THE BAKER AND THE BUTLER
Anyone familiar with the Story of Joseph in the old testament, will understand right away the story of the Baker and the Butler. Joseph has been sold into slavery by his brothers, ends up serving Pharaoh in his court, when suddenly he is thrown into prison. He refused the advances of the Pharaohs wife who then tore her clothes and claimed he tried to rape her.
Joseph had prophetical dreams, and he could interpret other peoples dreams. While down in prison he encounters these two men who also once served for Pharaoh. It was a baker and a butler. Nobody knows exactly the details of why they were thrown into prison, but Joseph says something you probably shouldn’t say to someone while in prison. He says to them, “”Why these black looks today?””(Genesis:40:7). I mean, they’re in prison, what do we expect, right?
After telling Joseph their dreams, he tells the Butler that his dream means Pharaoh will reinstate him into his old job, and he will once again serve him in the courts. He instructs the Butler, “But be sure to remember me when things go well with you, and do me the kindness of reminding Pharaoh about me, to get me out of this house.”(Genesis:40:14). The baker inspired by this good news relates to Joseph his own dream. Joseph then gives him the bad news that he will be hanged in three days. Everything that Joseph foretold had come to pass.
The Butler forgets Joseph for a whole two years, “But the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph: he forgot him.” (Genesis:40:23) isn’t that incredible? How many of us here have been let down by someone just the same? We did a favor for them, and they either forgot us or deserted us. They used us, and once they got what they wanted, were never seen again. I have many instances in my life where this took place.
I was struggling to find work, when a supposed friend came to me with an idea. He wanted to get involved in tree surgery, start a business. He told me if we paid 600 British pounds each we could do a course. He needed me to sign up to it otherwise he wouldn’t get a license as the minimum students needed was two. I didn’t obey my instincts that I was being used, being desperate for a career of some sort.
I liked the idea, we did it. I passed the first test for cross cutting, but it was getting dark, and I couldn’t see that well in the dense forest. I failed the second for tree felling, and needed to return. I had no car and no public transport where I lived at the time. My friend said he would take me back next week to redo that particular bit that was required of me. He never did. After he got his license I never saw him again. He’d disappeared. I got my license also, but it was useless to me now as I had no money for the equipment as my friend had all of it and gave it to me on loan.
Any one of us would be angered at the Butler forgetting Joseph for two years. If we were in Joseph shoes we’d give him a good strangling when we got out of prison wouldn’t we? Not Joseph. This is because Joseph trusted in the Lord, not in humans to get him out of trouble. Joseph did not allow any situation he was in to determine or take charge of his emotional well being. How can we tell? Because he asked the prisoners why they looked so downcast and gloomy that day. Not a question someone who is in prison and unhappy with his situation would dare to ask.
Instead, he simply accepted the will of God for him, and trusted that God would eventually lift him out of his predicament. This is why great prophets either fail or run into problems in the scriptures, because they show a lack of trust in God. Take for instance Abraham, who, when told to leave for the land God had promised him, didn’t fully obey.
The Lord told him to leave his “family” and who does he end up taking with him? His nephew Lot as a sort of insurance policy to make sure he had some back up in case he ran into trouble. Well, as a result of this lack of trust, they run into a famine, and the Egyptians etc etc.
God doesn’t want our sacrifices and prayers so much as he wants our trust. He wants us to trust him. Therefore, when someone lets us down, it is better not to become upset about something or some other persons behaviour that is out of our control. To do so shows a lack of faith in Jesus. We punish ourselves with anger, and like Abraham run into problems that could have otherwise been avoided.
I have not seen my daughter in 13 years since she was 8 months old. She lives in another country, with a different accent, being brought up in a different culture, in an atheist household with no religion. Like Joseph I look to the Lord daily, and I place her in his hands. I place our coming together in his hands, and in his own time.
I am, like Joseph in a prison of a different kind. I endure daily the absence of my only daughter. But we must, like Joseph trust that everything good always turns out best for those who love God.
We know that by turning everything to their good God co-operates with all those who love him, with all those that he has called according to his purpose.Romans:8:28