Joseph Entered the Service of Pharaoh
Dr. Tony Chute, Lead Pastor
Overview: Joseph’s ability to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams results in his appointment as second in command over Egypt, a far cry from his life as a prisoner and even farther from his identity as the son of a Hebrew shepherd. In addition to this newfound status, Joseph is dressed in Egyptian clothing, given an Egyptian name, and married to an Egyptian woman. By the age of thirty, Joseph has reached the pinnacle of success with regard to his career and family such that the patriarchal promises to which he is entitled seem to fade into the background. However, Joseph has not forgotten God, nor is he ready to call Egypt his real home. Instead, Joseph serves faithfully under Pharaoh while at the same time using his God-given skills to bless others, particularly those in his own family. Thus the text reminds us that even as sojourners and strangers, we can be used by God to advance His kingdom no matter where we may reside.
01. As sojourners and strangers, let us be thankful for the country God has placed us in but let us not be dependent upon it for the advancement of the kingdom.
02. As sojourners and strangers, let us be involved in the work God has given us to do but let us not be complicit in things which work against the kingdom.
03. As sojourners and strangers, let us be a blessing to all people God has placed in our lives but let us give special attention to the members of the kingdom.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION & DISCOVERY
1. How does Pharaoh’s response to the interpretation of his dreams result in the fulfillment of Joseph’s dreams (see Genesis 37)? What does this series of events indicate about the providence of God? Think of how many (countless!) examples of God working things together in history we will understand once we get to heaven. How do such thoughts help you to trust Him now?
2. In what ways did Joseph become more identifiable as an Egyptian than a Hebrew in this text? How did his marriage to an Egyptian woman seem to cross the line between his Hebrew faith and his newfound status in Pharaoh’s court? What examples can you think of today in which employers might advance their own causes to the detriment of an employee’s faith? How would you manage such a situation?
3. What is the significance of the names of Joseph’s two children? Does it seem to you that Joseph is on the verge of forgetting his father and brothers completely? Does the fact that he gives his children Hebrew names indicate a remaining connection to his family and their faith? How does the reference to Egypt as “the land of my affliction” signify that he does not consider Egypt as his final home?
4. How did Joseph’s position in Egypt lead him to bless all of Egypt, other countries, and his brothers also (41:56-57)? How important is it for capable Christians to be in positions of influence in times of plenty and in times of famine or crisis? What happens when people who lack Christian values or ethics are in leadership positions in times of plenty or famine?
5. How can Christians around the world thank God for the country in which they were born or are living while at the same time not becoming dependent on it for the advancement of God’s kingdom? How can Christians in adverse political circumstances be good citizens and faithful Christians?
For Further Reading: Mark Noll and Carolyn Nystrom, Clouds of Witnesses: Christian Voices from Africa and Asia (InterVarsity Press, 2011)