ISAIAH 46:9B-10A, ESV
I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning
GENESIS 41:1-7, NIrV
1 When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream. In his dream, he was standing by the Nile River. 2 Seven cows came up out of the river. They looked healthy and fat. They were eating some of the tall grass growing along the river. 3 After them, seven other cows came up out of the Nile. They looked ugly and skinny. They were standing beside the other cows on the riverbank. 4 The ugly, skinny cows ate up the seven cows that looked healthy and fat. Then Pharaoh woke up.
5 He fell asleep again and had a second dream. In that dream, seven heads of grain were growing on one stem. They were healthy and good. 6 After them, seven other heads of grain came up. They were thin and dried up by the east wind. 7 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up. It had been a dream.
The book of Genesis is filled with all kinds of special dreams. Jacob dreamed of an angel-covered ladder to heaven. Joseph dreamed of the sun, moon, and stars bowing before him. Pharaoh’s wine taster and baker dreamed of grapevines and breadbaskets on their head. And now Pharaoh, king of Egypt, had two special dreams! Both featured seven skinny things gobbling up seven chubby things. He first dreamed of skinny cows chewing up fat cows, then skinny grain plants gobbling up fat ones. All these strange dreams had one thing in common – they were nighttime messages from God.
+ Describe both of Pharaoh's dreams.
GENESIS 41:8-13, NIrV
8 In the morning he was worried. So he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams. But no one could tell him what they meant.
9 Then the chief wine taster spoke up. He said to Pharaoh, “Now I remember that I’ve done something wrong. 10 Pharaoh was once angry with his servants. He put me and the chief baker in prison. We were in the house of the captain of the palace guard. 11 Each of us had a dream the same night. Each dream had its own meaning. 12 A young Hebrew servant was there with us. He was a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams. And he explained them to us. He told each of us the meaning of our dreams. 13 Things turned out exactly as he said they would. I was given back my job. The other man had a pole stuck through his body.”
Have you ever had that sinking feeling in your stomach because you remembered you forgot to do something important? That’s how Pharaoh’s wine taster must have felt. Years before, he made Pharaoh angry and was thrown in jail. While in prison, God gave the wine taster his own special dream. With God’s help, Joseph explained exactly what that dream meant. Afterward, Joseph asked him for a favor: “Tell Pharaoh I’m trapped in this prison for something I didn’t do!” Sadly, the wine taster completely forgot about his promise until Pharaoh had his own dream problems... two whole years later!
+ What happened when Pharaoh told his dreams to his magicians and wise men? (vs. 8)
+ Why did the wine taster think Joseph could explain Pharaoh’s dream? (vs. 12-13)
GENESIS 41:14-16, NIrV
14 So Pharaoh sent for Joseph. He was quickly brought out of the prison. Joseph shaved and changed his clothes. Then he came to Pharaoh.
15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream. No one can tell me what it means. But I’ve heard that when you hear a dream you can explain it.”
16 “I can’t do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh. “But God will give Pharaoh the answer he wants.”
Two long years had passed since Pharaoh’s wine taster had promised to tell his boss about Joseph. After all that waiting, I’m sure Joseph had completely given up hope of ever leaving prison. Imagine how surprised he must have felt when someone came to his cell and said, “Hey you! Clean yourself up! The Pharaoh wants to see you!” It must have felt like a dream. One moment, Joseph was stuck in a dark and smelly prison. And the next? He was squeaky clean and standing in Pharaoh's palace, listening to the king of Egypt tell strange tales about killer cows and gobbling grain!
+ What did Joseph do before he went to see Pharaoh? (vs. 14)
+ What did Joseph say to Pharaoh? (vs. 16)
GENESIS 41:25-32, NIRV
25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Both of Pharaoh’s dreams have the same meaning. God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26 The seven good cows are seven years. And the seven good heads of grain are seven years. Both dreams mean the same thing. 27The seven thin, ugly cows that came up later are seven years. So are the seven worthless heads of grain dried up by the east wind. They are seven years when there won’t be enough food.
28 “It’s just as I said to Pharaoh. God has shown Pharaoh what he’s about to do. 29 Seven years with plenty of food are coming to the whole land of Egypt. 30 But seven years when there won’t be enough food will follow them. Then everyone will forget about all the food Egypt had. Terrible hunger will destroy the land. 31 There won’t be anything left to remind people of the years when there was plenty of food in the land. That’s how bad the hunger that follows will be. 32 God gave the dream to Pharaoh in two forms. That’s because the matter has been firmly decided by God. And it’s because God will do it soon.
The biggest brains in Egypt had no idea what Pharaoh’s weird dreams meant, but Joseph figured it out right away. Was he some sort of super-genius? Nope. It was because he had help from the all-knowing God of the universe! Pharaoh’s two crazy dreams were pictures of the same secret about Egypt’s future. The seven chubby cows and the seven plump plants meant that Egypt would be filled with food for the next seven years. And the seven slim cows and scrawny plants? They were a picture of the seven years that would follow, where rain would not fall and plants would not grow.
+ What did the seven fat cows and plants in Pharaoh’s dream represent? (vs. 29)
+ What did the seven skinny cows and plants in Pharaoh’s dream represent? (vs. 30)
GENESIS 41:33-36, NIRV
33 “So Pharaoh should look for a wise and understanding man. He should put him in charge of the land of Egypt. 34 Pharaoh should appoint officials to be in charge of the land. They should take a fifth of the harvest in Egypt during the seven years when there’s plenty of food. 35 They should collect all the extra food of the good years that are coming. Pharaoh should give them authority to store up the grain. They should keep it in the cities for food. 36 The grain should be stored up for the country to use later. It will be needed during the seven years when there isn’t enough food in Egypt. Then the country won’t be destroyed just because it doesn’t have enough food.”
In Pharaoh’s dreams, seven fat cows and plants were swallowed up by seven skinny cows and plants. These odd dreams were pictures about Egypt’s future: seven food-filled years followed by seven food-less years. But it was also God’s way of showing Pharaoh what he needed to do to save his people from starving. “During the seven food-filled years, you’ll grow way more than you need,” Joseph explained. “Put one of your smartest guys in charge of saving up all that extra food. Then your people will have something to eat during the seven food-less years that will follow.”
+ What kind of person did Joseph tell Pharaoh to choose for the food-saving job? (vs. 33)
+ How much of the food did Joseph say to save during the first seven years? (vs. 34)
GENESIS 41:37-42, NIRV
37 The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and all his officials. 38 So Pharaoh said to them, “The spirit of God is in this man. We can’t find anyone else like him, can we?”
39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “God has made all this known to you. No one is as wise and understanding as you are. 40 You will be in charge of my palace. All my people must obey your orders. I will be greater than you only because I’m the one who sits on the throne.”
41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I’m putting you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh took from his finger the ring he used to give his official stamp. He put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes made out of fine linen. He put a gold chain around Joseph’s neck.
After he explained what his two special dreams meant, Joseph told Pharaoh, "You need to put someone smart in charge of saving food during the seven food-filled years. That way, you'll be saved from starving during the seven food-less years that will follow.” When Pharaoh heard Joseph say this, he thought, "Wait a minute! There's a smart guy standing in front of me right now. How about I choose him!"
And that's what Pharaoh did. He gave Joseph the job of collecting all of Egypt's food during the next seven years. But he made Joseph more than just the Chief Food Collector. Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of everything. Joseph was sort of like the Assistant Pharaoh (if such a job existed)! The only person Joseph was not in charge of was Pharaoh himself! This was quite an amazing turnaround. That morning, Joseph woke up in the king's prison. But that night, he fell asleep in the king's palace!
Using two strange dreams, God gave Pharaoh something incredibly rare: a glimpse into the future. He showed Pharaoh what was going to happen before it actually happened. Because of his dreams, Pharaoh could prepare for a disaster seven years before it came. Knowing the future helped Pharaoh save thousands and thousands of people from starving!
God is all-knowing. He knows every detail about every object in the great big universe he made. From enormous stars to tiny specks of dust, he knows everything... about everything! That includes everything that has happened in the past, everything that is happening at this moment, and everything that will happen in the future!
This is good news for us. No matter what happens to us, God is never surprised. God doesn’t watch our lives like a movie and say, “Wow! I did not see that twist coming!” Before we even take our first breath, God knows our entire life story. He knows how it begins, how it ends, and all the ups and downs that happen in between.
Before any of us were born, God knew everything we would ever do. That includes all the times we’ve disobeyed his commands! God knew that we would sin. He knew we would earn the punishment of a forever, fiery death outside of his good kingdom. Despite knowing that, he had a plan prepared to rescue us from the very beginning.
God sent his Son to be born as one of us. Jesus let himself be nailed to a cross to pay for our sins. And since God is just as all-powerful as he is all-knowing, Jesus the Son of God rose back to life on the third day after his death. God might not send us wacky dreams to tell us about what will happen in the next 14 years. But if we believe the good news about Jesus, we know exactly what our forever future will be like: enjoying each and every day in God’s good kingdom!
+ Why did Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of running the country of Egypt? (vs. 39)
+ If a person believes the good news of Jesus, what will their forever future be like?