Monday, December 13, 2010

Pharaoh’s Dreams - Genesis 41:1-8

Now it happened at the end of two full years that Pharaoh had a dream, and behold, he was standing in the Nile. And lo, from the Nile there came up seven cows, sleek and fat; and they grazed in the marsh grass. Then behold, seven other cows came up after them from the Nile, ugly and gaunt, and they stood by the other cows on the bank of the Nile. And the ugly and gaunt cows ate up the seven sleek and fat cows. Then Pharaoh awoke. And he fell asleep and dreamed a second time; and behold, seven ears of grain came up on a single stalk, plump and good. Then behold, seven ears, thin and scorched by the east wind, sprouted up after them. And the thin ears swallowed up the seven plump and full ears. Then Pharaoh awoke, and behold, it was a dream. Now it came about in the morning that his spirit was troubled, so he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all its wise men. And Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was no one who could interpret them to Pharaoh.

So the chief baker is dead, the chief cupbearer gets his job back in Pharaoh’s household, and poor Joseph spends another two years in prison, totally forgotten by everyone. Everyone but God and it is time for Him to get involved more directly.

This time Pharaoh himself has two dreams. In the first one, he is standing on the banks of the Nile River and seven shiny, healthy-looking, fat cows come out of the water and start munching away on the adjacent grass. They are followed by seven scrawny, unsightly cows, which join the first lot, and proceed to eat them up. At that point Pharaoh wakes up.

He shakes any possible effects of the first dream off and he once again falls asleep only to have a second dream. This time seven ears of grain sprouted on a single vibrant and strong stalk appear. Then seven all but dead ears of grain, due to wind and scorching sun conditions sprung up after them and gobbled up the seven healthy ears. This was enough to wake Pharaoh up again.

We can assume he got very little sleep the rest of the night for the text says that in the morning his mind was disturbed and puzzled over the possible meanings of these dreams. He immediately summons his servants and orders them to call all the magicians of Egypt and all of her wise men. Two points to note here. First, he called for “all” of them. I could understand one or two, but ‘all’? These dreams must have been much more disturbing and vivid than the text describes. Either that, or Pharaoh must have been a very insecure person. Second, do not people do much the same today when they run to seers and crystal ball gazers to interpret events in their dreams or in their lives? The world wants to know what all these things mean for them or those they love.

Yet the scripture says, “no one could” tell the Pharaoh what his dreams meant. Not even with a little bit of certainty. You will remember earlier in Genesis 40:8 Joseph had clearly made the point that dream “interpretations belong to God”. And so it is. Only God knows the future. Only God can be counted on to see us through it.

Last night I attended a baptismal service at church for thirty-seven candidates. Each were asked how long they had been a believer in Christ and why it was that they had made the decision to be baptized at this particular time. It was interesting to hear a common theme running through the responses of a significant number. They had tried everything and they were tired of avoiding, or even running away from, God. They had come to the decision that all the answers to our questions, all our best interests, all our strength and wisdom comes from Him. Now it was time to fully obey Him, get baptized, and totally rely on Him. So it is when we experience things beyond our own understanding in our lives – be they in our dreams or during our waking moments. Only God can be the real source of the answers and the assurance we need. I pray it will be so with us today, especially if we’re disturbed or concerned about something specific.

In the verses that follow, we will see how God sometimes uses those He has chosen to provide us with those answers we see to our own life’s dilemmas.

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