Submitted by Visitor (not verified) on Mon, 07/12/2009 – 13:07
Bible Book: Genesis
Chapter: 40
Verse: 1 – 23

Genesis 40 forms part of the greater story (chapters 39-41) that tells us how Joseph was sold as slave in Egypt, but eventually became second in command to the king. When we bear in mind that the first and last verses of chapter 40 form an introduction and a conclusion, we find here a story in its own right. The cupbearer appears on the scene (verse 1), he befriends Joseph, is helped by Joseph, returns to the Pharaoh where he is able to speak for Joseph, but instead forgets about him (verse 23: “The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him”). So Joseph spends another two years in prison.

Later on (in chapter 41) we discover that God remembers Joseph in spite of the cupbearer’s forgetfulness, so, despite people’s unfaithfulness, He remains faithful. God was faithful to Joseph, but Joseph had to wait for God.

It is not an easy thing to wait. For those who are living with HIV, the word “wait” acquires a totally new (intense) meaning – it becomes a conscious part of their daily lives: “The time of waiting is a strange time that is different for everyone, but it is a time during which one has to work through and discover and make peace with a lot of things. But it is also a desperately lonely time. During this waiting period – nobody knows how long this will be, and it’s easy to tell others that it needn’t be a death sentence any more because of ARV’s (but the virus is extremely cunning) – during this waiting period, way beyond all the other 5 stages of Kübler-Ross (but with relapses in between), one needs to know that one is remembered. Remembered by the One who loves me and will never forget me. Fact is: People are fallible. God is not.”

When we read Genesis 40 in church, we will have to remember that there are people present who are living with HIV and who need to know that God will never forget them.

The “rest of the congregation” may never go on with their lives as if they were unaffected by this. So it will be good (for them) to listen to this chapter from the perspective that Joseph probably experienced it. So verse 23 must be read together with verse 15: “For I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.”

A vital aspect of the Christian faith is to remember. To remember God’s wonderful works of redemption. To remember God’s promises. So we have to be reminded of them regularly. We must remember to remember and forget to forget.

But what is the use if we remember God’s deeds and promises, but forget our own promises? Or forget out neighbour in need? What is the use of telling people in need that God remembers, but we ourselves forget to lift a finger (comp James 2:16)? There is great comfort for those in need in the story of Joseph who, in spite of people’s injustice and forgetfulness, is remembered by God. This comfort is to encourage the people in need – not to make those who could have done something about that need inactive.

The organisation Worldaidscampaign that is taking the lead in the planning of World Aids Day (1 December) has decided that the theme for 2005 is to “keep the promise”. The reason behind this theme is that, as long ago as 2001, wonderful decisions and promises had been made in connection with the battle against HIV and AIDS by special sittings of the United Nations, but four years later few of them have materialised. When we look at our own country, we notice that there are several churches that have made wonderful statements about HIV and AIDS and have worked out strategies – but how many of these have been realised?

Is it hard to understand how the cupbearer, who was with Joseph in prison, could forget him so readily? I don’t find it hard to understand, because I know how easily I become insensitive towards and used to the needs of the people around me.

Author: N du Toit (Ds)
Language: English