March 2017

Genesis 41:1-49

So many events, so many people, so many twists and turns are all coming together. Joseph is about to see his dream beginning to become a reality. All of the difficulties are about to end, with Joseph exalted, fulfilling the purpose for all that has happened. Let us notice three ways to approach this triumphant passage.


Again the theme of God’s sovereignty emerges in this chapter. Although the Lord is not mentioned directly as the source of all that happens here, it is obvious that He is directing every person and event. He is truly putting the pieces together. Seven pieces of Joseph’s life are brought together by God’s hand.

A. His Sovereignty over Duration  v. 1
“Now it happened at the end of two full years that Pharaoh had a dream…” Two years have passed since the cup bearer was released from prison. Why did not God give Pharaoh the dream the day after the cup bearer went back to the palace? God has a time table for all that He does and in the process He works on the one having to wait. The timing was perfect in God’s economy. He could change any circumstance at any time, but His timing is never wrong or late.

B. His Sovereignty over Privation  v. 1-8
Pharaoh has a twofold dream that burdens his soul. In verse 8 he seeks help from all the magicians of Egypt, but there was no one to interpret his dreams. God gave the dream in such a way that no one could help except for His divinely appointed agent. Thus, God has orchestrated a situation where Pharaoh has a need. His desperate situation was ordained by God to effect His sovereign will. The privation of man is part of how God works to bring real help to individuals.

C. His Sovereignty over Recollection v. 9-13
News had spread throughout the palace that no one could interpret Pharaoh’s dream. It just so happened that the cup bearer heard of Pharaoh’s plight and then he remembered Joseph. For two years this man forgot about Joseph, but now he remembers him. How could it be that a man would forget such a huge moment in his life? Yet the Scripture is clear in 40:23 that he indeed did forget the man who interpreted his dream so accurately. God is in control of forgetfulness and recollection of events, responsibilities, and people.

Have you ever been angry with someone or even yourself because you forgot to do something? The Lord can bring things to our remembrance, and He can allow us to forget. Forgetfulness can be God’s way to teach us not to trust in our understanding.

D. His Sovereignty over Interpretation  v.14-32
Joseph is released from prison, cleaned up, and presented to Pharaoh. The king shares with the young Hebrew his dreams. Joseph, in turn, has the interpretation. He has already explained to Pharaoh that the interpretation is not in himself, but that God must give the solution to the dreams. What had been totally impossible for the magicians and other men was easy for the Sovereign God. He knows all things, especially the interpretation of dreams He ordained and had given to this ruler.

E. His Sovereignty over Recommendations  v. 33-36
A young man, who is a foreigner, stands before the emperor and not only tells him the meaning of his dreams, but continues to talk in giving advice on how to handle the impending famine. How would a young slave/prisoner have the wisdom to know what to do in a famine that would preserve a whole nation? The Lord was with Joseph as he had been in his own personal famine. God gave to Joseph the wisdom to know what would work in a seven year famine. If man can offer any solutions, then man will take the credit. This is a situation in which only God could receive the credit. Verses 38-39 are Pharaoh’s words indicating that the Lord had given to Joseph the wisdom to know a solution.

F. His Sovereignty over Exaltation  v. 37- 49
Pharaoh recognized that Joseph possessed the Lord. Some powerful God lived in Joseph which had answers for problems. Thus, Joseph was exalted to be second in charge of all Egypt. The Lord was ultimately responsible for this elevation to royalty. If Joseph had not been in prison, he would not have helped the butler; the Lord had given the dream and no interpretation; He gave remembrance to the butler; He gave Joseph the answer to the meaning of the dream, and the plan to save the world from famine. So, God is able to humble and to exalt His servant for His own purposes.


There are two purposes that will be presented in more detail later.

A. To Fulfill an Individual’s Dream
Imagine how Joseph’s thoughts must have gone back to his dream while a youth in Canaan. All of the years of deprivation, difficulty, and dejection have ended and now Joseph reigns over a land. Now all that is left of the dream is to see those brothers bowing in his presence. All of the pieces of the puzzle are almost totally in place, and Joseph can see, “why.”

B. To Fulfill an Eternal Decree
This is bigger than an individual’s purpose on this earth, for this whole story is about God preserving a people to bring forth His Messiah to save all mankind. The pieces of the puzzle are making sense to Joseph in a temporal way, but he does not fully see the eternal significance of each piece.


This is more than a picture of how God takes a man to the palace from the pit and the prison. All of Scripture points to One greater than Joseph. This story pictures the Lord Jesus and His rise from the pits of death to the place of exaltation. He was rejected by His brothers. He took upon Himself the form of a bond-servant. He was sent to a far country to save His people. This even shows how Christ, rejected by His own (the Jews), raised up Gentiles in order to one day reach Israel. He was reviled and did not revile in return. He went to the cross and was forgotten. Yet the third day He was raised and exalted to the right hand of the Father.

Notice how this pictures the way in which Christ ministers to the individual. Here is an individual, Pharaoh, who has a need that no human can meet. Another man, the cup bearer, who had been ministered to by Someone having supernatural powers. He shares with Pharaoh that there is One who can meet his need. This One comes to Pharaoh and offers a solution to his dilemma. Only as Pharaoh is willing to place this one as the Master over his affairs can he experience the fulfillment of His advice. He who now rules takes His subjects through a famine and saves the world. He is the Bread of life so that everyone under His rule will eat and be satisfied.

Is not this our testimony? A need arose in our life one day that no man could help. Maybe someone who had met the Lord shared with us how He could answer the questions of our soul.

So we begin to talk with the Lord and discover that He is truly able to resolve our problem. Our response is to bow the knee to Him surrendering our kingdom to His rule. He in turn takes control and runs the kingdom as He pleases. When the famines of life come, He, as my Bread satisfies my soul.

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