Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Praying for you, your family, your community, and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the COVID-19. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. (James 1:2)
Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the entire land of Egypt.”
Then Pharaoh removed his signet ring from his hand and placed it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in fine linen clothing and hung a gold chain around his neck. Then he had Joseph ride in the chariot reserved for his second-in-command. And wherever Joseph went, the command was shouted, “Kneel down!” So Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of all Egypt. And Pharaoh said to him, “I am Pharaoh, but no one will lift a hand or foot in the entire land of Egypt without your approval.”
Joseph was a Hebrew slave of Potiphar, the captain of the guard for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. The foreign slave became the 2nd most powerful man in the land of Egypt, at that time, the most powerful country. Who did even dream that one young Hebrew slave would be the man right after Pharaoh?
Joseph was born as one of the twelve sons of Jacob, and Jacob loved Joseph more than all other brothers because Jacob got Joseph in Jacob’s old age from Jacob’s most beloved wife, Rachel. Jacob always gave the best to Joseph, and no brothers spoke well about Jacob. God also loved Joseph and gave him two special dreams. In his first dream, his brothers bowed low to Jacob. In his second dream, even his father and mother, along with his brothers, bowed low to him. Unfortunately, Joseph could not keep his dreams in him, but he spoke out to his brothers, and it was not wise. His brothers hated Joseph even more after hearing his dreams, and they sold Joseph to slavery for twenty pieces of silver. They felt good because they destroyed Joseph’s dream.
Suddenly, Joseph became a slave. The Ishmael traders arrived in Egypt and sold Joseph to Potiphar, the captain of the guard of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. But Joseph did not forget his dreams and kept living out for the dreams while trusting in God. Soon, Potiphar, his owner/master, noticed God was with Joseph and put him in charge of his entire household. Joseph overcame the life disaster and the bitter taste of betrayal of his brothers who sold him to slavery.
His life again became comfortable and getting recognition even in Egypt, far from his hometown in Canaan. Joseph enjoyed his life with God and praised God daily. All things were so good, and he forgot what happened back in his home country. He enjoyed his good life again.
However, his good life did not last long. Potiphar’s wife seduced Joseph, and Joseph refused in faith. However, one day, when nobody was around, Potiphar’s wife came and grabbed him by his cloak, demanding, “Come on, sleep with me!” Joseph tore himself away, but he left his cloak in her hand as he ran from the house.
That evening, Potiphar’s wife lied to Potiphar, his husband, returning from work while showing Joseph’s cloak as evidence. Potiphar put Joseph in prison. Another life challenge came to Joseph although he did not do anything wrong. Joseph kept his faith before God. If you were Joseph, what would you feel in prison? You did everything to keep your faith, but the result was imprisonment.
Joseph tasted bitterness because of God. Did then Joseph rebel against God? Surely, Joseph struggled. He struggled day and night while reviewing again and again what had happened. What, if he did act differently, would have had happened? He might continue living in Potiphar’s house as the 2nd person while getting support even from Potiphar’s wife. Joseph truly struggled while searching for the answer.
God who dearly loved Joseph came to Joseph and reminded his dreams. Joseph was able to see his dreams again in prison. Joseph prayed to God and again determined to live out his dreams while trusting in God.
God was with Joseph in the prison and showed Joseph His faithful love. And God made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden. Before long, the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison. God was with him and caused everything he did to succeed. Joseph overcame the huge struggle caused by God and his bitterness against God. It was the 2nd trial in his life, and he came out victoriously in faith.
Joseph’s life became good again. Although he was in the prison, he had his own life. He was able to be content with his life in prison. His life was dramatically changed three times: from a free man, a slave, to a prisoner, but he always believed in his dreams while trusting God.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. (Philippians 4:11)
God saw Joseph’s faith, which truly pleased God. God had His glorious plan for Joseph. God, then, moved forward with His plan, and he brought two additional characters to Joseph’s life.
Please note how Joseph overcame his life challenges. He remembered the dreams that God gave him while trusting in God, and lived out for his dreams. God’s loving and merciful hand rescued him again and again. What can we learn? When we suffer, we should lift up our eyes, see God’s Ever-Loving face, and be patient in Him while waiting for His merciful and loving hand. God, who is merciful and full of love, surely answers to our contrite prayer in faith. Yes, it is much easier said than done, but it is the crown jewel of our faith in God as Joseph did twice already.
Here is what God did for Joseph in prison. Sometime later, Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer and chief baker offended their royal master. Pharaoh became angry with these two officials, and he put them in the prison where Joseph was, in the palace of the captain of the guard. They remained in prison for quite some time, and the captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, who looked after them.
God gave dreams to the two new prisoners, which puzzled them. They wanted to know the meaning of their dreams and told Joseph about their dream. Joseph listened to the dreams and interpreted their dreams. As Joseph predicted, Pharaoh called for them three days later. Then Pharaoh restored the chief cup-bearer to his former position, but the chief baker impaled the chief baker. Although the chief cup-bearer promised to speak up to Pharaoh for Joseph if Pharaoh truly restored the cup-bearer to the former position, the cup-bearer forgot all about Joseph and never gave him another thought.
Joseph remained in the prison, and he felt that he was again betrayed, for this time, by his trusted person. And his trusted person was the only hope to get him out of the prison. As realizing that his trusted person had abandoned him, Joseph became deeply depressed, but his deep depression did not stay with him long. Joseph had already had the same experience twice from His brothers (men) and God. But Joseph overcame both in faith in God. The pain of betrayal was real, but it could not imprison Joseph in the jail of bitterness. Joseph was spiritually no longer a baby but an adult in faith.
For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong. (Hebrews 5:13-14)
God saw Joseph, who overcame yet another bitterness in life relatively quickly. Surely, Joseph did well, but the victory of getting out of prison did not come easily. Joseph had to fight against the feeling against the chief cup-bearer for two full years. Yes, two long, draining years. It was God’s plan to make Joseph even stronger in faith and fully mature in Him. As God’s time came, God moved forward with His plan.
Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing on the bank of the Nile River. In his dream, he saw seven fat, healthy cows come up out of the river and begin grazing in the marsh grass. Then he saw seven more cows come up behind them from the Nile, but these were scrawny and thin. These cows stood beside the fat cows on the riverbank. Then the scrawny, thin cows ate the seven healthy, fat cows! At this point in the dream, Pharaoh woke up.
But he fell asleep again and had a second dream. This time he saw seven heads of grain, plump and beautiful, growing on a single stalk. Then seven more heads of grain appeared, but these were shriveled and withered by the east wind. And these thin heads swallowed up the seven plump, well-formed heads! Then Pharaoh woke up again and realized it was a dream.
The next morning Pharaoh was very disturbed by the dreams. So he called for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. When Pharaoh told them his dreams, not one of them could tell him what they meant.
Finally, the king’s chief cup-bearer spoke up. “Today I have been reminded of my failure,” he told Pharaoh. Then the chief cup-bearer talked about Joseph, who interpreted his dream. As Joseph predicted, the chief cup-beared was restored to his former position exactly three days later.
Pharaoh sent for Joseph at once, and he was quickly brought from the prison. After he shaved and changed his clothes, he went in and stood before Pharaoh. Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream last night, and no one here can tell me what it means. But I have heard that when you hear about a dream, you can interpret it.”
“It is beyond my power to do this,” Joseph replied. “But God can tell you what it means and set you at ease.” It was Joseph’s life-long testimony about God. Joseph gave all credits and praises to God, and testified God even before Pharaoh, the most powerful man having an absolute power at that time. Pharaoh was able to kill and live anyone anytime, whomever the person was. Joseph was a mere young Hebrew prisoner. If Pharaoh felt offended by Joseph, Pharaoh could have had ordered Joseph to be killed. Pharaoh was a god to the people of Egypt at that time, and speaking up another god before Pharaoh was not so wise, but Joseph bravely did.
God prepared Pharaoh’s heart, and Pharaoh rather politely explained his dream to Joseph. Joseph carefully listened to Pharaoh’s dreams, then interpreted them with the wisdom of God.
“This will happen just as I have described it, for God has revealed to Pharaoh in advance what he is about to do. The next seven years will be a period of great prosperity throughout the land of Egypt. But afterward, there will be seven years of famine so great that all the prosperity will be forgotten in Egypt. Famine will destroy the land. This famine will be so severe that even the memory of the good years will be erased. As for having two similar dreams, it means that these events have been decreed by God, and he will soon make them happen.”
Then Joseph gave wisdom to Pharaoh on how to prepare for the future using Pharaoh’s dreams, which was God’s message.
“Therefore, Pharaoh should find an intelligent and wise man and put him in charge of the entire land of Egypt. Then Pharaoh should appoint supervisors over the land and let them collect one-fifth of all the crops during the seven good years. Have them gather all the food produced in the good years that are just ahead and bring it to Pharaoh’s storehouses. Store it away, and guard it so there will be food in the cities. That way, there will be enough to eat when the seven years of famine come to the land of Egypt. Otherwise, this famine will destroy the land.”
Joseph’s suggestions were well received by Pharaoh and his officials. So Pharaoh asked his officials, “Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?” Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, clearly no one else is as intelligent or wise as you are. You will be in charge of my court, and all my people will take orders from you. Only I, sitting on my throne, will have a rank higher than yours.”
Suddenly Joseph became the 2nd most powerful person in Egypt after Pharaoh. Although his journey with God was really difficult, Joseph kept enduring all circumstances in faith. He fixed his eyes on the dreams that God gave him instead of looking around the bitter reality and depressing feeling of betrayals from his brothers, God, and his trusted friend, who was the only hope to get out of the prison.
Then Pharaoh gave Joseph a new Egyptian name, Zaphenath-paneah, meaning “God speaks and lives.” He also gave him a wife, whose name was Asenath. She was the daughter of Potipher, the priest of On. Now we see why Joseph had to overcome in faith the seduction of Potipher’s wife. God knows our future, and any good regarded by us is only applicable at this present time. There is no guarantee that the current goodness will continue staying with us. We often see something good now becomes evil as time goes by.
Then what is the wisest attitude, good and bad, in our lives? We should trust God and have faith in God that He always brings us the “true” good. And we give thanks to God whatever we receive from God because it is the ultimate good that God has lovingly and specifically prepared for each of us. Again, let’s remember this truth: God knows our future, but we do not.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:28)
So Joseph took charge of the entire land of Egypt. He was thirty years old when he began serving in the court of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. And when Joseph left Pharaoh’s presence, he inspected the entire land of Egypt. He wore Pharaoh’s signet ring on his finger. He had a gold chain around his neck, which Pharaoh gave him.
As predicted, for seven years the land produced bumper crops. During those years, Joseph gathered all the crops grown in Egypt and stored the grain from the surrounding fields in the cities. He piled up huge amounts of grain like sand on the seashore. Finally, he stopped keeping records because there was too much to measure. God richly blessed Joseph and the nation who followed God’s voice.
During this time, before the first of the famine years, two sons were born to Joseph and his wife, Asenath, the daughter of Potipher, the priest of On.
Joseph named his older son Manasseh, for he said,
“God has made me forget all my troubles and everyone in my father’s family.”
Joseph named his second son Ephraim, for he said,
“God has made me fruitful in this land of my grief.”
Finally, after many treacherous years, God gave Joseph peace in his heart. God made him forget all his troubles and what his brothers did. Joseph also saw God’s hand that lavishly blessed Joseph even in Egypt, the foreign land far from his home country.
God never loses His eye contact with those who trust in God under all circumstances and endure many treacherous years. God knows us by name one by one and every detail of our lives that we live in faith. When the time set according to God’s good will comes, God restores all things and lavishly blesses us more than what we can handle by opening the heavenly gate. Joseph experienced God’s hand, and He could connect dots of the past painful periods in his life.
Who would even imagine a young Hebrew slave becoming the 2nd most powerful person in the most powerful country at that time? But God was able. God gave Joseph dreams, led him through His paths of righteousness, and matured his faith. Joseph had many reasons and opportunities to run away from His dreams and God, but He didn’t.
Indeed, God, who dearly loved Joseph, held tight in His bosom, and made Joseph overcome all things in faith until Joseph was fully mature in Him. By the way, we should not discount his painful life and the bitterness that he experienced. They were all equally real. However, they were essential ingredients to mature Joseph in Him.
Then, what should we do? We should consider all life pains and bitterness as the most precious opportunities to experience and know God and endure in faith with God to grow into a deeper relationship with Him. In the end, we will all come out victoriously and fully mature in Him like Joseph.
For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. (James 1:3-4)