Summary: Gos still uses people in incredible ways. He changes lives when we least expect it. He uses people and situations for His good.
The Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Romans. Chapter 15 verse 4, “For whatever was
written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” And hope is certainly what we find as we study the life of Joseph in the Old Testament book of Genesis.
So where did we leave off? Remember, as we have been studying and watching Joseph grow from a somewhat prideful teenager to a trusting, servant of God in his late twenties, we talked about your story too, your life that contains sufficient material for a great novel! And Joseph’s life certainly contained sufficient material to be recorded throughout history. When we left off, Joseph had been put in prison because of lies and deceit, not on his part but on the part of the others, specifically Poitphar’s wife. Potiphar (Pharaoh’s captain of the guard) had taken Joseph in after he was sold to slave traders in route to Egypt and ultimately placed him in charge of his entire household. After a series of events, Joseph found himself in prison, yet he once again was placed in authority, this time in charge of the inmates. All of this due to the fact that; “The Lord was with Joseph and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.” Remember, while in prison he interpreted the dreams of the Pharaoh’s cup-bearer and baker, (the cup-bearer was released into the care of the Pharaoh and the baker was put to death.) And as the cup-bearer left the prison walls, Joseph asked him to remember him in the presence of the Pharaoh. And he did. Only he forgot for a couple of years while Joseph remained behind in his secluded dungeon.
So we find mention in chapter 41 of Genesis where the Pharaoh of Egypt had a series of dreams and needed someone to interpret them. Scripture says that he called the wise men and magicians in the land, everyone who could possibly interpret dreams, yet he found no one. Interesting to note that the term ‘magicians’ translated from the Hebrew text means ‘men versed in sacred writings.’ So in walks Pharaoh’s chief butler, his trusted cup-bearer saying, “I remember my faults this day” and told the Pharaoh of a young Hebrew man, a servant of Potiphar, who was with him in prison and was able to understand dreams. “Oops, sorry, I kind of forgot to mention this earlier,” he said.
Pharaoh called Joseph up at once, and after a bath, a two year shave and a change of clothes, Joseph stood before the ruler of Egypt. Pharaoh asked him about his dreams and Joseph replied that “It is not in me; but God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” Can you imagine Joseph’s response? After years of imprisonment, years of discouragement, this is Joseph’s ticket out. All he has to do is interpret Pharaoh’s dreams and take the credit for himself. He’ll be an instant star. Who is this wise man, the one who Pharaoh found? But instead, in Joseph’s humility and integrity, he gives all the power in his life over to God. “It’s not me Pharaoh; it is God who has chosen to work through ordinary me.” “So I’ll speak for God, and if we listen, we both might learn something.” Why was Joseph so humble? I believe God was working on his heart through his affliction. Joseph knew he could endure whatever God put in his way, that God would make a way, and that included any future conflict he might encounter.
Joseph was not bitter or resentful. He was not out for revenge, even though others had hurt him and treated him badly. Throughout the rest of Joseph’s life from his current age of 30 years old until he died 80 years later, we will never hear one word of resentment on his heart from his lips. Not a word of blame, not a ‘get even’ word, not a word of bitterness or rebuke. Joseph would be in a position to strike back, a great position of authority, life and death stuff, but he never did. So in Genesis chapter 41, here are Pharaoh’s dreams and here is God’s response through ordinary Joseph.
“As Pharaoh stood by the river, suddenly there came up out of the river seven cows, fine looking and fat and they grazed in the meadow. Then behold, seven other cows came up after them, but they were ugly and gaunt, and stood by the other cows by the river. And the seven ugly and gaunt cows ate the seven fine looking and fat cows. So Pharaoh awoke but soon fell back asleep. Then he had a second dream where seven heads of grain came up on one stock, plump and good. Then, seven thin heads of grain sprang up after them, thin grain wilting by the wind out of the east. And the seven thin heads devoured the seven plump and full heads of grain.” So Pharaoh awoke again, this time with a troubled heart. With all of the educational and technological advances within the Egyptian Empire, you’d think they would have at least invented Tylenol PM by then! Pharaoh had no idea what these dreams could possibly mean. And in walks Joseph, the moment he has been awaiting, for two long years now.