14 Pharaoh sent for Joseph at once, and he was quickly brought from the prison. After he shaved and changed his clothes, he went in and stood before Pharaoh. 15 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream last night, and no one here can tell me what it means. But I have heard that when you hear about a dream you can interpret it.” 16 “It is beyond my power to do this,” Joseph replied. “But God can tell you what it means and set you at ease.”
Joseph went from a Pit, to Potiphar, to Prison, to a Palace, and God took Joseph from a prisoner to a prince. But no matter the position, prisoner or prince, the call was still the same, to serve. During this rise from prisoner to prince there are a few things we learn about being a servant
• A servant has a heart that is prepared to serve.
Before Joseph could go before pharaoh he had to be shaved, clothed and cleaned up, he had to be externally presentable to be in pharaoh’s presence. But making a prisoner into a prince wasn’t the external work of men it was the internal work of God in Joseph’s life. Outwardly Joseph may not have been prepared for pharaoh and his court but inwardly he was because his heart was right. We, like pharaoh, get caught up with outward appearance, we as a society are consumed with outward conformity without an inward heart change, as long as it looks good, we’re good! As parents we have become more concerned with our kids outward obedience than internal heart obedience. Joseph may have needed to shave, he may not have looked very prepared to meet pharaoh, but if we look past the outward appearance and deeper we see God’s work in his life was about the preparation of the heart. When the opportunity came for Joseph to be called to serve in Pharaoh’s palace, Joseph received no warning. He didn’t have time to study up on books about dream interpretation, or cultivate a heart of service, or restore a relationship with the Lord that he had allowed to fall into disrepair. He didn’t need time for that because he was prepared.
1 Pet 3:15 says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” You and I never know when an opportunity to be used by God is going to come our way. Will we be ready?
For two years, Joseph had been rotting in prison, waiting for the butler to honor his promise to mention Joseph before Pharaoh. How would you have reacted if you had been in Joseph’s situation? Anger, bitterness, unforgiveness? Joseph could have said, “You Egyptians have used me and mistreated me ever since I came here. Why in the world would I help you now that you see that I can be of value to you? And you, Mr. Butler, why in the world should I make you look like the hero when up until today, you couldn’t even remember my name?” Joseph could have reacted like that, but he knew it wasn’t about him. Are you prepared to serve? Have you let the things you have been through mold you for service or selfishness, are you better or bitter? Are you prepared for God to use you? Are prepared to worship God? If you are keeping anger, bitterness, or unforgiveness in your heart, then you are not prepared to worship God or to be used by Him. Joseph was prepared to be used by God because his heart was right with God, is yours?
- A servant knows who he serves and admits his limitations
Once Joseph was cleaned up and had changed his clothes, he was brought before Pharaoh. Up to that point, Joseph may have had no idea why he was coming before Pharaoh, he was probably surprised when he found out the reason. After Pharaoh shared his dreams it was Joseph’s move, everyone in the court was waiting to see how he would respond. The butler was hoping that Joseph would come through because the butler was the one who had recommended Joseph. If Joseph failed to do what the butler said he could do, then the butler would probably face the same fate that his friend the baker had faced, death. The king’s wise men, the enchanters and soothsayers, were probably hoping that he wouldn’t come through; otherwise it would make them look weak and incompetent. Every eye was on Joseph, and in that moment he had a huge decision to make, an opportunity like this would not come along again.
If he said that he could do it, and he performs successfully, then he would probably be rewarded, he could at the least get out of prison and might get a position as well. He had been suffering long enough and wasn’t it time for him to be rewarded and get ahead. But instead, Joseph answered, “I cannot do it”. Can you imagine the huge gasp that must have gone up when those words left Joseph’s mouth, was he crazy, no one admitted their weakness before the king! You might know in your own heart that you couldn’t do something, but you never let the king know that, because the king had no use for weak people. To admit weakness was to sign your own death sentence. Not much has changed, to admit weakness is to cut yourself in a sea of sharks. We have been trained to be in control, to never show weakness. Yet an amazing fact about those that God has chosen to use as His “princes” over the years is that they have all had this in common – they recognized that whatever they accomplished was not because of their own strength but because of the power of God flowing through them. When Peter and John stood before the lame beggar at the temple steps in Acts 3, Peter prefaced his healing of the man by proclaiming “silver and gold have I none but in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene get up and walk!”. Paul recognized that all that he had accomplished in planting multiple churches and winning so many people to the Lord was not because of any power of his own. He said, “I can do all things through Christ” (Philippians 4:13)not because of his own ability. The Lord himself said, “It is not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit”(Zech. 4:6). Whose power are you serving in?
- A servant doesn’t just know the power of God but he proclaims it even in a hostile environment.
Joseph knew where his power came from, and he wasn’t afraid to let it be known to anyone that was around him. Pharaoh’s court was not a setting that was friendly to the idea of a God that was more powerful than the many gods that they worshipped, especially a God that could do something that their gods seemed unable to do. How could this Hebrew and his God do something that the trained magicians and wise men of Egypt could not do with the help of all their gods? Joseph had lived in Egypt long enough to know that proclaiming allegiance to a different God, especially before the king of Egypt, was not something that was going to be received well. But Joseph had lived long enough in the presence of God to know that the only way that Pharaoh was going to find relief from his present problem was to acknowledge and recognize the power of God. Joseph could have been sent back to prison for this revelation of the one true God, but he knew that Pharaoh, having no knowledge of God, was the one in prison, and sharing his faith could set others free. Are you more concerned with your own comfort and welfare or that of others? A servant is focused on the comfort of others.