Joseph: 9. God's Interpreter

Genesis 41:15‑32  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Long had been the trial of Joseph's faith and patience, and the keenest morally and physically at the close, though Jehovah was with him all the while. But then “they hurt his feet with fetters: his soul came into iron, till the time that his word came; the word of Jehovah tried him. The king sent and loosed him; the ruler of peoples, and let him go free” (Psa. 105:18-2018Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: 19Until the time that his word came: the word of the Lord tried him. 20The king sent and loosed him; even the ruler of the people, and let him go free. (Psalm 105:18‑20)). How sudden the change from the king's tower-house to the perplexed king's court, and the baffled sages of Egypt!
“And Pharaoh said to Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and [there is] none to interpret it. And I have heard say of thee, thou understandest a dream to interpret it. And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, [It is] not in me: God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace. And Pharaoh said to Joseph, In my dream, behold, I stood on the brink of a river. And, behold, there came up out of the river seven kine fat-fleshed and fine-looking, and they fed in the reed grass. And, behold, seven other kine came up after them, poor, and very ill-looking, and lean-fleshed, such as I never saw in all the land of Egypt for badness. And the lean and ill-looking kine ate up the first seven fat kine; and when they had eaten them up, it could not be known that they had come into their belly, and their look was as at the beginning. And I awoke. And I saw in my dream, and, behold, seven ears came up on one stalk, full and good. And, behold, seven ears withered, thin, parched with the east wind, sprung up after them; and the thin ears devoured the seven good ears. And I told [it] to the scribes; but [there was] none that could declare it to me. And Joseph said to Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh [is] one. What God is about to do he hath declared to Pharaoh. The seven good kine [are] seven years; and the seven good ears [are] seven years: the dream [is] one. And the seven lean and bad kine that came up after them [are] seven years; and the seven empty ears parched with the east wind will be seven years of famine. This [is] the word which I have spoken to Pharaoh: what God is about to do he letteth Pharaoh see. Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt. And there will arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt, and the famine will consume the land. And the plenty will not be known in the land by reason of that famine that followeth; for it [will be] very grievous. And for that the dream was doubled to Pharaoh twice, [it is] because the thing [is] established by God, and God will hasten to do it” (vers. 15-32).
The king forthwith tells Joseph of his dream and of none to interpret it; of him he had heard as one that could. Joseph replies with modest and pious disclaimer for himself, but with faith in God's willingness and goodness in the matter. Thereon Pharaoh recounts it in yet more energetic terms than originally, the two-fold kine, the two-fold grain, the lean and ill-looking devouring the good and well-favored, who came before. Joseph explains that both dreams related to one event, seven years of plenty, followed by as many of famine, beyond parallel. Both were of God's doing for extra-ordinary ends; as was His making all known to Pharaoh, outside the ken of man. The doubling of the dream indicated not only its certainty, but the speed of its accomplishment. God deceives not, nor is He mocked. Behind His good-will to man and those providentially set in authority, He cared intimately for the prophet who had suffered long for righteousness and His name's sake; as He had designs for humbling his brethren, chastising their evil ways, but eventually bringing them in the fourth generation into Canaan, with great substance, out of the land of their slavery, whilst He judged the nation that oppressed them. And this He did as punctually and plainly before the world's eyes, as He now wrought to save life generally and cause the wise dealing of His servant to be at once welcomed.
Indeed Joseph was the type of One incomparably higher, Who shall astonish many nations, and shut the mouths of kings on account of Him, and melt the proud heart of His ancient people; for in their self-will they esteemed Him not but despised Him. Yet it was the reality of His humiliation, and of its infinite grace, not only in bearing their griefs and sustaining their sorrows, but far more deeply in being wounded for their transgressions and bruised for their iniquities. These gave the enemy occasion to aggravate their unbelief, as unwilling to allow their sins as to feel their need of a Savior from God, independently of themselves: at bottom the difficulty insuperable to all flesh, of Gentiles as well as Jews. But, strictly speaking, Joseph typified Him, first, in being “the Prophet that should come” and endure all griefs and shame, but be God's wisdom during His humiliation, rejected by His brethren, punished unjustly, though the righteous One, by the Gentiles, yet raised out of the depths to wield the authority of the kingdom outside Israel and the land, to the great relief of Israel and Egypt, before the day come to put the children in fulfilled possession of the promises made to the fathers.
It is intelligible that an ungodly reasoner like David Hume, or a dissolute sentimentalist like J. J. Rousseau should deny prophecy as well as miracle. One can understand too the trifling speculation of philosophers, who talk of alleged miracles or prophecies falling under a higher law which transcends the ordinary rule of natural causes and effects. The common and fatal defect of all such schemes is the sin that forgets and leaves out God, in a day particularly when there was neither the completed word of God or the scriptures, nor the presence of the Spirit imparted as the fruit of Christ's redemption. How sad that their erring and rebellious steps should be followed by men, who are not only professing Christians, but bound by their position to proclaim all revealed truth, and expound it faithfully in its fullness and precision to all disciples as well as opposers. It is both scandalous indifference and real hostility to God and His Son, and in fact less honest than those unworthy skeptics. But the apostasy must come before the day of the Lord, who will execute judgment on all evil among the living here below.