Tony Evans - The Promotion of Detours
When we get into our story today, Joseph is going to be 30 years old. We started when he was 17, chapter 42 verse 46 says that Joseph is 30 years old when these events occur. So this is a 13 year detour. Because you don't go from detour to destiny in a straight line. But I'm going to share with you the three things to look for that will let you know, you're getting ready to move off of detour onto destiny, onto the place God has for you. The place God's taking you to. There are three things that come out of this story of the life of Joseph that you are to look for, if you are serious about your relationship with God and serious about his purpose for you.
Number one. You know, you're getting ready to leave detour and enter the highway of destiny, when God disappoints you just when you thought he was coming through for you. Chapter 40. Joseph is in prison, he's interpreted the dreams from the two gentlemen we talked about last week, Joseph says, only verse 14, "Keep me in mind when it goes well with you and please do me a kindness by mentioning me to Pharaoh and get me out of this house," this jail. "For I was in fact kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and even here, I have done nothing that should have put me into this dungeon," this jail. Joseph looks like he's finally gonna be delivered. He's interpreted the cupbearer's dream, told the cupbearer, "You're gonna live, you're not gonna die". He's given the cupbearer good news, he says, "And when you get delivered, mention me to Pharaoh".
Careful, this is an innocent Hebrew boy, still in jail. Get me up out of here, up out of here, up out of here, 'cause I don't belong in here, I'm tired of being in here and you are gonna to be situated, and since I helped the brother out, I HBO you, you remember me to Pharaoh, when you get out of here. It looks like God has finally brought somebody into his life who can help him, who can deliver him, who can send a good word for him. It looks like his day has finally arrived, God has sent a contact who can speak on his behalf. Verse 23. "Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him". You know, you are headed toward destiny and off of detour, when it looks like God has set things up to deliver you and he goes left on you. When God goes left on you, it's good news in a bad situation. When your human contacts can't help you and your money can't buy you out of it, and you are thrown on him alone, then guess what? He gets the chance to be God.
Number two. Number one is when God disappoints you. Number two, which is kind of related to it, is when God skips you. One, he's disappointed you, then he skips you all together. Okay? Chapter 41, verse 1. "Now it happened at the end of two full years that Pharaoh had a dream and behold he was sitting by the Nile". Okay, let's talk about these two years. Joseph is 30 before this, before all this is gonna come about, just get when it happen. He's in jail for another two years, so that means he's 28 right now. So he's 28, so for 11 years now, he been on this detour, he finally looks like he getting ready be delivered, and the cupbearer forgets all about him, and he stuck there for two years.
But two years later, Pharaoh has a dream. Joseph has never met Pharaoh. He's never met Pharaoh. He knows Pharaoh is Pharaoh, but he's never met him. Joseph has no connection with Pharaoh's dreams. Pharaoh is going to sleep and he dreams. He dreams about some ugly cows, seven ugly cows eating seven good cows. Then he dreams about some, some, some corn and seven years of corn, tiny corn eating the good corn. And he can't figure this out. I got cows eating cows and corn eating corn and I can't sleep. Wait a minute. Joseph is over here locked up in prison. Pharaoh's in a mansion in the King's house. Pharaoh has a dream. This dream is gonna be the link between Joseph getting to meet Pharaoh. But the dream happens unbeknownst to Joseph.
So, God is working over here, unbeknownst to Joseph over here, 'cause he's doing something there that's gonna hook up over here, that over here has no knowledge it's taking place over there. Okay? Let's deal with vocabulary. Three words that either you shouldn't use at all, or if you use them apologize after you use them. Luck, chance or fate are not Christian words. You cannot have a sovereign God who's in control and have luck, chance, or fate. 'Cause that means nobody was controlling the events and since we have a sovereign God, who the Bible says, not one hair of your head drops off of which he is not fully knowledgeable of, and fully connected to, there can be no such thing as luck, chance, or fate.
There is another word we'll describe later, it's called providence, where the fingers of God are in the glove of history, controlling hookups, when the 2 years are ready. "Why are you gonna leave Joseph there for 2 years God"? Because I need 2 years, before Pharaoh is ready for the dream, but I need 2 years for Joseph to develop full dependency. And when preparation meets purpose, detour meets destiny. Pharaoh has a dream. Verse 8: "Now in the morning his spirit was troubled. So he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and all of the wise men and Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was not one who could interpret them to Pharaoh". He called the crème de la crème. He called the magicians and the smart folk, called the wise men. He got the smartest people around, said, "This was my dream, what does it mean"? And they said, "I don't know," because watch this, when God is setting something up, he will not let human wisdom come up with an answer. Joseph is sitting there wondering God, how long, how long am I gonna be on the tarmac?
Well, Joseph, Joseph is sitting in the cell, and God has skipped Joseph 'cause he's dealing with his dream, and that leads to a third thing. God surprises you. The first thing is God disappoints you. Second thing is he skips you, he does something outside of you, you don't even know what's happening. And then the third thing, is he surprises you. Verse 9, chapter 41. "Then," somebody say, then, "Then the chief cupbearer spoke to Pharaoh saying, I would make mention today of my own offense. Pharaoh was furious with his service and he put me in confinement in the house of the captain of the bodyguard, both me and the chief baker. We had a dream on the same night, he and I, each of us dreaming, according to the interpretations of his own dream.
Now a Hebrew youth was in there, a servant of the captain of the bodyguard and was released and we related them to him. And he interpreted our dreams for us, to each one he interpreted according to his own dream. And just as he interpreted for us, so it happened. He restored me to my office, but you hanged him. Then Pharaoh sent and called for Joseph and they hurriedly brought him out of the dungeon". Shocker. The dream says, to Pharaoh says, "I got a dream. Wise men interpret it". They can't. "Ting," light bulb comes on in the cupbearer's head. Dream interpretation, dream interpretation, interpretation dream, dream interpretation, interpretation dream. "Pharaoh, I just remembered. Two years ago, there was this dude in jail and I had a nightmare on Elm Street like you did. And there's this, there's this dude in jail, and we had a dream and me and the baker, when you got mad at us, and we told this guy, this is some dude named Joseph, he's a Hebrew guy. We told him our dream, he interpreted it and the dream came true. Well, you wanna talk to him"?
Now I know for some of you that's luck, chance, or fate, but that shouldn't be in your vocabulary. That's called providence. The hand of God moving in the glove of history, creating a dream, reminding the cupbearer about his relationship years ago, that makes a connection, so that now Pharaoh wants to meet a man named Joseph, who he never knew. Because God brings back to the remembrance of the cupbearer, when it's time. See, unless you believe that God is a God of time, and that he is manipulating circumstances. Now Pharaoh calls Joseph and says, "I got a dream. The cupbearer says you can help me, can you help me"? He said, "Well, tell me the dream". And then because Joseph never forgot God, he says, "And God will give you the interpretation". 'Cause Joseph, even though he's two years on a detour, he never forgot God, God will give you interpretation. He says, "Okay, the seven bad cows are seven bad years that you're gonna have. After seven good years, you're gonna have seven good years, seven bad years, so you gotta save up in the good years for the bad years," and he interprets it.
Oh, by the way, when God brings you out of detour and on a destiny, he cleans you up, 'cause, 'cause we find out in verse 14, "Then Pharaoh sent and called for Joseph and then hurriedly brought him out of the dungeon and when he had shaved himself, changed his clothes, he came to Pharaoh". Oh, he can clean you up when it's time to take you out of those jail clothes, out of that bad situation. And so, and so now he surprises him, 'cause after two years you gonna think there's no hope. You're not gonna think there's hope when you've been waiting for two years and nobody's knocked on your door. 'Cause some of you, perhaps have given up because your detour is too long. Sometime you need to do a study in the Bible on the word suddenly.
Suddenly is when God surprises you. When it comes out of nowhere, when you couldn't have planned it. When you couldn't have, when you couldn't have expected that, suddenly out of nowhere, he gets a knock on the door, leave yourself, leave yourself, because there, the Pharaoh needs to see you. Okay. But how do you know, how do you know, that what's happening is really God. 'Cause sometimes you wonder, is this really God, is this just something that happened? Okay, how do you know, it's a God move and not just something that happened. Well, one, you shouldn't leave in luck, chance, or fate, but how do you practically know, that you know, that you know, oh, this is a God move here. This is the move off of detour to destiny or at least moving me my progress of detour.
How do you know? Okay, I'm gonna tell you how you can know. And it's in the passage Chapter 41, verse 32. "Now as for the repeating of the dream to Pharaoh twice". It means that the matter is determined by God and God will quickly bring it about. Twice. The scripture says, "By two or three witnesses shall a matter be confirmed". So when God comes through twice, when he does it a second time. That's why Gideon had the fleece on one side one day, flipped it on the other side another day, 'cause he needed verification. Is this really you God or is this the devil trying to trick me? Is this really you God or this people trying to divert me? I need to know if it's you, look for twice, because God will always confirm his will. He will always validate his Word and he says, Pharaoh, the reason you know it's from God, is 'cause he gave it twice. He didn't just give you the cows, he gave you the cows and the corn. And when he gave you the two seeds, then you know it is from God.
So don't just look at what happened, look if it happened twice, 'cause God verifies himself a second time. I am not, we are not supposed to be in Dallas. Dallas is not where I am supposed to be in terms of my plans. As I prepared my last year of school in college in Atlanta, we had driven up to Winona Lake, Indiana to a school. I had decided to go to seminary, believed that God wanted me to go to seminary, so we drove up and we got situated for school to plan to go to school in the following September, in Winona Lake Indiana, there's a school there, a seminary there called Grace Theological Seminary. Drove up, was accepted, and went to look for housing. Everything was planned, all the preparation had been made because I had a plan. It was a clear plan.
I was gonna go to Winona Lake, Indiana to this particular school, all arrangements made. While in class one day, a gentleman named Doug McIntosh, after he got his master's degree at Dallas Seminary, Doug McIntosh was invited to become a pastor of a church in Atlanta, Georgia. I am going to school to college in Atlanta, Georgia. Doug McIntosh was invited to be an adjunct professor at my school in Georgia. So he is teaching Bible classes in the Bible department of my college in Georgia. I elected to take one of Doug McIntosh's class. I have already made my plans to go to Winona Lake, Indiana. It is too late to apply to anywhere else, plus I've already decided where I wanna go. Doug Macintosh passes me in class and says one sentence, actually two.
Sentence number one. "Have you ever thought about applying to Dallas Seminary"? My answer, "No. I've already applied to Grace Seminary and I've already been accepted, plus it's now May, so it's too late for the upcoming September". He says, "If I pay your application fee, will you at least apply"? Well, it is only me filling out paper. If you gonna fill out the check, I will apply. But I've already decided that I'm going to Winona Lake, Indiana. He then writes out $50, $75, whatever it was for the application fee, I fill out the form and I mail it in with not much expectation 'cause I already have my destination. I already have my plan. And Doug McIntosh, as far as I'm concerned, is just a nice professor who wants to do a nice thing, for, should I say, a nice student. So Doug McIntosh comes up and he writes the check and we mail it in.
Two weeks, three weeks later, I get a response from Dallas Seminary that you have been admitted to Dallas Seminary, even though it's past the time for admittance. So now I got to rethink this thing. I got my plan, he comes out of nowhere, I don't really know him, he asked me to do something I don't need to do, he offers to pay for it even though it's too late to do it, I get a response telling me I'm accepted. All of a sudden I got two witnesses. I got the witness of Doug McIntosh asking me, but I got the witness of the school admitting me, even though it's past time. So with two witnesses, we flip our plans, make our way west to Dallas instead of North to Indiana, and that's why I'm at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship today. Because God has a way of twisting and steering and turning and suddenly coming out of nowhere, but he does it via detours. He doesn't do it on a straight line.
So I'm challenging you today. If you are on a detour, to get in his will, to stop letting human opinion keep you on a detour, following the ways of man that contradict the ways of God, and even though I don't know how long your detour is gonna be, I do know he knows where your destiny is located, and when the hookup is supposed to occur. I know you get tired. That's why you've got to be ministering to others in the same situation you're in until God ministers to you, so that you are putting out and not just keeping it all in. I know that God has a destiny, a place where he's taking you, but God has a place he's taking you. There was a man one day who was ready to give up on God, he was tired. Life wasn't going well and he didn't know if God was gonna come through, when God was gonna come through, and he told God, "I quit".
Perhaps that's you today. "I quit". That's the way you feel, but you don't wanna quit 'cause you know he is there, but you don't feel him, you don't see him, you're like Joseph you're locked up in jail, but he was ready to give up. He decided to go to the woods and have a final conversation with God. He says, "God, you have disappointed me. You got me stuck out here and I don't know why, I don't know how long and I'm just ready to give up on you. God, unless you do something or say something right now".
It's as if heaven opened up and spoke to the man. Told the man, "Look around and tell me what you see". The man looked around and he saw some fern and he saw some bamboo. He said, "Well, in this spot I'm in, I just see some ferns and some bamboo". God said, "Exactly". He said, "Let me tell you about the fern and the bamboo". He says, "When the fern seed was planted, the ferns grew up very quickly and they're lush and green and beautiful". He says, "But let me tell you about the seeds for the bamboo. When the seed was planted for the bamboo, the first year you saw nothing, the second year you saw nothing, the third year you saw nothing, the fourth year you saw nothing and the fifth year you saw nothing. It was at the end of the fifth year that the first shoot of the bamboo came up". He says, "How tall is that bamboo that you're looking at"? "It's a 100ft tall".
He says, "The reason why the bamboo is a 100ft tall, is because the five years when you saw nothing, it was growing deep on the inside. It was growing deeper roots on the inside. Now the reason it was going deeper on the inside is 'cause I knew I planned for it to be a 100ft on the outside. Now that fern isn't growing as high, so it could come out real quick. But because of where I was taking the bamboo, I had to allow things to go deep inside, before I could show what it would look like outside". If God has taken a long time with you, it's 'cause he is trying to take you deep on the inside, 'cause the way he plans to take you on the outside. See, a lot of us want a skyscraper destiny on a chicken coop foundation. But we, we want, we want God to take us way up here, but he can't take us deep in here. If you want God to take you high, then you gotta let God take you deep. Because the deeper he takes you, the higher he can take you and you won't fall over when the bad times comes. Don't give up on God, 'cause God has not given up on you.
When we pass the test that God brings our way through the detours of life, then he brings about a promotion to the next spiritual grade level. Now, God does believe in retesting. So the quicker we pass the test that the detours bring our way, the quicker we can be promoted to what God wants us to experience next. Sometimes those promotions come quickly and suddenly, other times they come gradually, but it's clear when they come, because the supernatural enters the natural, God shows up in an unmistakable way and it becomes clear that heaven has visited history and has adjusted the trajectory of your life. So pass your test as quickly as possible, so your promotion can come soon.