Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.
In Egypt, if you had a dream, you would just pay a soothsayer or astrologer to give you an interpretation. It was kind of like calling a psychic hotline today. The problem was, in Genesis 40, the cupbearer and the baker were in prison, so they didn’t have access to a soothsayer or astrologer to interpret their dreams. The Bible says “they were dejected” (v. 6). So Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell it to me, please” (v. 8). The cupbearer said he had a dream that there were three branches with clusters of grapes, and he saw himself taking those grapes and squeezing them into Pharaoh’s cup. Joseph said, “This is the interpretation of it: . . . within three more days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office” (vv. 12–13). Then Joseph asked the cupbearer for a favor: “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” (v. 14).
The baker went next. Joseph said, “Tell me your dream.” The baker saw in his dream three baskets of white bread on his head, and in the top basket was all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh. The birds were eating them out of the basket. Joseph said, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days; 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” (vv. 18-19).
So what happened? “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” (v. 20). That means he released them from prison. Then Pharaoh “restored the chief cupbearer to his office . . . but he hanged the chief baker” (vv. 21-22). These events happened “just as Joseph had interpreted to them” (v. 22).
Place yourself in Joseph’s sandals. Joseph is in jail. Three days after he interpreted the dreams, the chief jailer said, “Pharaoh wants to see the baker and the cupbearer.” Can you imagine the hope that must swelled in Joseph’s heart? I’m sure he thought, “When the cupbearer asks Pharaoh to release me, I’m going to be free!”
Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, and no word. Verse 23 says, “Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.” Joseph remained in prison, forgotten by his friends, feeling forsaken by his God. Maybe you are in that spot right now. Maybe you are in a crisis. You cry out to God, but there is no answer. The days turn into weeks, the weeks turn into months, and you wonder, “Where is God when I need Him the most?” Like Joseph, you can’t imagine the plans God has for you, but you can know for sure that God has not forgotten you.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Forgotten, Forsaken, Forever?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.