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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

Genesis 41:1a, 1213, 1516, 2830, 3240comment (0)

April 24, 2008

By Jay T. Robertson

Related Scripture: Genesis 41:1a, 1213, 1516, 2830, 3240


Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile

WHEN PRESENTED WITH CHALLENGING TASKS
Genesis 41:1a, 12–13, 15–16, 28–30, 32–40

Amid the disappointment of being forgotten by the cupbearer, Joseph’s trust in the Lord had been strengthened. He had become a God-centered man who believed that his dreams would be fulfilled in God’s time. Joseph was ready for the great work of his life.

Trust God’s Providence (1a, 12–13)
God’s time came after two more years in prison. Joseph was now 30 years old. Pharaoh had had a pair of bizarre dreams. He saw himself standing by the Nile River, where cattle would stand as a refuge from the heat and the flies. In his first dream, seven thin, sickly cows attacked, killed and ate seven healthy-looking, well-fed cows. This nightmare so shocked Pharaoh that he awoke. After calming down, he drifted off to sleep again. This time, he saw seven full heads of grain devoured by seven thin, scorched heads of grain. Again he awoke and realized that he was dreaming.

The dreams troubled him, so he called his wise men to interpret them. None of them could interpret the dreams. The cupbearer told Pharaoh he had met a man while in prison who could interpret dreams. Joseph was his name. Pharaoh summoned Joseph. In a flash, Joseph was shaved, sanitized, Egyptianized and presented to Pharaoh. Although God is not mentioned here, God was the One who orchestrated Joseph’s release from prison. The Romans 8:28 God doesn’t work on our time schedule; He has His own timetable.

Depend on God’s Guidance (15–16, 28–30, 32)
This was an intimidating time for Joseph. He had been taken from the pit of powerlessness and placed before the personification of power in Egypt. Joseph had been living in filth but now stood amid Pharaoh’s court. Pharaoh told Joseph he had heard he could interpret dreams. Joseph was quick to reply, "I am not able to give you an answer." He told Pharaoh that God would explain his dreams. Joseph asserted that his God was superior to all the gods of Egypt. He relied on the Lord to reveal the interpretation of the dreams, just as he had in the prison (Gen. 40:8). Joseph’s environment had changed but his character remained the same. Joseph witnessed to the greatness of God in the prison and the palace. With God’s help, Joseph explained the dreams to Pharaoh. God was about to bring seven years of abundance to Egypt followed by seven years of famine. The famine would devastate the land.

Propose Solutions (33–36)
To Pharaoh’s credit, he did not discount what God was about to do in Egypt. He believed Joseph and listened to his advice. The solution he proposed was brilliant: save 20 percent of the grain during each of the seven abundant years. The grain was to be stored in cities around Egypt, which allowed for convenient distribution when the time came. Every aspect of Joseph’s plan called for action. His call to action was based on his knowledge of what God would do. The knowledge of what God is going to do does not produce passive resignation but aggressive action. The knowledge of God’s purpose is not the end of human action but the beginning of it.

Accept God-given Opportunities (37–40)
The key to Joseph’s plan was sound leadership and administration. Joseph’s plan called for a "discerning and wise man" to be set over the land to oversee this operation. Joseph never dreamed he was commending himself for the job, but that’s how the Lord designed it. Pharaoh appointed Joseph over all of Egypt. No one but Pharaoh was greater. Joseph had gone from the pit to the palace in one day.

The future of Egypt was in his hands, and he was confident his plan would save Egypt. He did not, however, know that he would save his own people as well. A famine was coming and with it, he would at last see his brothers. Joseph accepted his God-given opportunity. He served for the glory of God and the good of humanity. Are you accepting your God-given opportunities for service? How are you advancing the gospel of Christ?

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