They replied, “We both had dreams last night, but there is no one here to tell us what they mean.” “Interpreting dreams is God’s business,” Joseph replied. “Tell me what you saw.” - Genesis 40:8
As Sigmund Freud, the Viennese doctor, listened to his patients, he became increasingly interested in the phenomena of dreams. Eventually, he wrote his book The Interpretation of Dreams. Freud’s findings were both fascinating and controversial. To this day, he has both admirers and detractors.
Joseph, too, was involved with people who recounted their dreams to him. While he never wrote a book about it (so far as we know), he did make a strong statement about the interpretation of dreams. “Interpreting dreams is God’s business,” he told two of his fellow prisoners. “Tell me what you saw” (Gen 40:8). Freud would certainly have said, “Tell me what you saw,” but he would have scoffed at any suggestion that God should be involved in the inner workings of a man’s life.
The difference of outlook between a Freud and a Joseph could not be more basic or far-reaching. It highlights the age-old question about whether or not God is actively involved in people’s lives, about whether or not God is in business in the world today. Freud was an atheist, so he did not bother his mind with the question of God’s involvement in the world. He had already decided that, since God does not exist, there could be no thought of his involvement. But many men who are not at all atheistic in their outlook doubt whether God communicates with men today. They do not question his existence, but they are dubious about his involvement—and, accordingly, about his relevance.
When Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph, his response was “It would be a great sin against God” (39:9). When he was confronted with interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams, he said, “It is beyond my power to do this . . . but God will tell you” (41:16). Later, looking back over his life, Joseph said, “God has made me forget all my troubles,” and, “God has made me fruitful in this land of my suffering” (41:51-52). And when he finally confronted his brothers and talked about their treatment of him, he told them, “It was God who sent me here, not you!” (45:8). Joseph knew that his life was God’s business.
The loving, faithful God is actively involved in a man’s daily affairs. But the man who lives his life without consciously knowing this must endeavor to find alternative ways of making peace with life’s eventualities. Blind fate and dumb luck come to mind as possible salves for the mind. But it is better by far to trust the Lord of the universe, who sets up shop in men’s lives on a daily basis. And there he works his wonders.
For Further Study: Genesis 40:1-23
Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for Men, Copyright ©2000 by Stuart Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.
For more from Stuart Briscoe, please visit tellingthetruth.org.