Joseph: According to Plan (Genesis 41)

640px-Cathédrale_Saint-Étienne_de_Toulouse_–_Le_triomphe_de_Joseph_Hilaire-Pader
By Didier Descouens – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48178134

Knowing that God is in control might not make your circumstances any easier, but it will make it easier to endure your circumstances. For example, Joseph knew that God was in control of his life. Even though it did not make his time in an Egyptian dungeon any easier, knowing that God is in control enabled him to have peace during this difficult time. As we pick up the story of Joseph in Genesis 41, we remember that chapter 40 ended with Joseph seemingly forgotten in an Egyptian dungeon. In our sermon, we will learn that Joseph was not forgotten, but was just where God wanted him and that everything was going according to plan.

  1. God’s Plan includes Sovereign Control (1-8). In verses 1-8, we are told that Pharaoh had two dreams. In the first dream, there were “seven healthy-looking, well-fed cows” coming out of the Nile river. They were followed by “seven other cows, sickly and thin.” Alarmingly, the seven sick cows ate the seven healthy cows. In the second dream, “seven heads of grain, plump and good, came up on one stalk.” After them, “seven heads of grain, thin and scorched by the east wind, sprouted up.” Similar to the first dream, the seven sick heads of grain “swallowed up” the seven healthy heads of grain. When Pharaoh woke up from the last dream, “he was troubled so he summoned all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men…but no one could interpret them for him.”
    God’s plan includes His sovereign control over all of His creation. Pharaoh’s dreams were the result of God’s grace. As we read later in verse 25, “God has revealed to Pharaoh what He is about to do.” Notice that God is revealing what God intends to do. It is a gracious act on God’s part to make Pharaoh aware of what was going to happen in the future.
  1. God’s Plan involves Faithful Testimony (9-36). After Pharaoh announced that he had a dream that no one could interpret, the chief cupbearer remembered Joseph. He told Pharaoh that “a young Hebrew, a slave of the captain of the guards, was with us there. We told him our dreams and he interpreted our dreams…it turned out just as he had interpreted.” Pharaoh sent for Joseph from the dungeon and told him “I have had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said about you that you can hear a dream and interpret it.” Joseph replied: “I am not able to,” Joseph answered Pharaoh. “It is God who will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” After hearing the dreams Joseph answered “Pharaoh’s dreams mean the same thing. God has revealed to Pharaoh what He is about to do.” The seven healthy cows and seven healthy heads of grain represent “seven years of great abundance.” The seven sickly cows and worthless heads of grain represent “seven years of famine that will take place, and all the abundance of the land of Egypt will be forgotten. The famine will devastate the land.
    God’s plan includes His follower’s faithfully testifying to the goodness and power of God. God not only sent the dreams to Pharaoh but sent an interpreter. Joseph made it clear to Pharaoh that it is God, not Joseph, that will give Pharaoh the interpretation. Joseph understood that the message was God’s and that he was simply the messenger. Joseph not only faithfully interpreted the contents of the dream but faithfully interpreted the application of the dream. In verses 33-36, Joseph said,
    So now, let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and set him over the land of Egypt…take a fifth of the harvest of the land of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. Let them gather all the excess food during the good years…the food will be a reserve for the land during the seven years of famine.” There are no coincidences with God. God, in His Divine wisdom, has appointed for Joseph to be in the right place at the right time.
  1. God’s Plan blesses Faithful Servants (37-57). Joseph’s proposal pleased Pharaoh and he made Joseph second in command of all of Egypt. He said, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one as discerning and wise as you are.” Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of the plan and the Lord prospered His work. During the seven years of plenty, the excess food was stored. When the famine spread across the whole region, “Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the people.” Not only did the stored grain provide for Egypt, but “every land came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, for the famine was severe in every land.”
    God’s plan is a blessing to all, but especially to His faithful servants. Joseph was thirty years old when he became the second in command in Egypt. Joseph was seventeen when we learned that he was sold into slavery by his brothers. During these past thirteen years of Jacob’s life, we have seen him faithfully serve God in spite of the circumstances. Joseph knew that God was good and was obedient in every situation. We now read about Joseph being a blessing to others. True faithfulness is evident in the life of believers at all times. If you are not cheerfully giving of your current income, you will not cheerfully give after a raise. If you are not faithful in the little things, you will not be faithful in much (Luke 16:10). Joseph was just as faithful in prison as he was in Pharaoh’s palace. The secret is that our faithfulness is not tied to what we have but to the One we serve!

God has a wonderful plan for your life. God’s plan for your life is never promised to be easy, but it is wonderful because it involves you becoming more like Jesus. Knowing “that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28), you can have peace during difficult days. If we believe that God is in control of all things, we have no reason to panic. If, however, we believe that God is not in control and we are subject to “chance”, “fate”, and “luck”, we have plenty of reasons to panic. Entrust your life to Jesus. As Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”