Joseph was the eleventh son of Jacob, and he was born into a family stressed by favoritism, intrigue, and competition. Joseph was also the favorite son of Jacob because he was the first son born to Rachel, Jacob’s second but favorite wife. Therein lies the problem.
The Joseph story is complicated and tortured so I will simply say that when Joseph and his brothers became young adults, they started acting out the tension that existed in Jacob’s large family. This included becoming so jealous about Josph’s favored status the brothers plotted to kill him.
Their plans morphed, and Joseph was sold to Midian slave traders and taken to Egypt. The brothers were happy to be rid of their pesty brother, and to be free of his dreams of superiority.
The Dreams came to Joseph when he was still at home. Two of them: in one Joseph saw sheaves of grain bowing down to his sheaf of grain and in the other all the sun, moon, and stars bowed down to Joseph. On the face of it, the dreams sounded like the longings of a bullied younger brother.
Threats to the Dreams came in three forms. The first threat was from Joseph’s brothers who hated him because of the dreams. The second threat came in Egypt from the wife of his employer, said wife attempting to seduce him. The third threat came from Joseph as he allowed himself to be drawn into the Empire and its cruel reign.
In the end of the Joseph narrative everything resolved. Joseph’s position as second in command to Pharaoh enabled him to save his family from the famine, and there was a great reunion. More important than that was the fact that Joseph realized how God had worked in his life and through the dreams. God was restored to God’s rightful place in Joseph’s life.
The power of the dreams unfolded in the reunion with Joseph’s brothers. No longer using his Empire power to exploit others, he recognized the role that God was playing in his life and in the position he had in Egypt. “God sent me to preserved life…. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to keep alive for you many survivors. Genesis 45:4-7.
Dreams are powerful shapers of the future. Great books begin as dreams. So also incredible inventions like the personal computer and the microchip. Or great scientific discoveries that existed first in a question such as “I wonder what would happen if?” Or “How can we create a way to meet a particular human need.”
Dreams are the great incubators of ideas and possibilities. Imagine what life for Joseph might have been without the dreams. Maybe he would have done nothing more than keep his herd of sheep.