The whole truth

Genesis 40:20-22 “On the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, he made a feast for all his servants and lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand. But he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them. “

Hebrews 1:1-2 “Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds.”

How does God speak to us and how can we be sure about what He has said?  The answer to this question has changed over the years, as the verses above from Hebrews 1 tell us.  It says that “long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways.”  These ways included direct verbal communication, e.g., as He spoke to Moses at the burning bush.  At other times He spoke through dreams, such as in the case of Joseph and the dreams of the cupbearer and baker in Pharaoh’s prison.  Hebrews tells us that “in these last days,” i.e., the days of the writing of the New Testament, God has spoken to us “by a Son,” i.e., by Jesus, the incarnate Word of God.  He spoke through Jesus, of course, while Jesus walked on earth, as recorded in the four gospels, and He spoke by the Spirit of Jesus through the apostles who wrote the letters of the New Testament. 

In all of this, God was speaking by way of His Spirit, and in all of this the interpretation of His Word is provided to us by that same Spirit.  As 1 Corinthians 2:14 tells us “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” 

This takes us back to the story of Joseph and his interpretation of the dreams of Pharaoh’s officials in prison. In this case, the cupbearer and baker are types of “the natural man.” While these two Egyptian idolaters had the privilege of hearing God speak by way of their dreams, it was Joseph, a worshipper of the true God, who alone could tell them the meaning.  Some interesting aspects of Joseph’s interpretation that confirmed its truth was that what Joseph said would happen, indeed did happen. The cupbearer was raised back to his old position in Pharaoh’s court, while the baker was executed.  However, another observation about Joseph’s interpretation was that he was sure to tell the entire interpretation, no matter what its impact on the hearers.  What a wonderful thing for the cupbearer to hear that he was soon to be released from prison and reinstated to Pharaoh’s court, but what a horrible thing for the baker to hear the verdict of his dream.  Joseph spoke the truth, no matter what. 

There’s a lesson for all of us in this account.  The true minister of the Word of God will share all the truth, no matter what.  The false teacher, on the other hand, may tell some of the truth some of the time, but he or she will avoid things that their hearers would rather not hear.  The Bible warns us that “the time is coming when people will not endure soundteaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths (2 Timothy 4:3-4).” So, if a person has an itch, they want that itch to be scratched to make them feel good.  In the baker’s case, once he heard the good interpretation of the cupbearer’s dream, he was eager to hear what Joseph would say about his own dream.  He had “itching ears,” so to speak.  However, Joseph didn’t oblige the baker with soothing words. He told him the truth, even though it certainly did not have a soothing effect on the baker.  Jeremiah, in speaking about the false teachers in his day, warned that “They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace (Jeremiah 6:14).” 

So, what’s an example for us today.  In Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus, He spoke perhaps the most famous words in all of the Scriptures: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him (John 3:16-17).”  What a wonderful message this is. Who wouldn’t what to hear it? However, Jesus went on to say, right after this, some words that are just as truthful, but that are seldom spoken or heard: “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God (John 3:18).”  Thus, we have the “cupbearer like message” in John 3:16 and 17 but the “baker like message” in John 3:18. Where do you place yourself as you read these words?  Are you the cupbearer or the baker?  Whoever you are, you need to hear these words, for they are the true words of the living God.  If you are like the “cupbearer,” praise the Lord, for what a wonderful future is in store for you. However, if you are like the “baker,” please be warned, for if nothing changes in your life, your condemnation is sure.  But here’s the wonder of it all. Although the baker’s fate was sealed in the Genesis account, your’s need not be if you understand that there is a sure remedy for your condition.  The same Word of God that tells us that “he that believes not is condemned already” also tells us that: “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved (Romans 10:9-10).”  So, as Jesus so often said, “he that has ears to hear, let him hear.” By this he meant ears to hear the whole truth of God, not itching ears that want only to hear things that make one feel good, while neglecting words that are true, but painful to listen to. 

So, how’s your hearing today?  Do you have ears to hear the whole truth of God?  If you do, there is wonderful hope for you; but if you do not, a fate worse than that of Pharaoh’s baker is as sure for you as it was for him.

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