Pharaoh’s Dreams (verses 1-8, 17-24)
After two more years—that is, 700 more days of Joseph being forgotten by the cupbearer—Pharaoh had two dreams. Pharaoh first tells the dreams to all the magicians and then retells them to Joseph. When he retells the dreams, he further elaborates and possibly embellishes them, exposing the fact that the dreams have become a matter of great anxiety and concern for him.
Joseph Solicited (verses 9-16)
When the cupbearer sees Pharaoh’s anguish over his dreams, he is reminded of his promise to Joseph. Imagine the thought process: “Two full years! How could I have forgotten?” When Pharaoh attributes to Joseph the ability to interpret dreams, Joseph is both humble and confident in God’s ability. He does not promote himself—not even to Pharaoh who could save his life—but instead attributes all of the credit to God.
Interpretation and Recommendation (verses 25-36)
In the process of giving Pharaoh the interpretation of the dreams, Joseph reiterates three times that God is going to do what he has revealed in the dreams (vv. 25, 28, 32). The repetition serves to emphasize the inevitability of what is going to come to pass. However, not only does Joseph communicate the problem, but he also communicates the solution. Pointing out problems is easy; knowing a solution is more difficult and applying the remedy is typically altogether absent! Merely recognizing the problem is fatalism, and merely assuming the answer but not applying it is legalism. Joseph, however, notes the impending problem, recommends a solution to the issue, and implements the plan.
Promotion and Partial Fulfillment (verses 37-57)
Joseph’s hard work and faithfulness are paying off yet again. It is evident to Pharaoh that God is with Joseph. Joseph is greatly promoted and is given power as well as outward proof in the king’s signet ring and in garments of fine linen. The people proclaimed before Joseph, “Bow the knee!” Is this the beginning of the fulfillment of Joseph’s dream that his family would bow down to him? His family has yet to bow down, but all of Egypt has. This is not the fulfillment itself, but it is certainly paving the way for it. Still, in God’s economy, the whole nation bowing down before you pales to the reality of His promises being fulfilled in you. Joseph is still awaiting the greater fulfillment of God’s promises.
Joseph immediately takes his new position seriously and begins to implement the previously suggested strategy. The first part of his interpretation is fulfilled as the land begins to bring forth abundantly. Joseph’s life is equally fruitful, and he and his wife have two sons.
He names one of his sons Manasseh (i.e., Hardship Forgotten). Joseph refuses to wallow in self-pity regarding his past. He is not suggesting that memories from the past can be wiped clean like reformatting a hard drive, but he does view things through the lens of God working in us and for us. Scars do not just go away. In fact, Jesus kept His scars and they speak of the life and peace and reconciliation that were obtained through His suffering.
He names his other son Ephraim (i.e., Fruitful in Affliction). Joseph’s heart beats with the hope of God’s promises coming true. To him, the palace, the position, the clothes, the jewelry—they were all considered affliction! The glimmer was great, but Joseph longed for the full display of God’s glory.
Finally, the famine sets in. The severity of famines in Egypt is noted historically as being so bad that cannibalism was resorted to. In the midst of the famine, the people of all the earth came to Egypt, a shadowy fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, “In you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).
- We live in a day where problems are often complained about, and far too few folks are willing to do anything about it. Some do nothing because they don’t know what to do, and yet others would simply rather someone else sort it out. But biblical hope finds solutions and alleviates the issues. How are you handling the problems in your life or those you see in the lives of those around you? Do you treat them fatalistically or pessimistically? Or are you prayerfully seeking solutions that would honor the Lord?
- Circumstances are much different for Joseph at this point in his life. His situation has improved immensely. But God promised more, He promised better, He promised longer. We must not settle for temporary minor relief, but use it as a means of stoking our hope more fully for the final fulfillment of God’s precious and magnificent promises in Christ. We must continue believing in the power of the gospel to save souls from every tongue and tribe and people and nation. Rather than being so preoccupied with COVID responses, solutions for ANTIFA, the first Tuesday in November, etc., it would benefit us all to be more invested in and committed to getting the gospel to the ends of the earth. The other things are not without value, but they are merely faintly flickering lights of a distorted dawn compared with the coming realization of God’s full promises!