagerly anticipating more of the story.
“Let’s see, where were we?” Grandpa John rubbed his chin, trying to remember. Micah thought for a second, then said, “Umm, I think it was after Joseph had the dreams and the brother’s hatred got worse.”
“Ahh yes, right you are. So, sometime after Joseph had those dreams, Jacob’s sons took the herds over to a place called Shechem to feed them. Evidently, they were gone for quite some time because Jacob decided to send Joseph to see how they were doing. Off Joseph went, wearing his coat of many colors, but when he arrived at Shechem he discovered they had left the area. This delayed Joseph just enough time so that when he finally found his brothers, it was only a few hours before some merchants would pass by on their way to Egypt. The timing was absolutely perfect so that Joseph ended up getting sold as a slave and carried off to Egypt, far away from his family.”
Suddenly, Micah remembered his sweet tea and reached for his glass, saying, “But the brother’s hatred was so strong that he almost got killed, if it hadn’t been for what’s-his-name stopping the other brothers, but they still ripped off his jacket and poured blood on it.” He raised his glass to his mouth and tipped it up.
Grandpa John nodded, “Yes, they didn’t want to tell Jacob that they had sold his favorite son as a slave, so they made it look like he had been killed, see. Jacob fell for their story and his grief unconsolable.”
Finishing his tea, Micah asked, “Is that what made the brothers start feeling bad?”
“It sure is. The brothers did everything they could to comfort their father, but nothing cheered him up. They lived under the shadow of their father’s sorrow for, oh, I’d say about twenty years.”
“Twenty years!” exclaimed Micah, setting his empty glass down. “That’s a long time!”
“That it is. Eventually, the brothers came to greatly regret what they had done. In fact, their attitude so changed that they even became protective of the youngest son, Benjamin. Remember? They didn’t let Joseph take Benjamin when he was accused of stealing the silver cup. It didn’t appear to bother them in the least that Benjamin was their father’s new favorite, see. Evidently, they didn’t want to their father’s heart to ever again be broken like it had been with Joseph. They had completely abandoned their hatred. It was an incredible change.”
“Huh,” said Micah thoughtfully. “Twenty years was a long time for Joseph to be away from his family.”
“Yes, it was,” agreed Grandpa John. “The Scripture tells us that God was with Joseph during the whole time he was in Egypt, and, as we read the story, we can see how God orchestrated events so that he ended up as the ruler of Egypt,” he said, reaching for a drink of his sweet tea.
Not wanting the story to end, Micah prompted, “How did God orchid-state events? And what does that mean anyhow?”
Caught in mid-swallow, Grandpa John tried not to laugh and mostly succeeded. Wiping his mouth on his sleeve, he explained, “Orchestrated. I mean that God guided events to bring about His purpose.”
“Oh. How did He do that?”