To speak or not to speak

Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”

Genesis 37:5-7

Joseph Reveals His Dream to His Brethren (watercolor circa 1896–1902 by James Tissot)

Joseph Reveals His Dream to His Brethren (watercolour circa 1896–1902 by James Tissot)

I’m one of those people who regularly has quite vivid dreams, dreams that I can recall when I wake up. Usually they are very bizarre, and my wife, if I share them with her, tends to find them absolutely hilarious. Sometimes, though, I have dreams that could be seen to be prophetic, showing me what the future holds. Of course, I have no idea if they are or not, but it’s quite nice to think that God does work through dreams, and maybe he is showing me something of my future. Sometimes I share these dreams, but most of the time I keep them to myself and ponder them silently.

Joseph, of course, is renowned both for having dreams that are prophetic words from God, and also for his ability to interpret dreams. In this passage in Genesis, Joseph has two vivid dreams. In the first dream, recounted in today’s verses, Joseph is out in the fields with his brothers binding sheaves. Suddenly, Joseph’s sheaf stood tall, and his brothers’ sheaves all bowed down to it. The second dream is similar; he sees the sun and moon, plus eleven stars, all bowing down to him.

There is no doubt that Joseph sees these dreams as an indication that one day he will be in a position of authority over his brothers, plus his father Jacob and Jacob’s wives. Rather than keeping this to himself, however, he shares this with his family. His brothers’ hatred for him already runs deep, but now Joseph makes matters worse by sharing his dreams with his brothers! Funnily enough, they were absolutely fuming at the arrogance of their brother – not just any old brother, but their little brother, who also happened to be the apple of their father’s eye.

Would Joseph have been better off keeping quiet? He probably could have handled this situation with a little more tact, perhaps by opting to keep his dreams to himself. In the short term his decision to share his visions with his brothers led to him being sold as a slave, which clearly was not an ideal scenario. Ultimately, this led to the fulfilment of God’s plan for Joseph.

Of course, when God has a plan for our lives, that plan will inevitably come about, whether we make matters easy or difficult for him and for us. I suspect that Joseph would have been better remaining quiet; through no fault of his own he already found himself in a hostile environment as a result of his father’s favouritism, and by opening his mouth he only made matters worse.

Perhaps this is what we should take from today’s verses; sometimes, particularly if we find ourselves in a hostile environment, we would be better off remaining quiet, or at least thinking through the pros and cons of opening our mouths. Ultimately God’s plan will come to fruition in our lives if we continue to follow his guidance, but there is no need to make things unnecessarily difficult for ourselves!

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4 thoughts on “To speak or not to speak

  1. Hi Simon! Recently I did a course on the Biblical principles for Christian dream interpretation – totally blew my mind, widening my understanding of how God works through these “night time parables”. Happy to share any time you like! Having a dream interpreted is amazing, and those of us who did the course are very open to the prophetic gift of interpretation using the tools we were given.

  2. “‘And afterwards,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
    Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your old men will dream dreams,
    your young men will see visions.”
    (Joel 2:28)

    What I take from that is, when you start dreaming dreams instead of seeing visions you know you’re getting old! 😉

    I think the comforting thing about the Genesis passage is that God was in control even despite everything which went on. I think everything has to be seen in the light of verses like Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

    Whether we open our mouths or not the Lord’s plan will not fail.

  3. Agreed, Phill. Genesis 50:20 is a powerful verse which has resonated much with me over the years. It’s so good to know that God’s plan will prevail!

    As for the getting old bit, I fear you may be right!

    Thanks for commenting!

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