Thus far in our study of Joseph’s life, we have looked at events through his eyes. This week I’d like us to take a different perspective. Let’s look through Pharaoh’s eyes.
Pharaoh was the most powerful leader in that day, a man who was revered but also feared. He was considered unreachable and untouchable, but somewhere under all that external power there was a man with a soul who found himself in a desperate situation. He’d had two deeply troubling dreams and was frantic to find someone – anyone – who could interpret them. You see, the most powerful men are still men and have needs like everyone else. Thanks to his Cupbearer, Joseph was brought out of prison, presented to Pharaoh and after giving God due honor, the young man interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams and followed the interpretation with profoundly wise advice.
Pharaoh watches and listens to this ex-prisoner. What was going through his mind?
He’d probably never heard of Joseph; didn’t know the young man existed! But God, when He is about His plans being fulfilled, will surprise even the greatest of men. We must conclude that the Spirit of God was at work in Pharaoh even though he did not know the true God at that point. Why do I say that? First of all, he rejected the interpretations of his magicians. It takes a certain inner perception to know when you have not received the right answer. It also takes the same to recognize true wisdom. That kind of wisdom comes from the Spirit of God.
There are three men who put themselves on the line, who risk everything in this event.
First, the Cupbearer. Remember that this man had already been imprisoned once before so you can be sure that he was very careful with his words. Once was enough! But seeing the distress that Pharaoh was experiencing, he came forward to inform his employer that a Hebrew prisoner had the gifting that Pharaoh needed.
And Pharaoh listened! It takes a measure of humility to listen to a servant. It also takes a serious measure of humility to acknowledge the wisdom that emerged from a prisoner just released from Pharaoh’s own dungeon! When God is at work, and you have a measure of humility like Pharaoh, you will listen to someone you otherwise would pay no attention to.
Pharaoh exercised a simple form of ‘faith’, if you will, by doing what his Cup bearer recommended and he was greatly rewarded. His best decision that day was to agree to the release of the Hebrew prisoner.
Secondly, Joseph risked his own life – literally – by giving the interpretation and following it with unsolicited advice. Pharaoh could have had him instantly killed if he was displeased in any way with Joseph’s words.
Instead, hearing the interpretation of his dreams and the wise counsel that followed, Pharaoh put all his eggs in one basket. Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom is the Spirit of God? Gen. 41:38 He promptly elevated Joseph to a position of great authority and responsibility. The very one whose wisdom he recognized, he appointed to bring that wisdom to fruition.
There are several ways by which we can recognize when the Spirit of God is at work. First of all, His activity produces peace. Pharaoh’s troubled mind was now at rest. He understood the dreams, their meaning and the appropriate way to apply them.
Another evidence of the Spirit of God at work is an unhesitating authority. Joseph listened to Pharaoh and then responded in a calm and clear manner. Pharaoh could tell that Joseph was fully confident that God was speaking through him. That gave Pharaoh confidence which then produced trust.
The Spirit of God at work is also simply straightforward – no manipulation or mental gymnastics. In other words, Joseph basically said: ‘this is what God is saying and this is what to do about it.’
Keep in mind that Pharaoh didn’t know Joseph but he didn’t ask for any credentials, nor inquire about his track record of success. Pharaoh heard, his inner man recognized the truth of what Joseph was saying and he acted on it immediately. That, my friends, is faith.
Thirdly, Pharaoh put himself and his own reputation on the line before everybody! He had rejected the “experts” but took the words of an “unknown” with full confidence. If Joseph was proven wrong after a year or two, Pharaoh would take the heat for it. Clearly his conviction of Joseph’s authenticity was profound.
Rarely do we think of Pharaoh’s perspective when we talk about Joseph’s life, but we must take encouragement from how Pharaoh, a pagan, received the work of the Spirit of God and acknowledged the same without apology? No political correctness here! Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?
Political correctness has become an issue in our day that has affected individuals, congregations and groups. It is stunning to see how totally absent it was from this scenario in Joseph’s life. Not one of the key players bowed to political correctness, but chose instead to listen and heed the Spirit of the Living God.
Fear of criticism and rejection weaken the strength of our commitment to God, to His Word and to His ways. It is time to learn once again that when all is said and done, it is to HIM that we owe all our allegiance. Fear has no place in the one who professes to love the LORD. The times in which we live demand that we stand strong in our faith and courageous to live and speak the truth of God’s Word in our day to day lifestyle.