TorahScope: Mikkeitz

Mikkeitz

At the end

Genesis 41:1-44:17
1 Kings 3:15-4:1

“To Him Be the Glory”


by Mark Huey

This week’s parashah includes a very important verse that should immediately focus our attention on what God was accomplishing through the life of Joseph, when he is asked to interpret the dreams that Pharaoh has been having:

“Joseph then answered Pharaoh, saying, ‘It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer’” (Genesis 41:16).

Mikkeitz allows each of us, once again, to witness the sovereign will of the Creator take its course. The sons of Jacob/Israel are once more called upon to be the principal actors in a real life drama that has been preserved for our instruction. Here, the Holy One displays His omniscient will over the affairs of the world. The Lord has a very special assignment for the people of the covenants, and He guarantees that everything that He desires goes according to His script, by deliberately selecting the cast and arranging the unique circumstances. It is abundantly clear from the record left to us in the Scriptures, that our Father wants us to learn not only from the mistakes committed by the twelve sons of Jacob/Israel—but also from the instances when proper decisions were made by them.

The protagonist in this drama is none other than the noble Joseph, who has risen from the depths of ignominious incarceration. Now positioned as the vice regent of Egypt, he finally has a golden opportunity to return the same evil upon his brothers that he received some twenty years earlier when he was sold into slavery. But something is uniquely merciful about the character of Joseph. Even though he paid a costly price for his brother’s evil intentions, he does not harbor any residual bitterness toward them. Instead, he simply takes the circumstances to teach them an indelible lesson. What was it about Joseph that allowed him to extend such grace? What can modern-day Believers learn from Joseph’s example?

Dreamer of Dreams

Joseph learned as a youth that the Creator God is real. From the stories that he certainly heard from his father, he concluded that He was a personal Deity who was intimately concerned about His chosen people and the promises they had been given. His experiences with dreams certainly had an impact on his life. For years, sequestered in dank prisons, he had plenty of time to relive and analyze not only these dreams, but also the consequences of sharing them with his brothers and father. Then, this dreamer of dreams discovered in confinement that he was able to interpret others’ dreams. But before listening to the dreams of others, he immediately proclaims to the cupbearer and baker that interpretations of dreams belong to his God:

“Then they said to him, ‘We have had a dream and there is no one to interpret it.’ Then Joseph said to them, ‘Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell it to me, please’” (Genesis 40:8).

Joseph gives credit where credit is due. He tells the wine steward and the baker that it is only in the power of the Creator to interpret dreams. But he does have the faith to ask about the dreams, and the Lord intervenes. Joseph supernaturally receives and repeats the interpretation without any regard to the pleasant or unpleasant report (Genesis 40:9-23). What he soon discovers is that he is understanding a voice which is giving him the interpretation.

The critical thing that Joseph learned during his years in prison is that dreams and the interpretation of them can cause things to happen. For another two years (Genesis 41:1), he ponders the accuracy of his interpretation until an opportunity to interpret another dream comes forth.

Pharaoh’s Dreams

The next time Joseph is called upon to interpret something, the dreams are from the supreme ruler of Egypt, the Pharaoh himself. Now, the gifted young servant of the prison’s captain of the guard is summoned to hear and interpret the dreams. He already knew that Pharaoh has exacting demands upon his servants. Remember that the baker had been hanged for no stated reason. How was he, a foreign prisoner, going to be received in a society where the Egyptians disdained Semites? Without hesitation, upon being asked whether he can once again interpret a dream (Genesis 41:15), he responds with this concise statement:

“Joseph then answered Pharaoh, saying, ‘It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer’” (Genesis 41:16).

Joseph’s first response was to give all the glory to the God of his fathers. Joseph knew that the ability to interpret dreams was not something he could just conjure up with some mystical magic. God was pleased by Joseph’s attitude and he was given the proper interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams. At the conclusion of the interpretations an interesting discourse follows:

“‘Now as for the repeating of the dream to Pharaoh twice, it means that the matter is determined by God, and God will quickly bring it about. Now let Pharaoh look for a man discerning and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh take action to appoint overseers in charge of the land, and let him exact a fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven years of abundance. Then let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming, and store up the grain for food in the cities under Pharaoh’s authority, and let them guard it. Let the food become as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which will occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land will not perish during the famine.’ Now the proposal seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his servants. Then Pharaoh said to his servants, ‘Can we find a man like this, in whom is a divine spirit?’ So Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has informed you of all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and according to your command all my people shall do homage; only in the throne I will be greater than you.’ Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.’ Then Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put the gold necklace around his neck. He had him ride in his second chariot; and they proclaimed before him, ‘Bow the knee!’ And he set him over all the land of Egypt. Moreover, Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Though I am Pharaoh, yet without your permission no one shall raise his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt’” (Genesis 41:32-44).

At this critical juncture, Joseph felt the liberty to go beyond just the interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream by giving him the solution to contend with the forecasted famine. Something prompted Joseph to go beyond just a strict interpretation. Is it possible that God had allowed Joseph to mature to a point in his walk with Him, that he was able to be a confident voice for Him before world leaders? It is clear from the resulting actions of Pharaoh that the solutions suggested were things that Joseph had been groomed to manage. He had been responsible for Potiphar’s home and his possessions, and had done an admirable job of managing his estate. Next, he had been put in charge of the prisoners during his tenure in jail. Apparently, he was again given favor and the affairs of the prison were maintained in proper order.

Now with the wisdom implanted by the Lord, Joseph is positioned to be elevated to the second highest political rank in Egyptian society (Genesis 41:38-49). This is a remarkable rise to power—simply with the blessings of the Most High working through a unique opportunity to interpret dreams! What should we learn from the example of Joseph’s life?

Dreams and Gifts

Perhaps you are gifted with some spiritual endowment that has been freely given to you by the absolute grace of the Creator. Perhaps you have the gift of prophecy, healing, discernment, wisdom, knowledge, or any of the other gifts that our Father freely bestows upon His children for His work to be accomplished (1 Corinthians 12:28-31; Ephesians 4:11-13). You know what the gift is and have seen it operate through you at times. Just how do you operate with a recognizable supernatural gift? Your challenge is to follow the lead of Joseph.

First, remember that the gift has been given to you for purposes beyond your own personal aggrandizement. Instead, whenever you sense a spiritual gift working through you, be cautioned to give whatever glory is due to the Lord for His work to be accomplished through you. Too many times, men and women given gifts of prophecy or healing take advantage of their gifting and begin to use it for manipulative purposes. Many times this results in people who eventually bring dishonor to our Heavenly Father. Too frequently this impedes, rather than advances, His Kingdom work.

Hopefully, we can all take the life of Joseph and his humble example as the proper way to handle the spiritual giftings that are granted by the Lord to each one of us. We must use such spiritual gifts for the purposes of glorifying God, and ultimately drawing people unto Him. If you are straying in the other direction, beware!

Cry out to Him for mercy! Let Him receive the glory that He alone deserves! Ask the Lord to give you the same understanding that Joseph received. Perhaps as you give God the glory for the gifting you have received, He will give you increased responsibility in handling additional tasks in His Kingdom as others are impacted with the message of the gospel.

On the other hand, the Lord may decide to allow you to take credit for what He is doing through you. Then your reward may be here on Earth, rather than through eternity. Remember this reality: we all get the choice of when and by whom we want to be rewarded. Do you want the recognition of mere mortals, for a short season? Or would you prefer eternal favor? It takes faith to choose the latter option. Perhaps like Joseph, with some time in seclusion seeking the Father, we might be prepared to make the right choices. If nothing else, quietness before the Lord can certainly enhance our ability to more clearly hear His voice. Perhaps that is one of the reasons He has given us a day to rest and focus upon Him. Consider these questions as you ponder on Mikkeitz this Shabbat


NOTES

[1] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, eds., The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament (Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 2003), 970.

[2] Cf. Isaiah 29:16; Romans 9:21.