Introduction: The remainder of Genesis 41 shows us the exaltation of Joseph to the highest place in Egypt, other than Pharaoh himself. This week we delve further into God’s reasons for exalting Joseph in this way and the results which flowed from Joseph’s life-saving work as the Prince of Egypt.
Monday: read Genesis 41:37-41. Joseph the former slave finds himself “in charge of the whole land of Egypt” (Gen. 41:41). Perhaps Joseph was tempted to see this exaltation as only temporary – I wouldn’t be surprised if he assumed that he would be sent back to prison after the famine emergency was over.
But because it was God Himself who orchestrated this amazing rise to power, it would last for the rest of Joseph’s life and all the way to the end of the book of Genesis. For example, consider the overarching purpose of God, described by Joseph as he speaks to his brothers, forgiving them for their evil deeds in Gen. 50:20: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” This, then, is God’s purpose in turning the world upside down and making a slave into a king: salvation, sparing sinners not only from physical famine, but from spiritual.
Meditate and Pray: Thank God for how seriously He responds to man’s plight. Just as He went to great trouble and many years of planning to miraculously raise up the lowly slave Joseph to save the day, so He planned ever so carefully from the beginning of time to send His own Son in the form of a servant to save His people from their sins. Jesus is indeed, “the Lamb chosen before the creation of the world” (1 Peter 1:19-20).
Tuesday: read Genesis 41:42. Joseph was not only exalted by title and name. He was also clothed with three symbols of Egyptian authority. The signet ring given to Joseph meant that whatever Joseph sealed would carry with it an absolute guarantee of accomplishment by the name of Pharaoh. Joseph’s royal robes of fine linen made him shine with all the splendor of Egypt. “A gold chain” should actually be translated “the gold necklace” meaning the very chain worn by Pharaoh himself – now given to Joseph to represent the person of Pharaoh to all the people. What glory! No wonder when Joseph’s brothers recognized him for the first time (Gen. 45:3), they were speechless with awe!
Meditate and Pray: Just as Joseph’s brothers found no words to describe the glory of Joseph when they saw it, so we, even in our highest praises, really have no words to describe what it will be to see Jesus. All the rest of Heaven will fade into the background when we finally see His face. As Samuel Rutherford wrote in Hymn #546 (verse 4) of our Trinity Hymnal, describing our wonder as the Bride of Christ, the Church:
“The Bride eyes not her garment, but her dear Bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory but on my King of grace.
Not at the crown He giveth but on His pierced hand;
The Lamb is all the glory of Immanuel’s land.”
Wednesday: read Genesis 41:43-49 and Luke 12:29-30. God takes care of every detail of the plan to exalt Joseph as the savior of his day, even providing the mode of his transportation – a chariot. This chariot would carry Joseph all over the land of Egypt, to every corner of the realm (see Gen. 41:46), enabling Joseph to assess and collect all the bounty of grain for seven years before famine came.
Meditate and Pray: Do you realize how carefully God has planned out and stored up all the provisions for your life? We don’t have to run panic-stricken with doubts and fears after the food and provisions of this world – He knows what we need before we ask Him (Luke 12:30). As Hymn #673 encourages us to do instead of worrying:
Cast thy burden on the Lord,
Only lean upon His Word;
Thou wilt soon have cause to bless
His eternal faithfulness.
He sustains thee by His hand,
He enables thee to stand;
Those whom Jesus once hath loved
From His grace are never moved.
Human counsels come to naught;
That shall stand which God hath wrought;
His compassion, love, and power,
Are the same forevermore.
(Rowland Hill, 1783)
Thursday: read Genesis 41:50-52. In the midst of all Joseph’s toil preparing Egypt for famine, God blessed him with two sons, named by faith in honor of God’s work in his life:
– Manasseh: (from the verb “to forget”) “God has made me forget all my troubles.”
– Ephraim: (akin to the word for fruitful) “God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”
Evidently Joseph’s wife comes to recognize the Lord’s blessing on her family, for how else would such a high caste member of an Egyptian family permit to be placed on her sons not Egyptian names of nobility, but Hebrew names of faith? Proof that she was right to see the blessing of God in these two boys’ lives comes to light when we look at the census numbers Moses records in Numbers 1:32 & 34. Manasseh and Ephraim together compose the most numerous of tribes (72,000 plus) with the exception only of Judah, the royal tribe. Joshua himself was descended from Ephraim, and confesses to all his fellow tribesmen: “You are numerous and very powerful” (Joshua 17:17), and then proceeds to give them more than one tribal inheritance. Thus do the blessings of God persist from generation to generation.
Meditate and Pray: Do you have Christian parents and upbringing? Thank God for the spiritual blessings of such a home. No believers in your family? Thank God that He was willing to adopt you by grace, just as Jacob would later adopt Ephraim and Manasseh as part of the people of God in Genesis 48:11-16. For all of us, let us rejoice in our adopted status in the words of Hymn # 525:
I once was an outcast stranger on earth,
A sinner by choice, an alien by birth,
But I’ve been adopted, my name’s written down,
An heir to a mansion, a robe and a crown.
I’m a child of the King, A child of the King:
With Jesus my Savior, I’m a child of the King.
(Hattie Buell, 1877)
Friday: read Genesis 41:50-52. God did not only answer Joseph’s prayers for the fruitfulness of his sons. He also answered Jacob’s prayers in Gen. 48:15-16. They became “sons of Abraham” by faith and “increased greatly on the earth” as Gen. 48:16 promised. But notice especially the three-fold blessing which Jacob placed on the heads of these two boys:
“May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the Angel who has delivered me from all harm – may He bless the boys.”
Here is the One True God portrayed by Jacob as King (before whom His servants walk), Shepherd (who has shepherded Jacob “all his life”) and Redeemer (who “delivered me from all harm” Gen.48:15-16). (Gen. 48:15-16). Though not a clear statement of the Trinity, there is beautiful testimony to the different roles which the Persons in the Godhead take on themselves in our salvation. And what they did worked! In these words, Jacob bears testimony to how God has been all He needed throughout all the wanderings of his life.
Meditate and Pray: Do you see many around you, in family and community in need of shepherding? Redeeming from trouble? Or simply needing God to walk with them on life’s difficult way? Pray that their eyes would be opened to see all that Christ can be for them. As Hymn # 481, ‘Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus’ (verse 1), says:
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
(Helen Lemmel, 1922)