ACTION, THIS DAY
Gracious Heavenly Father, I want to desire Your leadership in my life above all riches, power, and earthly approval.
Read GENESIS 41:17–45
17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile, 18 when out of the river there came up seven cows, fat and sleek, and they grazed among the reeds. 19 After them, seven other cows came up—scrawny and very ugly and lean. I had never seen such ugly cows in all the land of Egypt. 20 The lean, ugly cows ate up the seven fat cows that came up first. 21 But even after they ate them, no one could tell that they had done so; they looked just as ugly as before. Then I woke up.
22 “In my dream I saw seven heads of grain, full and good, growing on a single stalk. 23 After them, seven other heads sprouted—withered and thin and scorched by the east wind. 24 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads. I told this to the magicians, but none of them could explain it to me.”
25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26 The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years; it is one and the same dream. 27 The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years, and so are the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind: They are seven years of famine.
28 “It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29 Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, 30 but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land. 31 The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe. 32 The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.
33 “And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. 35 They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. 36 This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.”
37 The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials. 38 So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God[a]?”
39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”
Joseph in Charge of Egypt
41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command,[b] and people shouted before him, “Make way[c]!” Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt.
44 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.” 45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On,[d] to be his wife. And Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘… work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.’1
Familiarity may rob us of seeing what an extraordinary turn of events is recorded here. Joseph, a forgotten prisoner of no significance to anyone, is suddenly ushered into the presence of the most powerful man on earth who, admitting his own ignorance, seeks his advice. Although Joseph is confident in his God, he must surely have some trepidation in interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams. Even if he accepts the message, Pharaoh is more than likely to shoot the messenger. Having interpreted the dreams, Joseph, uninvited, tells Pharaoh what he should do (33–37). Joseph isn’t angling for a job, but that’s what results. He becomes the most powerful man in Egypt under Pharaoh, invested with the trappings of Egyptian aristocracy. Joseph’s own dream is coming true.
Throughout, Joseph is remarkably God-centered in thought and speech. The dreams are ‘revealed’ by God (25), and their content is determined by God. They warn Pharaoh in advance what God is about to do (28). They come in two forms, to emphasize that ‘the matter has been firmly decided by God, and that God will do it soon’ (32). Since God has determined this course, some would argue that there is nothing which can be done about it. Let fate take its course. In fact, the opposite is true. God’s predetermined plan leads not to passive resignation but to practical action. God gives the warning so the worst effects of his judgment could be mixed with mercy.
Here, spirituality and practicality blend perfectly. God’s plan and man’s response work hand in hand. The future determines the present. So it is with the Christian, whose election, salvation, and awaiting of the second coming do not lead to passivity but to action this day.
The passage is rich in detail. Look back over it and ask what details you would pick out and what lessons they teach about the life of faith.
“Pray as if there is no such thing as work; work as if there is no such thing as prayer.” Lord, I need discernment to see God’s plan for me involve both working and praying.
1 Phil 2:12,13