“After two whole years, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile, 2 and behold, there came up out of the Nile seven cows, attractive and plump, and they fed in the reed grass. 3 And behold, seven other cows, ugly and thin, came up out of the Nile after them, and stood by the other cows on the bank of the Nile. 4 And the ugly, thin cows ate up the seven attractive, plump cows. And Pharaoh awoke. 5 And he fell asleep and dreamed a second time. And behold, seven ears of grain, plump and good, were growing on one stalk. 6 And behold, after them sprouted seven ears, thin and blighted by the east wind. 7 And the thin ears swallowed up the seven plump, full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and behold, it was a dream. 8 So in the morning his spirit was troubled, and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was none who could interpret them to Pharaoh.” (Genesis 41:1–8 (ESV)
Our focus is often centered from today’s text upon Pharaoh and his dreams. While his dreams are important and should be given their proper emphasis, the student of Scripture should not overlook the first four words of Genesis 41:1: “After two whole years.”
Moses’ stressed the fact that exactly 24 months had passed since the events recorded in Genesis 40. Nothing had changed for Joseph during these two years. He continued to serve the LORD while languishing in prison for a crime he did not commit (Gen. 39:19-23). While many others might become bitter, Joseph continued be faithful while serving and waiting upon the LORD.
Puritan Matthew Henry writes, “The delay of Joseph’s enlargement. It was not till the end of two full years (v. 1); so long he waited after he had entrusted the chief butler with his case and began to have some prospect of relief. We have need of patience, not only bearing, but waiting, patience. Joseph lay in prison until the time that his word came, There is a time set for the deliverance of God’s people; that time will come, though it seem to tarry; and, when it comes, it will appear to have been the best time, and therefore we ought to wait for it (Hab. 2:3), and not think two full years too long to continue waiting.”
Psalm 105:19 (ESV) says, “Until what he had said came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him.” The person in question here is Joseph. The psalmist indicates that LORD tested him. The word tested (se’rapat) means to refine and to see the true nature and moral purity of an object. Joseph was experiencing God’s refining fire (Psalm 66:10-12; Isaiah 48:10; I Peter 1:6-7; 5:10).
Pastor John Piper explains from Malachi 2:17-3:6, “He (the LORD) is a refiner’s fire, and that makes all the difference. A refiner’s fire does not destroy indiscriminately like a forest fire. A refiner’s fire does not consume completely like the fire of an incinerator. A refiner’s fire refines. It purifies. It melts down the bar of silver or gold, separates out the impurities that ruin its value, burns them up, and leaves the silver and gold intact. He is like a refiner’s fire.
It does say FIRE. And therefore purity and holiness will always be a dreadful thing. There will always be a proper “fear and trembling” in the process of becoming pure. We learn it from the time we are little children: never play with fire! And it’s a good lesson! Therefore, Christianity is never a play thing. And the passion for purity is never flippant. He is like fire and fire is serious. You don’t fool around with it.”
“But it does say, he is like a REFINER’S fire. And therefore this is not merely a word of warning, but a tremendous word of hope. The furnace of affliction in the family of God is always for refinement, never for destruction.”
Thank the LORD for His work of refinement in your life. Have a blessed day in the LORD.
Soli deo Gloria!