This is a weekly guest devotion written by my mother, Estelene. Each week she shares with us scripture and a short devotion to encourage us.
The last time we met Joseph had interpreted the dreams of two of Pharaoh’s officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker while incarcerated. He asked the chief cupbearer to remember him when he was released from prison, but the cupbearer forgot about him.
Two years have passed, and Joseph is still confined in prison. How much longer will he remain as a prisoner? Has God forgotten about him too? We will find out in today’s lesson what is in store for Joseph.
When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile, when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.
He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind. The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream.
In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.
Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings. Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard. Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was hanged.”
So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.
Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”
“I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”
Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile, when out of the river there came up seven cows, fat and sleek, and they grazed among the reeds. After them, seven other cows came up—scrawny and very ugly and lean. I had never seen such ugly cows in all the land of Egypt. The lean, ugly cows ate up the seven fat cows that came up first. But even after they ate them, no one could tell that they had done so; they looked just as ugly as before. Then I woke up.
“In my dreams I also saw seven heads of grain, full and good, growing on a single stalk. After them, seven other heads sprouted—withered and thin and scorched by the east wind. The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads. I told this to the magicians, but none could explain it to me.”
Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years; it is one and the same dream. The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years; and so are the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind; they are seven years of famine.
“It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land. The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe. The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.
“And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.”
The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials. So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?”
Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be 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.” Genesis 41:1-40
Joseph had been sold into slavery by his brothers. Then one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him as a slave. The result of a false accusation against Joseph landed him in prison. He was forgotten about for two years until Pharaoh had two very disturbing dreams which no one could interpret. The chief cupbearer happened to remember what Joseph had done for him, so he mentioned him to Pharaoh.
Joseph was immediately brought before Pharaoh. When he was questioned about his ability to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams, he denied being able to do such a thing. Then he said that God had revealed to Pharaoh what he was soon about to do. After Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams, he placed before him a plan to save the people of Egypt during the seven years of famine. Notice that Joseph asked Pharaoh to put him in charge of executing his plan. He merely shared the plan God had revealed to him.
Even Pharaoh recognized the spirit of God upon Joseph. Knowing no one else was wiser than Joseph or better suited for the task to put in motion the fourteen year plan Joseph had suggested, Pharaoh placed him in charge of carrying it out. In fact, he was placed second in command over Egypt. There was no one greater than Joseph except for Pharaoh.
I find it a little amusing that the man who had him thrown into prison now must answer to Joseph. I wonder what was going through the mind of Potiphar’s wife. Fear that she would be punished for her false accusations against Joseph must have weighed heavily on her mind.
Joseph went from being a slave to being second in command over a nation. But he didn’t get there overnight. He was seventeen when he was sold into slavery, and he was thirty when he became second in command. He spent thirteen years as a slave and as a prisoner. That is a long time, but they were not wasted years. God spent those thirteen years training Joseph how to serve him and others.
Many times I get impatient with God because my prayers have not been answered quickly. But my timetable is not God’s timetable. Maybe you have a desire to do something else with your life than what you are currently doing. Maybe God has placed you in that training course to teach you what you will need to know in order to accomplish your desire in the future. Have patience and do your best. I believe how we spend our time while we wait on the Lord and our attitude during that time can sometimes, not always, determine the length of our wait.
I want to minister more to others through my writings and devotions, but right now God is giving me many opportunities to minister verbally to others I come in contact with where I am currently employed. I can’t say I enjoy the long hard hours standing on my feet every day, but I know he has placed me there for a reason. There are days when I wish that whatever God is trying to teach me I would learn quickly. But on the days when I get to encourage someone or pray with someone who is hurting, I am thankful that God has allowed me those opportunities.
Even though Joseph waited thirteen years, he did not waver in his faith. He maintained a positive attitude, did his best at his job, and continued to live a godly life. But God works in ways we do not understand. We must trust him and believe that he has the perfect plan for our lives.
Until we meet again, may God go with you.