The King’s Dreams (Genesis 41:1-40)

Good news is rare today, isn’t it?  The World Economic Forum isn’t offering any.  Recently the perennially reliable WEF issued a report warning that a “catastrophic cyber event” is going to happen within the next few years.”  “The most striking finding that we’ve found,” Jeremy Jurgens of the WEF said, “is that 93 percent of cyber leaders, and 86 percent of cyber business leaders, believe that the geopolitical instability makes a catastrophic cyber event likely in the next two years. This far exceeds anything that we’ve seen in previous surveys.”  Jurgen Stock of Interpol said, “This is a global threat.  It calls for a global response and enhanced and coordinated action.”  

That is not good news.  (Parenthetically, the WEF wants the world to know that a global catastrophe like they warn us about would not be used to advance the plans for a Great Reset or the Fourth Industrial Revolution. They didn’t say that, but that would’ve been good news). Again, that’s not good news.  What exactly are we supposed to do with that prediction?  Too bad we don’t have a Joseph

In our text today Pharaoh is given bad news about the future of the world.  Through two dreams God showed the king what was going to happen in the next 14 years.  It wasn’t pretty.  Joseph explains the meaning of the dreams to Pharaoh, then gives him wisdom in what preparations should be made to make it through the coming catastrophe.  The king immediately makes Joseph 2nd in command over all of Egypt.  


Two year after the cupbearer was restored, and the baker was executed, Pharaoh has two mind-boggling dreams in the same night.  He wakes up after the first, then after falling back asleep he dreams again.  He seems to be so worked up over these dreams he can’t sleep so he gets up.  

The dreams are interesting.  First he dreams of cows coming up and out of the Nile river.  Seven big, well-fed, fat and sleek cows.  Then seven skinny, malnourished cows come up and they eat the big healthy cows.  Then falling back asleep Pharaoh’s second dream is about grain.  First seven healthy and good heads of grain grew on one single stalk.  Then seven thin and wasted heads grew and swallowed up the healthy grains.  

Without even calling on Joseph we could derive some general idea of what the dreams are getting at here:  seven of something good is going to happen and it will be followed by seven of something bad.  It would not be difficult to consider that these dreams had something to do with Egypts economy, as grain and cows were food sources.  The dreams were not about seven soldiers, or seven gold coins, or seven stars, or seven women, or seven beasts, or seven anything else.  The objects in the dream seemed related to food.  

Now it’s one thing to “guess” at what the dreams mean.  But its another thing to know:  1) do the dreams matter?  Is the King just overreacting to some vivid dreams?  Was it something he ate the night before?  And 2) its another thing to know if there is something they should do?  Are the dreams communicating something where they should take some course of action?  So as a guy on his “dream team” I might feel confident in decoding this dream but I’m not as confident as if some “god” revealed the actual meaning of the dream to me.  Hence, Joseph. 

APPLICATION:  Do not try and live your life by “dreams.”  Do not pay attention to your dreams in an effort to find some hidden guidance for your life.  Once you start going down that road you start leaving the Bible behind and you start making your dreams your compass for life rather than the Bible.  Anyone whose “hungry” for God to speak to them – whether through a dream or a “personal word from the Lord” – devalues what God has spoken to them in the Scriptures.  


After Pharoah dreams, he summons Joseph, read verses 8-16….

So Pharaoh is obviously bothered by these dreams. And he obviously remembers them.  I never remember dreams.  And many times I’ve woken up with the emotion of the dream still intense but not remembering anything about it.  Not Pharoah.  He remembers the details.  He’s bothered down in his spirit about it.  He needs answers.  He calls a cabinet meeting and none of his wise men and magicians have any answers for him.  

The cupbearer however gets red with shame.  For the first time in 2 years he remembered Joseph.  He speaks up, no doubt worried – can you imagine how he might be perceived if they all found out he forgot about the guy who got him out of jail?  

APPLICATION:  Don’t forget the kindness you are shown.  Let people be kind to you, but at the very least, praise God for it, and ask him to bless those who’ve been kind to you.  Paul said in 2 Timothy 1:16-18, “…..

APPLICATION to the APPLICATION:  God remembers the kindness we give.  Hebrews 6:10 says, “God is not unjust, he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”  He sees and remembers even the smallest act of kindness like giving a cup of water to the least of people.  Or when you pray in private or give in private, Jesus said your heavenly Father sees your kind deed when no one else does and will reward you.  

After telling his story Pharaoh sends for Joseph.  No one comes in front of the king dressed in prison rags and looking like a bum.  He got a clean shave, a haircut, a bath and some nice clothes.  Remember Joseph was described as “well built and handsome,” so no doubt Joseph was looking good again walking into the palace.  Walking down the halls to the king the palace speakers started playing ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man.”

APPLICATION:  Prepare yourself to meet the king.  When it comes time for us to come into the King’s presence let us look our absolute best.  I’m not talking about everyone wearing suits and ties and dresses.  Although, give consideration to your appearance when coming to church is important.  Lets not be a distraction to others pulling their attention away from God by our appearance by either our extreme sloppiness or our immodesty.  What I am talking about however is how we look to God.  What kinds of spiritual clothing do we have?  On the one hand, the Bible talks about God clothing himself.  You’ll read of Him saying things like, “Clothed in holiness” or “I clothed myself with anger” and so on.  God’s “clothing” is his attitude and action.  Now in a similar way when the Bible talks about us being “clothed” it is talking about our attitude and actions as believers.  Romans 13:14 instructs us, “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”  “Put on the new self,” Ephesians 4:24 says, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness”  Jude 23 says, “hate even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh” which is referring to conduct:  “Hate the conduct that is stained by the flesh – hate fleshly conduct that people clothe themselves with”…Revelation 3:4-5 says, “….”


Joseph walks into the courts of Pharaoh and interprets the dreams while all the magicians and wise men look on.  Read verses 17-32

Bottom line:  seven years of agricultural abundance followed by the worst famine you could imagine.  The seven fat cows and the seven healthy heads of grain symbolize seven years of abundance.  All the abundance is going to be swallowed up by the seven-year famine that follows, which is symbolized by the seven scrawny cows and the seven withered heads of grain.  Two different dreams giving the same exact message.  

Which Joseph explains saying that the whole reason Pharoah had two dreams was because God wanted to emphasize the fact that these 14 years were not only certain to happen but will begin very soon.  In other words, it has been firmly decided by God that this is what’s coming and there’s no getting out of it so get ready and buckle up.

SIDENOTE:  Seven seems to be a favorite number for God.  Seven day week, seven day week of years for Israel’s calendar, Jacob worked for 7 years for Leah and the another 7 for Rachel, the 7 year Tribulation that is coming, and here the 7 years of abundance followed by 7 years of famine.

Did you see how Joseph flatly, confidently, boldly tells Pharaoh about God?  “I cannot do it.  But God can, and He will give you the meaning of the dreams.”  Joseph wastes no time bringing God front and center in the situation, which you can see in verse 16, 25, 28, 32, 39 and 40:8. 

APPLICATION:  Waste no time factoring God into the situation.  Actually, view your life in its entirety with God factored in.  It changes everything.

APPLICATION:  Trust God can when you can’t.  Our instinct is to fret when we are faced with something that is way bigger than us.  But to borrow from a previous sermon, when we’re feeling small in the shadow of the Goliath’s of life we have to have the faith to see how small Goliath is in the shadow of our God!  Do you see how Joseph, even though the situation was beyond him, did not flinch?  He’s the only guy there not sweating.  He’s the only guy there not on pins and needles.  Be like Joseph and have the kind of confidence in God in your situations that lets you have a calm that is “unnatural” to everyone else around.  

APPLICATION:  How do we point people to God?  Whatever platform we find ourselves on are we pointing out our God to our audience?  Do we decrease on stage so that God can increase?  


So Joseph not only gives the good news and the bad news, he also offers a solution.  Read verses 33-36, “….

Don’t you love people who offer solutions?  Don’t people who only offer criticism drive you nuts?  Joseph isn’t like that.  He points out the problem and then he offers a solution.  “Put someone in charge of this problem Pharaoh.  Have them gather grain and store it during the 7 abundant years so that there’s enough to get the nation through the seven famine years.”  

We know the meaning of the dreams was given to Joseph by God.  But was this solution also revealed to him?  Or was this just plain wisdom in action?  

APPLICATION:  Prepare today for tomorrow.  Wisdom prepares for th future.  For some things God gives our daily manna and it is bread only for today.  Many of us know that truth about God that we don’t know how he’s going to supply our need tomorrow until it is tomorrow.  That’s a development of our faith that every one of us goes through.  But another development of our faith is the realization that in many ways God supplies for tomorrow today.  God gives today what He knows we’ll need tomorrow.  How does faith at work in saving today for tomorrow?  Because faith knows that what came today came from God, and because faith knows that tomorrow has many uncertainties but God is certain.  


The only thing that affected the king more than his dreams was Joseph’s wisdom.  Read verse 37-40, “…”

The king is so impressed with Joseph he makes him essentially the ruler over the nation, second only to the king.  Just like he ruled the house of Potiphar, now Joseph rules the house of Egypt!  What do you think was going through Potiphar’s mind?  What was Mrs. Potiphar thinking?  Terrified, I bet.  Yet, I notice in Genesis that nowhere do we ever see Joseph using his new power to exact revenge on the Potiphars.  

APPLICATION:  Don’t seek revenge.

Somewhere between 7 and 14 years from that point Joseph was going to be reunited with his family.   


The dreams were not the point.  The cupbearer, the baker, the king were not the point.  Joseph was the point.  But even Joseph was not the point.  Joseph’s life pointed to Jesus Christ.  The trajectory down, the betrayal, the false accusations, the unjust confinement, the suffering, then the glorious release and ascension to the highest heights all foreshadow Jesus’s.  You can’t miss Jesus when seeing Joseph!  QUICK APPLICATION:  Make it so that everyone around you can’t miss Jesus when they see you.  

Turn with me to Philippians 2:6-11 to see what I mean…

**You want Good News?  God has given it in Jesus Christ.

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