Genesis 41

* Pharaoh's dreams. (1-8) Joseph interprets Pharaoh's dreams.

(9-32) Joseph's counsel, He is highly advanced. (33-45) Joseph's

children, The beginning of the famine. (46-57)

1-8 The means of Joseph's being freed from prison were

Pharaoh's dreams, as here related. Now that God no longer speaks

to us in that way, it is no matter how little we either heed

dreams, or tell them. The telling of foolish dreams can make no

better than foolish talk. But these dreams showed that they were

sent of God; when he awoke, Pharaoh's spirit was troubled.
9-32 God's time for the enlargement of his people is the

fittest time. If the chief butler had got Joseph to be released

from prison, it is probable he would have gone back to the land

of the Hebrews. Then he had neither been so blessed himself, nor

such a blessing to his family, as afterwards he proved. Joseph,

when introduced to Pharaoh, gives honour to God. Pharaoh had

dreamed that he stood upon the bank of the river Nile, and saw

the kine, both the fat ones, and the lean ones, come out of the

river. Egypt has no rain, but the plenty of the year depends

upon the overflowing of the river Nile. See how many ways

Providence has of dispensing its gifts; yet our dependence is

still the same upon the First Cause, who makes every creature

what it is to us, be it rain or river. See to what changes the

comforts of this life are subject. We cannot be sure that

to-morrow shall be as this day, or next year as this. We must

learn how to want, as well as how to abound. Mark the goodness

of God in sending the seven years of plenty before those of

famine, that provision might be made. The produce of the earth

is sometimes more, and sometimes less; yet, take one with

another, he that gathers much, has nothing over; and he that

gathers little, has no lack, #Ex 16:18|. And see the perishing

nature of our worldly enjoyments. The great harvests of the

years of plenty were quite lost, and swallowed up in the years

of famine; and that which seemed very much, yet did but just

serve to keep the people alive. There is bread which lasts to

eternal life, which it is worth while to labour for. They that

make the things of this world their good things, will find

little pleasure in remembering that they have received them.
33-45 Joseph gave good advice to Pharaoh. Fair warning should

always be followed by good counsel. God has in his word told us

of a day of trial before us, when we shall need all the grace we

can have. Now, therefore, provide accordingly. Pharaoh gave

Joseph an honourable testimony. He is a man in whom the spirit

of God is; and such men ought to be valued. Pharaoh puts upon

Joseph marks of honour. He gave him such a name as spoke the

value he had for him, Zaphnath-paaneah, "a revealer of secrets."

This preferment of Joseph encourages all to trust in God. Some

translate Joseph's new name, "the saviour of the world." The

brightest glories, even of the upper world, are put upon Christ,

the highest trust lodged in his hand, and all power given him,

both in heaven and earth.
46-57 In the names of his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim,

Joseph owned the Divine providence. 1. He was made to forget his

misery. 2. He was made fruitful in the land of his affliction.

The seven plenteous years came, and were ended. We ought to look

forward to the end of the days, both of our prosperity and of

our opportunity. We must not be secure in prosperity, nor

slothful in making good use of opportunity. Years of plenty will

end; what thy hand finds to do, do it; and gather in gathering

time. The dearth came, and the famine was not only in Egypt, but

in other lands. Joseph was diligent in laying up, while the

plenty lasted. He was prudent and careful in giving out, when

the famine came. Joseph was engaged in useful and important

labours. Yet it was in the midst of this his activity that his

father Jacob said, Joseph is not! What a large portion of our

troubles would be done away if we knew the whole truth! Let

these events lead us to Jesus. There is a famine of the bread of

life throughout the whole earth. Go to Jesus, and what he bids

you, do. Attend to His voice, apply to him; he will open his

treasures, and satisfy with goodness the hungry soul of every

age and nation, without money and without price. But those who

slight this provision must starve, and his enemies will be

destroyed.
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