Year 2 Day 288
Read - Genesis 41
Message - Scott Woodburn
Very few of us have the number of a plumber on hand and usually we only search for such information when we’ve put a nail through a pipe. We then put a message out on Facebook - “anyone recommend a good plumber…QUICKLY???!!!” But if a good plumber is hard to find, what do you do when you’re troubled by dreams?
Pharaoh soon found himself asking that question. The leader of Egypt had two dreams. In one, seven plump cows were devoured by seven ugly skinny cows. In the other dream seven plump ears of grain were devoured by seven thin ears of grain (v2-7). The dreams annoyed Pharaoh so much that he sent for his magicians and wise men to interpret the troubling visions but no one was able to solve the problem of the cows and the grain.
Two years had passed since Pharaoh’s cup bearer had been in prison but finally he regained his memory. He told Pharaoh that he had been in jail with a young Hebrew who had successfully interpreted the dreams of both the cup bearer and the baker (v9-13) and quicker than skinny cows could eat plump cows, Joseph stood before one of the most powerful men in the world.
Joseph didn’t quake. He was clear that he had no ability to discern the meaning of dreams but he was confident the Lord God Almighty would answer Pharaoh (v16). Egypt’s ruler then outlined the details of his dreams and soon realised that Joseph was no fraud. Jospeh told Pharaoh that the two dreams were actually one. The seven plump cows and plump ears of grain represented seven years of plenty. The seven ugly cows and the seven thin ears of grain represented seven years of severe famine (v25-31). The dream had been repeated to show that the events were fixed by God - they most certainly would take place (v32).
But Joseph wasn’t finished. He urged Pharaoh to appoint a wise man over the nation who would ensure that grain was kept aside during the years of plenty. When the years of famine arrived, Egypt would then be prepared to meet the challenge head on (v33-36).
Joseph had moved from the prison to the palace and Pharaoh liked what he saw and heard. As far as he was concerned there was none wiser than Joseph and he put him in charge over his whole house and land of Egypt (v40-41). He honoured Joseph with a ring, clothing and other jewellery (v42). He changed his name to Zaphenath-paneah which means “God speaks and lives” and he gave him a wife called Asenath (v45). Indeed when Pharaoh and Joseph drove past in their chariots every Egyptian was to bow the knee (v43).
What a dramatic change which Joseph well understood. When his two sons were born he named them Manasseh meaning “God has made me forget my toil and my father’s house” and Ephraim meaning “God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction” (v50-52). Joseph had moved from toil and trouble to a place of fruitfulness and all of it had been worked by the providential hand of Almighty God.
The journey from the pit to Potiphar to prison to Pharaoh had taken years and I’m certain Joseph at times would have wondered if brighter days would ever come - but eventually they did. Brothers and sisters, we have spoken about God’s providence and must accept that the movement of His hand is often unseen and to our mind it moves much too slowly. But the Lord does not slumber nor sleep, He is always at work and He rules over the forgotten prisoner and the dreaming Pharaoh. Joseph’s ascent to power was part of a grander narrative and like a chess grand-master the Lord was always several steps ahead.
If our God is sovereign over nation states and world affairs and if he is able to govern times of famine and harvest, then I am certain He is able to help us in our time of need. Do not lose sight of Christ this year, He is for us and He is the true Zaphenath-paneah for in Jesus the world will see that God speaks and lives.
Q49 Which is the second commandment? The second commandment is, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me: and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.