Pharaoh’s Dreams

Genesis 41:1-13

1When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile, 2when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. 3After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. 4And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up. 5He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. 6After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind. 7The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream.

8In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.

9Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings. 10Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard. 11Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. 12Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. 13And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.”

Introduction

Have you ever dreamed of God speaking to you about your future or His plan for you? Do you believe that God would speak to you in your dream if necessary? Do you believe God still talk to humans in dreams these days? If we say that God has stopped revealing His will in dreams, we limit His creativeness, right? When God speaks in dreams, He reveals His plan exclusively personal.

Apostle Peter preached in Acts 2:17-21, 17In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

 Can you agree that God is fulfilling this prophecy in our generation? When the Lord has significant message for us, He would use various means that we can easily understand. God is God of order, and His message is very obvious.

Before a severe famine occurred in Egypt and nearby nations, Pharaoh King of Egypt had two similar dreams. Obviously, Pharaoh had 2nd dream and it’s like a replay of his 1st dream because his dreams were urgent warning from God.

1. Replay.

1When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile, 2when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. 3After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. 4And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up. 5He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. 6After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind. 7The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream.

Although the pictures of Pharaoh’s dreams were different from the other, the storyline of the 2nd dream replayed the 1st dream. Cows were in the 1st dream and the 2nd dream had grains, but what do cows and grains represent anyway?

Cows and grains were food supplies, and Pharaoh was privileged to be warned about the unavoidable shortage of food supply in the entire world. Do you believe that God let Pharaoh had two dreams specifically for Joseph to interpret?

In the Hebrew literature, some phrases and events are repeated, replayed or paraphrased in another book/s or chapters, why? Repetitions or replays of statements serve as emphasis to the urgency of the matter or message. Some instructions and statements are rephrased, paraphrased or presented in various ways for recipients or readers to understand the message more clearly.

Christ the Lord had addressed in His sermons the problem of worry.

Young and old people alike have tendency to worry. Young people worry about their future, adults may worry about employment and the future of their family. If we are worried by the possibility of a troublesome situation, God may allow us to be anxious just to warn us, be prepared or seek His help ultimately.

His will be done

We are anxious about our safety or others’ safety so that we pray for them. Apostle Paul was going to Jerusalem when Prophet Agabus warned him of the hostility of Jewish leaders. Paul had decided in his heart that no matter what happens to him, he was not worried, and proceed on his journey to Jerusalem.

In says in Acts 21:10-14, 10A prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.11Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’”

12When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. 13Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.”

Where did Paul get his courage to face the Jewish hostility?

Consider this situation: One country is very hostile toward Canadians. Yet, you strongly sensed that the Lord has called you to a mission adventure. Would you go even if you know that missionaries will be imprisoned in that country?

Before the prophet Agabus personally warned about the hostility of Jewish leaders, Paul already had a personal hunch of it. He said in Acts 20:22-23, 22And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

Hostility was no surprise for Paul. He understood that he will certainly face persecution wherever he went. Persecution that comes from non-believers is the stamp that validates a lifestyle of disciples pleasing to the Lord.

Christ reminds us in John 15:20, 20Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.

The hostility of the Jewish leaders cannot stop Paul. Obeying the Lord is blessedness to Paul. Blessedness is supreme happiness that we can experience only while we diligently get involved in the assignment God has called us. When filled and empowered by Christ Spirit, we’ve got joy obeying the Lord.

The fruit of the Spirit was apparent in the life of Apostle Paul. He had joy and peace obeying the Lord, despite of hostility. Paul was warned of undesirable hostility and hardship but cannot dictate the dedication Paul had in serving God. Paul’s lifestyle, serving in spite of hostility, was a proof of God’s grace in his life.

How do we determine when God’s grace is at work or when it is our human effort is at work when we’re doing something or when performing in the ministry?

Listen: By human effort, we desire appreciation or approval of others. We want to see their ‘thumbs up’ or approval. We wish to hear, “You are the best!” And when we can’t hear or see appreciation, but instead, hear or see criticism, frustration, resentment, grievances, and sadness emerge to control us.

In comparison, when God’s grace is at work in us, we appreciate ‘thumbs ups’ but never crave or wait for approvals. Involvement is enough satisfaction. When there are criticisms of what has been done, we still have joy and peace. The Lord assures us that He accepts our accomplishment even if others won’t.

Remember that it is easier to please the Lord than mankind. When we rely upon the Holy Spirit for guidance and empowerment, the Lord is very pleased.

When Christ prevails in us, in our heart and mind, we’ve got joy and peace.

In contrast to joy and peace, the King of Egypt was troubled by his dream. He recounted his dreams to magicians and wise men but couldn’t interpret them.

2. Recount

8In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.

Pharaoh was confused by his dreams. He assumed that there must be very urgent and important message or warning revealed in his dreams. When he recounted his dreams and asked the magicians and wise men of Egypt if they could interpret for him, it shows that Pharaoh his dreams were significant.

When it stated that after Pharaoh recounted the details of his dreams, and the magicians and wise men of Egypt could not interpret them, did the Lord prevent them or cause them to be puzzled? Did God confuse or even give them the courage to admit that they have no idea what Pharaoh’s dreams meant?

Was it good that they could not interpret Pharaoh’s dream? Too bad for them, it didn’t bring them any good because it affected their credibility. Failure to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh had worked very well in favor of Joseph.

It says in Romans 8:27-28, 27He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

If you love your work, and you love to be in the place where you work but your superiors are not pleasant… pray for them. You may not know when God promotes them or give them better opportunity somewhere, and you will be assigned or promoted to the office that they may vacate.

Learn to appreciate when others are favored. Learn to rejoice when one gets a blessing, a promotion or better employment. The Lord is looking at your heart and waiting until you are prepared to receive and appreciate His blessing.

Satisfied

Is it acceptable or dignified attempt for a pastor to negotiate for salary? There was a pastor, who was employed in a secular job. The church leaders offered him a pastoral position but the salary was lesser than the salary he had in his secular job. So, he asked the church leaders if they could increase the pastor’s salary, similar to what he received in his secular job. Well, when a pastor asks for salary increase, does it imply that he is not satisfied with his salary?

It says in Ecclesiastes 5:10, 10Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.

Another pastor asked for salary increase was denied, and he resigned. The church installed another pastor. A pastor’s loss is another pastor’s gain.

Such reality happened even among pastors is a practical life example that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, and who are called according to His purpose. Have you any trouble? Ask the Lord for help?

Pharaoh was troubled by his dreams. He asked magicians and wise men of Egypt but could not help him because the message of his dreams was from God. So, the imprisonment of Joseph turned out to be for his good after all, how?

Simple! Joseph interpreted the dreams of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and his interpretations happened just as he said. And the cupbearer told Pharaoh about Joseph and his ability to interpret dreams. The cupbearer was the most trusted person by the king. When he told about Joseph, Pharaoh listened.

Remember Nehemiah? Nehemiah was the chief cupbearer to Artaxerxes King of Persia. When his brothers reported to him about the predicament of Jewish people in Jerusalem, Nehemiah cannot hide his sadness before the king.

It says in Nehemiah 2:4-6, 4The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, 5and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.” 6Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?” It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.

Right! It was not mentioned that Nehemiah’s request was granted but when the king asked about his journey, it implies that King Artaxerxes was very supportive to Nehemiah’s plan of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. Indeed, Nehemiah initiated, led and completed the building of the wall of Jerusalem.

Artaxerxes King of Persia trusted the words of his cupbearer Nehemiah just as Pharaoh King of Egypt trusted the words of his chief cupbearer when he mentioned about Joseph and his ability to interpret difficult dreams, and he was reminded of Joseph’s request to mention him to Pharaoh.

3. Remind.

9Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings. 10Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard. 11Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. 12Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. 13And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.”

After Joseph interpreted the dreams of the chief cupbearer and chief baker, his request was forgotten. Why did the chief cupbearer forget Joseph? Was it because he expected that he will be restored to his office? Did God wait for His right timing while preparing Joseph for a higher position?

If the cupbearer, mentioned Joseph to Pharaoh, right after he was restored to his position, Pharaoh may have ignored such request. Or, if Pharaoh listened to the cupbearer and released Joseph form prison, what possible situations would happen? Joseph would have ‘debt of gratitude’ to the cupbearer.

But since, it’s Pharaoh who was really in need of help for the interpretation of his dreams, and ordered Joseph to be taken out of prison without any mediation or intercession from anyone, Joseph’s life story became more dramatic. Pharaoh appointed Joseph to highest office next to him subsequently.

Have you observed that God’s divine drama is very wonderful and amazing? Can you identify with the difficulties and blessedness in the life of Joseph?

What drama have you experienced in life that caused you to praise and worship God all your life? Have you had physical, financial, or relational troubles?

Trust in God

There was an immigrant who cannot find a permanent job for more than a year. He lived with his relatives in Canada, and they expected him to share in the payment of bills but he had no income. In his country of origin, his wife is waiting to be sponsored for immigration, too. His terrible situation did not end there.

He experienced a life threatening illness and had successful surgery. Well, count that as one success in his life. But who would love to have success if it’s about surgery? Of course, if you are healthy, you sure not desire successful surgery but if you have life-threatening illness, you desire success in surgery.

Anyway, while recovering from surgery, his relatives were slow to provide assistance. He desired for his wife to come to Canada but his relatives were insensitive. His church provided the necessary endorsement for his wife to come. In short, his wife arrive in Canada in the easier way than applying for sponsorship.

As he continued to trust in the Lord, he recovered, got healed, and has permanent job. Lately, they have taken oath as citizens of Canada, bought their new car and house. As he reflects upon the troubles he had gone through, he cannot help but to thank and praise the Lord for all the blessing they have.

It teaches us in Isaiah 59:1-2, 1Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. 2But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.

Most of the time, we want the Lord to grant our prayer according to our terms and not according to His will. Such attitude is not a reflection of faith. And without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).

To have faith in God is to trust Him that the Lord knows what’s best for us so that even in our prayers, we should not insist of what we wish but to seek His will.

Each time you have problems, troubles or difficulties in life, just think about the predicament and difficulties that Joseph had gone through.

Do you have a problem more difficult than having a hostile siblings, sold as slave, accused of wrongdoing, or imprisoned for not wanting to sin against God?

The Lord declares in Matthew 5:10-12, 10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

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