The account of Joseph is a favourite not only among children in Sunday School but also among many adult readers of the Bible. It is an awe-inspiring story. The faith of young Joseph in the face of almost insurmountable odds encourages us to keep fighting the good fight of faith. His moral integrity when tempted by sensual lust exhorts us to do the same. The forgiving spirit of Joseph toward his treacherous brothers reminds us of the tender, merciful heart of our heavenly Father.
In an episode of the story, Joseph was falsely accused of attempted rape and thrown into prison (Genesis 39:7-20). Notwithstanding the terrible conditions of an Egyptian dungeon, the Lord blessed Joseph and it wasn’t long before he was placed in a position of trust by the prison warden (Genesis 39:21-23).
After some time, the chief baker and chief butler of Pharaoh were also imprisoned for unspecified offenses. They each had a dream and Joseph interpreted their dreams with the help of God. The interpretations came true for both the chief baker and chief butler – the former was hanged and the latter was restored to office (Genesis 40).
How quickly the chief butler forgot and poor Joseph was left languishing in prison for two more years! It was at this time that Pharaoh was perplexed by two similarly disturbing dreams. Seven fat cows devoured by seven scrawny ones that came after them, and seven plump ears of grain swallowed by seven thin ears (Genesis 41:1-7)
All the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men could not interpret Pharaoh’s dreams for him. Just as it seemed that Pharaoh would never find an answer, the chief butler suddenly recalled the Hebrew young man in the prison who interpreted his dream for him. Joseph was summoned before the king of Egypt (Genesis 41:8-14)
The Lord gave to Joseph the interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams and Joseph unraveled the mystery. Egypt would have seven years of bountiful harvests followed by seven years of famine. The famine would be so severe the people would quickly forget the years of plenty (Genesis 41:15-32)
Joseph also provided the solution to Pharaoh. Pharaoh was so pleased and impressed he immediately promoted Joseph to Prime Minister, bestowing upon him power over all Egypt, second only to Pharaoh himself. Joseph was also tasked with the project of preparing Egypt for the seven lean years (Genesis 41:33-43).
I would like for you to direct your attention to Pharaoh. Here was an unnamed, pagan king who turned to magicians for answers into the mysterious. He was ruler over a then mighty nation. Why should he take the words of a Hebrew slave seriously? Yet he readily did and was pleased to adopt Joseph’s proposal and appoint him as the man to carry out the monumental task.
Compare this Pharaoh to another who came generations later. The later Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to listen to Moses or acknowledged the power of Jehovah. This Pharaoh recognised that Joseph’s interpretation came from God (Genesis 41:39) and did not hesitate to believe.
The God who gave Pharaoh the warning of imminent disaster and the way of escape is the same God who warns us of a coming judgement and the way of escape.
“…God…now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31)
“…the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10)
Friend, is your heart ready to acknowledge the warning of God and take the escape route He has provided for you in the Gospel of Christ? Or are you still dithering on the razor’s edge, undecided? But unlike the case with Pharaoh, we do not know if we have seven years to prepare or even seven minutes!
“Careless soul, why will you linger, wandering from the fold of God? Hear you not the invitation? O prepare to meet thy God! Why so thoughtless are you standing while the fleeting years go by, and your life is spent in folly? O prepare to meet thy God! If you spurn the invitation till the Spirit shall depart, then you’ll see your sad condition, unprepared to meet thy God!
“Careless soul, o heed the warning, for your life will soon be gone; O how sad to face the judgment, unprepared to meet thy God!”