The Chief Baker Wanted a False Prophet (Genesis 40:16)

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You can’t help but feel sorry for the King’s cupbearer and the chief baker — two men imprisoned with Joseph in Genesis 40.

The fact that they arrive in prison together suggests that they were co-conspirators in some kind of plot. However, the fact that the cupbearer is reinstalled into his position after a period of time argues that though both were accused, the chief baker was the only guilty party.

We’re not privy to the facts of their imprisonment, but what we do know is that both of them were greatly troubled by their dreams. Joseph sees this and offers an interpretation from God.

God’s interpretation for the cupbearer is glowing. In three days, Joseph says, Pharaoh will “lift up your head and restore you to your office.” For a man languishing in prison, that’s about as good of news as you can get.

The chief baker sees that his companion’s interpretation was favorable, so he asks for an interpretation of his own. 

There are a few things to keep in mind about this question. First, as is already stated, it appears that the chief baker is indeed guilty. If he’s asking for a favorable interpretation, what he could be looking for is either forgiveness from Pharaoh or outright forgetfulness from those who threw him in prison.

Either way, he doesn’t want to reap the punishment for his crime (assuming he is guilty).

Second, he only asks for an interpretation of his own after he sees the cupbearer’s favorable interpretation. What was he waiting for? To see if Joseph was legitimate? 

Regardless, it appears that what the chief baker was after was a favorable judgment in spite of the facts. If he was guilty of whatever he was accused of (that’s the assumption), then he shouldn’t have dared believe for one second that any word of Joseph would change his punishment.

And yet that’s how false teachers operate. Regardless of what God tells us to do through Scripture, we find someone — anyone — that will tell us what we want to hear, rather than what we need to hear (2 Timothy 4:3).

Peaceful words are always comforting; after all, who doesn’t want to hear good news? But if someone tells us what we like hearing, rather than what we need to hear, they’re not doing us any favors. 

What the chief baker should have looked for in that situation is how to atone for what he did, not someone who would tell him sweet lies to help him sleep at night.