Saturday, August 16, 2008

Why the butler lived while the baker died

When Joseph was in prison, he interpreted the dreams of two fellow inmates, who were Pharaoh's officials. They were Pharaoh's chief butler and chief baker.

The dream of the chief butler was this:
"Behold, in my dream a vine was before me, and in the vine were three branches; it was as though it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and its clusters brought forth ripe grapes. Then Pharaoh's cup was in my hand; and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and placed the cup in Pharaoh's hand." (Genesis 40:9-11)
Joseph interpreted his dream to mean this:
"The three branches are three days. Now within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your place, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand according to the former manner, when you were his butler." (Genesis 40:12-13)
The dream of the chief baker was this:
"I also was in my dream, and there were three white baskets on my head. In the uppermost basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, and the birds ate them out of the basket on my head." (Genesis 40:16-17)
Joseph interpreted his dream to mean this:
"The three baskets are three days. Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head from you and hang you on a tree; and the birds will eat your flesh from you." (Genesis 40:18-19)
And it happened just as Joseph had told them:
Genesis 40:20-22
20 Now it came to pass 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 butler and of the chief baker among his servants.
21 Then he restored the chief butler to his butlership again, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh's hand.
22 But he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them.
So why was the chief butler saved and the chief baker hanged?

What I was shown

The chief butler's dream speaks of the redemptive work of Christ. He saw a grape vine. That is a symbol of Christ. Jesus said, "I am the vine." (John 15:5) The vine produced grapes and in his dream, the chief butler took the grapes and squeezed them into Pharaoh's cup. That is a picture of Christ suffering and shedding His blood for our sins. He was crushed for our iniquities. (Isaiah 53:5) He died our death so that we could live. That the vine budded, blossomed and brought forth fruit speaks of Jesus' willingness to go to the cross for us, for He said, "I lay down My life for the sheep." (John 10:15)

On the other hand, the chief baker's dream speaks of his efforts to be justified by his own works. The "all kinds of baked goods" symbolises all types of dead works done by his arm of flesh to earn salvation. The Bible says that cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength. (Jeremiah 17:5) His works were also a "bloodless sacrifice". Without the shedding of blood, there can be no remission of sins (Hebrews 9:22). Worse, the baked goods were probably leavened. Leaven in the Bible speaks of sin and erroneous doctrines (Matthew 16:12) So even his works were tainted with sin and a faulty understanding of salvation. Finally, that the baskets were on his head speaks of his reliance on his intelligence, another indication that he was trusting in his smarts, his own strength.

So the chief butler lived because he was justified by the blood and work of Christ. The chief baker died because no one can be justified by his own works.
Galatians 2:16
16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified
The two dreams parallel grace and law, Spirit and flesh, faith and works -- themes consistent throughout the Bible.

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