16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said unto Joseph, I also was in my dream, and, behold, I had three white baskets on my head:
17 And in the uppermost basket there was of all manner of bakemeats for Pharaoh; and the birds did eat them out of the basket upon my head.
18 And Joseph answered and said, This is the interpretation thereof: The three baskets are three days:
19 Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thy head from off thee, and shall hang thee on a tree; and the birds shall eat thy flesh from off thee.
Encouraged by the chief butler’s happy result, the baker ventures to offer his dream for interpretation as well. Similar to the chief butler, the dream is directly related to his prior office. Where the butler dreamt of wine in a cup, the baker dreamt of bread in a basket. But where the butler’s dream had been full of positive omens, there is one starkly negative sign for the baker. In his there are birds, pecking the bread out of the baskets upon his head.
It doesn’t require a prophet to know that this dream does not bear good news, but the exact nature of it is more difficult to tell than that of the butler’s. But Joseph is no less bold in his interpretation of this more ambiguous dream. To the same degree of detail as before he explains that three days will pass, and then the man shall be executed, and his body feasted upon by the birds.
This is, of course, terrible news to deliver, I imagine that if I were in such a position I would be tempted to make up some happier story. But that wouldn’t be the truth. This is the great burden for those who genuinely speak for the Lord. They don’t share the happy revelations only, they must say whatever comes, whether for positive or negative.
Ever since the vision of binding sheaves with his brother, Joseph has steadfastly spoken the truth that God gave him, even when that news was to his own hurt. And though he didn’t know it, by being willing to give the bad news along with the good he was paving the way for his great calling in life. Surely the butler would not later on recommend Joseph to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams if Joseph had decided to modify the truth in this instance.