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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

GENESIS – An Expositional Overview of the Beginning of God’s Revelation: Chapter FORTY ONE


Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez and James Fire

Chuck Missler Bible Commentary - Genesis 40-45
GENESIS 41 – by James Fire – To watch the Facebook video, go here.
Introduction: It’s estimated that Americans spend about $1 billion annually on astrological materials and practices (like books on prognostication and those 1-800 fortune teller phone numbers) as well as other New Age books in an attempt to discover their future. People are either curious or cautious or even care-worn about their future which they can even dread at times.

The LORD doesn’t forbid knowledge of the future – He simply forbids the practices of divination (forecasting the future) because this involves demonic spirits. This is why Christians should have nothing to do with tarot card readings, fortune tellers, ghost hunting, horoscopes, and the like, because anyone getting into these things are involving themselves with Satanic devices meant to lure and deceive and for these and other reasons, GOD has forbidden these practices in His Word (DEUT 18: LEV 17).
When GOD reveals the future, it’s always to bring people to the knowledge of the truth, and when He does reveal the truth, it revolves around the person of Jesus Christ with the objective of saving lives.

Anytime we read in Scripture where GOD declares what’s to come to pass, He desires deliverance for people, not damnation.

The one future event that we all face is what Shakespeare called “the undiscovered country” or in other words, death. That is a mysterious, forbidding, dreadful unknown – but neither future nor death holds any terror for the Christian who trusts the LORD, because He is LORD of all. We know nothing will happen to us apart from His Holy will and His Holy heart towards us, His children. We are witnesses to GOD’s faithful sovereignty over all of our lives!

What we read in this chapter is GOD revealing the future in enigmatic, mysterious dreams to Pharaoh which he cannot understand – and this is the situation GOD is going to use to fulfill His will towards Joseph.

GENESIS 41:1-4
1 And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river. 2 And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well favored kine and fatfleshed; and they fed in a meadow. And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill favoured and leanfleshed; and stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river. And the ill favoured and leanfleshed kine did eat up the seven well favoured and fat kine. So, Pharaoh awoke
.

This river was most likely the Nile river, which the Egyptians thought of as a god. They were so dependent on this sole water supply that it was deemed as Deity. Pharaoh has this dream in which from this ‘god’ arose these cattle, seven in number – robust, healthy, strong cattle. After them came up seven other cattle, only these were weak, sickly and scrawny – and these ate up the healthy cattle. Pharaoh remembers something else about this dream when he relates this to Joseph a bit later in this chapter.

GENESIS 41:5-8
And he slept and dreamed the second time: and, behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good. And, behold, seven thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them. And the seven thin ears devoured the seven rank and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold, it was a dream. And 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 the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh
.

Here Pharaoh has a second dream only this time it involves grain: seven healthy ears of corn and then seven thin ears that consumed the seven healthy ears of corn. So, we see here that not only the cattle – their source of meat, but also the corn – their source of grain, were affected.

Do these dreams remind you of another scene in the BIBLE where a certain king had a dream and sought for an answer to it among his counselors and magicians, but none of them could provide what the king wanted?
Yes, that is right! King Nebuchadnezzar and the prophet Daniel who was also a young man at the time, stolen away from his homeland, but nonetheless was exalted to a position of honor as a result of GOD’s revelation of these mysterious dreams.

GENESIS 41:9-14
Then spake the chief butler unto Pharaoh, saying, I do remember my faults this day: 10 Pharaoh was wroth with his servants, and put me in ward in the captain of the guard's house, both me and the chief baker: 11 And we dreamed a dream in one night, I and he; we dreamed each man according to the interpretation of his dream. 12 And there was there with us a young man, an Hebrew, servant to the captain of the guard; and we told him, and he interpreted to us our dreams; to each man according to his dream he did interpret. 13 And it came to pass, as he interpreted to us, so it was; me he restored unto mine office, and him he hanged. 14 Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh
.

Joseph was granted understanding and wisdom by GOD in these previous dreams that involved this chief butler and chief baker and how the butler would be delivered from prison, while the baker was doomed to execution. And while the chief butler was rescued, Joseph remained in the prison. He probably hoped that the butler would put in a good word for him, and that he also would be liberated from his circumstances, but this didn’t happen for another two years when the butler remembers this prior event. Joseph had no idea how long he would waste away in this prison – remember, he was falsely accused and I’m sure that made the time he spent imprisoned all the more detestable and drag on for what seemed like forever. He had no insight that his time in prison would last two years, or twenty.
The boredom, the loneliness, the frustration, and depression he probably experienced would only last for a time. GOD intended for this trial to last only just so long, and no longer – his deliverance would come in ‘the fullness of time’ as the Bible often states.
It’s important that as we endure trials we remember three things:

1) The trial is sent by GOD not to destroy us but deliver us from those things that GOD sees are hindering us in our walks with Him.
If Joseph kept company in the presence of his brothers much longer they would no doubt have done him in and there would be no more Joseph!

2) The trial had a beginning, it will know a climax and it will know a finish – if not in this life, then definitely in the life that is to come. When finished, GOD intends that we become better, not bitter. What determines either one is if we willingly yield: if we do, we will be better; if we fight it and try to escape it, we run the risk of becoming bitter.

Joseph was prone to flaunt his dreams before his brothers in youthful enthusiasm and perhaps some unhealthy gloating born of secret pride. By enduring these trials as he did, GOD worked in this young man a deeper sense of humility and gave up on self-promotion.

3) Trials are not meant for our benefit alone, but to benefit others as we encourage them with hope, when they suffer the same trial that we had.
It was because of these trials that the LORD led Joseph one step at a time from persecution and problems to peace and promotion – and placed him in a position where he was actually able to save his brothers lives! And as we shall see, he holds no bitterness towards them, but rather has a better relationship with them, such that he is moved to tears when he sees them all.

Imagine Joseph’s surprise when the royal guard showed up at his cell saying, “Get cleaned up, Pharaoh wants to see you!”

What went through his mind, I wonder? Did he think, “NOW WHAT? My situation isn’t bad enough that now I’m in trouble with Pharaoh too!?”

He “hastily” gets cleaned up, shaves and puts on fresh clothes provided to him and they rush him out to the Royal Court of Egypt, the control center of the known world.

GENESIS 41:15-16
15 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it. 16 And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace
.

I can see a measure of humility that has found its way in Joseph; he immediately credits GOD with the ability to interpret these mysterious dreams, not himself. Daniel says the same thing in:

DANIEL 2:27-28
27 Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king;
28 
But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days

GENESIS 41:17-21
17 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, In my dream, behold, I stood upon the bank of the river: 18 And, behold, there came up out of the river seven kine, fatfleshed and well favoured; and they fed in a meadow: 19 And, behold, seven other kine came up after them, poor and very ill favoured and leanfleshed, such as I never saw in all the land of Egypt for badness: 20 And the lean and the ill favoured kine did eat up the first seven fat kine: 21 And when they had eaten them up, it could not be known that they had eaten them; but they were still ill favoured, as at the beginning. So, I awoke
.

Here we learn more about these dreams than what we read before:
Pharaoh remarks that these sickly cattle were worse than any he had ever seen in his life; he also states that after the sickly cattle ate up the healthy ones, that they were still boney and sickly and didn’t put on any weight! Though they devoured the healthy cattle, it had no effect on them!

GENESIS 41:22-24
22 And I saw in my dream, and, behold, seven ears came up in one stalk, full and good: 23 And, behold, seven ears, withered, thin, and blasted with the east wind, sprung up after them: 24 And the thin ears devoured the seven good ears: and I told this unto the magicians; but there was none that could declare it to me
.

GENESIS 41:25-32
25 And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do.  26 The seven good kine are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one. 27 And the seven thin and ill favoured kine that came up after them are seven years; and the seven empty ears blasted with the east wind shall be seven years of famine. 28 This is the thing which I have spoken unto Pharaoh: What God is about to do he sheweth unto Pharaoh. 29 Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt: 30 And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land; 31 And the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine following; for it shall be very grievous. 32 And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass
.

In the mouth of two or three witnesses; two different kinds of dreams with one meaning – the same as the dreams that GOD gave to Joseph, that he told his brothers – the two different dreams had one meaning: that his brothers, even his parents would humble themselves before Joseph.

In Pharaoh’s dreams GOD was showing him that this is something that will occur over a fourteen year period: seven years of not just plenty, but of “great plenty” throughout all the land of Egypt, and afterwards there will be seven years of such severe famine (“very grievous”), that it will be as though the seven plentiful years never took place (hence, the scrawny cattle that ate up the healthy ones but remained thin and sickly).

The vision was repeated twice, for in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word is established. These years of plenty and famine are as certain as GOD’s promise to exalt Joseph to a place of prominence, and in fact, it’s because of these visions and the subsequent fulfillment of Pharaoh’s dreams, given him by GOD, that the dreams given to Joseph will also come true!

GENESIS 41:33-37
33 Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years. 35 And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. 36 And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine. 37 And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants
.

Joseph, by the Spirit of GOD was able to do what all of Pharaoh’s counselors and wisemen couldn’t. Not only did he interpret his dreams, but he then offers his own counsel, which was based on the wisdom from above, the wisdom of GOD. It was by GOD’s wisdom, that no matter what Joseph found to do, his work prospered: whether in the house of his father, or in the house of Potiphar, or in the prison house or in the house of Pharaoh.

The counsel given was to take 20% of the crops from the first years of plenty and hold them in store, in preparation for the seven years of famine that would follow immediately afterwards. When we make preparations ahead of time for difficult days, that isn’t a lack of faith, but rather the opposite – it is faith, when directed by GOD to do so.

Some are directed by GOD in the same way that Joseph was; others are directed by GOD in the same way Elijah was – he made no preparation during the drought that plagued Israel in those days, but was provided for daily by GOD, being fed by the ravens of the air. Let each obey GOD in the way that the LORD leads them.

I wonder if Pharaoh, while listening to the wisdom of Joseph sat back on his throne and checked this young man out, sizing him up and taking note of the quality of person he was, estimating the value he would have if given a position of prominence and responsibility - because we now read the following:

GENESIS 41:38-43
38 And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? 39 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: 40 Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou. 41 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt. 42 And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; 43 And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt
.

It’s important how we deal with disappointments and defeats – and just as important, how we deal with satisfaction and successes! 
Joseph experienced both; a veritable roller coaster of ups and downs: 
~ He was promoted with a coat of many colors by his father, only to be stripped of it by his brothers. 
~ He was granted visions of prosperity and prestige where he would reign over his brothers, but then sold into slavery. 
~ He was given a place of prominence in the house of Potiphar, only then to be falsely accused and sent to prison. 
~ He was placed in a position of honor even in prison but then was forgotten there for some years – and through it all, Joseph remained faithful, expressing faith towards GOD, no matter what his situation was like. And what do we find now?

Now he’s promoted to the highest position imaginable, second only to Pharaoh himself! I’m sure Joseph had no idea, when he recommended that Pharaoh assign an overseer for this monumental and vital task, that the ruler of the world would choose him! Only in the throne of Egypt itself did the Pharaoh exceed the authority of Joseph! Not bad for a guy who was a slave!

No matter how lowly a station in life you may hold, if one remains both humble and faithful before the LORD, He can promote you to a place of prominence that you never would have imagined!

And this is very much the case for us Christians, for each of us is destined to reign and rule with Christ for all eternity – imagine that! Office workers, restaurant managers, custodians, schoolteachers, computer technicians, house-wives, bus drivers and hotel maids – all are going to be promoted to a place of rule in GOD’s Kingdom – these who are humble, obedient, loving servants of the LORD, these who are faithful!

GENESIS 41:44-46
44 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt. 45 And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphnathpaaneah*; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.46 And 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
.

*The Egyptian name was translated by Moses (remember, he is the author of the first five books of the Bible including GENESIS) – who was highly conversant in the Egyptian language, having lived at Pharaoh’s court for forty years – into Hebrew. It actually is a title and a name: Zaphenath = “‘Overseer/Minister of the Storehouse of Abundance’” and then Paaneah = “‘[He of the] Excellent/Gracious Spirit’”

See this article from
www.creation.com that gets into the many details of this, the verifiable historical fact of Joseph’s existence and other fascinating materials .
As we just read, Joseph is beginning his remarkable ministry in saving Egypt at thirty years of age, and I don’t think that’s coincidental, for our LORD Jesus began His ministry to save the world at the age of thirty!

GENESIS 41:47-49
47 And in the seven plenteous years the earth brought forth by handfuls. 48 And 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: the food of the field, which was round about every city, laid he up in the same. 49 And Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering; for it was without number
.

The LORD in His mercies provides for those whose hearts belong to Him. He could have given these dreams of cattle and corn to Joseph, but in GOD’s wisdom, He instead gives them to Pharaoh, and knowing that the chief butler would suddenly remember this young man he met in prison who seemed to have a gift for interpreting dreams, When brought to the attention of Pharaoh, Joseph was immediately sent for and then the plan of GOD would begin to reveal itself more fully.

Joseph’s brothers didn’t know it yet, but their detestable betrayal of their young brother would set up a chain reaction by the Sovereign plan of GOD that would lead to the exaltation of Joseph, as well as their own salvation.

Very much like the plot of the Pharisees and scribes to ruin the LORD Jesus and see Him crucified but was actually the very ordination of GOD by which the world would be granted the opportunity to receive salvation and enter into eternal life!

Don’t think for a moment that the terrible things that happen in your life are wasted! GOD always has a plan and purpose for everything that He ordains for our lives – even if we can’t see it just as Joseph couldn’t see it in the weeks, months, and years he spent in prison.

GENESIS 41:50-52
50 And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him. 51 And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house. 52 And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction
.

These sons of Joseph were testimonies to GOD’s work in this young man’s life. It was because of the LORD’s work that Joseph was able to forget the toil, the hardships, the sorrow of those years of trial and trouble – and so his son’s name Manasseh means “to forget”. His second son’s name was Ephraim, which means fruitful – and out of the tribulations and troubles that the LORD brought Joseph through, these same things brought forth fruitfulness. The ground that doesn’t know the sharp piercing of the plow cannot know fruitfulness.

Likewise, the LORD was able to forget the sorrows and anguish of Calvary and as a result of the deepest and most profound trial and tribulation unknown to any other, the fruitfulness of salvation represented in souls beyond count, blessed the heart of the Father and the Son.

GENESIS 41:53-57
53 And the seven years of plenteousness, that was in the land of Egypt, were ended. 54 And the seven years of dearth began to come, according as Joseph had said: and the dearth was in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. 55 And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do. 56 And the famine was over all the face of the earth: and Joseph opened all the store houses and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt. 57 And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands
.

Jacob will hear that there is food available in Egypt and will send his sons there, because the famine was as widespread as Canaan land. Jacob thinks that his life is comprised of sorrow upon sorrow – not only did he lose his precious son, but now, because of this famine, there is the distinct possibility he could lose more sons due to starvation, perhaps even them all.

Jacob cannot see around the corner, and into the future; he doesn’t know of the blessing he is yet to experience, being reunited with a son that he believes to be dead. Likewise the LORD has trials and triumphs, burdens and blessings in store for each and every one of us – and in both cases, all He asks is that we trust the Eternal One, Who knows all and has prepared all that is necessary to get us through life in victory, though all may appear to be defeat. We walk by faith, never by sight!

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