After Two Whole Years

After two whole years, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile…

Two long years passed. His brothers had sold him. Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him. The cupbearer forgot him. He waited. Then Pharaoh had a dream. Joseph didn’t know Pharaoh had a dream until Pharaoh sent for him. Genesis 41:14 recounts the events: Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they quickly brought him out of the pit. And when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh.

I am convinced that all of Scripture is inspired by God and useful. I have often wondered why the writer included this detail. In a story with such high stakes, why would the writer talk about shaving and changing clothes. I am convinced that while the prison may have changed Joseph on the outside, it did nothing to affect him on the inside. Though Joseph had waited years for this moment, he didn’t rush into Pharaoh’s court. He shaved. He changed his clothes. And then he appeared before Pharaoh.

And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” (Isaiah 41:15-16)

This is Joseph’s moment of glory–and he deflects it to his God. The pit had not thwarted Joseph’s faith. False accusations did not derail Joseph’s resolve.  The prison had not not made Joseph bitter–he was better.

Joseph interpreted the dream. Pharaoh was blown away. He responded:

Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God? Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.” And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck. And he made him ride in his second chariot. And they called out before him, “Bow the knee!” Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt. (Genesis 41:39-43)

In one day Joseph moved from the prison to the palace. In one day Joseph transitioned from taking care of criminals (and being accused of being one himself), to saving a nation from starvation. For the next seven years Joseph led the people to grow and save grain and other produce. Because of the imminent famine, Egypt must be ready. Joseph was 30 years old when he became the Prime Minister of Egypt. Half of his young life had passed and his dream hadn’t been fulfilled. Now he could see the possible fulfillment of those long-ago dreams!

He married and had two boys. Their names reveal Joseph’s heart.

Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” The name of the second he called Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” (Genesis 41:51-52)

God saved Joseph so that Joseph could save a nation. Joseph saved a nation so that the nation could save his own brothers and dad. God preserved Joseph’s brothers because God promised Joseph’ great-great grandfather (Abraham) he would. While Joseph waited, he had no idea the great plan God was unfolding.

The cupbearer may have forgotten him but God hadn’t. HIs brothers may have tried to kill him, but God preserved him. Potiphar’s wife may have tried to seduce him, but God strengthened him.

God waited with Joseph.

Joseph waited on God.

His dream became a reality.