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FROM THE PRISON TO THE PALACE
Intro: When we last saw Joseph, he was languishing in an Egyptian prison. He was in prison, but he had broken no laws. He was in prison because he had done the right thing and honored God in his life. He was in the prison because he had refused the advances of a wicked woman.
When we last saw Joseph, he was in a place of hardship, but he was still faithfully serving the Lord. He was a man who had his priorities in order. Wherever Joseph was, he could be counted on to be faithful.
When we last saw Joseph, he was waiting for a visit from the outside. In 40:9-13, Joseph had interested a dream from Pharaoh’s chief butler. When Joseph told the butler the interpretation of his dream, he asked for the butler’s help in securing his release from prison, 40:14-15. But, when the butler was released from prison, he immediately forgot all about Joseph, 40:23.
In our text today, we are going to watch as Joseph is delivered from the prison and promoted to the palace. We are going to see the unseen hand of God at work in this man’s life. We are also going to see that what the Lord did for Joseph, He can do for you and me. He knows where we are, and in His time, He knows how to bring us out of our prisons and place us in the palace. Let’s join Joseph once again and notice the circumstances God used to move Joseph From The Prison To The Palace.
I. v. 1-14 JOSEPH AND PROVIDENCE
(Ill. To anyone looking at the life of Joseph, it must have appeared that the Lord had forgotten all about him. After all, he was a faithful servant of the Lord, but he was in a prison, doing time for a crime he had not committed. It only looked like God had forsaken him. God was working behind the scenes to accomplish His eternal purposes. God used three amazing turns of events to bring about Joseph’s release from prison.)
A. v. 1a Providential Delays – We are told that Joseph waited in that prison for “two full years”. That was after the butler was released. We are not told how long he was there before those events.
God used the long, grinding years in the prison to teach Joseph patience and dependence. God placed Joseph in a waiting room and left him there until some very valuable lessons had been learned. God taught Joseph to wait on the Lord and to trust the Lord, in spite of the situation at hand.
(Note: Have you ever experienced one of those waiting rooms in your life? I am talking about a time when the Lord seems to have forgotten your address. I am talking about those times when it seems like your prayers are not being answered; nothing is going like you planned; and it seems that God is not interested in you or your need at all. Providential delays are never easy, but they are designed to focus our faith and increase our dependence upon the Lord.)
B. v. 1b-8 Providential Dreams – Ill. The context and Pharaoh’s dreams. These dreams caused Pharaoh much concern. Verse 8 tells us that he was “troubled”. This word has the idea of being “disturbed, or greatly distressed”. He called for his “wise men”. These were men who were supposed to be able to communicate with the Egyptian “gods” and share with Pharaoh the counsel of those “gods”. But, they could not interpret the dreams either. It would appear that God closed their minds and caused them all to draw a blank in this matter.
I know for sure that these men never heard from their so-called “gods”. But, I am also sure that in times past they would probably have ventured a guess. This time, however, they were silent before Pharaoh. To be a counselor without counsel in that day was a dangerous thing, Ill. Daniel 2:1-13.
Again, this is the providential work of the Lord in Joseph’s life. God sent the dream to Pharaoh and he also sent a blank mind to all of Pharaoh’s counselors. God was working behind the scenes to accomplish His eternal plan and purpose.
(Note: Isn’t that a blessing? Pharaoh and his men thought that he was in control of everything that happened in Egypt. In truth, God was in control of all things, even the heart of the king, Pro. 21:1.
This passage should serve to give us hope today! Let me tell you why.
· Our God is sovereign aver all things – Isa. 46:10-11; Isa. 43:13; Psa. 135:6; Dan. 4:35; Eph. 1:11.
· Kings rule at the pleasure of the Lord – Dan. 2:21; 4:32; 1 Sam. 2:7-8. (Ill. I refuse to worry about elections because I know that God’s purpose will not be thwarted by a Democrat or by a Republican. He will accomplish His purposes in this world.)
(Note: Before we leave this thought, I need to mention something I mentioned in an earlier message about our dreams. God does not speak through dreams in our day. In Joseph’s time they did not have the Bible. They did not have a complete revelation of God’s Word. We do! In our day, God speaks through His Word, alone! The Bible is superior to dreams and visions in several ways.
· First, the Bible speaks to many subjects; dreams are more limited in their focus.
· Second, the Bible is far more trustworthy. Anyone can read it. A dream is only known to the dreamer.
· Third, the Bible has absolute authority, dreams mean nothing.
· Fourth, the Bible is certain and fixed. Dreams fade with time. Put no faith in the dreams and visions of the night. Instead, read, study and build your life upon the world of God.
C. v. 9-14 Providential Deliverance – Ill. The Context – The chief butler finally shakes the cobwebs from his mind and he remembers Joseph. He tells Pharaoh the story and Joseph is delivered from the prison and brought to the palace.
The hand of God is seen in this sequence of events. Joseph is brought to Pharaoh only when Pharaoh has been brought to a place of desperation. On any other day this powerful ruler would not have listened to anything a prisoner had to say to him. On this day he had no choice! He was desperate for answers and he was willing to listen to anyone who could possibly give them to him.
(Note: We would do well to remember that Our God operates His universe on split second timing. From the orbit of the tiny parts of every atom to the precise movements of galaxies, God has everything on a schedule.
When we want to see something happen, we want it now. We need to learn that God orders events, and the very timing of those events, so that all of life runs on His perfect schedule.
When did Jesus come to the disciples in the storm? When did Jesus show up at the tomb of Lazarus? When did Jesus arrive at the house of Jairus? When did Jesus pass through the little town of Nain? When did Jesus take a rest on Jacob’s well? When did Jesus go to Calvary? When did Jesus rise from the dead? When did Jesus come to you and save your soul? When will Jesus move your mountain, meet your need, deliver you from your prison, etc? Right on time! He will not be early and He will not be one second late! That truth blesses my heart!)
II. v. 15-36 JOSEPH AND PHARAOH
A. v. 15-32 Joseph’s Profession – Joseph stands before Pharaoh and listens as the king explains his dilemma. Joseph listens to the dream and gives Pharaoh the interpretation.
But, before he does, Joseph displays true humility and points Pharaoh to the Lord. Even after all he had been through, Joseph is not bitter, but he is actively seeking ways to bring glory and honor to the Lord! Joseph is not upset about the delays and the problems he has had to face as a slave and as a prisoner. He immediately sees the providence of God at work and he is quick to use this opportunity to magnify the Lord. For Joseph, everything is about the Lord. In Joseph’s mind, Joseph doesn’t matter; his battles don’t matter; even Pharaoh doesn’t matter. All that matters is the Lord and His glory!
(Note: When life gets complicated, and it often does; when it seems that God is not moving as we think He should, and it often does; it is easy to get angry at Him. If we could ever grasp the truth that He orders every moment of our lives, Psa. 37:23, it would change our perspective. If we could ever grasp the truth that we are where we are because He has placed us there for His Own purposes, it would focus our faith on Him. If we could ever get a grip on the truth that He is working out every detail of life for His glory and our good, Rom. 8:28; 2 Cor. 4:17-18, it would make the prisons and the waiting rooms of life much more bearable.
Therefore, we should always be in the business of magnifying Him! He is worthy of our praise, even amid the darkest days of our lives. He is worthy of receiving glory, even when our hearts are breaking. We should ever strive to lift His name and point others to Him. After all, you and I really don’t matter. All that really matters is the Lord, His glory and His will!)
B. v. 33-36 Joseph’s Plan – Joseph knows that the Lord is in this moment. Thus, he does what no other slave would have dared to do: he not only tells Pharaoh what is about to happen in Egypt, he tells Pharaoh what to do about it! His plan is threefold. First, he recommends finding a wise man to oversee the project. Second, he recommends gathering 20% of all the food produced during the seven years of plenty. Third, he recommends storing up that food and using it to feed the population during the seven years of famine.
Joseph’s plan is an amazing plan. It is simple, but it will prove very effective. Not only will the people be able to eat during the famine, but Egypt will corn to spare.
(Note: This plan did not originate with Joseph. The Lord put it into his heart and he shared his heart with the king. God used a slave to set policy for a kingdom!
It is amazing to watch who the Lord will use to accomplish His purposes in this world. He uses some of the most unlikely candidates imaginable.
Who but God would have chosen Moses, David, Gideon and Saul of Tarsus? Who but God would have chosen people like you and me to serve Him in these days? But, this is His specialty, 1 Cor. 1:26-29.)
III. v. 37-44 JOSEPH AND PROMOTION
A. v. 37-41 Joseph’s New Position – Ill. The Context – Pharaoh likes Joseph’s plan and decides that he would never find another man as wise as Joseph to administer that plan. In an instant of time, Joseph went from being a slave and a prisoner to being second only to Pharaoh. He was promoted from being over a few prisoners in Potipher’s prison to ruling the whole nation! He is given the position of “Grand Vizier”. In this position, he had all the rights and powers of the king. In the absence of the king, the vizier functioned in that capacity.
No One but God could accomplish something as astounding as that! Pharaoh even recognized the hand of the Lord on Joseph and gave God the glory for what had taken place.
B. v. 42-44 Joseph’s New Power – Joseph is given all the emblems of authority. He is placed in the second chariot right behind Pharaoh. Everywhere he goes; people are commanded to kneel before him in respect and reverence. In one day, the slave has become the sovereign! The prisoner has moved out of the prison and has taken up residence in the palace. It was a powerful and drastic change of life for Joseph and it was all the work of God in his life.
C. v. 42 Joseph’s New Possessions – When Pharaoh promoted Joseph, he gave his some new possessions to go along with his new position.
· A Ring – This ring was Pharaoh’s signet ring. It symbolized Joseph’s authority to act as Pharaoh himself. He was given the authority to sign the king’s name.
· A Robe – Joseph had lost the robe given to him by his father. That robe said that he was head of the family. Joseph only had that robe for a short time. He had lost a robe when he ran from Mrs. Potiphar. That robe identified him as a slave. He only possessed that robe for a short time. Now he is given a new robe made from expensive Egyptian linen. This robe identified him as the ruler of the land. Joseph held onto this robe for 80 years.
· A Gold Chain – This chain told everyone who saw him that Joseph was a man to be revered and respected. When he passed by, everyone was to bow at his feet.
In giving Joseph these things, the Lord was allowing Joseph to see a partial fulfillment of the dreams he was given years before, Gen. 37:5-11. As Joseph rode along in his new chariot, watching the people bow at his approach, he must have given praise to the Lord for His grace and providence in his life. God had taken him through the pit and through the prison, but in the end, God had brought Joseph to the palace. (Ill. Imagine the conversation at Potiphar’s house that evening!)
(Note: There are times when we think we have been forgotten by God. There are times when we think the wheels of providence have run us over and left us like road kill beside the highway of life. But, that is just how things appear! God has a plan and He can change our situation in an instant of time.
Jesus spoke and the storm stopped. Jesus spoke and a dead man named Lazarus got us. Jesus spoke and universe came into being. Friend, He knows where you are today. He knows all about the prison and all about the pain. He knows what you are facing and all that you have been through. And, one day, He will deliver you out of your time of bondage! Until then, stay faithful; love the Lord; grow where you are planted; look for ways to glorify Him and wait. One day you will get up and everything will begin to change! (Ill. Job – Job 42:1-17 – After weeks and months of suffering, suddenly Job was released from prison. It will happen in your life too! Just hang on!)
Conc: What are we to take away from this passage today? There are several lessons, but a few stand out as being of the utmost of importance to believers.
God is in control of all of life!
He is working in your life even when you cannot see His activity.
He has a plan to deliver you and to promote you in His time.
Your primary duty in all the situations and circumstances of life is to seek for ways to glorify Him even as you patiently wait for Him to accomplish His purposes in your life.
Where does this message find you?
· Are you in need of some divine intervention? You should come seek Him for it.
· Are you growing impatient as you wait for Him to move in your life? You should come and ask Him for help to trust Him.
· Are you seeking meaning in the things you face in life? You should come and talk to the Lord about it.
· Are you lost? You should come and get saved.
· If He has spoken to you on any level, you should come to Him today and get the help you need!