We know him as Joseph the dreamer. He is one of four great patriarchs in the book of Genesis: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. If I were to read Genesis 37.19, I would find Joseph going out into the field to find his brothers. Notice what his brother say about him as he approaches.
The Bible does not specifically call him, Joseph the dreamer. Yet from Genesis 37, we can clearly see that he was known as a dreamer.
The text where we begin to identify him as Joseph the dreamer is in Genesis 37. If I were to read verse 1-11, I would read the word “dream” and “dreamed” no less than ten times as it is used in reference to Joseph. As I examine these verses deeper, I find that Joseph had two dreams. I also learn how others reacted to his dreams. Additionally, I learn how Joseph’s dream became a reality. From this we can apply the principles to learn how it can be possible to make our own dreams come true.
He is known as Joseph the dreamer because of two dreams that he had recorded in Genesis 37. The first dream is of sheaves. The second dream is of the stars. In each of these two dreams, Joseph envisioned a time when his family would bow and to him.
The first dream is record in Genesis 37.7. In this text, Joseph was already hated by his brothers because Jacob, their father, loved Joseph more than his other sons. Joseph finds his brothers in the field and begs them, “Please, hear this dream which I have dreamed.” (Gen. 37.6).
A sheaf is a bundle of grain stalks. As a farmer would harvest the stalks of grain, he would gather them together and tie them with a rope. In Joseph’s dream, there were twelve sheaves, each one belonging to each of the twelve sons of Jacob. Each of the eleven sheaves belonging to the other sons bowed down to the sheaf belonging to Joseph. The implication was clear as we see how Joseph’s brothers responded.
When I continue reading, I find that Joseph the dreamer had another dream. This time, he not only shared his dream with his brothers, but also with his parents.
With the same implication as the previous dream, there is an added element. In the first dream, Joseph’s brothers were represented as bowing down before him. In the second dream, you had the eleven stars bowing down to Joseph again indicating his eleven brothers. In addition, you also had the sun and moon bowing down to Joseph implying that his brothers were not the only ones who would bow down, but his mother and father as well. His parents understood this by their reaction.
In each of these two dreams, Joseph the dreamer is given divine knowledge that the time would come when his family would bow down before him. Notice how his family reacted to his dreams.
1) Joseph’s Reaction.
The text does not say this explicitly, but it is the absence of a word that gives some insight into his possible reaction. In the text in which Joseph the dreamer has two dreams and shares these dreams with his brothers, his mother, and his father, I notice that there is one word that is missing. It is the word “God.” In these verses, I never read about Joseph referencing God.
There is no indication that Joseph believed that all this would be accomplished because of God’s involvement. Maybe he does, and it just doesn’t say. Maybe he doesn’t believe that God is involved, and it will just happen as a matter of fate. It is interested that God is not mentioned in reference to his dream and his future.
Is this not the way we often react to dreams? We dream of the future. We do not have dreams that come through divine inspiration. The kind of dream I am referring to are in reference to our our hopes and aspirations.
There are some who dream of the future, but they just expect it to happen. There are no plans. There are no steps taken. There is no effort put forth. There is no money spent. There is no expectation for God’s involvement. They just expect that it will happen. The word that is used to describe it is the word “fate.” Expecting things to just work out without putting forth any effort and putting your faith in God provides no guarantee.
Do you have dreams? Do you have hopes and ambitions? Is there a particular career you are interested in having? Do you hope to someday land the perfect job? Do you have ambitions to someday meet that special someone and have a wonderful marriage?
The future will just happen, but it may not happen in a way that we hope or expect unless we start making plans, dig in, get to work, and involve God in the process with prayer and faith.
2) Joseph’s Brother’s Reaction.
When I study these verses in Genesis 37 and read about Joseph sharing his dream to his brothers, I learn how they reacted.
Joseph reacted to his own dream perhaps believing that his dream will just happen with no effort, no planning, and no help from God. His brothers reacted to his dream by hating him even more than they did before.
Is that not the way we react to dreams? There are some who despise the very idea of dreams, and reject the idea of where they are, what they potentially could become, and what they could achieve. Maybe it is because their attitude has changed. Maybe their circumstances have changed, and they believe that what they once dreamed is no longer possible. Now they sit in the background with unrealized dreams and despise what has become of them. So there are some who have a very cynical view of their future.
3) Joseph’s Father’s Reaction.
Joseph reacted to his own dream by possibly believing that it will just happen without any effort and help from God. His brothers were cynical and despised him. Notice how his father reacted.
How did Jacob, Joseph’s father, react to his dream? He wanted to think about it. He spent some time contemplating it.
Is that not the way we react to dreams? Then there are some who approach dreams in a very positive way, but they want to think about them. That is a very wise step to take. But they think about them, analyze them, write them out, and analyze them again. They get stuck in that mode and never take the steps needed to pursue their dreams. There is a term for this. It is called “paralysis by analysis.”
If I keep reading Genesis, I come to chapter 41 where I learn that Joseph is now 30 years old (Gen. 41.46). In chapter 37, Joseph is 17 years old (Gen. 37.2). That means that thirteen years has passed from Genesis 37 to Genesis 41. In that thirteen years, a lot has happened.
Remember back in Genesis 37, not once does Joseph the dreamer mention God in reference to his dreams. Is it possible that Joseph believed that what he dreamed would happen would just happen as a matter of fate with no planning, no effort, and no involvement from God?
As I fast forward to Genesis 45, there has been seven years of abundance, and Joseph put a lot of the grain away in storage in preparation for the seven years of famine that was coming. When I come to Genesis 45, the region is in the second year of that famine. The surrounding nations were coming to Joseph to purchase the grain that he had stored away.
Two years into the famine, his own brothers who sold him into slavery come before Joseph the dreamer looking to buy grain. Joseph’s brothers come and bow before him just as Joseph the dreamer had dreamed. As they bow before him, they don’t recognize him. He reveals himself to them, and in doing so, he explains how his dream was realized.
Watch who Joseph credits for the realization of his dreams.
All that happened in the life of Joseph in the realization of his dreams is because God made it happen. Over and over again, Joseph says that he is where he is because of God.
How can we dream of the future and not include God in the picture? How can we sit back and let things happen without regard to God’s involvement? How can we look at all the blessings we enjoy today that we only dreamed about yesterday, and not give God credit, and then claim to believe and trust in God?
Dare to dream. See your growth and potential, and then get to work to make that dream become a reality with God involved in the process trusting that God will give the increase, if it is His will.