Joseph in Egypt








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Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there. The LORD was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of the LORD was on all that he had in the house and in the field. Thus he left all that he had in Joseph's hand, and he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate. Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.

Genesis 39:1-6




The LORD was with Joseph. Enough said, aye? If the Lord is with you, brother, that is all that matters in this whole wide, dark world. As you have it in Romans 8:31-32, 35-39,


What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?


Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: 'For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.' Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


So it was with Joseph in Egypt and, so it is with you and me, dear Saint. So it always has been with God's people in every age and at all times. Their particular circumstances never really mattered ... good or bad. Joseph’s circumstances were not all that good, but the Lord was with him in the circumstances in which he found himself and our great God always works out his purposes through the circumstances of his children. He takes care of his own. Great is his faithfulness. This is so evident here in the account of Joseph. Because of this, Potiphar made Joseph overseer of his house. Also, the Lord prospered Potiphar, because of Joseph … so much so that he lost count of all that he had!


The text also says that Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. Now, when the Word of God says that a person was handsome or beautiful, we can rest assured they were just that. In Joseph’s case, no doubt he was handsome and his body was a study in the male physique. In form and appearance, he could have been the model Michelangelo used for his famous sculpture, David. We read in Second Samuel 11:2, that Bathsheba was beautiful. So, we can rest assured that she too was extremely “easy on the eyes.” On the male side of the equation, Joseph was Bathsheba's equivalent. He possessed stunning good looks.


Now, from what I have observed in my lifetime, those qualities are not always a blessing. In fact, they can be a curse. Those who possess such outstanding physical attributes often experience great trials and grief because of them. So it was with Joseph. His looks immediately attracted Potiphar’s ungodly and adulterous wife like a bee to honey. Yet, there is no indication whatsoever that Joseph had become proud or vain because of his good looks. This was another reason he was able to stand against the advances of Mrs. Potiphar. He not only had good looks, but he had good character, as well. He was just as handsome on the inside as he was on the outside. Joseph was a remarkable young man of God.





And it came to pass after these things that his master's wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, 'Lie with me.' But he refused and said to his master's wife, 'Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?' So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her. But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside, that she caught him by his garment, saying, 'Lie with me.' But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside. Genesis 39:7-12




Joseph is a study in servanthood. Not only was he faithful to his God, but he was also faithful to his employer. When Potiphar’s wife made advances to him he said … Look, my master has trusted me with everything he has. How could I possibly betray him? Wow! As they say out west, Joseph rode for the brand. That is as it should be with every employee, by the way. Employers have a right to expect loyalty and integrity from those who they are paying to work for them. This was axiomatic, as far as Joseph was concerned.


Furthermore, Joseph told Mrs. Potiphar that to lie with her would be a great ... sin against God. This young man certainly had a firm grasp of true spirituality. He was keenly aware that, ultimately, all sin is against God. He had it right. All sin is against God, beloved. The New Testament declares that God is love (I John 4:8). Therefore, all unloving acts are ungodly. Is committing adultery with a neighbor’s spouse a loving thing to do? No. It is rooted in self-centeredness and selfishness and a crime against one’s neighbor. That is why, when the Law came along, it was written … Thou shalt not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14). In the New Testament we read,


For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Galatians 5:14


However, no doubt this was an immense trial for young Joseph. He was, after all, human. And at that young age, his hormones were running wild. I marvel at his self-control, don't you? Especially as day by day she relentlessly kept after him. She was constantly seeking opportunities to be alone with him. She perfumed her bed and, no doubt, displayed her body and used all manner of enticements. I suspect that every time Joseph turned around, Mrs. Potiphar was there. Here I am. I'm yours for the taking, was her daily mantra. There was no way that Joseph could escape these temptations. All he could do was endure them. And, endure he did.


Now, we have all been in one situation or another where we couldn't get away from a temptation. Yet, by the grace and strength of God, we found we were able to stand. When I think about the sexual temptations that young and old alike are facing in our society today, I am saddened. It saddens me for my kids, grandkids and my brothers and sisters in Christ. Everywhere one looks today, it seems like Potiphar's wife is there beckoning. What is the child of God to do? God's Word says that the answer is threefold:


    First, like Joseph, the child of God must endure.  As you have it in James 1:12,


Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.


    Second, the child of God must arm themselves. As you have it in Ephesians 6:13,


Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.


God does not send his soldiers into battle unarmed! He sends them armed to the teeth, so that they can fight and be victorious. Are you familiar with the armor God has provided for you, beloved? Get your Bible out and turn to Ephesians 6. Study it carefully. Study it so that you can find out exactly what God’s armor is. Then, put it on. Put it on piece by piece. Arm yourself each and every day. You and I are in a war. And the things, found here in Ephesians 6, are God's provisions for our protection and success. They are very very important.


Put on the whole armor of God, that you might be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:11-12


    Third, when it comes to sexual temptations, the Bible says the child of God must flee. That is exactly what Joseph did. He fled from Potiphar’s wife … peeling out of his coat and leaving it behind … clutched in her adulterous hands. I Corinthians 6:18-20, says,


Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.


This is one area of our lives where we just can't fool around. Don't even think about hanging around where blatant sexual temptations are present. Get out of there! And, get out fast. Satan will lie to you and say … You can handle this. You’re strong. Why, you’re a mature Christian. No problem. Just look ... you don't have to touch! One second of disobedience to God’s command to flee sexual sin can result in disaster. It has been said that Billy Graham wouldn’t even enter an elevator if it meant he would have to be alone there with a woman. Why? Because that great evangelist is a lot like Joseph, that’s why. When God's word says to flee, the question for you and I becomes very simple ... Am I going to obey … or… not? May I say to you, quite candidly, I believe that when Potiphar’s wife laid hands on Joseph ... if he had stayed one more second ... he would have been a gonner and God's plan for his life would have had to be radically altered. If a child of God doesn’t make it a habit to flee sexual immorality, I guarantee you ... sooner or later, they will fall.





And so it was, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and fled outside, that she called to the men of her house and spoke to them, saying, 'See, he has brought in to us a Hebrew to mock us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice. And it happened, when he heard that I lifted my voice and cried out, that he left his garment with me, and fled and went outside.' So she kept his garment with her until his master came home. Then she spoke to him with words like these, saying, 'The Hebrew servant whom you brought to us came in to me to mock me; so it happened, as I lifted my voice and cried out, that he left his garment with me and fled outside.' So it was, when his master heard the words which his wife spoke to him, saying, 'Your servant did to me after this manner,' that his anger was aroused. Then Joseph's master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison. But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph's authority, because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper. Genesis 39:13-23




Psalm 105:18-19, speaks of Joseph’s imprisonment as follows,


They hurt his feet with fetters, He was laid in irons. Until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the LORD tested him.


Frankly, Joseph was far better off down there in prison, suffering the pain of leg-irons, than he was living in the lap of luxury with the constant advances of Potiphar’s wife. Wouldn’t you agree?


For several years, Joseph was seemingly forgotten and abandoned. The scripture says it was a time of testing. Like what? Well, for example … Would he blame God? Would he become bitter? Would he brood over all the unjust things that had happened to him? The answer was a resounding … NO! Joseph passed the test of imprisonment, a feat not easily accomplished by anyone. And, all the while, he simply waited on his God. He kept the faith. He stood firm. His ankles were rubbed raw by leg-irons but, spiritually, he remained healthy and whole. How are you doing with the testing of your faith, dear saint? Are you standing firm? Philippians 1:29a, says,


For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake...


Peter, writing to us in I Peter 1:6-7, says,


Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it is tried with fire, might be found unto praise, honor, and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ... (KJV)


And again, in I Peter 2:11-12, we read,


Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.


Listen, dear saint, whatever you are going through, whatever temptations and trials you are experiencing, they are there to make your faith more perfect. Then, when your Lord appears, all you have gone through will result in praise, honor and glory for you and for your Lord alike. So, keep on standing firm, beloved. Your vindication and reward draws near. Joseph’s faith was tried in the fire. And, though he probably didn’t understand it at the time, his faith was being refined and molded toward a time of glory, praise and honor for him and his God. And so it will be for you and I as well if we, like Joseph, stand firm.  


Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Ephesians 6:13





It came to pass after these things that the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their lord, the king of Egypt. And Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief butler and the chief baker. So he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison, the place where Joseph was confined. And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he served them; so they were in custody for a while. Then the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison, had a dream, both of them, each man's dream in one night and each man's dream with its own interpretation. And Joseph came in to them in the morning and looked at them, and saw that they were sad. So he asked Pharaoh's officers who were with him in the custody of his lord's house, saying, 'Why do you look so sad today?' And they said to him, 'We each have had a dream, and there is no interpreter of it.' So Joseph said to them, 'Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell them to me, please.' Genesis 40:1-8




Somehow, Pharaoh’s chief butler and baker had gotten themselves into hot water with Pharaoh and both were subsequently thrown into the clink. In those days, that wasn’t very hard to do, by the way … when working under capricious kings and Pharaohs. While in prison, one night they each had a dream. Both recognized that their dreams were not ordinary. Each one knew they had received a revelation. The next morning, when Joseph came into their cell, he noticed their long faces. Why are you fellows looking so sad? … he asked. We have each had a dream, they replied … and there is no interpreter for them. Joseph said, Do not interpretations belong to God? Don’t you just love it? What simple theology. What a straightforward statement of the truth. What a testimony. Tell them to me, he offered.





Then the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, 'Behold, in my dream a vine was before me, and in the vine were three branches; it was as though it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and its clusters brought forth ripe grapes. Then Pharaoh's cup was in my hand; and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh's cup, and placed the cup in Pharaoh's hand.' And Joseph said to him, 'This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days. Now within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your place, and you will put Pharaoh's cup in his hand according to the former manner, when you were his butler. But remember me when it is well with you, and please show kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this house. For indeed I was stolen away from the land of the Hebrews; and also I have done nothing here that they should put me into the dungeon.' Genesis 40:9-15




When the Lord speaks to his children, it is immediate and unmistakable. Such was the answer to Joseph's request to reveal to him the interpretation of the butler's dream. God immediately revealed it to him. Then, he told the butler that his dream meant that he would be set free and his position restored. No doubt, the butler was ecstatic. Seizing the moment, Joseph asked him for a favor ... When this comes to pass, please don't forget me. Mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of here for I was unjustly enslaved in the land of the Hebrews.





When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said to Joseph, 'I also was in my dream, and there were three white baskets on my head. In the uppermost basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, and the birds ate them out of the basket on my head.' So Joseph answered and said, 'This is the interpretation of it: The three baskets are three days. Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head from you and hang you on a tree; and the birds will eat your flesh from you.' Now it came to pass on the third day, which was Pharaoh's birthday, that he made a feast for all his servants; and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants. Then he restored the chief butler to his butlership again, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh's hand. But he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them. Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. Genesis 40:16-23




When the chief baker shared his dream, opposite to the butler’s dream, Joseph received bad news and had to tell him, Three days from now you will be hung!


Joseph's interpretations of both the butler and the baker's dreams were fulfilled to a tee. But, Joseph’s desire to extricate himself from prison by having the butler put in a good word for him with Pharaoh, didn't come to pass. The butler simply forgot him and Joseph was doomed to spend two more years in prison. How difficult and discouraging that must have been. When something like this comes upon a child of God that gets our hopes up ... but then doesn't work out ... one of the most difficult things for us to do is to leave it with God and just keep on trusting him. Those waiting and trusting times, however, can be very profitable and good for us. While we wait, we can discover that his strength can be our strength and we can learn to trust him on a deeper level than ever before. We can also learn to accept the Lord's will for us. Over and over again, the Scripture exhorts us to wait upon the Lord. He knows what he is doing and he will perfectly work out his will for us. Our God has everything under control. He hasn’t forgotten us. We just need to keep on trusting in him. Here are a few of my favorite scriptures on this subject:


    He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Isaah 40:29-31


    Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD! Psalm 27:14


    Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the LORD. Psalm 31:24


    Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. James 5:7-8


There are no shortcuts to accelerating God’s perfect plan for our lives, beloved. Whatever it is, it will come to pass at the right time, under the omnipotent and all loving hand of our God. He will bring us to where we need to be, both physically and spiritually. Times of waiting on him are invaluable parts of our maturing process, as well as our sanctification. Wait on the Lord. Let’s be exact, here. It doesn’t say to just wait, does it? No. It says … Wait on the Lord. Go often before his throne and just look up into his wonderful face and tell him, I’m waiting Lord ... I’m waiting for you. Thy will be done.





Then it came to pass, at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh had a dream; and behold, he stood by the river. Suddenly there came up out of the river seven cows, fine looking and fat; and they fed in the meadow. Then behold, seven other cows came up after them out of the river, ugly and gaunt, and stood by the other cows on the bank of the river. And the ugly and gaunt cows ate up the seven fine looking and fat cows. So Pharaoh awoke. He slept and dreamed a second time; and suddenly seven heads of grain came up on one stalk, plump and good. Then behold, seven thin heads, blighted by the east wind, sprang up after them. And the seven thin heads devoured the seven plump and full heads. So Pharaoh awoke, and indeed, it was a dream. Now it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled, and 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 for Pharaoh. Genesis 41:1-8




Two full years went by after the baker and the butler had their dreams (that's about a day and a half of "God time" ... based on Peter's statement that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years. Just sayin. :-). Then, Pharaoh had two dreams. Pharaoh’s two dreams involved fourteen cows, and then fourteen ears of corn. In each of his dreams, the seven fat ones ate up seven skinny ones. But, no one could interpret the dreams for him. Interesting. Do you think maybe God was at work and that he hadn't forgotten Joseph's circumstances after all? 





Then the chief butler spoke to Pharaoh, saying: 'I remember my faults this day. When Pharaoh was angry with his servants, and put me in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, both me and the chief baker, we each had a dream in one night, he and I. Each of us dreamed according to the interpretation of his own dream. Now there was a young Hebrew man with us there, a servant of the captain of the guard. And we told him, and he interpreted our dreams for us; to each man he interpreted according to his own dream. And it came to pass, just as he interpreted for us, so it happened. He restored me to my office, and he hanged him.' Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him quickly out of the dungeon; and he shaved, changed his clothing, and came to Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that you can understand a dream, to interpret it.' So Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, 'It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.' Then Pharaoh said to Joseph: 'Behold, in my dream I stood on the bank of the river. Suddenly seven cows came up out of the river, fine looking and fat; and they fed in the meadow. Then behold, seven other cows came up after them, poor and very ugly and gaunt, such ugliness as I have never seen in all the land of Egypt. And the gaunt and ugly cows ate up the first seven, the fat cows. When they had eaten them up, no one would have known that they had eaten them, for they were just as ugly as at the beginning. So I awoke. Also I saw in my dream, and suddenly seven heads came up on one stalk, full and good. Then behold, seven heads, withered, thin, and blighted by the east wind, sprang up after them. And the thin heads devoured the seven good heads. So I told this to the magicians, but there was no one who could explain it to me. Genesis 41:9-24




Suddenly, Pharaoh’s baker remembered that a young Hebrew fellow had correctly interpreted his and the butler’s dreams when they were in prison. Quickly, he told Pharaoh about it. In the "for what it is worth department", verse 13, indicates that there had been a change of Pharaohs since the butler and the baker were in prison with Joseph. Immediately, Joseph was sent for, cleaned up and escorted into Pharaoh's presence. Pharaoh said, I understand you can interpret dreams. Joseph answered, It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace. It has been said there is no limit to what can be accomplished when someone doesn't care who gets the glory. There is a lot of truth in that. Yet, it is so tempting to steal off just a tad bit for ourselves, is it not? Clearly, one of the great strengths of Joseph's character was the fact that he consistently refused to take one iota of God's glory for himself. He gave God all the credit and all the glory for everything. Hence, he was a wonderful and highly effective servant in the hand of his Lord. In Isaiah 42:8a, the Lord says,


I am the LORD, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another...


Pharaoh’s dreams were proof-positive that the Lord God was on the move again ... in relation to his plan for Joseph and his people, Israel. Keep in mind, however, God is never not on the move. Joseph's faithful waiting upon the Lord was about to pay off. Pharaoh proceeded to tell Joseph his two dreams and finished by saying, I told this to the magicians, but there was no one who could explain it to me.





Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, 'The dreams of Pharaoh are one; God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do: The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads are seven years; the dreams are one. And the seven thin and ugly cows which came up after them are seven years, and the seven empty heads blighted by the east wind are seven years of famine. This is the thing which I have spoken to Pharaoh. God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do. Indeed seven years of great plenty will come throughout all the land of Egypt; but after them seven years of famine will arise, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine will deplete the land. So the plenty will not be known in the land because of the famine following, for it will be very severe. And the dream was repeated to Pharaoh twice because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass. Now therefore, let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, to collect one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven plentiful years. And let them gather all the food of those good years that are coming, and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. Then that food shall be as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which shall be in the land of Egypt, that the land may not perish during the famine.' Genesis 41:25-36




God revealed the meaning of Pharaoh’s dreams to Joseph. Then, just as it had been with the baker and the butler, Joseph faithfully explained them to Pharaoh. Afterwards … unsolicited … Joseph took it a step further and proceeded to suggest a plan for Pharaoh to follow to save his land. As we have already seen, Joseph was a natural administrator. So, he told Pharaoh he needed to find a wise man to put over the land of Egypt during the 7 good years of plenty. Then, he suggested that Pharaoh collect 1/5th of the produce from each year and store it against the coming 7 years of famine. His suggestions were simple and to the point. Do you think maybe Joseph was putting himself forward here? Of course he was. Listen, when you have what it takes to get a job done, it is not presumptuous to step forward and say so. One time, when I was attending seminary, one of my godly professors was teaching on true humility and he gave an illustration that I have never forgotten. He said … Gentlemen, if God gives you a Cadillac, you should drive it! It is the humble thing to do. Joseph had been given a "Cadillac" gift of administration. And, he didn’t hesitate to drive it!





So the advice was good in the eyes of Pharaoh and in the eyes of all his servants. And Pharaoh said to his servants, 'Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?' Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.' And Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.' Then Pharaoh took his signet ring off his hand and put it on Joseph's hand; and he clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. And he had him ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried out before him, 'Bow the knee!' So he set him over all the land of Egypt. Pharaoh also said to Joseph, 'I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no man may lift his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.' And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphnath-Paaneah. And he gave him as a wife Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On. So Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.




The scripture that comes to mind here is First Peter 5:6-7,


Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.


This is precisely what Joseph had been doing ... and it was precisely what God did for Joseph. When Joseph was in prison, he didn't bellyache or complain. He merely submitted himself to the Lord's will for his life, hard though it was, and as unclear though it was. Then, when the time was right, the Lord exalted Joseph over the entire land of Egypt. And then, Joseph was in a position to save his family … be vindicated upon his brothers … and position the entire nation of Israel to fulfill their future purpose in the plan of God. There is a saying … The millstone of the gods grind slow, but it grinds exceedingly fine! This is double true of the one, true and living God whom we serve. Dear saint, whatever your circumstances at this moment in time, remember Joseph. The Bible says you and I will be exalted in due time if we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. The time of exaltation may come in this lifetime, like it came to Joseph, or it might not. But, it is the will of your Father that it will come.  


This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. II Timothy 2:11-12a


But hold fast what you have till I come. And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations; 'He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels'; as I also have received from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 2:25-29


Joseph certainly learned a good deal about what it meant to be exalted by the Lord in his time. In one fell swoop, he was lifted from the filth and dirt of prison to become the pampered, robed and bejeweled ruler of all Egypt … and with personal runners who ran before his chariot crying … Bow the knee … no less! I wonder how Mr. and Mrs. Potiphar responded to that, aye? Ha. Keep in mind though … what Joseph experienced in Egypt was nothing compared to what you and I will experience one day. As you have it in Romans 8:16-18,


The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.





Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt. Now in the seven plentiful years the ground brought forth abundantly. So he gathered up all the food of the seven years which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities; he laid up in every city the food of the fields which surrounded them. Joseph gathered very much grain, as the sand of the sea, until he stopped counting, for it was immeasurable. Genesis 41:46-49


Then the seven years of plenty which were in the land of Egypt ended, and the seven years of famine began to come, as Joseph had said. The famine was in all lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. So when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. Then Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph; whatever he says to you, do.” The famine was over all the face of the earth, and Joseph opened all the storehouses[a] and sold to the Egyptians. And the famine became severe in the land of Egypt. So all countries came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, because the famine was severe in all lands. Genesis 41:53-57


41:46-49, 53-57


When seven years of plenty in the land of Egypt were ended, the seven years of famine came ... just as God had said. So, when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. Then, Pharaoh said to the Egyptians, 'Go to Joseph; whatever he says to you, do.' So, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold to the Egyptians and they had plenty of bread. Furthermore, all the countries began to come to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain because the famine was severe in all their lands as well.


I'm going to split verses 50 through 52 out at this point and save my comments on them for last. But first, let's just look at a couple of other things here.


     First, notice Joseph's age. He was 30 years old before God exalted him, having spent 13 years as a slave and a prisoner. Moses, by the way, was 80, before God began to use him.


     Second, notice that all that the Lord had predicted in Pharaoh’s two dreams came to pass precisely as God said that it would. Isaiah 55:10-11, says,


For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.


One of the things which gives us such confidence in the Word of God is how so many of its prophecies have already been fulfilled. There are literally hundreds of them. Many are prophecies about Jesus' first coming. And, each one was fulfilled to the letter. For example: ... his virgin birth (Isa. 7:14) ... the exact town where he would be born (Micah 5:2) ... the exact nature and minute details of his crucifixion (Psalm 22; Isaiah 53) ... and his resurrection (Psalm 16:10). These fulfilled prophecies give us great confidence in the yet unfulfilled prophecies of the Word of God. Such things as our Lord's second coming, for instance, (John 14; Acts 1; Rev. 19; and II Thes.1).


There are many other fulfilled prophecies in the Bible. For example, in the book of Isaiah, the actions and exact name of the Persian ruler, Cyrus, were foretold hundreds of years before he was even born (Isa.44:28; 45:1-5). Jeremiah prophesied the exact length of time that Judah would remain captive in Babylon (Jer. 29:10). Daniel prophesied the exact day that Jesus, the Messiah, would arrive on earth and present himself to Israel as their Messiah (Dan. 9:25-26). There are many more. God's Word cannot be broken. What it says it means and its yet unfulfilled predictions will most assuredly come to pass. God’s Word to Pharaoh here is one more example. Unfulfilled prophecy, you say? Hebrews 10:37, is one of my favorites,


For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. (KJV)


Returning to our text ... under the administration of Joseph, seven years of plenty came and went just as the Lord had said, followed by seven years of famine. Then, during the years of famine, Joseph began to sell the excess grain that had been stored from the years of plenty. At first, he sold grain only to the Egyptians, but later he began to sell to other countries as well. The stage was then set to get the people of Israel to come into the land of Egypt. Once there, God would make them a great nation and, later, he would perform the greatest deliverance of a people from bondage that the world has ever seen.





And to Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, whom Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On, bore to him. Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: ‘For God has made me forget all my toil and all my father's house.’ And the name of the second he called Ephraim: ‘For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.’ Genesis 41:50-52




On top of all his other blessings, God also blessed Joseph with a wife and two sons. These two boys, Ephraim and Manasseh, would become the two half tribes of Israel, standing in the place of the tribe of Joseph. Their mother was an Egyptian; their grandfather, the priest of On.



Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.

All rights reserved.


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