Joseph’s Dreams in the Bible and the Jewish People

By: Dr. Juergen Buehler, ICEJ President 


The apostle John told of a vision in Revelation 12 in which he described imagery of a woman clothed with the sun, moon, and stars. This imagery only appears one other time in the Bible—in Genesis 37 in Joseph’s dreams.

In one dream, Joseph sees his 11 brothers as stars and his father and mother as the sun and moon, all bowing down to him (Genesis 37:10). Earlier, Joseph had a similar dream, where his brothers appeared as sheaves of wheat bowing down to his sheaf.

Many years later, Joseph was suddenly elevated from prison to viceroy under Pharaoh. The dreams came true when his brothers came to buy wheat from him during a famine in Canaan. These dreams not only foretell Joseph’s amazing rise to rulership in Egypt and role as a prototype of the suffering Messiah but also the broader calling and destiny of the Jewish people.

The Calling of Israel in Joseph’s Dreams

Both the sheaves of wheat and the stars, sun, and moon represent key aspects of the calling of Israel. Wheat became a central commodity of Joseph’s reign. Under his leadership, Egypt became the world’s primary breadbasket in a time of global starvation.

The book of Genesis says, “All the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the earth” (Genesis 41:57). In a way, Joseph’s ministry in Egypt foreshadowed the calling God placed upon Israel from the start.

Many times in the Bible, wheat and the bread it produces depict the very word of God. Deuteronomy 8:3 proclaims man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. In Jeremiah 15:16 the prophet found the word of God and ate it. In Luke 8:11 Jesus explains the parable of the sower, saying the seed is God’s word.

Sowers of God’s Word

Israel became the nation of the Book, sowing God’s word around the earth. In Romans 3:1–2, Paul declares one of Israel’s main callings was to administer the oracles of God. All the books of the Bible were written by Jews. Psalm 147:19–20 says: “He declares His word to Jacob, His statutes and rules to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any other nation.” That means the main nourishment for our spirit, soul, and body came through the Jewish people.

But there is more! The Jewish people gave the world not only the written word of God, but the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Jesus is the living Word of God. Therefore, Jesus declares: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven” (John 6:51). Truly, everything that defines our faith as Christians was given to us by the Jewish people, including a Jewish Messiah. It is exactly as God told Abraham: “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).

The first of Joseph’s dreams connects to the Jewish people and the Word of God, but what about the second dream? What do the stars, sun, and moon have to do with the Jewish people? In Genesis, we are informed of their very purpose in the Creation story.

A Light to the Nations

Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens … to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:14–18)

Much can be said about this passage. Let me highlight two reasons why God placed the sun, moon, and stars in the heavens. The main purpose was to “separate the light from the darkness.” The word of God we received from the Jewish people not only leads us to God and nourishes our souls, but it also establishes moral guidelines for humanity. The Ten Commandments represent to this day the moral pillars of most societies. They are more relevant now than ever, as moral boundaries in most Western societies are increasingly blurred.

The prophet Isaiah warns: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness” (Isaiah 5:20).

This moral inversion can be seen today as family values are turned upside down and our God-given genders are under assault. This also can be seen daily as the antisemitic, genocidal Hamas militia is presented as a victim, while the brutally attacked nation of Israel is deemed the aggressor. This is happening at the United Nations and in international courts at The Hague. Radical leftists and even countries like Ireland and Spain fail to discern between good and evil. The God of Israel, Creator of heaven and Earth, provided His word as the ultimate guide to separate light and darkness. It is more necessary than ever that God’s people know His word so they can serve as lights in this darkening world.

For Signs and Seasons

But there is one more function for the heavenly luminaries; they are given for signs and seasons and to separate days and years. The Hebrew calendar is different from all other calendars throughout history. It starts with creation and measures the entirety of human history. Not only that, but the Jewish calendar has also impacted the whole world. Right in the beginning of creation, God established a seven-day week and set aside the seventh day to rest from work. This divinely appointed day of rest has made its way into all societies and is even considered a universal human right. In addition, the Hebrew Bible gives us a sacred calendar with set Jewish holidays, known as the feasts of the Lord (see Leviticus 23). Though changed by the Council of Nicea in AD 325, these God-given festivals have still shaped the holiday calendar in most Christian nations.

Israel also serves as a signpost for defining the times and seasons of the nations. Jesus says in Luke 21:29 to “Look at the fig tree.” With this little phrase, Jesus indicated that the reestablishment of the Jewish nation back in their ancient homeland would mark a paradigm shift regarding the times and seasons. In the same chapter, Jesus declares the trampling down of Jerusalem by the nations as the “time of the Gentiles,” suggesting the Jewish restoration to Jerusalem would mark its end. Thus, through Israel, we know we live in a transition period today. The gentile age is closing, and the messianic age is approaching. Therefore, many people rightly say the nation of Israel is God’s time clock.

The Deeper Meaning behind Joseph’s Dreams

Thus, we see portrayed within the imagery of Genesis 37 and Revelation 12 the unique and weighty calling of Israel. This also explains why Revelation 12:12 warns: “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”

The restoration of Israel in our time is perhaps the greatest sign of the soon-coming Messiah. To the forces of darkness, the revived nation of Israel represents a powerful signpost that their time is running out. It also signals the church that we cannot continue business as usual. God is calling us to a radical dedication to follow the Lamb wherever He leads (Revelation 12:11; 14:4). It is a time of great conflict in the spiritual realm, and we are called to intercede for Israel as never before. Yet it also is a time of great exploits (Daniel 11:32ff). The events of October 7 and the recent attack of 350 Iranian missiles and drones are signs of a far greater battle in the heavenlies ahead.

I invite you to join thousands of Christians already taking part in our online prayer meetings and to stand with Israel in practical ways by supporting our relief aid projects described in this magazine. May God bless you in doing so.

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