Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Joseph Hauled Out Of Prison To Interpet More Dreams - Genesis 41:14-16

Then Pharaoh sent and called for Joseph, and they hurriedly brought him out of the dungeon; and when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came to Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, but no one can interpret it; and I have heard it said about you, that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” Joseph then answered Pharaoh, saying, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”

As soon as Pharaoh heard that a young Hebrew had interpreted two dreams in prison and they came out to be true, he sent for him. The convicting personal experience of another person is an incredibly strong influencer for others, especially when they are at the end of their options. Our personal story of salvation as well as our experiences of personal rescue by God during our lives can play a big part in the coming to Christ by an individual. Charles W. Colson, now the well-known Christian leader of Prison Fellowship, but once the ‘hatchet man’ of Richard M. Nixon, found that out. When it became known that he had made a decision to turn his life to Christ in the midst of his impinging downfall, he started getting letters from others who did likewise simply because of hearing his story. They figured if someone like Colson had such a need and felt such emptiness in life, they certainly qualified.

But let us return to our hero, Joseph. Can you imagine what was going through his mind as the guards led him out of prison and prepared him to meet Pharaoh? Did they tell him? And if they did let him know the Pharaoh asked for him, what did that mean? What had he done now? And what lay ahead in his future? He knew none of the answers to those questions, but from his life so far, he knew God had been, was now, and would be with him. Have you ever been in a similar situation? You may be heading into a brand new experience and you have no idea of what may happen. Someone may have sued you; a loved one is arrested; there’s a diagnosis of cancer; your spouse or a child of yours wants a divorce; you lose your job that you count on to feed your family; etc. What do you do? Perhaps the best you can do is to take one step at a time, but know that God who loves you so much is still with you and He will see you through this as well.

Joseph was doing just that. He shaved and got a change of clothes, ready to meet the Pharaoh. When he came face to face with the Pharaoh of Egypt, the ruler told Joseph that he knew he was able to interpret dreams. Can you think of what was going through his head? Had the chief cupbearer told him at last? Or did he hear it second hand from someone else? But none of that was his focus for long. Pharaoh was giving him credit for dream interpretation and Joseph wasted no time in correcting him and to speak of his own weakness in this matter. “It is not in me,” he told the Pharaoh. He was saying, “Don’t give me the credit.” And then he properly assigned the power to God. It was God who was going to give the ruler of Egypt a favorable answer.

The last sentence in this scripture portion is a powerful one. First, it clearly gives credit to God where it belongs. Second, it boldly proclaims that God will provide an answer. And third, it identifies the kind of answer that God would give – it would be ‘favorable’. However, it is important to note that the Hebrew word translated here as ‘favorable’ is ‘shalown’ which more accurately means complete, sound, or peaceful. Joseph could clearly state God’s answer would be complete and sound, and in the act of being given the interpretation it would provide peace from the anxiety of not knowing what the dream meant. When people come to you for advice, are you quick to speak of your own personal limited strength? Are you quick to give God the credit for what He alone can do? Are you able to assure others that He will answer them if they call on His help and that no matter what the answer is, it will be complete, make ultimate sense, and bring them peace? I must admit there have been numerous times when I did not do that when many have come to me for advice, be it spiritual, personal, or business-related. Joseph is an excellent role model for us. We need to mimic his approach.

Finally, I wonder whether this was the first time the Pharaoh of Egypt had heard anything about this God, the God of the Hebrews? As supreme Egyptian ruler, had he ever gotten close enough to Hebrews in other circumstances to have this opportunity? Or did God use his dream, Joseph’s imprisonment, the chief cupbearer’s story, and so much more to work out a means whereby this Pharaoh could have the chance of hearing about the one and only true God? I think so. Who are you meeting today? Who is God bringing into your path today? Is this his or her divine appointment? And just think, it involves you.

Joseph may have been just a dreamer to some, especially his brothers. But God saw him and used him as His mighty and bold ambassador in a situation where only he could play a role. I pray that will be our experience today as we seek His instructions and carryout His will.

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