Genesis 40:1 – And it came to pass after these things, that the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker had offended their lord the king of Egypt.
Genesis 40:2 – And Pharaoh was wroth against two of his officers, against the chief of the butlers, and against the chief of the bakers.
Genesis 40:3 – And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound.
John 5:28 – Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
John 5:29 – And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
Hello readers, thanks for reading my blog today, I hope this blog will help to shed light on more of Joseph’s life in the Bible. Joseph was the interpreter of two dreams in this story… a famous story from the Bible of the butler and the baker. The role of anyone who is saved is to be an interpreter, that is, someone who can tell others what God’s word says and what it means… based on the Bible. The Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of truth, should bear witness whether or not my blog contains truth or whether I’m just talking rubbish. I seek in these blogs to share Bible from the Bible, and hope to just point you in the direction of Jesus Christ… after all we are supposed to look unto Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. Jesus Christ can be found in all the pages of the Bible, and today through the story of the butler and the baker in Genesis 40, we are going to see the gospel story in a nutshell. Two dreams, two paths, two outcomes, two destinies. The title of this blog could well be that there is no future without Jesus Christ. The two dreams foretold the future of two different men, who met very different ends.
I want to look at the story of the butler and the baker in the context of the verses of John 5 quoted above. There are two resurrections that Jesus spoke of, the resurrection of life, and the resurrection of damnation. These men were cast into prison, and we can look at this story in terms of prison representing death, and how those who died in faith experience the resurrection of life, while those who died rejecting Jesus Christ experience the resurrection of damnation. You see, death is not an escape like people think it is… the Bible says it is appointed unto us once to die, then after that the judgement. When you die, you won’t cease to exist… you will face God.
Life and death. There are two kinds of people, those who are saved and those who are not. It is really that simple. There are only two kingdoms, the kingdom of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of the devil, which is this present evil world. There are those who are born again of the Spirit of God, their sins paid for, their souls redeemed by the blood of the Lamb… and there are those who never believed on Jesus Christ for salvation from their sins. Jesus came to save us from our sins, those that are his are those that have received forgiveness and eternal life. In this blog we see a butler, who will represent a saved person, and the baker, someone who never believed the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Are you forgiven or unforgiven? Are you washed or are you unclean? Are you born again or are you spiritually dead? There are the children of God, and then there are children of the devil. When Jesus was crucified he was in the midst of two thieves, one thief was on either side… one went to heaven, one went to hell. Jesus divides between the living and the dead, the saved and unsaved, heaven and hell. Your destiny depends on Jesus Christ… and as Joseph told the butler and the baker their future, their destiny revealed… so the Bible, God’s word to man, will clearly tell your future based on what you have done with Jesus Christ. That is true prophecy… there are so many fake prophets out there, but the true prophecy is that if you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation from your sins, you will be saved… but if you don’t, you won’t. There is no other way to heaven just as we will see in this blog. As Jesus hung on the cross… you see, both were thieves. We have all sinned, we are all unworthy, we all deserve judgement and hell because we are sinners by descent and by nature. And we are thieves, we thieve the grace of God. Everyone alive is a thief of the grace, mercy and love of God. We have his breath of life, we experience his grace and goodness, yet we live wicked, dark lives. There is no fear before their eyes the Bible says… we all need the fear of the Lord to fall on us that brings us to a holy reverence for who Jesus Christ is and what he has done for us.
The story starts with the butler and the baker having offended their lord the king of Egypt. There’s so many things here. Firstly, both had offended their lord… and we have all sinned against God. We have all offended God in that we have all sinned, and sin is at it’s core against God… our flesh is against God, that same flesh that sinned in Eden which flesh we have today, which has never gotten better… it’s our nature, it’s in our DNA… and we have all transgressed, we are all under the curse. Our offences against God carry a penalty. And unless your penalty for your sin is paid, you will bear the brunt of God’s wrath forever. Or you can have Jesus take his wrath in your place, as that is why Jesus came, to die for our sins, to pay the penalty for our wicked deeds. For the butler and the baker, they tried serving the king, but instead the offended him… a picture of the fact that none of our lives, our service, even if we seek to serve God is acceptable on our own merit and based on our own wherewithal. And it got them cast into prison. Prison is a picture of death and bondage. There are two different kinds of death, physical and spiritual. Physically we all die, it is a consequence of the curse that is on creation, of which we are part of, because of sin. Of course, for a believer death has been conquered through Jesus Christ, as the butler found out. These guys were put in prison for a season, awaiting trial as it were… and so we cannot avoid judgement day and ultimate accountability to the Lord God. We can also think of prison as bondage, because Joseph was bound down there, and when we sin, we are in bondage to sin. Jesus said he that commiteth sin is the servant of sin. It’s true, we sin because sin is our master… just as God warned Cain if he did not get right with God. Sin enslaves us, and is our ruin.
The worse death is spiritual death. Adam and Eve spiritually died when they sinned in the garden of Eden, and that spiritual death is inherited and passed down to all men from them. Spiritual death reigns over all of us… lust, covetousness, greed, jealousy, envy, pride, selfishness and on and on… all these things that this world is built upon… we all abide in death. God didn’t create us this way. He created us in his image in the beginning, marked by goodness, holiness, purity, love, peace… God is all these things, these attributes are godly, because God IS them. Only when we are in sync with God, when we have a relationship and fellowship with God can we be these attributes. God is the source of life, light, holiness, purity, goodness, and grace. In sinning, there was separation from God, and thus evil entered this world… and look how much of a mess it is today. The only way to be made spiritually alive again is to be born again of the Holy Spirit who makes us spiritually alive.
Death is a consequence of sin. Where there is sin, there is death. Where there is sin, there is bondage. Practically in our lives, when we sin, things die. If you commit adultery, your marriage will most likely die. If you call yourself a Christian and are living in disobedience to God, your fellowship with God will die, and so will your testimony before others who watch your life. There is only one victory over death, and it is found in this passage. You can emerge from the prison of death! You can emerge from a life of bondage in this world… you don’t have to live life in a dungeon, chained by lust, selfishness, pride, darkness. Dungeons are dark places, filthy places, and that’s where going it our own way without God gets us. Be it spiritual, be it physical or be it overcoming practical death in your life… Jesus Christ is the answer. Death is a universal law… but the greater law is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus!
There was a guy in the prison though. There is a guy who is in the prison with you, not deservedly so, but he’s there so you don’t have to be. Jesus Christ didn’t sin, yet he became sin… Jesus tasted death for every man. He bore God’s wrath so you can be forgiven… it’s not a bad deal is it? They were in there because Pharaoh was wroth with them, and if you are not saved, you need to know God is angry with you and his wrath abides on you. Yes he loves you, and that’s why he sent Jesus Christ to die for you, that’s why there is a Joseph in your prison, someone who’s gone through betrayal, someone who’s been in the pit, someone who’s in the prison and someone who someday will be in the palace and ruler of all… for you. Jesus Christ may not seem to great to you at the moment, but one day he will take all the kingdoms and rule and reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. God loves you, but God is also holy and just, he is so good that he judges sin, he deals with it, sin cannot abide in his presence. Joseph told these men the truth down in the prison. And people need truth, be it good or bad… because one guy got bad news, but Joseph still told him. Oh for people that will tell the truth, and also for people who want to hear truth.
We see that the Bible says the Pharaoh was their lord. Their. Because God is over all. Whether you deny God or not, whether you believe him or not, whatever you say or do… ultimately God is God. Whether you like it or lump it. One day… we are assured that every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. He is your Lord whether you like it or not, because Jesus Christ is God, he is the Judge, he is ultimate authority, he is your Creator. They were cast into prison, they couldn’t do a thing about it. Can you do anything about dying? Can you do anything about the consequence of sin in your life? God said thou shalt surely die. And die they did… and death reigns from then to now. If you are in prison, in the prison of sin, facing death or in death, because you have offended God, where the wrath of God abides on you… you need to believe in Jesus Christ… he can deliver you from the prison. Death has a solution, sin can be conquered, the prison can be conquered through Jesus Christ.
So they’re in prison and they each dream a dream. Their dreams would foretell their future. But they didn’t understand them, they needed Joseph. We need to go to God’s word to interpret our future, to interpret what is truth, to understand and know… we need the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to us… to show us our destiny, to know how to live, to know what to believe, to know what to do. It is in prison that they had the dream, and in this life, right here right now as you live and breathe, your future will be determined by what you do with Jesus Christ. Their dreams revealed the truth about themselves, truth they didn’t understand themselves. We often can think we know what we are doing in life, where we are going, what is truth… but we don’t know nothing… our own heart deceives ourselves… we need to base our worldview, our interpretation of life on what Joseph says… on what Jesus has said in the Bible. We need God’s word to show us the truth about ourselves, and correct that inflated view of who and what we are. We too can have dreams for our life, but only a dream rooted in the vine of Jesus Christ will be deliverance from the prison unto life. The two dreams show the futility of man’s efforts, and the importance of getting saved. If your life, if your dream for your life, revolves around being in Christ, who is the vine, then you will have restoration and life… but anything else is baskets of baked meats on your head… certain death.
So the butler dreamed a dream and he told it to Joseph. He saw a vine… and we know Jesus Christ said he is the vine, the true vine. It’s a good start. The vine had three branches, and we realize that this is showing us that Jesus Christ is God… Colossians says in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. God is three distinct persons, yet one, perfectly in unity. Three branches, yet one vine. Acknowledging Jesus Christ is God is fundamental to the Christian faith… how can you claim to be saved yet call God a liar, how can you claim to love him yet hate the word of his mouth? And if Jesus Christ isn’t God… he can’t save you, because only God himself can forgive sins and make us alive who were dead (making life takes creative power, which only God has)… which is what Jesus does.
At this point it is also important to recognize that the butlers dream was not about himself, but about a vine. I really thought about this today, even though I intellectually assent to the sufficiency of Christ, even now it still seeps into my thinking that I start trusting my goodness rather than resting in who Jesus Christ is and what he has done. Imagine dying and not trusting in Jesus Christ, but in your performance, which is always failure. We are all failures… I mean, look at this butler, he had offended the king, and then he forgot Joseph… was he really that crash hot? But he was saved on the merits of Jesus Christ… who keeps his promises and is faithful to us, that’s what we need to trust in… HIS faithfulness… now and on our deathbed. It’s easy to talk about it but we need to practically actually live a life trusting in Jesus Christ.
The vine was fruitful, it budded and blossomed. To have fruit, it must be alive… and Jesus Christ has life, and he lived a fruitful life. In Jesus Christ, we don’t just have life, we have a fruitful life. Jesus said he came to give life… that’s getting saved and born again and being forgiven… and to give life more abundantly… that’s the life after getting saved, a life of being transformed into the image of Christ, being sanctified and a servant of Christ, growing in grace and knowledge. If you are saved, there should be proof of it in your life… how could there not be? How can God be living in you and yet you not show it? How can you have the light of life in you, yet have no light in the darkness of this world? Jesus Christ was and is fruitful, and it’s his fruitfulness that is our fruitfulness. Fruit of the Spirit is by definition… fruit of the Spirit. It’s HIS fruit, we are just branches that bare his fruit. We don’t produce it, we don’t have the life force, he IS the life… our lives are fruitful if we are abiding in Christ. Trusting in Jesus Christ, the living, fruitful vine… bodes well for your eternal future, just as it did for the butler. It is interesting that the butler was uncertain about his future too just like the baker, despite it being assured. It can seem like believing in Jesus Christ doesn’t pay… life by faith can be pretty fuzzy and cloudy… but it does pay and it will! We have many precious promises and even when life can be tough here, Jesus Christ is faithful and will keep his word.
The butler said next thing he saw was that Pharaoh’s cup was in his hand. Service to Pharaoh. You see… both the butler and baker had been serving Pharaoh, but then they offended him. Our service to God, our life, is not acceptable to God. We can’t fill God’s cup, because anything we bring God is unacceptable as we are sinners. He offended God with what he brought him. In this we see that our purpose and design in life is to serve and glorify God in our lives… but we can’t do that. Even unsaved person, we are all created for the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible says we were created for his pleasure. Fulfillment comes from having God in your mind and life, but doing it ourselves is unacceptable… we just end up offending God. But one day he saw a vine in his dream, a vine who’s fruits when pressed into the cup would satisfy the king. This story is laden with the gospel. It took him being in prison to see a vine in his dream, and you won’t ever get saved until you first become lost… it takes us being in prison, and realizing we are in prison, to need salvation from a prison. It’s why the law was given first, it shows that we have offended God and need a Saviour… before God shows us the Saviour. The law weighed heavy on these guys, it got them cast into prison.
So we serve God, but nothing satisfies God in and of ourselves, we need to come to a vine… THE vine… which they didn’t see quite yet. Jesus hadn’t been manifested at this point in time, but he saw him in the dream as the fruitful vine, picturing Jesus Christ’s life and work many hundreds of years later. Dreams often capture a place beyond our finite imagination, beyond the bounds of reality… and God’s work for us is a dream. The first three verses of Psalm 126… When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them. The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad. It was a distant a dream… just like Abraham at Moriah, and Jacob’s ladder… the salvation relied on something beyond the bounds of our comprehension, beyond the bounds of our ability to do it… we were just as helpless as the butler lying in prison fast asleep dreaming of a deliverance that he didn’t even know! Because its about faith… believing God… not what we can do. Our life is out of loving God, not because we can merit or earn or deserve it all. Look at Ishmael, he is the child of Abraham’s self effort, a child of disobedience to God, a child of knowing God’s word but doing it your own way… and he was rejected. It was Isaac who got the promises… while Ishmael was cast out… Isaac was the one the promises were to… and what did Abraham do? Nothing. He just believed God and God delivered right on time. The Saviour was many years away, but even then people like this butler were getting pictures of a coming Saviour, through the vine he would be restored and acceptable in Pharaoh’s sight. A future rooted in Jesus Christ will succeed. If Jesus is in the dream of your life, your future, your destiny… then you will do well.
Joseph said the butler would deliver Pharaoh’s cup into his hand. You want to go to God… you come on the basis of God’s cup being filled. A cup that is filled with the blood of the vine will be acceptable to God. He could become useful to the king again, he could have life again. It all depends on what your bring in your hand to God. You can’t bring nothing yourself, if you come with faith in Jesus Christ, you won’t be rejected. They tried to serve God and could only offend. But in coming to the vine first, and then coming with the fruit of that vine in the cup, the butler would be restored. What’s important is Pharaoh’s cup, we love to be selfish, but Jesus said to put God first… seek his kingdom first and his righteousness and all these things will be added to us. Getting God first in our life is number one, and all the rest will follow. You will find true life and restoration in putting God first. He recognized the king’s kingship and dominion… our lives are not our own though we are encouraged to view the world that way. But God is God. The law condemned the butler, but the grace of God delivered him. What grace of God to have Pharaoh’s cup in our hand, to know God, to be given the opportunity to serve him, to be given the ability to get saved and forgiven, when look at how bad we are and undeserving. We can get favor in God’s sight despite our offenses. We don’t have to be prisoners, bound in death, salves to sin. Life is offered to us, why not take it? Fill the cup with the vine that is before you, place your faith in Jesus Christ. His acceptance before Pharaoh relied on presenting the fruit of the vine of the dream.
Do you ever feel like you don’t deserve what God has given you? If you really look at this story, it’s really showing how an undeserving butler was granted something he didn’t deserve or earn. Salvation is a free gift. Never forget that. We didn’t and couldn’t do a thing to earn the free gift of forgiveness and eternal life from God. It is because God loves you and wants you to be saved, redeemed from the prison of death and sin… and to be made alive and restored… as this butler was. His life was useless in the prison, but by the end of it he was in the service of the king. God can transform your life and give you purpose… after all our purpose lies in our relationship and fellowship with Him. The only way to fill Pharaoh’s cup satisfactorily… is with the grapes of the vine… pressed into the cup. The Bible says it pleased the Lord to bruise him. Jesus took our beating, he took our wrath… and God is satisfied in the cup of his Son. You have to remember, Jesus Christ was not revealed yet… but in a dream the butler saw a vine who’s fruit would satisfy God. Looking forward to Calvary, where men’s offenses could finally be paid for and the requirements and just demands of God met so that we can serve him, so we can live. This dream is looking forward to the sacrifice thousands of years later… but which we see in the Old Testament.
Your future will only be good if Christ is in it. As the vine was in his dream… if Christ isn’t in your life your life will end up like the baker rather. When Joseph dreamed his dreams before he was betrayed by his brothers, he told his dreams to his father and his brethren who couldn’t imagine bowing to him! What is this that thou hast dreamed? His father chided him for his dreams. But then we read that Jacob observed the saying. Often we can hear God’s word and it offends us, but if you love truth you can get offended, but still take the saying to hear. The cross is offensive to our pride and independence… but the real offense is our offending God with our sin. There is no future without Christ. Both the butler and the baker tried to serve the king, but in the end only one person would be acceptable and restored. Because it was WHAT they were presenting, what they were coming to Pharaoh on the basis of. We have discussed how the butler’s presentation is a picture of coming to God on the basis of Jesus Christ. And that is acceptable in God’s sight. It took going to prison to have these dreams, and that’s the law coming, the word of Pharaoh that cast them out. The butler was saved to serve… we are saved not just to be forgiven, but we are also saved to live a life serving God, a life that counts. He couldn’t do that in prison, we need to be forgiven and set free from sin and restored and our chains loosed to be able to serve God. They needed to go to prison to realize they can’t do it themselves, they need to see the vine… they need to look on Jesus Christ and believe and live. They were there a season, and at the end of this short season of life… we will stand before God. What will be the story when you stand before God?
So we come to the baker. He also had a dream. He thought he’d be like the butler but the story was different. Jesus Christ is THE way. But the baker represents everything else bar coming to God through faith in Jesus Christ. Many, many people today are like the baker. They think they’re going to heaven, they think they’re acceptable before God. They think they’re the same as someone who is saved by Jesus Christ… after all they’re pretty good, they may have been baptized, they aren’t as bad as the other guy, they have their own thoughts and ideas on the future and how they’re going to get there. He had all manner of baked meats in his baskets. All manner of baked meats represents all of man’s religions, efforts, fads, trends, whatever. All manner… after all… there are many, many beliefs, from atheist to agnosticism to Islam to evolution to whatever may be the case with you. But what’s the commonality? It is all flesh. All flesh is as grass the Bible says, anything of the flesh is rejected. Ishmael was born after the flesh, and he was rejected and cast out. He did not inherit the promises. If you are serving God in the flesh you are unacceptable, whatever you do according to the flesh, even masquerading as the Spirit, is not accepted. He didn’t have a vine, he had baked meats… if you think you are saved and right with God, look again and make sure you are in the faith, make sure what you’re coming to God with is Jesus Christ, the acceptable sacrifice. Is there fruit in your life, fruit that becometh someone who has believed?
So many people try this and try that… but it all ends up piling up on their own head. You see, sin can be on your own head, or it can be upon Jesus Christ. If you don’t have Christ, all your best efforts are just coals you are heaping on your own head. The Bible says we are enemies of God in our minds by our wicked words. Our head and our heart is at enmity with God if we are like the baker, our own thoughts and lives and actions condemning ourselves. Because we are not acceptable to God on any level. This guy didn’t see a vine, instead he brought all manner of baked meats. All of mankinds different efforts and attempts to be worthy, to have meaning, to make his own future. Baked meats… this meat was processed…. how processed mankind’s beliefs and philosophies are! The Bible speaks of the simplicity of Christ and the faith once delivered unto the saints, it’s been salvation by grace through faith from the start, even in the Old Testament, it was faith according to knowledge of the revelation. They may not have understood what we now know from the Bible, but it was still faith in God’s word, and they saw Jesus Christ when Jesus died and went to the heart of the earth and were delivered, it was he they had trusted in. Think about it, even we don’t have full knowledge, God does, but there’s so much we don’t know. But we have all been given light, the Bible promises us, so what did we do with it? What did you do with the light given you!
The birds came and ate it all up. Our best won’t abide, it won’t last forever. Man’s religion, man’s ways, man’s efforts, man’s achievements, man’s glories… none of it will remain, none of it will pass the the test. Note how in the story the baskets were white. That’s mankind trying to be worthy… Jesus called the Pharisees whited sepulchers. You see, man can make himself look pretty good on the outside, but inside be morally and spiritually bankrupt and unclean. God looks on the inside, and in our flesh dwelleth no good thing the Bible says. Your best is all flesh, even all whited up and looking good. The baker was rejected. He thought he’d get the same good news the butler got, but he didn’t. He never saw the vine, he never got saved, and because he didn’t come to God on the basis of the vine, but rather on the whole range of baked meats, picturing every other attempted way to God and worthiness and meaning and relevance… he was rejected. They both were accountable to God, as we all are, and their future, like ours, comes down to what we do with the man called Jesus Christ.
The story also shows we need to stop comparing amongst ourselves because nothing will satisfy God but Jesus Christ. This is actually something very important to learn. Generally, the way humans work is we gauge how good we are by comparing to someone else. The standard we all compare to is God’s law, it doesn’t matter how much the next guy or girl compares, it doesn’t justify yourself. If someone commits adultery, it doesn’t make your fornication any better. If someone is in fornication, it doesn’t justify your pride and selfishness. We are ALL an unclean thing. It doesn’t matter if you are better than the other guy (so u think!) … none of us can satisfy God. The ONLY way is Jesus Christ… he is THE way… no matter what you try, how you come to God, what you do, there is only one way we are acceptable to God. Through the vine of Christ.
So do you have grapes in your cup or baskets on your head? There are so many pictures in this story. The law cast them into prison, but grace restored the butler. However the baker put his faith in his own efforts, his best, and was rejected. The butler was saved to serve. That’s justification and sanctification, most want to get out of hell, but not many want to serve God. They went to Joseph, and so we should go to Jesus for meaning and understanding and wisdom and explanation for our life. God has a purpose for your life, but it’ll be condemnation if you don’t come to him through the basis of his Son Jesus Christ. The butler remembered his faults when he remembered Joseph, and when we look at Jesus Christ, we certainly see our faults and should cause self examination. If we would judge ourselves we wouldn’t be judged. People forget Jesus Christ, even those who were saved, this butler forgot Joseph as soon as he was out of prison. An innocent person suffering in the dungeon while the guilty was restored and set free. We have the king’s cup in our hand today, God requires something of all of us, God’s judgement and wrath is against us, and the just demands of God required atonement for our sin. The king’s cup is only filled, his anger and wrath is only pacified in his Son Jesus Christ. This is my beloved Son in whom i am well pleased. Three days, and he’d be restored. Three days refers to the resurrection… and because Jesus Christ was resurrected, we can also live in and through him, on whom death has no power. There is nothing I can do to restore myself or make myself acceptable. Nothing I can do. There is no future or acceptable service outside the person of Jesus Christ. Just have faith in him. He saw a vine… and in Hebrews, we read… but we see Jesus. He is the vine of the butler’s dream, he is our salvation.
Hi, my name is Joseph Zadow. I am a 30 y/o Bible Blogger. I was new to blogging once! God’s word is the best thing that we can be given, and once we have it and know it for ourselves it is both a privilege and responsibility to bring it to others! We are blessed to be a blessing! I am a sinner (for sure!) saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ and I am a Lord Jesus Christ follower. He is faithful even though I rarely am to him. I believe the Bible is the word of God, and stake my life on it. My destination is heaven. As they say, I’m just a passin’ through this world… although most of the time it’s more like hangin’ by a thread in Jericho! I love playing sports – particularly cricket… I currently work on an orchard and a side hobby business of mine is growing vegetables etc – they are good for you! I love writing. Always happy to talk, so feel free to leave a comment. You can read more about me and my blog here – kjvbibletruth.com/about :)