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Genesis 39:20-40:23

When God Says, "Wait"

  • Matthew Dodd
  • Weekend Messages
  • March 21, 2015

Different seasons in life can be so challenging. When there is a delay, a setback, even an injustice, how would the Lord want us to respond? Joseph, the son of Jacob, experienced delays, setbacks, even injustices but overcame them all. Today, as we look to God’s Word and Joseph’s example we will learn valuable lessons “When God Says, ‘Wait.’”

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

When God Says, “Wait”

Genesis 39:20-40:23


Quote – A poem about patience…
1. Different seasons in life can be so challenging…
2. One moment you feel like a breakthrough is right around the corner, then suddenly a setback lands in your lap and you realize you will have to wait
a little longer.
3. When there is a delay, a setback, even an injustice, how would the Lord want us to respond?
4. Joseph, the son of Jacob, experienced delays, setbacks, even injustices but overcame them all.
5. Today, as we look to God’s Word and Joseph’s example we will learn valuable lessons “When God Says, ‘Wait.’”
READ – Genesis 39:20-40:23
I. Remember You’re Never Alone
A. God is with us (39:20-23)
1. Joseph went from favored son to slave because his brothers were jealous that he was dad’s “favorite”.
2. Joseph went from favored slave to prisoner because Potiphar’s wife couldn’t keep her hands off him and then falsely accused him.
3. But God was with Joseph through it all!
a. Not only when things were going well…
b. But even when his life was falling apart.
Genesis 39:21, 23b, “But the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer… the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made to prosper.”
4. This point is emphasized in Genesis for our benefit…
a. People often conclude that when life is going well God is for them.
b. Conversely, when they suffer or encounter a setback, they conclude God is against them.
c. The truth is the Lord is with us when we are promoted or demoted, in good or bad seasons.

ILLUS – Promotions and demotions at my former place of employment

2 Timothy 4:16-17, “At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me, in order that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was delivered out of the lion’s mouth.”
ILLUS – Janet Yinger’s last prayer request that she shared with me

Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”


B. God is working in our behalf 24/7 (40:1-4)

Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

1. Notice, Joseph wasn’t in just any old prison.
a. Potiphar could have had him put to death.
b. But he placed Joseph with the king’s prisoners.
c. Which just happened to be “in the house of the captain of the guard” (v. 3), Potiphar’s house!
2. Then two of pharaoh’s most trusted servants, the cupbearer and chief baker, where thrown into jail.
a. Maybe there was an attempt on pharaoh’s life.
b. Both were imprisoned until the facts were in.
3. Potiphar put pharaoh’s prisoners in Joseph’s care!
a. A sign of God’s favor on Joseph’s life.
b. God was setting the stage for Joseph’s release and promotion to second in command over Egypt!
ILLUS – God’s hand in guiding my brother to became a member of Christian band “The Afters”

Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
II. Stay Faithful Where You’re Planted (4-19)
A. God wants our lives to produce good fruit (4-7)
1. Would the chief jailer, under Potiphar’s authority, have elevated Joseph to care for all of the prisoners if Joseph was having a pity party?
2. Would Potiphar entrust two of pharaoh’s officials to Joseph if Joseph had been negligent in his care of the other prisoners?
3. Would God allow these promotions if He knew Joseph’s heart wasn’t right?
4. In fact, we are told that Joseph “took care of them” which literally means, Joseph “ministered” to them (4)
a. While this word generally means “service”
b. It is also used of Aaron’s high priestly service!
5. Joseph was concerned for his fellow inmates (6-7)
a. He “observed them”
b. He noted “they were dejected”
c. He asked, “Why are your faces so sad today?”
APPL – If Joseph were down in the dumps, he wouldn’t have noticed their sadness, he wouldn’t have cared, he wouldn’t have asked why! And if they would have said anything, he would have shot back, “You think you have problems, let me tell you about problems!!!”

APPL – Joseph is different because his faith in God made him different. When others would have seen injustice, restrictions, limitations, wondering how any good could come from such circumstances, Joseph saw opportunities to trust God and be faithful where he was planted. Joseph had a heart similar to Paul…

Philippians 1:12-14


B. God wants to draw others to Himself through us (8-19)

1. They each had a dream the night before
a. God has access to every person’s heart.
b. Egyptians and Babylonians regarded dreams as predictors of future events so they developed a system of interpretation.
2. But Joseph pointed them directly to God
a. He knew that God had given him the ability to interpret dreams.
b. Now after all that he had been through, people in similar circumstances may have steered clear of interpreting dreams.
c. But Joseph was refreshed in the Lord and confident in God’s promise to him, so without reservation he testified, “Do not interpretations belong to God?
Tell it to me, please.”
APPL – What a statement of faith! Something changes within us when we’re convinced God is with us and others take notice…

Acts 4:13, “Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John, and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were marveling, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.”
4. We are told in verse 5 that each man had “his own dream and each dream with its own interpretation.”
a. Joseph interpreted each dream specifically
1. Favorably for the chief cupbearer (9-13)
2. Ominously for the chief baker (16-19)
b. Confirmation that Joseph was an honest man who gave honest counsel. A good king would want such a counselor!
5. Next, notice what Joseph said and did not say as he made his request to the cupbearer…
a. “when it goes well with you”… not “if” (14)
b. Then Joseph protected the reputation of his brothers, Potiphar, and Potiphar’s wife!
APPL – The truth is, I doubt they would have shared their dreams to a Hebrew prisoner unless they had seen his confidence in the Lord.
Transition – It looks as though Joseph had his golden ticket out of prison, yet God was still saying, “Wait!”
III. Hope in God (20-23)
A. Men will fail us
1. Everything went just as Joseph said…
a. The cupbearer was restored
b. The chief baker was put to death
2. “Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.” FOR 2 YEARS!!! (v. 23)
3. I am sure Joseph was eagerly waiting for his release
a. He thought he was going home
b. But a day turned into a week, a week into a month, a month into a year, then 2… very long years!


APPL – All of us have been let down by others and we have let others down… listen to this word of caution in Psalms…

Psalm 146:3-4, “Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation. His spirit departs, he returns to the earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.”
B. God never fails
1. The cupbearer forgot Joseph, but God did not.
2. Here’s the key… it was God’s time for Joseph!
a. Joseph would have returned to Jacob.
b. But God wanted to preserve the lives of Jacob and his family, along with the Egyptians too because of a future famine!
c. God was also setting the stage for the fulfillment of His promise to Abraham.
Genesis 15:13-14, “And God said to Abram, ‘Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve; and afterward they will come out with many possessions.’”
d. All was at risk if Joseph had left prison early.
But it’s hard to wait. It’s difficult to deal with delays. You may feel like you can’t do this much longer…. Please give God room to move…
I am encouraged by the Lord’s words to Paul when he was suffering and Paul’s response to the Lord’s revelation…
2 Corinthians 12:9-10, “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
God’s grace is sufficient… His power is perfected in our weaknesses Let’s pray…
• Lord, I will trust in you… I know You are with me
• You are faithful… help me to walk faithfully
• My hope is in You, Lord!!!

Genesis 39:20-40:23     NASB

Chapter 39

20 So Joseph’s master took him and put him into the jail, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined; and he was there in the jail. 21 But the
Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer. 22 The chief jailer committed to Joseph’s charge
all the prisoners who were in the jail; so that whatever was done there, he was responsible for it. 23 The chief jailer did not supervise anything
under Joseph’s charge because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lordmade to prosper.

Chapter 40

1 Then it came about after these things, the cupbearer and the baker for the king of Egypt offended their lord, the king of Egypt. 2 Pharaoh was furious
with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker. 3 So he put them in confinement in the house of the captain of the bodyguard, in the
jail, the same place where Joseph was imprisoned. 4 The captain of the bodyguard put Joseph in charge of them, and he took care of them; and they were
in confinement for some time. 5 Then the cupbearer and the baker for the king of Egypt, who were confined in jail, both had a dream the same night,
each man with his own dream and each dream with its owninterpretation. 6 When Joseph came to them in the morning and observed them, behold, they were
dejected.7 He asked Pharaoh’s officials who were with him in confinement in his master’s house, “Why are your faces so sad today?” 8 Then they said
to him, “We have had a dream and there is no one to interpret it.” Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell it to me,

9 So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, “In my dream, behold, there was a vine in front of me; 10 and on the vine were
three branches. And as it was budding, its blossoms came out, and its clusters produced ripe grapes. 11 Now Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; so I
took the grapes and squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and I put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand.” 12 Then Joseph said to him, “This is the interpretation
of it: the three branches are three days; 13 within three more days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office; and you will
put Pharaoh’s cup into his hand according to your former custom when you were his cupbearer. 14 Only keep me in mind when it goes well with you,
and please do me a kindness by mentioning me to Pharaoh and get me out of this house. 15 For I was in fact kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews,
and even here I have done nothing that they should have put me into the dungeon.”


16 When the chief baker saw that he had interpreted favorably, he said to Joseph, “I also saw in my dream, and behold, there were three baskets of white
bread on my head; 17 and in the top basket there were some of all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, and the birds were eating them out of the basket
on my head.” 18 Then Joseph answered and said, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days; 19 within three more days Pharaoh will
lift up your head from you and will hang you on a tree, and the birds will eat your flesh off you.”

20 Thus it came about on the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast for all his servants; and he lifted up the head of the chief
cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his office, and he put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand;
22 but he hanged the chief baker, just as Joseph had interpreted to them. 23 Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.



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