Joseph: Confessing the dream

I mentioned that I had two more lessons to draw out from Joseph's time in prison, and his faith in the word of God over his life. This is the first of those.

His feet were hurt with fetters;
his neck was put in a collar of iron;
until what he had said came to pass,
the word of the Lord tested him. (Ps 105:18-19)

As I mentioned yesterday, some believe that it was Joseph's confession of his dream that got him into trouble in the first place, and that God had to take him through exile and prison to be taught humility and discretion.

I have a couple of problems with that interpretation. First, when did Joseph stop being the spoilt boy and become the great man of faith? From the offset, right at the beginning of his time in Potiphar's house we see him behaving in an exemplary way. I don't see any evidence of this process that was supposed to have happened. Sure, there was a process in the plan of God going on, but for my money Joseph was already a hero of faith (just an unproven one). But the other thing is this, and once again Psalm 105 gives us additional insight - he was still confessing his dream even in the dark confines of prison!

Confessing [giving outward vocal expression to] our dreams is important, in fact I would say it is vital if we ever want to see them become reality. Lack of confidence, false humility, disappointments of the past can cause us to keep our dreams bottled up inside [I know!]. But there must come a time when we let them out if we ever hope to see them materialise.

First, if our dreams have their origin in the kingdom of God, then they will find their place in the kingdom of God. What I mean is this: we must make ourselves accountable to those who have spiritual authority over our lives - our elders and fathers in the faith. In this respect Joseph did absolutely the right thing when he shared his dream with Jacob. We cannot claim to be following the kingdom call on our lives, if that call takes us out from the kingdom authority which God has placed over us.

Secondly, although our confession is not a magic formula which twists God's arm into action, God in his sovereign will has chosen to use our confession of his word to accomplish his purpose. This is the mystery of both prayer and prophesy. God chooses to withhold his hand, until the words of faith are spoken. (Even God had to speak to bring creation into reality.) Although he could achieve and complete his kingdom purpose in a moment, he has chosen right from the start of creation the long route of achieving it in cooperation with the men and women who have been made into his image. Although what Joseph confessed was God's word, Psalm 105 says that it was his words that had to be fulfilled.

Both before and during his exile, Joseph's confession of his dream played an integral role in seeing them become a reality.

There is another great example of this principle in Scripture. There was a righteous woman named Hannah who was barren. Every year she came to the presence of God with her dream of a child bursting inside her, and every year she left with her heart filled with sorrow of a hope deferred again. One year that changed. Eli the priest challenged her, and forced her to give expression to her silent petition. He agreed with her confession, and sent her away with his blessing, and this time her dream was fulfilled.

Now Eli wasn't even a great man of faith, but he was the one in the position of spiritual authority. It seems clear from the account, that confessing her dream and bringing herself under authority was instrumental in seeing the fulfillment.

I'll say again, confession is not a magic formula for getting what we want from the Lord. We don't know how long Joseph had to confess his dream in prison before he saw the reality. Nor was Joseph confessing words of denial or ignoring the facts. He was not rebuking the chains, refusing to receive them, or confessing that the prison was not really there! But he was confessing the word of God over his life, unswayed by those facts around him. It was this word of faith that God chose to fulfill.

Confession does not force God to act, but he rarely acts without it!

1 comment:

Joel Gill said...

Awesome post - thanks Chris :)