Too Soon To Quit!

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God can be trusted.

Genesis(102) (Part of the Origins(100) series)
by Stuart Johns(233) on April 23, 2023 (Sunday Morning(342))

Confession(14), God's glory(7), God's Timing(1)

Origins

Too Soon To Quit!

(Genesis 41:1-38)

 

INTRODUCTION

“According to the Encyclopedia Americana and other biographical material, the following facts describe a man born February 12, 1809:

 

  • Age 7—His family was forced out of their home on a legal technicality.

  • Age 7—He had to go to work cutting trees, plowing, and harvesting to help support his family.

  • Age 9—His mother died and his family lived almost in squalor.

  • Age 12—His new mother, a widow with three other children, sought to have him receive some formal schooling, but he attended school less than a year.

  • Age 22—He worked as a store clerk in a failing business, then joined the army for eight months.

  • Age 23—He ran for the Illinois legislature.

  • Age 24—He bought a store on credit with a partner.

  • Age 25—He was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives (and again at ages 27, 29, 31).

  • Age 26—His business partner died, leaving him with a huge debt that took years to repay.

  • Age 27—He obtained a license to practice law.

  • Age 28—Legend claims that after courting a girl for four years, she refused his proposal of marriage.

  • Age 29—He was defeated for speaker of the state legislature.

  • Age 31—He was defeated for elector.

  • Age 33—He married.

  • Age 37—On his third try he was elected to U.S. Congress.

  • Age 39—He was defeated for reelection to Congress.

  • Age 41—His four-year-old son died.

  • Age 46—He was defeated for U.S. Senate.

  • Age 47—He was defeated for vice-presidential nomination.

  • Age 49—He was defeated for U.S. Senate again.

  • Age 51—He was elected President of the United States.

  • Age 56—He died April 15, 1865.

 

That’s the record of Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the United States. It is a brief history of a man whom most consider to be one of the greatest leaders in the history of this country.

What if Abraham Lincoln had quit at 22, or 31, or 49? We would have been deprived of the privilege of having one of the greatest presidents this country has ever known. God’s timing is his timing and is seldom known to humans until after the fact. But it’s always too soon to quit pursuing what is right and good.”

 

[Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 331-32].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Judy and I have trusted the Lord for His timing, wisdom and plan . . .

        • When I have transitioned from one position to another and one ministry to another

        • When we moved from one state to another

        • When we bought our first home and then sold our first home

        • When Judy stayed home with our children and when she returned to teaching

    • We knew we could trust God to guide and provide

 

  • WE

    • Individuals

        • All of us can probably look back over our lives and see how God provided His perfect timing, wisdom, and plan for us

        • Because of His faithfulness in the past, we can trust God to do the same in the future

    • Idaville Church

        • We have trusted the Lord for His timing, His wisdom, and His plan

        • We have trusted the Lord in those three areas when looking for a pastor, when needing finances, when deciding on what missionaries to support, when determining what mission trips to take, when we added on the gym, when we will expand again, etc.

 

Joseph had been trusting God since being sold into slavery by his brothers. ​​ He trusted God when he was falsely accused and then incarcerated. ​​ He trusted God to give him wisdom in interpreting the dreams of the chief cupbearer and chief baker. ​​ He waited patiently for God’s timing to be released from prison, especially since the chief cupbearer forgot about him. ​​ He trusted God for His plan even while he was in prison. ​​ Joseph will once again trust God for His timing, wisdom, and plan, as we will see today. ​​ Through Joseph’s example, we realize that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – God can be trusted.
(He can be trusted with His timing, His wisdom, and His plan)

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 41:1-38)

    • God’s timing (vv. 1-14)

        • Time stamp (v. 1a)

          • Two full years have passed since Joseph interpreted the dreams of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker

          • Joseph has now been in prison for ten years

          • Joseph had trusted God during those ten long years

            • While it may have seemed like an eternity, Joseph could trust that God’s timing was perfect

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God’s timing is perfect!

              • How many of us would have been impatient and critical of God?

              • The Israelites struggled to trust God when they were wandering through the desert

              • They complained often about the leaders that God had placed over them, the lack of water and food, and much more

              • Is there a situation you are currently going through that seems like it will never end or ever happen?

                • Are you still waiting for Mr. or Mrs. Right?

                • Is that injury or illness still plaguing you?

                • When will school ever be done?

                • Will I ever find a job?

                • Will I ever have get out from underneath this debt?

                • I wish we could buy a house

                • I’m tired of constantly dealing with drama in my family

                • Will God ever answer my prayer about salvation for my . . . (spouse, child, grandchild, parent, coworker, neighbor, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc.)?

              • As we wrestle through those scenarios, we can trust that God’s timing is perfect

              • Don’t doubt His sovereignty or timing—trust Him!

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust God’s perfect timing to accomplish ________ in my life.

            • God can be trusted!

          • Joseph was still waiting to be released, since he was innocent of the chargers brought by Potiphar’s wife

          • Everything was about to change

        • Pharaoh’s dream (vv. 1b-7)

          • In Pharaoh’s dream, he was standing by the Nile River

          • What Pharaoh saw first would not have been unusual

            • There were seven sleek and fat cows that came up out of the water and started to feed on the reeds

            • In the hot climate of Egypt, cows would submerge themselves in the river to cool off and to escape the insects

            • When they got hungry, they would come up out of the water and eat the reeds along the bank of the river

          • What Pharaoh saw next was unusual

            • Seven more cows came up out of the river, but they were ugly and gaunt

            • They didn’t start feeding on the reeds, but instead stood by the seven sleek and fat cows

            • Then something completely bizarre happened!

            • The seven sickly cows ate up the seven healthy cows

          • Perhaps the scene that Pharaoh just saw startled him enough that he woke up, but he didn’t stay awake

          • When he fell asleep again, he had another dream

            • Seven healthy and good heads of grain were growing on one stalk (that symbolized abundance)

            • On the same stalk, seven other heads of grain sprouted that were thin and scorched by the east wind

              • “Resembling the Palestinian sirocco, the Egyptian khamsin blows in from the Sahara desert (see Hos. 13:15) in late spring and early fall and often withers vegetation (see Isa. 40:7; Ezek. 17:10).” ​​ [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 530]

              • Judy and I experienced something like this in Southern California – they are called the Santa Ana winds and are warm, dry winds that blow in from the desert during the fall and winter months

              • The Santa Ana winds are always a concern, because they can contribute to the fast moving wild fires

            • The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads of grain

          • Pharaoh woke up again, probably because the dream was so disturbing

          • By God’s providence Pharaoh and his magicians and wise men did not understand the significance of the dreams

            • With hindsight we understand the importance of the symbols represented in the dream

            • “For the cow was the symbol of Isis, the goddess of the all-sustaining earth, and in the hieroglyphics it represented the earth, agriculture, and food; and the Nile, by its overflowing, was the source of the fertility of the land.” ​​ [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 225]

            • “The river was the source of Egypt’s—and so Pharaoh’s—power, fertility, and life (cf. Ex. 7:15-18).” ​​ [Waltke, 530]

          • We have the whole story, so we know what the Nile, cows, and grain represent, but Pharaoh and his magicians and wise men did not

        • Egyptian magicians and wise men (v. 8)

          • Pharaoh’s mind is troubled

            • Pharaoh probably understood that something fantastic had taken place in his dream

            • He may have even understood that the dream had something to do with the plentiful resources of Egypt, but he didn’t know what it meant

            • So, Pharaoh calls in the magicians and wise men of Egypt

          • Magicians and wise men

            • It was part of the culture of Egypt to have “magicians” that would interpret dreams

            • “The training center for the craft was the ‘House of Life,’ where guidebooks for dream interpretation were produced. ​​ These ‘dream books’ are known from the twelfth dynasty, which involved the interpretation of dreams by discerning puns and symbolic images.” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 757]

            • So, the magicians were trained while the wise men were educated and intellectually capable – perhaps experts in logic (they were probably able to discern what made sense and what didn’t)

            • Having both magicians and wise men working together would be very beneficial

          • God’s perfect timing had arrived

        • Chief cupbearer (vv. 9-13)

          • Confession time

            • The chief cupbearer was probably in the court while Pharaoh shared his dream with the magicians and wise men

            • When he realized that the magicians and wise men could not interpret the dreams for Pharaoh, a light bulb lit up in his head

              • He remembered that Joseph had interpreted his dream and the chief baker’s dream

              • He probably also remembered Joseph’s request

              • Genesis 40:14, But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison.

              • Now that he remembered Joseph, he mentioned him to Pharaoh

            • He mentions his shortcomings to Pharaoh

              • It is important for us to remember our shortcomings too

              • When the Holy Spirit brings to mind something we have done wrong or something we have neglected to do, it is important that we confess that shortcoming to the Lord and to those we have wronged

              • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is pleased when we confess our sins.

                • James 5:13-16, Is any one of you in trouble? ​​ He should pray. ​​ Is anyone happy? ​​ Let him sing songs of praise. ​​ Is any one of you sick? ​​ He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. ​​ And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. ​​ If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. ​​ Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. ​​ The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

                • 1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

                • Hebrews 10:19-23, Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. ​​ Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess my shortcomings to the Lord and to anyone I have wronged.

            • After the chief cupbearer confessed his shortcomings, he tells Pharaoh what happened to him two years ago

          • Remembering

            • He reminds Pharaoh that he and the chief baker made Pharaoh angry

            • Their punishment was to be imprisoned in the house of the captain of the guard (Potiphar’s house)

            • They both had a dream the same night

            • Both dreams had their own meaning

            • A young Hebrew, who was a servant of the captain of the guard was there with them

            • They both told Joseph their dreams and Joseph interpreted them

            • Both interpretations turned out exactly as Joseph had said

              • The chief cupbearer was restored to his position

              • The chief baker was hanged

          • This was just the news Pharaoh wanted to hear

        • Joseph’s release (v. 14)

          • Pharaoh sent for Joseph

            • This was what Joseph had been waiting for

            • God can be trusted for His perfect timing

            • “Never think you could do something if only you had a different lot and sphere assigned to you. ​​ What you call hindrances, obstacles, discouragements, are probably God’s opportunities.” ​​ [Horace Bushnell cited by Gangel & Bramer, 330]

          • Joseph got ready to meet Pharaoh

            • He changed out of whatever clothing he was wearing to probably nice linen clothes

            • He also shaved, which probably meant both his hair and beard

              • This would have been part of the Egyptian culture, perhaps for hygiene purposes

              • Most Hebrews would have had hair and beards as part of their culture

              • To shave the head and/or the beard was reserved as an insult (2 Sam. 10:5) or to show deep grief (Isa. 15:2; Jer. 41:5) [Mathews, 758; Gangel & Bramer, 333]

              • Joseph was able to be clean shaven, like the Egyptians, without compromising his beliefs, just as Daniel was able to do the same in the Babylonian empire

        • Joseph is ready to meet Pharaoh

    • God’s wisdom (vv. 15-32)

        • Pharaoh tells Joseph what he has heard about him

          • First, he tells Joseph that he had a dream and no one could interpret it

          • Second, he tells Joseph that he was told that when Joseph hears a dream, he is able to interpret it

        • Joseph sets Pharaoh straight

          • Joseph is not afraid to correct Pharaoh, because he knows he does not have any ability to interpret dreams

            • He had not trained as a magician and did not have any “dream books”

            • He was not highly educated and intellectually capable like Pharaoh’s wise men

            • Joseph knew that God could be trusted to give him wisdom and understanding

            • Joseph also knew he could not accept recognition for something God did

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – Humility brings glory to God.

            • Biblical background

              • James 1:16-17, Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. ​​ Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

              • Proverbs 2:6, For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

              • James 1:5, If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

              • Matthew 23:12, For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

            • Joseph knew that God was the One who is the source of dreams and their interpretation [Mathews, 759]

              • Joseph witnessed for the true and living God before a king who ruled over a culture that was polytheistic (they worshiped God’s creation, but not Him)

              • He witnessed in a very humble way, by simply pointing to God and not himself

              • That was going to bring glory to God, when Pharaoh acknowledged Joseph’s God as the interpreter of his dream

            • Application

              • Where are you today?

              • Do you recognize that God is the One who has given you specific gifts and abilities, or are you taking the credit yourself?

              • Are you exalting yourself?

              • Do you need to humble yourself before a great and mighty God, who created you and gifted you?

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Humbly acknowledge that God has gifted me, so that He receives the glory.

          • Joseph did, what we all should do, and pointed Pharaoh to the source of all dreams and interpretations

          • God would give Pharaoh the meaning of his dream

        • Pharaoh’s dream retold

          • Cow dream

            • Pharaoh recounted the dream he had about the cows

            • He shared about the healthy cows and the lean cows both coming up out of the water

            • He added that he had never seen such ugly cows, in all of Egypt, as the second set of seven cows that were scrawny and lean

            • He shared again that the scrawny, lean, and ugly cows ate up the seven fat cows

            • He also added that even after the lean cows gorged themselves on the fat cows that you could not tell a difference in their appearance—it had no effect

          • Grain dream

            • He explained again about the seven full and good heads of grain growing on a single stalk

            • They were swallowed up by the seven withered and thin heads of grain that sprouted on the same stalk

          • Pharaoh had told his magicians, but they could not explain the dream to him

          • Joseph then explained that both dreams were one and the same and that God was revealing to Pharaoh what He was about to do

          • God can be trusted with His wisdom

        • The interpretation

          • Number seven explained

            • The seven good cows and the seven good heads of grain represent seven years

            • The seven lean, ugly cows and the seven worthless heads of grain represent seven years

          • Condition of the cows and heads of grain explained

            • The seven good cows and the seven good heads of grain represented seven years of great abundance

            • The seven lean, ugly cows and the seven worthless heads of grain represented seven years of famine

              • The seven years of famine would be so great that the seven years of abundance would not be remembered

              • The Egyptians would not remember “the good old days”

              • They would be so consumed by the hardship and difficulty of the famine

              • As we will see, the seven years of famine would strip them of everything they had, including their freedom

          • Once the meaning of the dream was explained, Joseph also explained why Pharaoh had the dream in two forms

        • Purpose of two forms of the dream

          • It was firmly decided by God that there would be seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine

          • God would do it soon

          • PRINCIPLE #4 – God is sovereign!

            • Joseph tells Pharaoh twice that God has revealed to him what He is about to do (vv. 25, 28)

            • Joseph also tells Pharaoh that God will do it soon (v. 32)

            • The sovereignty of God is that He has the right to rule and He rules rightly

            • God had determined that there would be seven years of abundance and then seven years of famine

            • As the narrative about Joseph unfolds, we will see that his family travels to Egypt to get food, which opens the door for restoration and forgiveness

            • God is orchestrating everything in His sovereignty to accomplish His plan and purpose for Joseph and ultimately Jacob’s family

        • Joseph knew that God could be trusted to give him wisdom about the dream

        • Finally we see God’s plan communicated through Joseph

    • God’s plan (vv. 33-38)

        • Overseer

          • Pharaoh needs to appoint a wise and discerning man to be in charge of the land of Egypt

          • He would oversee the commissioners as they executed the plan

        • Commissioners

          • The commissioners would be accountable to the overseer

          • They would collect a fifth of the harvest during the seven years of abundance

          • They would store the food in the various cities and then distribute it during the seven years of famine

          • This would ensure that Egypt would not be ruined by the famine

          • God knew what He was about to do, but He was not going to leave the Egyptians, or the other nations around them, without hope or a plan

          • Joseph knew that God could be trusted with a perfect plan

          • God can be trusted to help us with a perfect plan to deal with the difficulties we are currently experiencing

        • Pharaoh’s approval

          • Pharaoh and his officials thought the plan sounded like a good idea

          • Pharaoh then asked his officials if they could find anyone like Joseph, who had the spirit of God in him?

          • Pharaoh realized that he did not have any wise and discerning men in his court, because none of the magicians and wise men could interpret his dream [Waltke, 532]

          • “Pharaoh wisely receives God’s words and responds accordingly.” ​​ [Waltke, 532]

          • Had Pharaoh not received God’s words, Egypt would have faced God’s judgment—the famine would have wiped them out

 

  • YOU

    • What do you need to trust God’s perfect timing for in your life?

    • What shortcomings do you need to confess to the Lord and others?

    • Where do you need to humbly acknowledge God’s gifting in your life, so He will receive the glory?

 

  • WE

    • What do we need to trust God’s perfect timing for in the church?

    • What shortcomings do we need to confess before the Lord?

    • Where do we need to humbly acknowledge God’s gifting in our church, so He will receive the glory?

 

CONCLUSION

“I have a friend who has done a very interesting thing. He has lived frugally and saved sacrificially in order to have a cash account larger than his yearly salary. I'm not going to tell you the interesting name of his account. But here we'll just refer to it as his good-bye-to-you account. When he had finally accumulated more money than a year's pay, he took his bank statement and showed it to his boss. He explained it as his good-bye-to-you account. He wasn't quitting his job; he was just saying if ever the boss doesn't treat him right or if things ever go wrong, he's not dependent upon the boss. He has this money, and he can say good-bye. He has independence.”

 

Source: Leith Anderson, "The Lord Is My Shepherd," Preaching Today, Tape No. 136.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/1997/august/2561.html].

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