Most of our days are filled with the routine, ordinary, and rather mundane events of life. Things like brushing your teeth, eating breakfast, driving to work, doing the laundry, mowing the lawn, watching tv…. Just regular run-of-the-mill stuff.
And most of our days are like that. Just another day – doing pretty much the same thing as you’ve done hundreds of times before.
But every once in a while, we have a different kind of day… A day that changes everything.
Coleson and Dana had one of those days yesterday. They may not have even fully realized it, but for them, yesterday changed everything! As they stood before friends and family and said their marriage vows to one another, their lives headed down a brand new path and things will be forever different in their lives.
John & Wendy had one of those days about 45 years ago! They celebrated 45 years of marriage a week ago Saturday and I’m sure they would testify that when they said “I do” 45 years ago – that was a day that changed everything!
And it’s not just wedding days that change everything. Sometimes its the day of the car accident that changes everything. Or the day your little one was born. Or the day you started that new job. Or whatever it is… Everyone once in a while, we have those days – those days that change everything!
Well, Joseph was about to have one of those days.
When we last left Joseph, he was in the prison in the palace of the guard in Egypt.
Some time before this he had been sold as a slave (by his brothers) and had been bought by a man named Potiphar. But Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph and he was thrown into prison for a crime that he never committed. But through it all, we were reminded last week that the Lord was with Joseph – even in the prison – and God caused everything Joseph did to succeed, causing him to quickly gain the trust of the prison keeper who then put him in charge of all the other prisoners.
As it happened, Pharaoh had thrown his cup-bearer and his baker into that same prison and so one day as Joseph cared for these two men, Joseph noticed that they seemed to be upset about something. They went on to tell Joseph that they had each had a dream that clearly had some important meaning, but didn’t know what that meaning was.
Well to make a long story short, God revealed to Joseph what the dreams meant and so Joseph was able to tell these two men the meaning of their dreams. He told them that in three days, the baker unfortunately would be executed by Pharaoh and the cup-bearer would be freed from prison and would get his job back. And then, as Joseph is explaining all this, Joseph also says this to the cup-bearer: (In Genesis chapter 40, verse 14…)
14 And please remember me and do me a favor when things go well for you. Mention me to Pharaoh, so he might let me out of this place. 15 For I was kidnapped from my homeland, the land of the Hebrews, and now I’m here in prison, but I did nothing to deserve it.” Genesis 40:14-15
It was probably a long-shot to hope for Pharaoh’s help, but that was probably Joseph’s only hope that he would ever get out of that prison.
Unfortunately, even though everything Joseph predicted happened exactly as Joseph had said, Joseph’s request for the cup-bearer to remember him would be denied, because it says at the end of chapter 40, verse 23….
23 Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer, however, forgot all about Joseph, never giving him another thought. Genesis 40:23
Talk about being ungrateful, eh? A guy interprets your dreams and tells you that your life’s going to be spared and you’re going to get your job back, and so how do you thank him? By forgetting all about him – never giving him another thought.
Well, that’s where we left off last week. Poor ol’ Joseph kidnapped from his homeland, sold as a slave, thrown into prison, and now completely forgotten about.
Joseph stayed in that prison for another two full years – until one day, something happened!
And unbeknownst to Joseph, this would be the day for him that changed everything.
We’ll pick up our story in Genesis chapter 41 – starting at verse 1.
Two full years later, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing on the bank of the Nile River. 2 In his dream he saw seven fat, healthy cows come up out of the river and begin grazing in the marsh grass. 3 Then he saw seven more cows come up behind them from the Nile, but these were scrawny and thin. These cows stood beside the fat cows on the riverbank. 4 Then the scrawny, thin cows ate the seven healthy, fat cows! At this point in the dream, Pharaoh woke up.
5 But he fell asleep again and had a second dream. This time he saw seven heads of grain, plump and beautiful, growing on a single stalk. 6 Then seven more heads of grain appeared, but these were shriveled and withered by the east wind. 7 And these thin heads swallowed up the seven plump, well-formed heads! Then Pharaoh woke up again and realized it was a dream.
8 The next morning Pharaoh was very disturbed by the dreams. So he called for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. When Pharaoh told them his dreams, not one of them could tell him what they meant.
9 Finally, the king’s chief cup-bearer spoke up. “Today I have been reminded of my failure,” he told Pharaoh. 10 “Some time ago, you were angry with the chief baker and me, and you imprisoned us in the palace of the captain of the guard. 11 One night the chief baker and I each had a dream, and each dream had its own meaning. 12 There was a young Hebrew man with us in the prison who was a slave of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he told us what each of our dreams meant. 13 And everything happened just as he had predicted. I was restored to my position as cup-bearer, and the chief baker was executed and impaled on a pole.”
14 Pharaoh sent for Joseph at once, and he was quickly brought from the prison. After he shaved and changed his clothes, he went in and stood before Pharaoh. 15 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream last night, and no one here can tell me what it means. But I have heard that when you hear about a dream you can interpret it.”
Now let’s just pause here for a minute to wrap our heads around this situation. Joseph has been a slave in Egypt for about 13 year at this point. He’s been in the prison for at last two years – perhaps even more – we’re not told the exactly timeline. Suddenly, he’s pulled out of the prison and told to make himself presentable because he’s going to appear before Pharaoh. We don’t know if anyone told Joseph why he was appearing before Pharaoh, but Joseph would soon find out.
So now here’s Joseph, standing before Pharaoh and Pharaoh says to him, “I had a dream the other night, and I hear that you can interpret dreams.”
Now if you were Joseph, how would you reply? Remember, there is a LOT riding on how you answer this question.
First of all, this is probably Joseph’s one and only chance of ever getting out of that prison. There was no parol. No getting out for good behaviour. If Pharaoh decided at that point to send Joseph back to prison, it would almost be a guarantee that Joseph would live in that dungeon until he died. If Joseph isn’t able to interpret Pharaoh dreams, it’s pretty much game over for Joseph.
So I would think that Joseph would certainly want to prove to be valuable to Pharaoh! But on the other hand, if Joseph says he can do it, but he gets it wrong – that’d be game over too! I’m not sure how much confidence I’d have in that situation if I were Joseph. I mean, sure, Joseph got the baker and cup-bearer’s dreams right, but what about his own dreams about his family bowing down to him? That sure hadn’t come through. If I were Joseph, I’m not sure how much confidence I would have had that I could accurately interpret these dreams.
And based on Joseph’s reply that we read in the next verse, I don’t think Joseph had that much confidence in himself – but he sure had confidence in God. Look at how he replies to Pharaoh in verse 16.
16 “It is beyond my power to do this,” Joseph replied. “But God can tell you what it means and set you at ease.” Genesis 41:16
Joseph didn’t have confidence in himself. He recognized that it was beyond his power to interpret these dreams. But he had absolute confidence that God could do it.
That’s such a great reminder to us. We don’t need to have more self-confidence – we need to have more God-confidence.
Did you know that there is an entire category of books on amazon dedicated to self-esteem? It’s actually a sub-category of self-help. But the self-esteem category itself has over 10,000 books – many of them best-sellers.
It’s obvious that there are a lot of people looking for ways to build their self-confidence. But I’m not sure we need to read more books on self-confidence – I think we just need to read the One Book on how have God-confidence.
I think one of the reasons why God has recorded so many of these great stories in the Bible is so that we can learn to have God-confidence. When we read about God dividing the Red Sea for Moses and the Israelites to cross through, or about God knocking down the walls of Jericho so that Joshua could march right in or about God sending ravens to bring food to Elijah in the middle of a drought – these are incredible stories that strengthen and build our God-confidence.
That’s also why we like to have people share their testimonies in church every so often – because when we hear how God has been at work in their lives, that builds our God-confidence.
God-confidence is knowing that even when we are unable, God is able. Even when we are weak, God is strong. Even when we don’t know the answer, God knows everything. That’s God-confidence.
I think Paul was a man who learned to have great God-confidence. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 he writes:
I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9b-10
Paul, like Joseph, didn’t put his confidence in himself. He put his confidence in God. So much so, that he could boast about his weakness, because when he was weak, he knew that God would be strong. Paul goes so far as to say he took pleasure in his own weakness….
To me, that seems really weird! Do you take pleasure in your weakness? Are you happy when you’re unable? When you’re weak? Being weak doesn’t usually bring me much joy…
But Paul says he took pleasure in his weakness – in his own inability, in his own suffering – because that’s exactly when the power of God would work through him. Paul had joy knowing that God was able even when Paul was weak.
In fact in the book of Philippians, Paul writes this:
“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
That’s absolutely true! When we feel incapable or unqualified – when we feel we simply can’t do whatever it is that need to be done – that’s ok. In fact, that’s a good thing.
When we are weak, that’s exactly when God has the opportunity to show just how strong and how able and how qualified He is. Nothing is too hard for Him. And because of that, we can do anything that God calls us to do – through the power of Christ who gives us His strength.
And I think Joseph would agree. It was beyond Joseph’s power to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams – but Joseph had complete confidence that God could do it.
So Joseph put his confidence in God and as a result, Pharaoh put his confidence in Joseph. It says in verse 17…
17 So Pharaoh told Joseph his dream. “In my dream,” he said, “I was standing on the bank of the Nile River, 18 and I saw seven fat, healthy cows come up out of the river and begin grazing in the marsh grass. 19 But then I saw seven sick-looking cows, scrawny and thin, come up after them. I’ve never seen such sorry-looking animals in all the land of Egypt. 20 These thin, scrawny cows ate the seven fat cows. 21 But afterward you wouldn’t have known it, for they were still as thin and scrawny as before! Then I woke up.
22 “In my dream I also saw seven heads of grain, full and beautiful, growing on a single stalk. 23 Then seven more heads of grain appeared, but these were blighted, shriveled, and withered by the east wind. 24 And the shriveled heads swallowed the seven healthy heads. I told these dreams to the magicians, but no one could tell me what they mean.”
25 Joseph responded, “Both of Pharaoh’s dreams mean the same thing. God is telling Pharaoh in advance what he is about to do. 26 The seven healthy cows and the seven healthy heads of grain both represent seven years of prosperity. 27 The seven thin, scrawny cows that came up later and the seven thin heads of grain, withered by the east wind, represent seven years of famine.
28 “This will happen just as I have described it, for God has revealed to Pharaoh in advance what he is about to do. 29 The next seven years will be a period of great prosperity throughout the land of Egypt. 30 But afterward there will be seven years of famine so great that all the prosperity will be forgotten in Egypt. Famine will destroy the land. 31 This famine will be so severe that even the memory of the good years will be erased. 32 As for having two similar dreams, it means that these events have been decreed by God, and he will soon make them happen.
33 “Therefore, Pharaoh should find an intelligent and wise man and put him in charge of the entire land of Egypt. 34 Then Pharaoh should appoint supervisors over the land and let them collect one-fifth of all the crops during the seven good years. 35 Have them gather all the food produced in the good years that are just ahead and bring it to Pharaoh’s storehouses. Store it away, and guard it so there will be food in the cities. 36 That way there will be enough to eat when the seven years of famine come to the land of Egypt. Otherwise this famine will destroy the land.” Genesis 41:17-36
Now there are probably a few things that we could point out from this passage, but here’s what caught my attention: Joseph mentions twice in those verses that through these dreams, God was warning Pharaoh in advance about what was going to happen. In the near future there would be a terrible famine throughout Egypt. For the next seven years, the land would produce bumper crops – there would be incredible prosperity, but then after those seven years of prosperity would be seven years of terrible famine. Twice, Joseph says how these dreams are a warning to Pharaoh about what God was going to do.
Now of course, we just can’t imagine any of our modern governments embracing a message like this. No prime minster or premier or president or governor that I know of, (even if they had a dream just like this) would ever listen to someone claiming that their dream was a warning from God. Our modern western culture is so secular that no one would ever entertain the thought that God would warning us of impending doom. Sure, they might listen to a meteorologist or maybe a climate change scientist – but certainly not a message from God.
But the reality is, God has given us (including our leaders) a very similar warning. Even though we may not be facing an impending famine, our nation is certainly facing an even more tragic future. God has warned us clearly in his Word that when we stray from following his commands and his principles – when we refuse live in obedience and submission to God – destruction naturally follows.
The Old Testament is filled with these kinds of warnings from God. In our adult Sunday School we’ve been going through the book of Hosea – and that’s what the book is about! Israel had forgotten about God and unless they changed their course, they would face destruction.
I think that’s true for Canada too. It might not be tomorrow, but unless Canadians begin to change course and turn back to God, we too will face eventual destruction. God has warned us clearly in his Word.
And so perhaps even more pressing for us today, is not the state of our nation, but the state of our own personal lives. If you’ve been coming to this church for any period of time, I’m sure that by now you’ve heard me talk about the sin that we are all born with. We are all born with a natural inclination to rebel against God – and we’ve all acted on that. We’ve sinned against our Creator and the Bible is very clear that the wages of sin is death. We deserve eternal separation and punishment from God.
But God in his mercy, sent His Son, Jesus Christ to live a sinless life and to then die on a cross – taking the punishment for our sin. Three days later He rose from the grave – He lives today and He has invited all of us to simply believe and trust in him so that we can have that eternal life and the joy and peace that He offers.
But the problem is, some of us may not have accepted that message. Some of us may not have heeded the warned from God of our impending destruction. And I know that sounds kinda harsh, but that’s the reality! Romans 2:5 says this:
5 But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 He will judge everyone according to what they have done. 7 He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. 8 But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness. Romans 2:5-8
Just like God warned Pharaoh of the imminent famine and gave him a chance to escape (and even flourish) – so too, God has warned us. He has given us the chance to escape the punishment of sin and instead to flourish by accepting Jesus’ gift of Salvation. If you’ve never made that choice in your heart to accept God’s free gift of Salvation, I would strongly urge you to do that today. Choose life over death.
That’s exactly what Pharaoh did. He believed and accepted God’s warning through Joseph. We read in verse 37:
37 Joseph’s suggestions were well received by Pharaoh and his officials. 38 So Pharaoh asked his officials, “Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?” 39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, clearly no one else is as intelligent or wise as you are. 40 You will be in charge of my court, and all my people will take orders from you. Only I, sitting on my throne, will have a rank higher than yours.”
41 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the entire land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh removed his signet ring from his hand and placed it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in fine linen clothing and hung a gold chain around his neck. 43 Then he had Joseph ride in the chariot reserved for his second-in-command. And wherever Joseph went, the command was shouted, “Kneel down!” So Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of all Egypt. 44 And Pharaoh said to him, “I am Pharaoh, but no one will lift a hand or foot in the entire land of Egypt without your approval.”
45 Then Pharaoh gave Joseph a new Egyptian name, [zef-a-nath, pan-eh-ah] Zaphenath-paneah. He also gave him a wife, whose name was [A-scene-ath] Asenath. She was the daughter of Potiphera, the priest of On. So Joseph took charge of the entire land of Egypt. 46 He was thirty years old when he began serving in the court of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. And when Joseph left Pharaoh’s presence, he inspected the entire land of Egypt. Genesis 41:37-46
What an incredible day that must have been for Joseph. When he woke up that morning, he was a kidnapped slave, forgotten in prison. But by the time he went to bed that night, he was the second-in-command over all of Egypt. Life had completely changed for Joseph and would never be the same. What a difference a day makes!
That just goes to show that life can change in an instant! Sometimes God has to work and arranged everything for years before everything is in place for that one day…. But when that one day comes, everything changes! And some of you have experienced that yourself!
We talked at the beginning of this message about how one day changes everything. From weddings to car accidents, getting that job, losing that job, births, deaths – I think we’ve all had those reminders that one day can change everything.
Perhaps in your life you’ve been feeling a bit like Jospeh must have felt as he sat there in prison – 13 years as a slave – more than two years forgotten about in prison…. Maybe you feel stuck. Maybe you feel hopeless. Maybe you feel like nothing will ever change! But I’d encourage you to hold on and put your confidence in God – because one day can changed everything.
Maybe it’s a loved one who isn’t walking with the Lord – one day can change everything.
Maybe it’s a medical condition that looks hopeless – one day can change everything.
Maybe it’s marriage or some other relationship that’s struggling – one day can change everything.
Don’t lose hope. Put your confidence in God, because one day can change everything.
We were reminded from that passage in Romans that one Day Jesus Christ will return to bring judgement to the wicked and eternal life to those who have believed in Him. That’s going to be a day that will really change everything. It’s so important that we are ready for that one day.
Joseph was ready for his ‘one day that changed everything’. Even though he knew that in himself, he was unable to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams, that wasn’t a problem – because he had placed his confidence in God.
And we need to do the same thing. There is no way that we can be good enough to stand before God. There’s no way we can earn God’s favor by the good things we do. And that’s ok – so long as we put our confidence in God. Our weakness, our inability to always do what is right isn’t a problem because Jesus has already done that for us. When we are weak, he is strong.
His perfect, sinless life is what gives us right standing before God. We simply need to put our trust, our hope, our confidence in Him.
And so if you’ve never done that before, perhaps today is a day for you that will change everything. Perhaps today is the day when you trade Jesus your sin for his righteousness. Perhaps today is the day that you exchange your guilt for his forgiveness. Perhaps today is the day that you will be freed from sin, and death and judgement and instead, will receive joy, and peace, and eternal life.
One day can change everything.
As for Joseph, that one day really did change everything – but that certainly wasn’t the end of his story. As I mentioned earlier, Jospeh has been in Egypt for about 13 years as a slave – He went on to live another 80 years in Egypt as second in command. So his story is far from over – and we’ll continue looking at his life next week.