Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Genesis 41 - Joseph's Triumph and Perfect Timing

LINK: Genesis 41


All the magicians and wise men of Egypt could not interpret Pharaoh’s dream. Then, at the proper time, the chief cupbearer remembered Joseph. Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams and gave God the credit (41:16) which was contrary to what the Egyptians believed about dream interpretation (see yesterday’s background) where a person did interpretation without divine help.

The “east wind” mentioned in 41:6 is the khamsin wind that blew in from the desert (Hosea 13:15; Job 1:19) in the late spring and early fall and could wither vegetation (Jeremiah 4:11; Ezekiel 17:10).  Also note that Pharaoh had two dreams and Joseph also had two dreams.

Joseph not only interpreted the dreams but also had a plan of action! For this, Pharaoh set Joseph over all the land of Egypt, gave him his signet ring, arrayed him in fine linen (Joseph is no longer coatless!), and put a gold chain around his neck. All three of these gifts were common items mentioned in actual Egyptian writings.

Joseph’s title has been likened to a Secretary of Agriculture in our society. In Egyptian documents the title is called “Grand Vizier” and “Overseer of the Royal Estates.” In a letter dated from the fourteenth century B.C. called the “Amarna,” part of a series of letters written by the Canaanites describing the relationship between Canaan and Egypt, a person with the Semitic name of Dudu (or Tutu) was in a similar position in Egypt called “highest mouth in the whole country” so it was possible for a Semite (descendant of Shem) to rise to a high position in Egyptian culture.

The Scarlet Thread of Redemption

Jesus rose out of the pit of death to be the exalted Ruler seated at the right hand of the throne of God. As Joseph furnished physical bread to the world, Jesus was the Bread of Life (John 6:35). As Joseph saved the world from physical death during this period in history, Jesus is the Savior of the world forever (1 John 4:14)!


The tide certainly turned for Joseph! At the age of thirty, Joseph rose to a position of authority. Yet, Joseph did not let this exalted position go to his head. His character was refined in that prison and through all of his adversity. He diligently stored up grain during the times of plenty (41:48-49) so that Egypt and all the earth had food during the famine (41:54-57). In the midst of his prosperity, Joseph still walked in integrity before God and man. His trust in God is evident by the meanings of names he gave to his sons:
Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, "For,” he said, “'God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.”
He named the second Ephraim, "For," he said, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” (Genesis 41:51-52)
The names of his sons were reminders of God’s activity in his life. He could forget the past, but Joseph did not forget His God, even in the midst of prosperity and advancement.

Peter wrote in his epistle:
Humble yourself therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you. (1 Peters 5:6, 7)
Joseph is a beautiful example of someone who humbled himself before God in the midst of his difficult circumstances in order that God might be the One who exalted him. Joseph came out of the darkness of thirteen years of slavery and imprisonment into the light of being at the right hand of a king! This is quite a step up in the world! Joseph did not do it on the basis of human might but by trusting and waiting on God to exalt him at the proper time. He had endured a very difficult test where many would “curse God and die” as Job’s wife had encouraged him to do when in difficult adversity (Job 2:5).

The key phrase in the life of Joseph is “proper time.” God’s larger plan of preserving Israel is approaching. From this story, we learn that timing is everything in God’s providential ways. During the waiting periods of our life, it is difficult to trust God without panic and to endure in the midst of the dark dungeon days; but we can trust that God is for us, and He does have a larger plan that will slowly unfold, even though we may not see it at the time. If we only look at the human side of our affliction, we may become bitter and discouraged; but when we look at the Divine side, there can be peace. We can choose to walk by faith rather than walk by sight.

Later on in the same passage of Peter’s letter, he writes:
And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. (1 Peter 5:10)
This is a promise to cling to in the midst of our trials. Even though this passage in 2 Peter was written many years later, we can certainly see it was exemplified in Joseph’s life!


My 80-something mentors, Ginny and Lorraine, have a saying: 
“God’s trains are always on time, and they never miss a connection.” 
Have you seen God’s perfect timing in your own life? Can you recall a time in your life where you had to wait and maybe that waiting involved suffering? Can you look back in hindsight and see God’s purposes in the waiting? I sure can! 

You might like to journal about one of those times. Journaling is a great way to remember God’s faithfulness in your life! Feel free to share about it in the comments.


Lord, we praise You as a God of perfect faithfulness and perfect timing! Lord, teach us to wait with the kind of grace and humility we saw in Joseph’s life. Thank You for the ultimate example of grace and humility in the life of Jesus, and it is in His name we pray. Amen.
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