I. LIVING AS A SHEAF OF LIFE
The first three chapters regarding the reigning part of a matured life are chapters thirty-seven, thirty-eight, and thirty-nine. As a child, I used to dislike these chapters because they were filled with hatred, plotting, and betrayals. Chapter thirty-eight is a record of Judah’s incest, and in chapter thirty-nine we see darkness and the indulgence in lust. Have you ever loved these chapters? After I was saved and began to love the Bible, I did not spend much time on these chapters. Having become familiar with the story found in them, I did not care to read these chapters again. When in 1955 I conducted a study on the book of Genesis, I skipped over them. But during the twenty-three years since that study was conducted, I have received more light. After I came to this country, I saw the value, the preciousness, of Joseph’s dreams, which are the controlling view of these chapters. If you have not seen the vision of Joseph’s dreams, you will be able to know no more than the story contained in these chapters. You will not be able to know the depths of the significance of this story. Joseph’s dreams controlled and directed his life. Joseph conducted himself in such an excellent way as the reigning aspect of a mature life under the direction of this controlling vision.
Chapter thirty-seven begins by telling us how Jacob loved his dear son Joseph, and how Joseph reported the evils of his brothers to his father. Then we are told about Joseph’s dreams (37:5-10). In these days the Lord has shown us that Joseph’s dreams reveal the actual situation of God’s people in His eyes. God’s people are all sheaves of life. A sheaf is a bundle of wheat full of life and life supply. The sheaves contain life grains which are good for life supply. Do not say, "I don’t like the Israelites, because they are so evil." Remember the case of the Gentile prophet Balaam who was bribed to pronounce a curse upon Israel. At that time, Israel actually was evil. Nevertheless, Balaam, under the control of God, said that God had not beheld iniquity in Jacob nor perverseness in Israel (Num. 23:21). On the contrary, in God’s eyes all His chosen people are sheaves of life, full of life supply. Furthermore, God’s people are like stars shining in the sky.
After telling us of these two dreams, the record of the book of Genesis reveals that Joseph’s brothers plotted to kill him and that he was sold into slavery in Egypt. In chapter thirty-eight we see the incestuous sin of Judah, and in chapter thirty-nine, the darkest temptation and most unjust treatment of Joseph. According to the sequence of events in these chapters, we see that Joseph’s excellent behavior was under the direction of his dreams. In his first dream he saw that he was one of the sheaves; and he was not a sheaf falling down, but a sheaf rising up. I believe that from the time of that dream Joseph realized where God had put him and what God wanted him to be. He no doubt understood that God wanted him to be such a sheaf. He was not to be driftwood full of death, but a sheaf standing up full of life. If you had had such a dream, would you not be influenced, if not controlled, by it? Would this dream not govern your behavior and direct your conduct? Certainly it would. I believe that Joseph’s dream of the sheaf directed his behavior.
This was also true of the second dream, the dream of the sun, the moon, and twelve stars. Suppose you had a dream in which you were the star that was worshipped by the other stars. Would you not as a result esteem yourself highly? Would you not say, "My, I am a star! I am not a scorpion or something low and dark. I am a bright star shining in the heavens." If you had been the one to see such a vision, would it not control you? If it did not control you for the rest of your life, it would at least govern you for a period of time. You would begin to behave like a shining star and say, "Last night I saw that I was the star worshipped by all the other stars. From now on, I must act like such a bright star. In the past I have been dark, but I must not be like this any longer. Instead, I must be bright and shining."
Joseph behaved so excellently and marvelously because he was directed by the vision he saw in his dreams. Children are influenced by what they see on television. I have observed my own grandchildren act out what they saw on a certain program. If even the little ones are influenced by what they see, then how much more was the young man Joseph influenced by the heavenly vision, the vision that he was a sheaf rising up full of life and that he was a star worshipped by all the other stars! Do you not believe that Joseph was influenced and impressed by this vision? I definitely believe that he was. The point I am making is that Joseph’s excellent and marvelous behavior was due to the vision he received. The vision of his two dreams controlled his life and directed his behavior. He behaved as the sheaf standing up and full of life, and he conducted himself like a heavenly star shining in the darkness. With this viewpoint, you are able to understand the significance of these three chapters.
(Life-Study of Genesis, Chapter 111, by Witness Lee)