September 5, 2021 Service
Building a People of God With Unusual Characters: Joseph, Part 3: From Prison to Pharoah's Side
- God’s Unusual Charactersbecome the important people in the histories of Israel. I won’t give the recap again today, as we are still in the story of Joseph, the 11th son of Jacob Israel. You can catch up to the messages already preached in this series on our website, Inter-CommunityChurch.com/Sermons, or on our YouTube Channel, Inter-Community Church of God, Covina, CA where Andrea has archived the whole series as well as most all the sermons of the past 17 months or so.Joseph was in the prison which was under the control of his former master, the Egyptian Potiphar. And of course, Joseph was running the place. Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker got thrown in jail for some offense against Pharaoh, and they had dreams Joseph interpreted that came true.>>>The baker lost his head over the whole mess, but the cupbearer was again serving Pharaoh to make sure he wasn’t going to be poisoned. But the cupbearer left Joseph behind in prison. Then, there were. . .Pharaoh DreamsMost of us who grew up with Sunday School or read Bible Story books remember something about these dreams.The Baker and the Cupbearer had dreams that came true. Egyptians were pretty sure that dreams meant something, and usually something bad. Now Pharaoh was dreaming. There were two dreams in one night.>>>The first dream was a disturbing dream about the cows.1 At the end of two years Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing beside the Nile, 2 when seven healthy-looking, well-fed cows came up from the Nile and began to graze among the reeds. 3 After them, seven other cows, sickly and thin, came up from the Nile and stood beside those cows along the bank of the Nile. 4 The sickly, thin cows ate the healthy, well-fed cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.Verse 1 is a note about Joseph being forgotten by the cupbearer. It was two more years for Joseph running the affairs of the prison as a prisoner, like he had run the affairs of his master as a slave.Then the Pharoah’s dream about the cows. Fat ones getting eaten up by the starving ones, and not looking much better for it. It was a bad dream, and Pharaoh woke up. But the night was young,>>>and Pharaoh fell back asleep and had a second dream about The Grain.5 He fell asleep and dreamed a second time: Seven heads of grain, plump and good, came up on one stalk. 6 After them, seven heads of grain, thin and scorched by the east wind, sprouted up. 7 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven plump, full ones. Then Pharaoh woke up, and it was only a dream.Still there was the good stuff getting swallowed up by the sick stuff, and it woke Pharaoh up again. Our translation says “it was only a dream”>>>But we find out that there is no such thing as “only a dream” if it was the Pharaoh’s dream, and . . .Pharaoh is Troubled By His Dreamsand if Pharoah is troubled, it’s trouble for everyone. Here’s the record in Genesis:8 When morning came, he was troubled, so he summoned all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.Well, right now, nothing was helping. Pharaoh was upset. The magi couldn’t help. The sages couldn’t help. I expect not even the priests could help.“Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.”>>>And that’s when it suddenly dawns on the one that Joseph already helped as . . .Pharaoh's Cup-bearer Remembers Prisonand the Hebrew who told him the answer to his own dream. So, emboldened by Pharaoh’s dis-ease, and the lack of answers he was getting from his advisors,>>>He speaks up:9 Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I remember my faults. 10 Pharaoh was angry with his servants, and he put me and the chief baker in the custody of the captain of the guards. 11 He and I had dreams on the same night; each dream had its own meaning.and finally, Joseph is Remembered.12 Now a young Hebrew, a slave of the captain of the guards, was with us there. We told him our dreams, he interpreted our dreams for us, and each had its own interpretation. 13 It turned out just the way he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was hanged.”So here is news that Pharaoh could use. “We told him our dreams, he interpreted our dreams…and it turned out just the way he said.>>>The Cup-bearer to the King says, “and that’s why I am standing here next to you now.” So. . .Pharaoh Calls in JosephBecause right now, with no answers coming from his staff, he wanted to call in an outside consultant, to see if that would help.>>>Anything was better than nothing right now. And right now, Joseph was the anything that Pharaoh was willing to try:14 Then Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and they quickly brought him from the dungeon. He shaved, changed his clothes, and went to Pharaoh. 15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said about you that you can hear a dream and interpret it.” 16 “I am not able to,” Joseph answered Pharaoh. “It is God who will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”Now, Joseph having a shave was a little more than we might think. He wasn’t just getting cleaned up. He was getting groomed to be fit to be an advisor to Pharaoh.As a Hebrew, Joseph probably never shaved. But in the court of the Pharaoh, everyone shaved. Of course, Joseph would have been wearing some kind of prison jump-suit that hadn’t been washed in ages. So now he got back some nice clothes.Joseph Hears the Dreams17 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile, 18 when seven well-fed, healthy-looking cows came up from the Nile and grazed among the reeds. 19 After them, seven other cows—weak, very sickly, and thin—came up. I’ve never seen such sickly ones as these in all the land of Egypt. 20 Then the thin, sickly cows ate the first seven well-fed cows. 21 When they had devoured them, you could not tell that they had devoured them; their appearance was as bad as it had been before. Then I woke up. 22 In my dream I also saw seven heads of grain, full and good, coming up on one stalk. 23 After them, seven heads of grain—withered, thin, and scorched by the east wind—sprouted up. 24 The thin heads of grain swallowed the seven good ones. I told this to the magicians, but no one can tell me what it means.”Joseph Share’s God’s Meanings25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Pharaoh’s dreams mean the same thing. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26 The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads are seven years. The dreams mean the same thing. 27 The seven thin, sickly cows that came up after them are seven years, and the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind are seven years of famine.28 “It is just as I told Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29 Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt. 30 After them, seven years of famine will take place, and all the abundance in the land of Egypt will be forgotten. The famine will devastate the land. 31 The abundance in the land will not be remembered because of the famine that follows it, for the famine will be very severe. 32 Since the dream was given twice to Pharaoh, it means that the matter has been determined by God, and he will carry it out soon.Joseph Provides a Plan of Action33 “So now, let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and set him over the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh do this: Let him appoint overseers over the land and take a fifth of the harvest of the land of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. 35 Let them gather all the excess food during these good years that are coming. Under Pharaoh’s authority, store the grain in the cities, so they may preserve it as food. 36 The food will be a reserve for the land during the seven years of famine that will take place in the land of Egypt. Then the country will not be wiped out by the famine.”Pharaoh Makes Joseph His Prime ManagerI could have said Prime Minister, but he really isn’t someone elected from the people but appointed by the King. It’s a little more like what the English nobles called “Viceroy”, yet with a broader command of all of Egypt.Pharoah was so taken with Joseph, as were his other counselors and aides, that Joseph was almost immediately appointed to the highest post that the Pharoah could design.>>>Here is the way it reads in Chapter 41, 37-30:37 The proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants, 38 and he said to them, “Can we find anyone like this, a man who has God’s spirit in him?” 39 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one as discerning and wise as you are. 40 You will be over my house, and all my people will obey your commands. Only I, as king, will be greater than you.”What Pharoah sees in Joseph is a clear mind, a clear plan, and the willingness to serve Pharoah as king and the people of the land. For Pharoah to say that Joseph has the spirit of God in him is not a reversal of Egyptian spirituality, but an extension of the Egyptian sun-god Ra into the mind and plans of Joseph.For Pharoah does not know Yahweh God himself. He, as the one whose soul has just been blessed by Joseph’s explanation of the dream by the spirit of Yahweh God in the mind of Joseph, assumes that it is the spirit of his own chief God. Joseph knows the difference, for he has been praying to the God of his Fathers since he was thrown in the cistern by his brothers and kidnapped for slavery by the Ishmaelites.The role that Pharoah gives Joseph begins in the Pharoah’s own house as manager, then extends to all the land, so that everyone who now serves Pharoah will continue to serve him through Joseph’s wisdom and directions.Not bad for a brash boy whose older brothers nearly killed but instead got rid of when he was sold as a slave. As we have already said of Joseph, the difference between his bold bossiness and his current willingness to serve the king of Egypt came through a hard learning curve. He was first being ripped from his home and family, sold and serving as a slave of the Master of the Guards for Pharaoh.Then Joseph was put in prison under false charges because his master’s wife lied about his advances. By God’s grace, he rose to the position of prison manager. In the king’s prison he had charge over the officials of Egypt that were with him in prison because of Pharaoh’s ire. Hopeful of an early release if the Cupbearer of the King remembered him to Pharaoh, Joseph was in prison for another two years until the Pharaoh himself need an interpreter of dreams.>>>It wasn’t a quick or easy path, but a long period of education and training that God used for his own purposes as . . .Joseph Becomes The Most Important Man in EgyptThis Pharoah seems to be doing something that prefers Joseph the descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, over all the talent and government of the Egyptians under the Pharoah, King of Egypt.Why would a Pharaoh grant this command so easily to a foreigner? Probably because this was one of the Hyksos dynasty of Egypt, who weren’t native Egyptians themselves, but instead early conquerors of the old 16th Egyptian dynasty.>>So this king of Egypt who was himself the descendant of conquerors of the East was quite willing to make an easterner his Prime Manager. Obviously, from where this non-Egyptian Pharaoh is sitting, a non-Egyptian might be a better manager than the Egyptians themselves.41 Pharaoh also said to Joseph, “See, I am placing you over all the land of Egypt.” 42 Pharaoh removed his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, clothed him with fine linen garments, and placed a gold chain around his neck. 43 He had Joseph ride in his second chariot, and servants called out before him, “Make way!” So he placed him over all the land of Egypt. 44 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh and no one will be able to raise his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt without your permission.”Although movies have taught us to think of the Pharaoh of Joseph’s time as Ramses, it is probable that the King of Egypt when Joseph came was the last of the 17th dynasty of the Hyksos, a Pharaoh named Apepi or Apophis.And this would be the reason that later Pharaohs, “knew not Joseph” and enslaved the Hebrews. But that is down the road a bit from where we are in Joseph’s story.Right now, we have this Hebrew Shepherd getting back a fancy robe that showed he had authority over others. When he was young, Jacob gave him a fancy robe to be in authority over his brothers. That was over just a clan and their servants.Now, becoming the Egyptian Prime Manager, riding in the limousine just behind Pharoah, he was well dressed in the manner of Egyptian chief ministers, including a gold neck-piece and the Secret Service clearing the path and telling the people to kiss the ground.>>>So that’s whenJoseph’s Service to Pharoah Beginsin order to carry out the suggestions that he had made to Pharaoh when the dreams were interpreted.45 And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphenath-paneah. And he gave him in marriage Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On. So Joseph went out over the land of Egypt. 46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh and went through all the land of Egypt.So Joseph was appointed to a new position; he was anointed with a new name, which in Egyptian means something like “minister of life.”He was integrated into Egyptian society with a marriage to a priest’s daughter, which was a way to increase his authority in the eyes of the common Egyptian people, and he was given freedom to travel through Egypt to to fulfill his mission.—From the time that Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers until he became the Prime Manager of Pharaoh’s Egypt was 13 years. Count all the years of public school starting with Kindergarten through High School, or better, think of it from starting High School, going through College earning your Bachelor’s degree, then earning an MBA degree, and adding on a PhD in Agricultural Management and another in Political Science.>>>That’s what it took to clarify the character of Joseph so God could use him for one of the greatest “Save the Country” enterprises in history.Joseph’s Management Stores Up Grainfrom the excess needs of the people over Seven Superior Harvests.47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced outstanding harvests. 48 Joseph gathered all the excess food in the land of Egypt during the seven years and put it in the cities. He put the food in every city from the fields around it. 49 So Joseph stored up grain in such abundance—like the sand of the sea—that he stopped measuring it because it was beyond measure.Joseph was unmoved in his resolve to see this through. What he learned from God about Pharaoh’s dreams he was not about to ignore. So he continuously, faithfully, and probably sternly fulfilled his mission. The land was so abundant in the good times that no one went hungry while the excess of the harvest was gathered and stored. It turned out to be more than could be measured.>>>We have a note in our story about . . .Joseph’s Two Sonsbecause these sons would bear the heritage of Joseph in the promised land in the ages to come. There is no “territory of Joseph” like there is of Judah and Simeon and Dan and the others.>>>That’s because. . .50 Two sons were born to Joseph before the years of famine arrived. Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest at On, bore them to him. 51 Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh and said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and my whole family.” 52 And the second son he named Ephraim and said, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”and Joseph himself would not be part of the migration back to Canaan except as a mummy carried to be buried with his ancestors.Good Management Pays Off53 Then the seven years of abundance in the land of Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in every land, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food.Joseph Fed Egypt From the Storage—For a Price55 When the whole land of Egypt was stricken with famine, the people cried out to Pharaoh for food. Pharaoh told all Egypt, “Go to Joseph and do whatever he tells you.” 56 Now the famine had spread across the whole region, so Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt.Enough to Save Others Too57 Every land came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, for the famine was severe in every land.God Wants to Use You For His Purposesand what those purposes are may not be known to you yet, or perhaps you have already experienced it. . .
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