Please turn to Genesis 41:1-37. God's plan in Joseph's life takes a tremendous shift in Genesis 41. First, in verses 1-8, Pharaoh is greatly distressed by the two dreams he has experienced. At this point in the text, there is no mention of Joseph; however, we are already suspicious of how he might play a role in this particular instance having just seen Joseph being granted to ability to interpret dreams by God in the preceding chapter. Then, in verses 9-14, Joseph is remembered by the cupbearer after languishing in prison for nearly three years. Next, in verses 15-24, Joseph, the prisoner, is standing before Pharaoh, who is pouring his heart out to him because he is perplexed by his dreams. In verses 25-28, Joseph explains the meaning of the dreams to Pharaoh. Finally, in verses 29-37, Joseph's wisdom and discernment is apparent, and God’s providential plans for Egypt are revealed.

I. God knows and reveals the future.

In Genesis 41:1-8, Moses is painting for you what he believes to be an amusing picture. The picture of Pharaoh being absolutely stumped as to the meaning of two dreams and the future of Egypt is amusing to Moses. Why? Because the rulers of Moses’ day were considered to be gods, and they were worshiped by their people. As such, Moses is amused for several reasons. He is amused by the concept of a god who does not know the future. Moses is also amused by the concept of a god who needs a magician to tell him about the future. Additionally, he is amused by the fact that the magicians themselves cannot interpret the dreams. As a result, Moses is providing a clear picture of the weakness of the gods of this age and of this world, and he is preparing to contrast Pharaoh with the God of Joseph, who knows and reveals the future. God is showing us in these verses that one of His purposes in Joseph’s life is to bring glory to His own name, and He is going to do it through His chosen servant. However, God is going to do it by humbling the crowd, even as He exalts the humble.

II. God's providential plan for Joseph makes sense. 

In Genesis 41:9-14, the chief cupbearer explains to Pharaoh that while he was in the royal dungeon that both he and the chief baker had dreams. The key verse in this passage is verse 12 where the cupbearer says, “A young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. When we told him, he interpreted our dreams to us, giving an interpretation to each man according to his dream.” Finally, Joseph is remembered, and in this section God's providential plan for Joseph is beginning to make sense. We wondered why God might not have brought relief to Joseph after his favorable interpretation of the dream of the cupbearer. Perhaps we were hoping or expecting the cupbearer would go back to the court of the Pharaoh and argue on behalf of Joseph and get him out of the prison. But now we are beginning to see that God had appointed Joseph for such a time as this. Thus, God's providential plan is beginning to unfold in this chapter.

III. The God of Joseph is the revealer of the future. 

In Genesis 41:15-24, Joseph is brought before Pharaoh. There are several key verses in this section. First, in verse 15, Pharaoh says, “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.” Then, in verse 24, Pharaoh says, “I told it to the magicians, but there was not one who could explain it to me.” So here you have the god of Egypt standing before a condemned Hebrew slave requesting assistance. In verse 16, Joseph responds, “It is not me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” Joseph is, for the second time in two chapters, about to put on the mantle of a prophet. He is going to reveal the future, not because he has some innate power to know the interpretations of dreams, but because God Himself reveals it to Joseph that he might reveal it to Pharaoh and show that only God holds and knows the future. And so we see God laying the groundwork for His own exaltation, even in the midst of the land of Egypt.

IV. God is not only the revealer of the future, He ordains it.

In Genesis 41:25-28, Joseph interprets and explains the dreams to Pharaoh. But as he does so, he makes it clear that God is not only the revealer of dreams, He is the One who, in fact, ordains the future. Joseph stresses this truth in several ways. First, after hearing the dreams, Joseph immediately says, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one; God has told Pharaoh what He is about to do” in verse 25. So even Egypt is in the hand of the God of Joseph. To stress this truth, Joseph speaks of God’s providence once more. In verse 28, Joseph says, “It is as I told Pharaoh; God has shown to Pharaoh was He is about to do.” In these responses, Joseph prepares Pharaoh to understand that it is God's providence that rules the world.

V. God and His prophet come to Pharaoh’s rescue. 

In Genesis 41:29-37, God and His prophet come to the rescue of Egypt’s god. Pharaoh is humbled before the vision and is now being given advice by the imprisoned Hebrew slave. As a result, we see Joseph's wisdom and discernment, and we also see God's sovereignty. The key verses in this section are verses 32 and 33 where Joseph says, “And the doubling of Pharaoh’s dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about. Now therefore let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt.” God is sovereign, Joseph explains, and this is what God is going to do. There are going to be seven years of plenty, and there are going to be seven years of famine. Therefore, we need to get to work. This passage shows us the conjunction of God's sovereignty and man's responsibility. When God reveals Himself, Joseph instinctively engages in responsible activity based upon God's sovereign revelation. We also begin to see the innate talents that God has granted to Joseph being displayed in this passage. In this moment, Joseph does not realize that he will be chosen by Pharaoh; however, he will be soon be the discerning and wise man set over Egypt. 

May God help us to remember that He ordains the future and that His providence always makes sense whether we understand it or not.