Genesis 41a - Reflection

 'Pharaoh asked them, ‘Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?’’ Genesis 41:38

Brothers and sisters, as we continue our series on Genesis, we finally see Joseph lifted high as he offers an interpretation for Pharaoh’s dream. Pharaoh dreams of seven fat cows and seven healthy ears of corn being devoured by seven sickly cows and unhealthy ears of corn. The wise men in Egypt are unable to give a satisfying explanation as to what this dream may have meant; only Joseph –through God– was able to explain that the dreams meant there would be seven years of plenty and seven years of famine. Through this interpretation, God was able to save Egypt from famine through Joseph.

There are several remarkable things to note in this passage, first of all; while it may look like the situation facing Egypt in Pharaohs dream is ‘bad news’, Joseph is actually the bringer of good news. Yes, the situation facing Egypt looks hard but God has given them the wisdom, through Joseph, to overcome the hard times. God often does that, doesn’t he? Despite the fact that the hard times inevitably come, God gives us the wisdom and endurance to get through them. Joseph isn’t so much a weather reporter reporting an incoming storm as he is someone manning a lifeboat waiting to come to their rescue. Yet Joseph is never dishonest, always humble, he points never to his own wisdom but to God’s in the midst of non-believers. You may not have realised it but Joseph’s story, along with Daniel’s later in the Old Testament, are two of the absolute best examples of how to live life as a believer amidst non-believers.

Imagine you were working for a small bank just before the big crash of 2008. All the other banks back then were over-lending, completely unprepared for the collapse that was to come, but imagine you were in that bank and God told you to start saving money because the crash was coming. Of course, the second the crash came people would look at you like you were a genius, exactly like they looked at Joseph. It would have been so easy to take the credit, but Joseph took no credit for himself at all and gave all glory to God (v28). How many opportunities do we all have to show the goodness of God if we point to him in all that we do in our workplaces? Joseph was a character whose faithfulness God used to show his goodness. So good was Joseph’s faithfulness that “Pharaoh said to his servants, ‘Can we find anyone else like this, one in whom is the spirit of God?’” (v38) Even the King of Egypt was amazed at God’s work through Joseph. 

Joseph is an excellent example of how to live a life dedicated to God, in the secular world. He points to what a faithful servant of God looks like as one with no education compared to Pharaoh’s wise men but one relied totally on God’s wisdom. Over the years I’ve met people like that, like Joseph, perhaps you have too? In my experience they rarely end up in lofty positions like Joseph does, because they care more about pointing to God than they do pointing to themselves, and yet people recognise a beauty, a trustworthiness, in those people. I remember one woman who I used to work with in the centre of Doncaster, she would go out every day, four days a week, around the entire homeless population of Doncaster, of whom she knew every single one by name. She would give out food and small amounts of clothes but would hate it when people tried to reward her or praise her for her work, “don’t thank me, thank Him” she would say, with an upward nod. Another character whose faithfulness God uses to show his goodness. 

As Fr Mike has said all throughout this series, this story fits into the wider themes of Genesis, the theme of remembering, as that tells us who we are. We remember how our world was made, how we were made, we remember where we come from and how came to live in the secularised cities of Egypt. Yet we also remember who God is, that he is with us in the darkness of the prison, when we feel lost and forgotten, he remembers. Yet remembering is more than just calling to mind. The Jewish tradition is to sing the whole of Scripture and at various parts they act out the stories, they place themselves into the story, literally they ‘re-member’ themselves to the story, becoming members of it once again.

 As we reflect on the story of Joseph, a character whose faithfulness God uses to show His goodness, let us not just reflect in our heads. Instead, let us re-member ourselves to it, become a part of this story, recognise that we too can be like Joseph, the great evangeliser of Egypt, so faithful to God that God’s wisdom shone brightly through him, even grabbing the attention of Pharaoh himself. That same wisdom is in each of us as we engage with the secular world, and we are left asking if today God will use our faithfulness to show His goodness.  Joseph could easily have given up in the prison, he could easily have taken all the glory for himself when he was stood before Pharaoh, he could have given in to the ways of the Egyptians. Instead, he remained faithful to God, saving many lives and humbly proclaiming God’s wisdom, not his own. He was truly a character whose faithfulness God used to show his goodness. Amen. (from Fr Jordan).