Genesis 41: Glorious Sovereignty!
January 19, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Genesis 41, Psalm 18:25-50, Matthew 8:1-13, Acts 11:1-18
The famous story of Joseph takes another dramatic turn. The cupbearer, prompted by different but equally disturbing dreams of his master the Pharaoh (41:1-8), remembers Joseph, and commends his dream-telling abilities to the Pharaoh (41:9-13). Joseph is promptly called into Pharaoh’s presence, not without first scraping off the muck and filth and hairiness of a prison in those days, and is told that Pharaoh believes he has a dream-telling knack (41:14-15). Joseph, a man of courage, corrects Pharaoh and tells him that really the ability is in God, not in him (41:16).
Pharaoh then tells Joseph the dreams (41:17-24). And in the familiar dream account, and in the interpretation that Joseph gives, it becomes apparent that God is telling Pharaoh that there are going to be seven good, prosperous years followed by seven bad famine years (41:25-32). It’s the boom-bust cycle of Egypt! Having told Pharaoh the interpretation of his dreams, Joseph, who has already proved himself both with Potiphar and in the prison as an extraordinary organizer and leader, wisely suggests to Pharaoh that this contingency requires a specially, newly created position to take care of it (41:33-36).
Like in all bureaucracies, unless there is someone specifically made responsible, the task at hand will tend to be diluted and not get the administrative attention it needs. So Joseph makes this wise request, and then (astonishingly!) Pharaoh decides, perhaps having heard of Joseph’s leadership abilities in the other areas of his life already in Egypt, that there is no man for the job like Joseph (41:37-38). He is lifted from the gutter to the palace, from the prison to royal court, and he is given significant power in the whole realm, second only, indeed, to that of Pharaoh himself (41:39-45).
Joseph makes the most of the time allotted to him. He ensures that the harvest over each of the good years is efficiently collected and stored (41:46-49), and when the bad years begin, like the shrewd businessman he must have been, he sells the grain to those in need, making no doubt a tidy profit for Pharaoh in the meantime, and proving his worth once again to his boss (41:53-57).
God’s sovereignty is clear throughout this story. Who could have predicted that this story would turn out this way? God had a plan for Joseph to save the world from the famine in that area at that time. To do so, Joseph had to get to Egypt. Once in Egypt, Joseph had to be in a position of power. He was a little known younger brother, so how to accomplish all this? First, sold into slavery (Gen. 37:25-28). Then successfully running Potiphar’s business (Gen. 39:1-6). Close, but still he has to get closer to Pharaoh. He is falsely accused (Gen. 39:7-19), so he goes to jail (Gen. 39:20-23) and meets Pharaoh’s officials (Gen. 40), and one of those will remember him and commend him to Pharaoh (41:9-13). Now Joseph is just where God wanted him at just the right time!
Judge not, frail Christian, by feeble eyesight or failing human perception, of the circumstances of your life, but look at them through the eyes of Joseph, the Real Joseph, whose death on a cross led to a glorious resurrection, and whose triumph over sin and Satan can even today save you!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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