Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.’
‘I cannot do it,’ Joseph replied to Pharaoh, ‘but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.’
Genesis 41:15-16 (NIV)
Joseph had been in prison for a least two years when he was called before Pharaoh. In Genesis 41 we are given the account of what happened. Pharaoh had had two dreams and none of the wise men of Egypt could offer an interpretation.
The cupbearer who had previously been in prison with Joseph (Genesis 40) remembered Joseph and the fact that he had interpreted the dreams of the cupbearer and the baker. He also remembered that the interpretations had come true. What better recommendation to make to Pharaoh than someone who could genuinely interpret dreams.
Joseph was called for and presented to Pharaoh. Genesis 41 tells us that he was shaved and reclothed. You can imagine what he must have looked (and smelled?) like after a number of years in prison. Pharaoh recounts that ‘… I have head it said of you …’ Joseph must have been flattered. It was like Pharaoh saying ‘I’ve heard of your reputation …’, particularly as none of Egypt’s wise men had been able to interpret the dreams. Here was the most powerful person in the land asking for Joseph’s help.
Joseph could easily have acceoted the flattery and Pharaoh’s request to show what a wise person he was. If he interpreted the dreams how would Pharaoh know that it was really God doing it through Joseph. We know that Joseph decided not to take the credit, but to give the glory to God. He seized the opportunity to speak before a Pharaoh who may have heard of the God of Israel, but who was unlikely to have had any regard for him.
So Joseph interpreted the dreams and as a result Pharaoh put him in charge of taking control of the grain harvest, so that Egypt would be prepared for the famine to come. Changed times for Joseph! In prison in the morning, brought before Pharaoh and then given a position of great authority in Egypt. Interestingly we know that this preparation for famine would ultimately lead to Joseph being restored to his original family (see later chapters in Genesis).
Joseph’s troubles were temporary (even if they lasted over two years). He remained true to God and when given the opportunity, he spoke up and clearly identified himself with God.
It is easy to be flattered by other people’s words. It is also easy to let pride in our own abilities cloud our judgement and to take the credit for something we know is really God at work through us. Remember that even through times of trouble, God is preparing the ground for the next stage in our lives. We have to be ready when the opportunity comes and we should not be afraid to speak up and give God the credit.
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