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Feb 21, 2010

Cultural Relavance of God Speaking to Pharoah

Passage: Genesis 41:1-36

Preacher: Charlie Greer

Series: Are you hungry?

Category: Old Testament

Keywords: joseph, pharoahs dream, culture, gospel


God speaks to all of us, in our own culture. We see this in Gen. 41 with Pharoah's dream, God used images of the Egyptian culture. God then used Joseph to interpret the dreams, Joseph would not have known the egyptian images yet God gave him the interpretation and the magicians who knew the god's and images of the Egyptian culture could not intrepret the dreams. Still today God talks and walks with us in our own culture. He meets right where we are, Jesus came and lived and died to meet us where we are at in our own culture.


Last year in youth group we were talking about Pharisees, and if you have ever seen our youth group it is made up mostly of kids that are not yet Christians and new Christians.  Knowing this, I asked what is a Pharisee?

One of the girls exclaimed I know I know it’s a female Pharaoh!!!

It’s always interesting to talk to people from one culture to another just like here in our own church.  We must have 10 different cultures that meet here every Sunday to learn more about God.

When talking to people do they always understand us? Or what we are trying to get across?

So my question to all of you today is does God only talk to Christians?

Old Testament He only talked to the Israelites, as his chosen people, right? 

And in the New Testament God sent his son, Jesus, to die only for Christians?

Let’s all look up Gen 41 together

41 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.

9 Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “I remember my offenses today. 10 When Pharaoh was angry with his servants and put me and the chief baker in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, 11 we dreamed on the same night, he and I, each having a dream with its own interpretation. 12 A young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. When we told him, he interpreted our dreams to us, giving an interpretation to each man according to his dream. 13 And as he interpreted to us, so it came about. I was restored to my office, and the baker was hanged.”

14 Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they quickly brought him out of the pit. And when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh. 15 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” 16 Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not in me;  God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” 17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Behold, in my dream I was standing on the banks of the Nile. 18 Seven cows, plump and attractive, came up out of the Nile and fed in the reed grass. 19 Seven other cows came up after them, poor and very ugly and thin, such as I had never seen in all the land of Egypt. 20 And the thin, ugly cows ate up the first seven plump cows, 21 but when they had eaten them no one would have known that they had eaten them, for they were still as ugly as at the beginning. Then I awoke. 22 I also saw in my dream seven ears growing on one stalk, full and good. 23 Seven ears, withered, thin, and blighted by the east wind, sprouted after them, 24 and the thin ears swallowed up the seven good ears. And I told it to the magicians, but there was no one who could explain it to me.”

25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one; God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26 The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good ears are seven years; the dreams are one. 27 The seven lean and ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, and the seven empty ears blighted by the east wind are also seven years of famine. 28 It is as I told Pharaoh; God has shown to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29 There will come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt, 30 but after them there will arise seven years of famine, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt. The famine will consume the land, 31 and the plenty will be unknown in the land by reason of the famine that will follow, for it will be very severe. 32 And the doubling of Pharaoh’s dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about. 33 Now therefore let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh proceed to appoint overseers over the land and take one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven plentiful years. 35 And let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. 36 That food shall be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine that are to occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish through the famine.”

God is so amazing to take Joseph from one thing to another and every time greater and greater influence for God. 

Do you see how God is using Joseph to show the World at this point how great God is?

Hold that thought and let’s go in reverse here - 

Have you ever thought about this from Pharaoh's side?

I kind of think it is way more fun to look at this way,

Egyptian Idol

On the throne is Pharaoh, to his right and left his top men. He must have had a good host servant named after the sea… Seacrest to introduce the different magicians and wise men.

Sir how do you think you will do today… well Seacrest I think I am going to be the man I have my snake, Fluffy, here with me

They all fail to go on to Hollywood. Everyone of the magicians fails; the magicians belonged to a guild expert in handling the ritual books of magic and priest craft. Yet, they could not interpret Pharaoh’s dreams.

We see this later in Daniel when the magicians/wise men could not interpret a king's dream and, just as we will see here, God uses this to show that He is the only God, and He is in control.

So the cup bearer tells them he knows the perfect kid that can interpret the dream, but what would this look like when Pharaoh looks into his back ground?

Here is this kid, a Hebrew at that, (they have pretty tight families) so for his brother’s (not just one but all of his brothers) to put him in a hole and then sell him naked! What kind of a kid is this?

He ends up in Potiphar’s house, the captain of the guard, as a servant, and now he is in trouble for messing around with his wife?

What kind of a person is this? Some sort of a pervert that belongs in some sort of institution right?  Is this who you want to bring into your house to help you out? 

God had to have already been working on Pharaoh, he sends for Joseph to come and interpret his dream, He interpreted dreams in the past they all came true he must be a great magician…

Let’s look at Joseph in prison, lonely. Every time he interprets a dream it comes out bad for him - he gets sold, he gets put in prison, he gets left in prison.  But Joseph keeps following God’s call on his life.

They send for him and he goes but he does something first, he shaves and changes clothes.  Shaving is something the Egyptians did, not the Hebrews.  He did this as asked, I believe, he knew he had to show respect to the pharaoh on many levels not just to stay alive but to be heard.

God worked on so many levels in this part of Joseph’s story

He opened the Pharaoh up to hear Joseph

He opened Joseph up to hear his call and meet the Pharaoh in his own culture and in a way that he would be heard/listened to

God spoke to the Pharaoh in his own cultural images

His dream was of what?  Cows - the god Isis

Isis is the goddess of all sustaining earth and in the hieroglyphics. She represented the earth agriculture and food.

The wheat/Corn was also something that Egypt was well known for they had the best in all the lands.  Everyone wanted their wheat to come from Egypt to be worth the most.

These, all signs of Egypt, yet none of the wise men/magicians could interpret the dream.

It took God to speak through Joseph, as Joseph kept telling them he cannot interpret dreams but God can and speak through him.

God spoke through a dream in the Egyptian culture in (God has revealed to Pharaoh)

God spoke through a Hebrew boy that would not have known all the Egyptian gods

God saved all the lands through Egypt using Joseph

We see this happen all through the Bible

We tend to only talk about it with the New Testament though; we see that as being the time to go out to the world with the good news

Look at Luke 5:27-28 27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. 29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them.

Look at Acts 10:9-33 Peter had a vision of a sheet coming down filled with unclean animals, a God said to kill and eat, Peter said he had never eaten any unclean thing.  He was told “What God has made clean, do not call common.”

God set the standard of reaching out to everyone every culture early on all the way back here in Genesis. And all the way to current times.

Are you speaking to the people in your culture that you work in every day in their language and dress?

When you talk about God and Jesus do you float to another language and culture that your culture does not understand? The Christian Culture language?

Where is God working in our culture?

Let’s take some time to think about whether we are letting God talk through us in the language and culture that is around us or if we tend to make it all about us and what we want to get across.


God loved everyone every culture, He made us all in His image and He is sad with our sin and our sin nature

God loved us so much that he not only saved all the lands including the Hebrews through the Egyptians and Joseph.

He sent his Son, Jesus, to meet us all at our basic needs he came and lived among us

Jesus saw our sin and went on the Cross for us he took all of our sins in His shedding of blood

He meets us in our culture where ever we are at.

He didn’t just die for Christians, he died for everyone

It is up to us on what we chose, eternal life in Heaven with him or hell

Let’s take communion in memory of his body and blood