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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Roller-Coaster Religion

The twists and turns of serving God.

Genesis 41:9–16 (ESV)

Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “I remember my offenses today. When Pharaoh was angry with his servants and put me and the chief baker in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, we dreamed on the same night, he and I, each having a dream with its own interpretation. A young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. When we told him, he interpreted our dreams to us, giving an interpretation to each man according to his dream. And as he interpreted to us, so it came about. I was restored to my office, and the baker was hanged.”

Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they quickly brought him out of the pit. And when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”

At last, the situation is ripe for Joseph’s gift to be revealed. The cupbearer remembers Joseph’s accurate interpretations, and he’s called forth.

The text briefly notes how dreadful Joseph’s condition was. The jail is called “the pit,” and Joseph cleans up before going to see Pharaoh. Note that this clean-up is not like in The Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy and her pals go to a boutique. Joseph cleans himself up, making Pharaoh wait. That’s a strategic choice.

Then, astonishingly, Joseph says to Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” It’s Elohim, not Joseph, who will interpret Pharaoh’s dream. That’s chutzpah!

Joseph has put all his cards on the table. He doesn’t believe in Pharaoh’s gods; the one true God who created all things will interpret Pharaoh’s dream. The whole scene has suddenly become totally unpredictable. Pharaoh could have Joseph killed for his insolence.

But the dream interpretation is even more of a wild card. Pharaoh’s dream was a nightmare.

To serve God, you almost have to love roller-coasters. Life in Christ can be rough but is rarely boring. One of the keys to serving Christ well is to appreciate the unboringness of it all.

Do you enjoy the movie Toy Story? Everything seems to go wrong (until the end). Is that frustrating or entertaining? Why or why not?

Toy Story is fun because, despite the constant setbacks, we expect everything to work out in the end. Thus, the setbacks aren’t depressing. Christians should have that same attitude. We may not see things work out this side of eternity, but we know they will work out in the end.

We can memorize this doctrine ‘til we’re blue in the face, but feeling that way is something else.

Your heart needs to feel what your head knows.

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These weekday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. Saturdays' by Matt Richardson. Subscribe here:

The weekly study guides, which include questions for discussion or meditation, are here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NASB stands for the New American Standard Bible. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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