We left poor Joseph in jail and I suggested you reflect on why this process was taking so long.
Reflect: Joseph’s life is changing rapidly
Genesis 41 Now it happened at the end of two full years that Pharaoh had a dream, and behold, he was standing by the Nile. 2 And lo, from the Nile there came up seven cows, sleek and fat; and they grazed in the marsh grass. 3 Then behold, seven other cows came up after them from the Nile, ugly and gaunt, and they stood by the other cows on the bank of the Nile. 4 The ugly and gaunt cows ate up the seven sleek and fat cows. Then Pharaoh awoke. 5 He fell asleep and dreamed a second time; and behold, seven ears of grain came up on a single stalk, plump and good. 6 Then behold, seven ears, thin and scorched by the east wind, sprouted up after them. 7 The thin ears swallowed up the seven plump and full ears. Then Pharaoh awoke, and behold, it was a dream. 8 Now in the morning his spirit was troubled, so he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all its wise men. And Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was no one who could interpret them to Pharaoh.
9 Then the chief cupbearer spoke to Pharaoh, saying, “I would make mention today of my own offenses. 10 Pharaoh was furious with his servants, and he put me in confinement in the house of the captain of the bodyguard, both me and the chief baker. 11 We had a dream on the same night, he and I; each of us dreamed according to the interpretation of his own dream. 12 Now a Hebrew youth was with us there, a servant of the captain of the bodyguard, and we related them to him, and he interpreted our dreams for us. To each one he interpreted according to his own dream. 13 And just as he interpreted for us, so it happened; he restored me in my office, but he hanged him.”
Joseph’s life changes in a matter of minutes. 15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, but no one can interpret it; and I have heard it said about you, that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” 16 Joseph then answered Pharaoh, saying, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” 17 So Pharaoh spoke…
I love this section. Here we find Joseph has been living in prison and the second he gets out he honors God. It seems Joseph has a clear understanding of who is in control of this situation, and he’s giving honor where honor is due. I love that Pharaoh is so desperate for an answer he doesn’t even hesitate when Joseph tells him God will be the one who interprets the dream.
It seems that Joseph’s time waiting hasn’t been lost, and that is a lesson we should all cling to. It isn’t long in our reading until we come to the climax of our story. Genesis 42…“6 Now Joseph was the ruler over the land; he was the one who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. 7 When Joseph saw his brothers he recognized them, but he disguised himself…”
Joseph’s brothers, the 10 that had sold him into slavery, now bowed before him, asking for food. “Where do you come from?” is the question asked as all of Joseph’s memories were standing right in front of him. God had Joseph’s hardest chapter right to his feet. It took over 20 years for Joseph to see his dream as a 17 year old boy come true. This dream that he had spoken to his brothers caused a great divide, yet here it was, being fulfilled, in flesh and blood before his very eyes. For you see my friends God isn’t going to allow us to settle for second best, and he isn’t going to allow other people’s viewpoints to trump His own. God isn’t going to be satisfied until we have removed all the muck from our lives, and for Joseph that meant reconciliation.
Read in the following chapters all that unfolds with Joseph and his brothers. I’ve wondered over the years why Joseph had his brothers jump through all the hoops they did. I’ve come to believe he was testing them to see if they had had heart changes. Joseph wanted to make sure his brother’s regretted their choice. He also didn’t trust them. I think he was concerned they wouldn’t tell him the truth or bring Benjamin to Egypt without a reason to do so. When I consider the thing that comes to mind is “Forgive and Forget”. That phrase is not in the Bible, and I think that even at this point Joseph had forgiven his brothers. If he hadn’t he could have had them all thrown in jail or refused them food. But he’s still cautious to make sure he doesn’t get hurt again. There is wisdom there!
Chapter 45 has an interesting part I want to highlight. “16 Now when the news was heard in Pharaoh’s house that Joseph’s brothers had come, it pleased Pharaoh and his servants.”
It seems that Joseph didn’t speak poorly of his family in all the years he lived in Egypt. It’s possible the question never came up, but I don’t think that’s likely. Joseph was second in command and my guess is Pharaoh wanted to know his commander. “How did you end up in Egypt?” seems like a very natural question to ask.
Record: How would you have responded to the brothers if you were Joseph? Would you have thrown them in jail?
What do you think Joseph’s days were like?
How do you think Joseph kept himself grounded in this time of his life?
How did he remember God was the one blessing him and not his own actions?
List all the ways Joseph “bloomed where he was planted”.
What are some ways you need to bloom?
Review: “The potent truth is that God lets us be hungry, spiritually and physically, so He can fill us with manna that we did not know. His food changes the whole landscape. The question is this: Can we discard our pacifiers for a deeper Spirit hunger that longs to be fed?” Gari Mecham Spirit Hunger
When I remember my first years in the cornfield, the overwhelming loneliness I have to admit that I did not weather my years as well as Joseph. God had given Joseph a dream and he seemed to live life patiently waiting for it to happen meanwhile blooming exactly where he was planted.
I did not have a similar response, my maturing had a ways to grow. I pouted, cried, was prideful and lashed out. Mostly, I waited for things to be over, for life to move us again. It took me months to hear God say “bloom where you are planted” and even longer to realize God had work for me in the cornfields. He had brought us there for a purpose. Much of it was for our growth, but some of it was to pour into others.
Joseph lived his life as a constant witness of worship for the one true God in a country that worshipped many, even in the wilderness of slavery and jail.