“My, how the tables have turned.” Do you ever dream of saying this, or something like this, to all the people who doubted you once you’ve proven them wrong? Or do you imagine the vacations you’ll enjoy once you land your dream job or the awesome clothing you’ll wear once you finally get that summer body? I’ll admit, I’ve engaged in this kind of mental roleplay a couple of times. It seems like it would be only fair to be able to enjoy our success just a little bit, especially given all the obstacles standing between the start line and the finish line. Hard work warrants a reward. If there’s anyone who should agree with this, it should be Joseph from the Bible. To call what he’s gone through so far “obstacles” would be an understatement. Now his tables are about to turn. How does he handle it?
After suffering in jail for who knows how many years, Joseph has been called into see the most powerful man in all of Egypt, not to be tried or sentenced, but to explain some dreams to him. Apparently, the cupbearer guy from last chapter has finally remembered Joseph and, seeing how disturbed Pharaoh was from his confusing dreams, told Pharaoh what the strange foreigner had done for him while in prison. Pharaoh, obviously at wit’s end, commands that Joseph immediately leave the prison and come to the palace to ease his mind.
This bizarre mission does not seem to throw Joseph off at all as he explains to Pharaoh exactly what the dreams mean – God is going to send seven rich, luxurious, satisfying years to Egypt before sending seven years of complete loss and poverty. Joseph takes the interpretation further, suggesting that Pharaoh solve his impending problem by saving the excess from the first seven years so that it can be used to keep people alive during the next seven years. Pharaoh agrees. He agrees so much that he takes this foreign man and places him in the second highest position in Egypt. He gives Joseph a wife and that wife gives Joseph two sons. Joseph executes his plan for the first seven years. When year eight hits, the Egyptians quickly run out of food and come to Joseph. He feeds them. The months pass and the famine spreads. Soon the whole world is on the brink of starvation. Soon Egypt will be feeding people from everywhere – including Canaan.
The Treasures Within:
This Goes All The Way To The Top
All of this started with a couple of weird dreams, dreams that not only left Pharaoh shook, but his best and brightest (and most magical?) as well (verse 8)! Everyone was stumped. Why? Because these dreams were not like the others – these dreams came from God. There’s something so odd, yet thrilling about the thought of God speaking to high rulers. Imagine God sending Donald Trump some dreams. Read that sentence out loud, and it doesn’t sound that impressive. But that’s what’s so awe-inspiring. God used something as simple as a dream to move the most powerful man in the world.
Let that sink in, because this is huge – God has control over the people with the most control. There’s no one too rich, too corrupt, too powerful for God to move. There’s no one above God. This means that when we look around us and see things happening, and start to wonder if God even cares anymore, well, we’re wrong. God is all the way at the top. He sees, He knows, and He’s making moves. What can we conclude other than that He is the source of, the cause of, and the center of everything?
King of the World…and of My Heart
Joseph seemed in no way surprised to hear that God had given these dreams to Pharaoh, or that God wanted Pharaoh to know what He was going to do (verse 25, 28). And why would he be? Joseph survived what he went through as a slave and a prisoner not because of his nerves of steel or fabulous administrative training, but because he had come to know and understand the sovereignty of God. Everything Joseph had been through, everything he’d accomplished, it had all been ordained and ordered by God. Joseph knew this just as well as he knew that the sky was blue or that water was wet – when Pharaoh brings him in, Joseph doesn’t miss a beat before immediately informing the ruler that he wasn’t the one doing the interpreting, but God (verse 16).
Joseph believed that God was sovereign in the world because he had seen first hand that God was sovereign in his life. But God’s fingerprints were not just on Joseph’s experience, but on everyone’s. We may not know it or accept it, but it is true. This truth is fundamental because if we know Who God is and what power He holds, we know why we serve Him, why we should obey Him, and why we should trust even when our lives seem to be going wrong. He is sovereign. He is Lord. Everything that happens is because of Him.
God’s Message To Us:
“I am the Ruler you can trust.” Joseph’s sufferings seemed to be too much. They seemed unfair. They seemed pointless. But it was all leading up to this. God brought Joseph through the pain of betrayal and slavery and prison to humble him, teach him, develop him, and prepare him to become the second most powerful man in the world. This wisdom is unprecedented and it is trustworthy. Of course, every negative thing that takes place in our world and our lives does not come with an explanation. We don’t always know what God’s plan is. But this chapter is here to let us know – even when we don’t understand, we can trust. This Man, this powerful, brilliant, breathtaking Man, is to be trusted. He sits on the throne. He is in control. He is doing it all in love. And that will never change.
What do you think? What does this chapter mean to you? What did God put in it specifically for you?