In Genesis chapter 41 we have the story of a forgotten prisoner in a dungeon who will have a profound impact on the world for all time. He is about to be released by the King and given power over all the land of Egypt next to the king himself.
1: "And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river. 2: And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well favoured cattle and fat-fleshed; and they fed in a meadow. 3: And, behold, seven other cattle came up after them out of the river, ill favoured and lean-fleshed; and stood by the other cattle upon the brink of the river. 4: And the ill favoured and leanfleshed cattle did eat up the seven well favoured and fat cattle. So Pharaoh awoke. 5: And he slept and dreamed the second time: and, behold, seven heads of grain came up upon one stalk, rank and good. 6: And, behold, seven thin heads and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them. 7: And the seven thin heads devoured the seven rank and full heads. And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold, it was a dream. 8: And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh. 9: Then spake the chief butler unto Pharaoh, saying, I do remember my faults this day: 10: Pharaoh was wroth with his servants, and put me in ward in the captain of the guard's house, both me and the chief baker: 11: And we dreamed a dream in one night, I and he; we dreamed each man according to he interpretation of his dream. 12: And there was there with us a young man, an Hebrew, servant to the captain of the guard; and we told him, and he interpreted to us our dreams; to each man according to his dream he did interpret. 13: And it came to pass, as he interpreted to us, so it was; me he restored unto mine office, and him he hanged. 14: Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh. 15: And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it. 16: And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace."
Two years after the chief butler had returned to his place of favor, Joseph, the innocent Hebrew slave who had waited on him in the inner prison, is still in prison.
All through his life as it’s recorded, Joseph acknowledged that God was leading, even during all his adversity. When you compare him to his brothers, this developed a strong character and patience that he may not have had otherwise. One of the fruits of the Spirit is patience and it’s only developed through tribulation. Romans 5:3-4, “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4: And patience, experience; and experience, hope:”
Near the end of the chapter we'll see the famine. What purpose did God accomplish by this famine? He would get the family of Jacob out of Canaan and settled in the Land of Goshen. It was God's way of separating His people from the others. He used this separation to produce a mighty nation for Himself to settle the promised land of Canaan.
We see something in Joseph’s character that is also typical of Christ, in that he was careful to give God the credit. From Joseph's point of view, God was to receive the glory. That should be an example to us as Christians, in all our accomplishments give God the credit. If what we do is a blessing to someone, it's also a blessing to us because God used us.
The butler may have forgotten Joseph but God hadn’t. He gave Pharaoh dreams that caused him to call Joseph out of prison and place him second in command over all Egypt.
Pharaoh, the Gentile king, dreamed that seven fat cows came up out of the river to graze and another seven lean cows came up after them and devoured them. In spite of that, the skinny cows didn’t get any fatter. Just in case Pharaoh didn’t get the drift, God gave him a second dream. He saw seven fat ears of grain on a stalk, which were promptly devoured by seven thin and wind-blasted ears.
The king called his interpreters but all the wisdom of Egypt couldn’t explain the meanings of the dreams. That was when the chief butler recalled that Joseph had interpreted his dream and Joseph was called from prison to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams.
In verses 17 through 24, Pharaoh recounts the dream to Joseph.
This would be the interpretation: there would be seven years of plenty throughout the land followed by seven years of famine. A wise man was needed to take charge and store enough grain to offset the seven years of famine that would follow. Joseph was the man God had chosen. He was now the prime minister of Egypt with unlimited powers.
This was a time of plenty. These were the seven good years and the well-watered delta of the Nile gave an abundant harvest. Without Joseph’s God given wisdom, the people would have sold it all and enjoyed the temporary prosperity.
For seven years the fields produced bumper crops and their barns were filled to overflowing because Joseph told them to store against the day of want.
For a while they kept track but there was so much they gave up. The harvests were so plentiful that verse 49 states “And Joseph gathered grain as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering; for it was without number.”
There wasn’t an empty granary in all Egypt, and toward the end of the seventh year, Egypt was the granary of the world and ready for the worldwide famine. They had a super-abundance of grain, enough to supply the needs of the entire known world.
Here we have a similarity to God’s grace of today. This is still the day of God's grace with enough mercy for all, but a day of famine is coming. In one of His parables, the Lord said that at midnight a cry will be heard: "Behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him." That will be Christ. The wise will have accepted God's grace while it has been available, but the foolish have slumbered and slept, neglecting to accept God’s wonderful provision for their eternity and it will be too late for those who haven’t availed themselves of God’s forgiveness and will hear the bridegroom's voice say: "I never knew you."
Today God's goodness and mercy are proclaimed to all and for all in the Gospel. The slogan that rang through the land of Egypt in Pharaoh's day was "Go to Joseph." No use going anywhere else. Joseph was the food controller. His authority was absolute. The king's word to Joseph was: "Without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt." Pharaoh made him "lord of his house and ruler over all his substance." You couldn’t get an ounce of bread anywhere else; you had to go to Joseph and receive it from his hand, or else you would starve to death.
That is a perfect picture of God's provision for the sinner today. “God hath made Him both Lord and Christ.” Not only has all authority been put in His hand, but He is God's great and only administrator. He said; "I am come that ye might have life," [John 5:40]
He stood on the shore of the Sea of Galilee one day, speaking to a multitude of five thousand men besides countless women and children. They were tired and hungry and had only five loaves and two fishes among them, and what were these among so many? But Jesus, who was the antitype of Joseph, took that small portion of food and by His miracle working hands, everyone that partook of this was filled and there were twelve baskets full to spare.
This world has nothing to offer the sinner to fill the soul. He is the only One that we can come to and have the hunger of our heart satisfied. In John 6:51, Jesus said "I am the living bread which came down from heaven, if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever."
He can save us from our sins because He made provision for us when He died on Calvary's cross for us. He can satisfy us because He is risen and glorified and is God's administrator of mercy and blessing.
A famine, this time in the form of God’s judgment, is coming, but if you come to Christ and make Him your personal Savior, you will be safe for eternity. Those who refuse Him as Savior will find themselves destitute and will face God’s judgment.
It was no accident that Joseph was brought to power. Like his greater antitype, Jesus, he learned obedience by the things he suffered, and became a trustworthy servant. His path as a faithful servant led to honor and power.
After Joseph interpreted Pharaoh's dreams, Pharaoh, the Gentile King, said to Joseph, in verse 40: “Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.” Joseph was exalted because Pharaoh needed him more than anything or anyone else in all his life.
It’s another picture of ourselves while we’re still in our sins. We need a Savior more than anything else and the only thing we can do is go to Christ as our Savior.
The word in those days to avert death was “Go to Joseph.” Pharaoh couldn’t help them, he had put it all into Joseph’s hand. The word today is “Go to Jesus.” He alone is the One who can save you. He is the one that has stored up enough forgiveness for all your sins.
Joseph was exalted. The royal signet ring was on his hand, a gold chain around his neck, and he was clothed in fine linen. The people knelt down and bowed the knee when he passed in the street. What a transition for one who had been a servant to prisoners! And that is the way it will be when Christ is exalted at the Great White Throne judgment.
In the eighth year they planted seed, but nothing grew. There would be no harvest that year nor for the next seven years.
The news got around that there was grain in Egypt and people began to come. The famine was everywhere. They came to Pharaoh for grain but he couldn’t give them any. He was the King but he told them this one thing: "Go to Joseph, what he says to you, that do." [Verse 55]
The word of life in those days throughout every land was: "Go to Joseph." He controlled the world’s food supply. If you wanted bread, you had to go to Joseph. Basically, if your life was to have a future, you had to go to Joseph. If you were Egyptian or Canaanite; or if you were from Jordan’s valley or the Sahara, if you were hungry and in need, all you had to do was to acknowledge Joseph’s authority and accept bread from his hand. The Hebrews, his brethren according to flesh, might have had a greater place in his affections than Gentile strangers, but they had no greater claim on his grace. Today, Israelite or Gentile; there is One Lord over all.
This true story of Joseph is a reflection of the greater glory of his antitype, Jesus our Lord. Joseph, the obedient prisoner, was taken from prison and exalted among the Gentiles in a land where he was a stranger. Jesus the Galilean, having learned obedience by the things that He suffered, was taken from the dungeon of death itself and exalted to the right hand of God. God has given Him a Name that is above every name “That at the Name of Jesus, every knee shall bow.”
All power in heaven and on earth has been given to Christ. He is both Lord and Christ.
The word of the Gospel today is an echo from Egypt's land of "Go to Joseph." Now it’s "Go to Jesus." If we go to God the Father direct for our salvation like some want to do, just like Pharaoh, He will send us straight to His exalted One. "Go to Jesus."
He has the bread of life, He is the Bread of Life, and He says, in John:6:35: “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger;”
This world's storehouse is empty, go to Christ your Lord. He has the bread of life and enough to spare so that our soul need not perish.
The Lord Jesus isn’t interested in your wealth or religion. He’s interested in hungry hearts and He wants to fill them with good things. Acts 2:21; "Whosoever shall call on the Name of the Lord shall be saved." There is nothing we can do to earn that Living Bread. Nothing could ever buy it. It’s free and "without money and with out price" to the sinner. “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.” [John 6:27.]
We must realize that the things of this world are temporary and empty. It did no good to go to Pharaoh in Egypt or to anyone else. The word was: "Go to Joseph." For the sinner now, the word is “Go to Jesus.”
Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this Hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless?
Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?