Read Genesis 41:1-40
Verse 1: “When two full years had passed…” Wait, let’s stop right there. Two years? Yes, two full years. But that was after Joseph had already been in prison for eight years. So Joseph was left in the dungeon for two full years after his encounter with the chief cupbearer and the chief baker and for a total of ten years. In our last post on Genesis we looked at how Joseph was apparently forgotten and what that feels like. We also saw how Joseph’s life paints a prophetic picture of Jesus. (See previous post Forgotten) In today’s post, we’ll see Joseph resurrected from the dungeon.
So two full years pass by and Pharaoh has a dream. In his dream, he’s standing by the Nile River when out from the river come seven cows. These are the best looking cows you’ve ever seen, fat, and healthy, and they’re grazing among the reeds. After them, seven more cows come out but as good looking as the first seven cows were, these are ugly. They’re skinny and gaunt, and they come up and stand next to the good looking cows on the riverbank. Then the ugly gaunt cows eat up the seven fat and good looking cows. Then Pharaoh wakes up.
Then he falls asleep again and has another dream. This time seven healthy and good looking heads of grain are growing out of a single stalk. After these, seven more heads of grain sprout out, but these are thin and scorched by the East wind. Then the scraggly looking heads of grain swallow up the seven full, healthy looking heads of grain. Then Pharaoh wakes up.
Have you ever woken up from a dream with a weird disturbed sort of feeling? Well I imagine Pharaoh wakes up with that same disturbed feeling, and he just can’t shake it, so he sends for all of the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh tells them about his dreams but nobody can figure out what they mean.
So the chief cupbearer hears all the talk about Pharaoh’s dreams and how no one can interpret them and a light bulb goes off in his head. Oh man, the cupbearer says, this reminds me of something I was supposed to say two full years ago! Pharaoh was angry with the chief baker and I, and had us thrown in prison. Well, we each had a dream on the same night, and each dream had its own meaning. There was this young Hebrew guy there with us, he was a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams and he interpreted them for us. Things turned out exactly as he interpreted: You restored me to my position here as cupbearer, and you impaled the baker.
After hearing this, Pharaoh sends for Joseph and they very quickly bring him out of the dungeon, shave him, clean him up, change his clothes, and bring him before Pharaoh.
Pharaoh says to Joseph, I had this dream and nobody can figure out what it means. But the word around here is, when you hear a dream, you can interpret it.
That’s not the case, Joseph answers Pharaoh, I can’t interpret anything, but God can. God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.
Then Pharaoh tells Joseph: OK, so, in my dream I’m standing on the bank of the Nile River, when these seven fat, healthy cows come up out of the river and start grazing among the reeds. After them, seven more cows come up, but they’re hideous. In fact I’ve never seen such scrawny, skinny, ugly cows in Egypt, ever. So then the skinny cows eat up the seven fat cows. You might think that would fatten up those scrawny cows but you couldn’t even tell, they looked just as bad as before. Then I woke up.
But then I go back to sleep and I have another dream. In this dream I see seven heads of grain, full, healthy, and great looking heads of grain, growing on a single stalk. After these, seven other heads sprout out, but they’re scraggly looking, and thin, scorched by the East wind. Then the thin heads of grain swallow the seven good heads. I told all this to the magicians, but none of them could interpret it for me.
So Joseph says to Pharaoh, These two dreams are one and the same. God is showing you what He’s about to do. The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are also seven years. You see, they’re the same dream. The seven skinny, scrawny, ugly cows that came up after, are another seven years, as are the seven withered heads of grain that are scorched by the East wind: They’re seven years of famine.
It’s all just as I said: God is showing you what He’s about to do. Seven years of great prosperity and abundance are coming to Egypt, but, after that, seven years of famine are coming. Then no one will be talking about the prosperous years because of the famine that will ravage the land. Those abundant years will be forgotten, because the famine will be so terrible. The reason God gave you the dream in two forms is because He has firmly decided the matter, and God will do it soon.
So let Pharaoh find a discerning and wise man he can put in charge of the land of Egypt. Let him appoint commissioners over the land to take out a fifth of the harvest of Egypt while we can, during the seven years of prosperity. They need to collect all the food from the good years and store up grain under Pharaoh’s authority, to be kept in the cities for food. The food can be held in reserve for the country, so we can use it when the seven years of famine come upon Egypt, so the country won’t be devastated by the famine.
Well Pharaoh likes what he hears from Joseph and so do all of Pharaoh’s officials. So Pharaoh asks all the people from his administration gathered there, Can we find anyone like this guy, in whom is the spirit of God?
Then Pharaoh says to Joseph, since God revealed all this to you, there’s nobody as discerning and wise as you are. So you’re the man, you’re in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.
Joseph and Jesus:
Last post, on Genesis chapter 40, we saw the prophetic picture Joseph’s life paints of Jesus in that both were sentenced based on false accusations: Joseph accused of raping Potiphar’s wife, and Jesus of inciting rebellion against the established government. (Luke 23:1-4)
Both were numbered with two transgressors: Joseph with the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and Jesus with the two thieves on either side of Him as He hung on the cross. (Mark 15:27-28)
And both endured feeling forgotten: Joseph thought he was forgotten by the cupbearer, but ultimately he wasn’t, as we have seen. And Jesus, felt forsaken when He was separated from His Father for the first time in eternity. He cried out “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) (Matthew 27:45-50)
Today in Genesis chapter 41 we see Joseph raised up. After suffering at the hand of his brothers; after he was sold into slavery; after enduring temptation; after suffering false accusation; after his unjust sentence to the dungeon; and after waiting in that dungeon for ten years, two full years past the time he made his request to the cupbearer to remember him in the presence of Pharaoh, finally, Joseph is raised up from the depths, and seated at the right hand of Pharaoh.
Even as Jesus was raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of God. (Mark 16:19)
Did you notice how Joseph told Pharaoh, God gave him the dream twice, in two different forms, because the matter was decided firmly? God’s like that. When He decides something is important, He tends to repeat it…
Speaking of the Old Testament scriptures, Jesus said, “These are the very Scriptures that testify about me…” (John 5:39-40)
And He said, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.” (John 5:45-46)
And He also said, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27)
I’m not saying the Old Testament scriptures speak of Jesus — Jesus is saying the Old Testament scriptures speak of Jesus! (And of course I agree with Him) And He makes that statement repeatedly, because it’s important. So when you read your Bible, pray and ask Christ to explain to you what was said concerning Himself. Look for Jesus in the scriptures and you’ll find Him everywhere.
We certainly find Him here in the story of Joseph.
Image via J Nathan Matias – Creative Commons