Each week we webcast Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, morning public worship at 11a, and p.m. singing and sermon at 2:30p (sermon at 3:30); and the Weds. Prayer Meeting at 6:30p

Monday, December 14, 2020

2020.12.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 41:1–45

Read Genesis 41:1–45

Questions from the Scripture text: How long is it since the end of chapter 40 (Genesis 41:1)? Who did what? Where was he in his dream? What came up out of the river (Genesis 41:2)? What were they like? What did they do? What else came up (Genesis 41:3)? What were they like? What did they do (Genesis 41:4)? What did Pharaoh do? What did Pharaoh do again in Genesis 41:5? What did he see this time? What else did he see (Genesis 41:6)? What did the seven thin heads do (Genesis 41:7)? What did Pharaoh do? What happened in the morning (Genesis 41:8)? For whom did Pharaoh call? What did he tell them? What couldn’t they do? Who speaks in Genesis 41:9? What does he remember? What had Pharaoh done (Genesis 41:10)? What had the butler and baker done (Genesis 41:11)? Who interpreted for them (Genesis 41:12)? And what came of it (Genesis 41:13)? Whom did Pharaoh call in Genesis 41:14? What did they do to him? What does Pharaoh say about Joseph in Genesis 41:15? To Whom does Joseph redirect the attention in Genesis 41:16? What details does Pharaoh add in recounting his dreams (Genesis 41:17-24, cf. Genesis 41:1-7)? What does Joseph tell Pharaoh that God is showing him (Genesis 41:16)? What are the good cows/heads (Genesis 41:26)? How do the dreams relate to one another? What are the ugly cows/empty heads (Genesis 41:27)? What is going to happen first (Genesis 41:29)? For how long? Then what will happen (Genesis 41:30)? For how long? What will happen to the plenty (Genesis 41:30-31)? Why was the dream repeated twice (Genesis 41:32)? What does Joseph make bold to do, in Genesis 41:33-36, that was beyond his original task? Whom does he say Pharaoh should recruit (Genesis 41:33a)? To do what to him (verse 33b)? Who should appoint the rest of the officers (Genesis 41:34a)? To do what (verse 34b)? What does Joseph say to do with the surplus (Genesis 41:35)? Why (Genesis 41:36)? Who thinks that this is good advice (Genesis 41:37a)? Who else (verse 37b)? What does Pharaoh ask in Genesis 41:38? What does Pharaoh declare about Joseph in Genesis 41:39? Over what and whom does Pharaoh set Joseph (Genesis 41:40-41)? What three things does Pharaoh put onto Joseph in Genesis 41:42? Onto what does he put Joseph in Genesis 41:43? What do the people cry out before him? What does Pharaoh say about himself in Genesis 41:44? What does he say about Joseph? What does he rename him (Genesis 41:45a)? What else does he give to him (verse 45b)? 

It is the Lord who remembers, cares about, and lifts up the lowly. This was certainly true of Joseph. The cupbearer/butler did not lift Joseph up. Three days turned into two years of days (literal translation in Genesis 41:1), and what the butler ends up remembering is his sins (Genesis 41:9). And by God’s grace, Joseph recognizes that his own integrity, faithfulness, and skill have not done this for him. 

In Genesis 41:15, Joseph was only “halfway” up from point A (Genesis 41:1) to point B (Genesis 41:44). This would seem to be the time to puff out his chest and sell Pharaoh on the indispensability of Joseph. But he emphatically answers, “Not me!” in Genesis 41:16. Joseph diverts all the efficacy and glory to God Himself. Just as it would be God who must give Pharaoh the perfect/complete answer, so Joseph recognized that it must be God who kept Joseph out of the dungeon or raised him any higher. Here he was, finally clean, shaven, nicely attired, from prison to palace. God had done that. The God who lifts up the lowly.

This, of course, is something that God does on a macro/massive scale in redemption: taking hell-deserving and thoroughly corrupt sinners, and making them righteous in Christ to Whose image He also conforms them. Redemption is Him taking the lowest of the low and raising them to the highest of the high. And He displays this aspect of Who He is throughout history in incidents like this one.

But let us not miss that he also humbles Pharaoh. Pharaoh starts out pretty high and mighty. 

He thinks his birthday is pretty special (“two years of days” in Genesis 41:1 is a way of naming exact time). But this adds to the troublesomeness of the dreams that he has had. He thinks the Nile is pretty powerful and fruitful, but this adds to the troublesomeness of the second set of cows. In Egyptian company in Genesis 41:3, everyone knows that this just isn’t something the great Egyptians see in their great land that is sustained by their great river! When he retells it to Joseph in Genesis 41:19, he adds for the uninitiated Hebrew’s sake that this is Egypt; that sort of creature just doesn’t exist here.

Who knows what the great Pharaoh, incarnation of the great sun god Ra, of the great Egypt, sustained by the great river had planned for his very special birthday? We don’t. Because  a couple of prophetical dreams brought it all to a screeching halt. How easily brought down to earth is a man whose pride is in the heavens!

But God graciously grants to him not only to know how much Egypt will be humbled for seven years, but even to have a humble heart. By the time Joseph is done speaking, Pharaoh isn’t interested in the help of the pantheon of the Egyptians. He wants the man in whom is the Spirit of this God (Genesis 41:38Genesis 41:39) that Joseph has continually mentioned (Genesis 41:16Genesis 41:25Genesis 41:28Genesis 41:32 x2) to be the one by whose work mighty Egypt barely survives (Genesis 41:36b).

The position into which he puts Joseph, known to Egyptologists as the Vizier, is well known in their history. But Pharaoh does not keep his favorite or most important half of the duties for himself, as with other Vizier arrangements. He takes his hands off the reigns completely. He puts Joseph over his house (Genesis 41:40a), all the people are to be ruled by his word (verse 40b), and in fact “without your consent no man may lift his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt (Genesis 41:44)!

Truly, earthly power only exists so long as it is useful for the plans and praise of God. The highest kings are in the slipperiest places and will have the greatest falls. 

Beware all pride, lest you have some measure of participation with them. And beware that greatest pride of hardening your heart against resting in Christ and receiving Him as your King—lest the catastrophe of your own fall be complete and everlasting. 

But also remember that anyone in any high position—whether in church or family or nation—will either cast his crown down before Christ or be brought down as soon as the time is up for His usefulness for Christ’s glory and the church’s good. Do not put your trust in them, or be tempted to unfaithfulness to Christ in order to curry favor with them. And do not fear or envy them who will be shockingly and scornfully humiliated soon enough.

How are you privileged and prosperous? How are you afflicted and lowly? Which will increase for you? Why?

Suggested songs: ARP138 “With Grateful Heart, My Thanks I’ll Bring” or TPH138A “With Grateful Heart, My Thanks I Bring”


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