Sunday, 9th May 10.30 am Order of Service

WELCOME

HYMN Ascribe greatness to our God

ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tcv2K8GcqoA

Ascribe greatness to our God, the rock,

his work is perfect and all his ways are just.

Ascribe greatness to our God, the rock,

his work is perfect and all his ways are just.

A God of faithfulness and without injustice,

good and upright is he.

A God of faithfulness and without injustice,

good and upright is he.

Mary Kirkbride Barthow and Mary Lou King 1979

PRAYER

READING Genesis 41:1-57

When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile, 2 when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. 3 After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. 4 And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.

5 He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. 6 After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched 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.

8 In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.

9 Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings. 10 Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard. 11 Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. 12 Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. 13 And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.”

14 So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.

15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”

16 “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”

17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile, 18 when out of the river there came up seven cows, fat and sleek, and they grazed among the reeds. 19 After them, seven other cows came up—scrawny and very ugly and lean. I had never seen such ugly cows in all the land of Egypt. 20 The lean, ugly cows ate up the seven fat cows that came up first. 21 But even after they ate them, no one could tell that they had done so; they looked just as ugly as before. Then I woke up.

22 “In my dream I saw seven heads of grain, full and good, growing on a single stalk. 23 After them, seven other heads sprouted—withered and thin and scorched by the east wind. 24 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads. I told this to the magicians, but none of them could explain it to me.”

25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to 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; it is one and the same dream. 27 The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years, and so are the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind: They are seven years of famine.

28 “It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29 Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, 30 but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land. 31 The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe. 32 The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.

33 “And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. 35 They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. 36 This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.”

37 The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials. 38 So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?”

39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”

Joseph in Charge of Egypt

41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and people shouted before him, “Make way !” Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt.

44 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.” 45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, to be his wife. And Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt.

46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout Egypt. 47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully. 48 Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it. 49 Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure.

50 Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. 51 Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” 52 The second son he named Ephraim and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”

53 The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other lands, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food. 55 When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.”

56 When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt. 57 And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere.

SERMON Joseph’s Interpretation of Pharaoh’s Dreams

The central theme of ch. 41 is expressed by Joseph in v. 32: “The matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.” “Two” dreams with the same meaning show that God will certainly bring about what was foreseen in the dreams.

1-8 Pharaoh’s two dreams are more transparent than those of the two officials. But to show that the dreams’ simplicity conceals rather than reveals their meaning, the writer tells us that all the king’s magicians and wise men were unable to give their meaning (cf. Dan 2:4-12). Joseph not only had to forecast from the dreams what was to happen, but, more important, he advised Pharaoh how to prepare for what was to come. Joseph’s wisdom in dealing with the situation forecast in the dreams is portrayed as of equal importance to the interpretation of the dreams.

His wisdom consisted more in planning and administration than in a knowledge of secret mysteries.

9-13 The cupbearer had forgotten about Joseph, but as it turns out, even his forgetfulness worked in Joseph’s favour since just at the right moment he remembered Joseph and recounted his wisdom before the king. God’s sovereign power is highlighted in the fact that though the cupbearer did forget Joseph at the time, he remembered just at the right moment and so served as the means for Joseph’s ultimate rise to power.

14-36 When Pharaoh repeated the dreams, he added only two major parts–the comments about the ugly cows and these cows looking just as “ugly” (= evil) after they ate the good cows as before. In both cases the repetition seems to stress the “evil” of the appearance of the cows in contrast with the “good” cows of the first group.

The emphasis on the “good” and “evil” represents Joseph’s ability to distinguish between the “good” and the “evil.” It is clear that ultimately such knowledge comes only from God (v. 39). And so the lesson of the early chapters of Genesis is wonderfully repeated in these last chapters. In light of this, it can hardly be accidental that Joseph’s plan seemed “good” to the Pharaoh and all his servants.

37-57 The account of the king’s appointment of Joseph over all his kingdom presents a picture of Joseph that recalls Adam in Genesis 1.

***********************************************

Just as Adam was dependent on God for his knowledge of “good and evil,” so Joseph also is portrayed here in the same terms. Just as Adam is made God’s “vicegerent” to rule over all the land, so Joseph is portrayed here as the Pharaoh’s “vicegerent” over all his land. As Adam was made in God’s image to rule over all the land, so the king here gave Joseph his “signet ring” and dressed him in royal garments. Just as God provided a wife for Adam in the garden and gave the man all the land for his enjoyment, so the king gave a wife to Joseph and put him over all the land.

At many points in the story, Joseph appears to be represented as an “ideal” of what a truly wise and faithful man is like. He is a model of the ideal man, the ideal king. He accomplishes all that Adam failed to do. At the same time the picture of Joseph anticipates what might yet be, if only God’s people would, like Joseph, live in complete obedience and trust in God.

The picture of Joseph, then, looks back to Adam, but even more looks forward to one who was yet to come, the one from the house of Judah to whom the kingdom belongs (cf. 49:10).

In this way, the tension between the houses of Joseph and Judah is resolved by making the life of Joseph into a picture of the one who is to reign from the house of Judah. The Drama has been building to this crescendo – Joseph’s elevation to high office – even his slavery and imprisonment were looking forward to this great day.

Pharaoh’s decision about Joseph was based on what his cupbearer told him, but also his spiritual discernment that God’s Spirit was in Joseph. If his empire was to survive he had to have faith in Joseph – or in Joseph’s God – the Word God spoke to Joseph.

And if God was willing to help a pagan Pharaoh and his Egyptian citizens, do you not think it likely that He is likewise keen to help you through the feasts and famines of YOUR life? God stepped in before the great and poor harvests even started. God had a plan before it all came to pass. God has a plan for your life and mine. He knows what is going to happen long before it does. We may or may not be able to trust our newly elected politicians, but we can certainly trust our great God for the days and years that lie ahead for us.

PRAYER

Hymn God is working His purpose out

ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iiuxet4pJ-c&t=2s

1 God is working his purpose out as year succeeds to year,

God is working his purpose out, and the time is drawing near;

nearer and nearer draws the time, the time that shall surely be,

when the earth shall be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.

2 From farthest east to farthest west, where human feet have trod,

by the voice of many messengers goes forth the voice of God,

‘Give ear to me, ye continents, you islands, give ear to me,

that the earth may be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.’

3 All that we do is nothing worth, unless God bless the deed;

vainly we hope for the harvest-tide, till God gives life to the seed;

yet nearer and nearer draws the time, the time that shall surely be,

when the earth shall be filled with the glory of God, as the waters cover the sea.

Arthur Campbell Ainger (1841-1919)

Benediction

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