Monday, December 20, 2010

Pharaoh Looks For Someone To Put In Charge - Genesis 41:37-39

Now the proposal seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his servants. Then Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is divine spirit?” So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has informed you of all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you are.”

Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dreams foretelling the seven years of devastating famine that will hit Egypt following the seven years of plentiful harvests about to begin. He also gives him specific instructions of how to deal with it. It appears from the passage that many, perhaps all, of Pharaoh’s servants were present when Joseph was sharing the interpretation.

Interesting how there seems to be no recorded reaction of the Pharaoh to the dream itself. No “woe is us” or “why is this happening?” I was reading a review yesterday of a book by Joshua Cooper Ramo, entitled The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us and What We Can Do About It (Little, Brown and Company, 2009). In the book, Ramo says “today’s ideal political candidates (and thus potential leaders) need the essential skill of crisis management” and “we need to become resilient,” because “much of what we face can’t be deterred, prevented or even predicted.” It seems this Pharaoh was way ahead of his time – he was exhibiting those abilities thousands of years ago. The text simply says, “The proposal seemed good to Pharaoh”.

In what appears to be a cool, calm, and collected state of mind after hearing Joseph out, he simply turns to all his servants and asks, “Can we find a man like this?” Pharaoh as leader of his people knew he had to take action. It did not take him long to conclude that what Joseph had presented as a possible course for him to follow was indeed the best one. It is possible he arrived at that because he had earlier discerned Joseph’s Source of wisdom. The young Hebrew had told him that it is God that interprets dreams (chap. 41, vs. 16) and it is God that would give him an answer, it was God that was telling him what He was going to do Egypt (vs. 25) and finally it was God that was showing Pharaoh what to do about it (vs. 28). In fact, in verse 39, Pharaoh so much as says, “Since God has informed you of all this . . .” Clearly, we have here an indication of Pharaoh’s intelligence in recognizing God’s sovereignty in the matter of his dream and how to deal with it.

For that reason, when he asked his servants if they knew whether there was a man like the one that Joseph indicated would be needed, he specifically said, “in whom is divine spirit?” He wanted someone who had God’s spirit in him. He had noticed something extra in Joseph and he realized that leadership skills alone were not enough to get this job done. The individual had to have an edge and that edge was the Spirit of God. It is interesting to note that this verse (39) is the first time the ‘Spirit of God’ being ‘in a man’ is mentioned in Scripture. In Genesis 1:2, we read of the “Spirit of God moving upon the face of the waters” and it is next mentioned as a phrase here in our passage.

It seems that the answer to Pharaoh’s question of his servants received either a negative response or no response at all as Pharaoh allowed very little time for anyone to reply. Perhaps it was a rhetorical question and one for which he already had found an answer. Notice how Pharaoh describes a person that he believes has the Spirit of God in him. First of all he recognizes his relationship with God and that they are in communication with each other. Secondly, he tells him there is no one so discerning and wise as he is.

What do we learn from this account of Pharaoh’s response to Joseph’s statements about what God intended to do and what Pharaoh should do? I believe we see here an excellent example of the fact that people are searching for answers to their life (Pharaoh had two bad dreams he needed interpreted). They can recognize what believers have (the Spirit of God). They want to make use of that Spirit of God for their own purposes (Pharaoh looks for a man who has that Spirit within him). They value the person with such a Spirit (Pharaoh pays tribute to the discernment and wisdom of one filled with such a Spirit).

What Joseph had can indeed be ours today. God wants to fill us with His Spirit and use us among men and women in our day for His Glory. As I study the life of Joseph, I note that he did not ask for this. He simply lived his life recognizing God’s supremacy over it and he was fully committed to letting God be God and giving Him all the credit. Whatever issues of ego or pride he may have had as a young teen with his coat of many colors had all been dealt with as God’s very presence in his life was allowed to take root and slowly fill his every breath. Then and then alone could he be filled with God’s Spirit so that others, like Pharaoh, could take notice and recognize his value. I pray the same for you and me today.

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