1. PHARAOH’S DREAM
a. After letting Joseph wait for two years from the time the butler was released, what dream did God give to Pharaoh? Genesis 41:1–7.
“The king of Egypt had in one night two dreams, apparently pointing to the same event and seeming to foreshadow some great calamity. He could not determine their significance, yet they continued to trouble his mind. The magicians and wise men of his realm could give no interpretation.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 219.
b. How was God trying to reveal Himself to Pharaoh, as He later did to Nebuchadnezzar? Genesis 41:8; Daniel 2:1–11, 29.
“[Pharaoh] called for the magicians of Egypt and the wise men. The king thought that they would soon help him to understand these dreams, for they had a reputation of solving difficulties. The king related his dream to them but was greatly disappointed to find that with all their magic and boasted wisdom, they could not explain them.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 149.
2. THE INTERPRETATION
a. How did Pharaoh’s predicament remind the butler of Joseph again? Genesis 41:9–13.
“The king’s perplexity and distress increased, and terror spread throughout his palace. The general agitation recalled to the chief butler’s mind the circumstances of his own dream; with it came the memory of Joseph, and a pang of remorse for his forgetfulness and ingratitude. He at once informed the king how his own dream and that of the chief baker had been interpreted by a Hebrew captive, and how the predictions had been fulfilled.
“It was humiliating to Pharaoh to turn away from the magicians and wise men of his kingdom to consult an alien and a slave, but he was ready to accept the lowliest service if his troubled mind might find relief. Joseph was immediately sent for; he put off his prison attire, and shaved himself, for his hair had grown long during the period of his disgrace and confinement. He was then conducted to the presence of the king.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 219, 220.
b. What should we learn from Joseph’s practice of sharing his knowledge of God with others? Genesis 41:14–16; 1 Peter 3:15.
“Joseph’s answer to the king shows his strong faith and humble trust in God. He modestly disclaims all honor of possessing in himself superior wisdom to interpret. He tells the king that his knowledge is not greater than those whom he has consulted. ‘It is not in me’ (Genesis 41:16). God alone can explain these mysteries.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 150.
“Joseph brought God with him into Egypt, and the fact was made apparent by his cheerful demeanor amid his sorrow. . . .
“Joseph’s religion kept his temper sweet and his sympathy with humanity warm and strong, notwithstanding all his trials. There are those who if they feel they are not rightly used, become sour, ungenerous, crabbed and uncourteous in their words and deportment. They sink down discouraged, hateful and hating others. But Joseph was a Christian.”—Sons and Daughters of God, p. 320.
c. What prophecy was God revealing to Pharaoh through Joseph’s interpretation, and why? Genesis 41:25–32; 2 Peter 1:19.
3. EXALTED BY GOD
a. What advice did Joseph give Pharaoh after interpreting the dream, and what can we learn from Joseph’s experience? Genesis 41:33–37; James 4:10.
“The king believed all that Joseph said. He believed that God was with him and was impressed with the fact that he was the most suitable man to be placed in authority at the head of affairs. He did not despise him because he was a Hebrew slave. He saw that he possessed an excellent spirit. ‘And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?’ (Genesis 41:38”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, pp. 151, 152.
“He who receives Christ by living faith has a living connection with God and is a vessel unto honor. He carries with him the atmosphere of heaven, which is the grace of God, a treasure that the world cannot buy.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 1, p. 1097.
b. How did all the trials and difficulties transform Joseph, and how did Pharaoh acknowledge this? Genesis 41:38–45; Acts 4:13.
“In all the realm Joseph was the only man gifted with wisdom to point out the danger that threatened the kingdom and the preparation necessary to meet it; and the king was convinced that he was the one best qualified to execute the plans which he had proposed. It was evident that a divine power was with him, and that there were none among the king’s officers of state so well qualified to conduct the affairs of the nation at this crisis. The fact that he was a Hebrew and a slave was of little moment when weighed against his evident wisdom and sound judgment. ‘Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?’ (Genesis 41:38) said the king to his counselors. . . .
“Joseph’s character bore the test alike of adversity and prosperity. The same fidelity to God was manifest when he stood in the palace of the Pharaohs as when in a prisoner’s cell. He was still a stranger in a heathen land, separated from his kindred, the worshipers of God; but he fully believed that the divine hand had directed his steps, and in constant reliance upon God he faithfully discharged the duties of his position. Through Joseph the attention of the king and great men of Egypt was directed to the true God; and though they adhered to their idolatry, they learned to respect the principles revealed in the life and character of the worshiper of Jehovah.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 221, 222.
4. BLESSED BY THE LORD
a. How many years of trials did Joseph pass through before finding his true freedom again? Genesis 37:2; 41:46. Why did it take so long? Psalms 27:14; 34:8.
“Like the stars in the vast circuit of their appointed path, God’s purposes know no haste and no delay.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 32.
“The Lord permits those He loves to be brought into trial, that they may learn the precious lessons of trust and faith. If trials are received aright, they will prove of the highest value to us in our religious experience. As they lead us to put our trust more firmly in God, we become better acquainted with His character.”—The Signs of the Times, March 10, 1881.
“There is an evidence that is open to all—the most highly educated, and the most illiterate—the evidence of experience. God invites us to prove for ourselves the reality of His Word, the truth of His promises. He bids us ‘taste and see that the Lord is good’ (Psalm 34:8). Instead of depending upon the word of another, we are to taste for ourselves. . . . And as we draw near to Jesus, and rejoice in the fullness of His love, our doubt and darkness will disappear in the light of His presence.”—The Faith I Live By, p. 16.
b. What shows that Joseph truly believed the dream of Pharaoh to be a prophecy of the future? Genesis 41:46–49; James 2:17–22. How did God bless his faith? Genesis 41:53–57.
“Although Joseph was exalted as a ruler over all the land, yet he did not forget God. He knew that he was a stranger in a strange land, separated from his father and his brethren, which often caused him sadness, but he firmly believed that God’s hand had overruled his course, to place him in an important position. And depending on God continually, he performed all the duties of his office, as ruler over the land of Egypt with faithfulness. ‘And in the seven plenteous years the earth brought forth by handfuls. And he gathered up all the food of the seven years, which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities: the food of the field, which was round about every city, laid he up in the same. And Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering, for it was without number’ (Genesis 41:47–49).
“Joseph traveled throughout all the land of Egypt, giving command to build immense store-houses, and using his clear head and excellent judgment to aid in the preparations to secure food, necessary for the long years of famine.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, pp. 152, 153.
5. GOD WILL RAISE US UP
a. How can we rise above any trials and difficulties which come our way? Isaiah 40:31; Psalm 11:1.
“Take the word of Christ as your assurance. Has He not invited you to come unto Him? Never allow yourself to talk in a hopeless, discouraged way. If you do you will lose much. By looking at appearances and complaining when difficulties and pressure come, you give evidence of a sickly, enfeebled faith. Talk and act as if your faith was invincible. The Lord is rich in resources; He owns the world. Look heavenward in faith. Look to Him who has light and power and efficiency.
“There is in genuine faith a buoyancy, a steadfastness of principle, and a fixedness of purpose that neither time nor toil can weaken.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 146, 147.
b. Even though some things may look impossible through human eyes, what does Joseph’s experience teach us? Compare Genesis 39:20 and Genesis 41:41; Mark 10:27.
“The Lord chose Joseph, through much affliction to him, to carry a heavy burden in an idolatrous nation. He was to work in the line God had chosen for him, that the knowledge of God might shine forth in the kingdom of Egypt. Joseph did not betray his sacred trust.”—The Review and Herald, May 25, 1897.
“The obstacles that are piled by Satan across your path, though apparently as insurmountable as the eternal hills, shall disappear before the demand of faith. ‘Nothing shall be impossible unto you’ (Matthew 17:20).”—The Desire of Ages, p. 431.
“Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.”—Conflict and Courage, p. 336.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why did God give a heathen Pharaoh a prophetic dream?
2. More than anything else, why does prophecy testify to God’s power and existence?
3. In what attitude should we be if we are to be used by God?
4. What experience does God want us all to have?
5. What should we remember the next time we find ourselves in a trial?