Gen. 41:14 - "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."
As I read Genesis 41 last week there were several things that made me consider Pharaoh and Joseph in a new light. Have you thought much about their conference before? Let's first remember that Joseph was a foreign shepherd turned slave (Egyptians didn't think too highly of those who tended to livestock). Besides his ethnic heritage and previous occupation, Joseph was unjustly in prison when the events of chapter 41 occurred, forgotten and abandoned for two additional years by Pharaoh's cupbearer (who apparently had a really bad memory). Pharaoh was given a couple of troubling dreams from God that no one could explain to him. Eventually the situation jogged the cupbearer's memory and he told Pharaoh about Joseph, and a meeting was scheduled. Joseph was cleaned, shaved, and brought to the palace. During the meeting God provided Joseph with the correct interpretation of Pharaoh's dreams, but Joseph went even further than just offering an interpretation, he offered suggestions for how Pharaoh and his kingdom should respond to the information. Pharaoh was so impressed with the insight and wisdom Joseph had displayed that he promoted him to second in command of the entire kingdom to implement his famine survival plan.
There were two things that really impressed me as I read this again.
1 - Pharaoh's search for truthful answers! Think about that historic and providential meeting. On one side of the room you had Pharaoh, the ruler of Upper and Lower Egypt, supposed living incarnation of Horus. On the other side sat a freshly shaved foreign shepherd, slave and prisoner. What a lopsided meeting! As several of my friends who have served time in prison can tell you, not everyone is able to easily overlook your past. But because of his strong desire for an honest interpretation Pharaoh managed to overcome whatever cultural, social or economic biases he had in order to hear what Joseph had to say.
Just like Pharaoh in ancient Egypt, there are people today seeking for truth and hope. They have sought for answers everywhere else, but what they have found has not satisfied. They are seeking, and we need to be ready! If you are needing help like Pharaoh was, are you willing to humbly hear truth?
2 - Joseph's honest and respectful explanation of God's message! He didn't let the vast difference between his station and Pharaoh's intimidate him into silence. He also refused to allow bitterness over his circumstances to influence him. If you had been unjustly sent away from your family and put to work in a foreign land, you might have some issues with anger and bitterness. But Joseph did not display any of that. Instead he revealed a genuine care for the people of the land and recommended a course of action that would preserve life, including the lives of his captors and eventually the lives of the family who sold him.
Just like Joseph, we need to be ready to share God's message with whoever is seeking. We should share the gospel despite different life circumstances, and we need to develop forgiving hearts so that we can learn to even seek the welfare of those who have hurt us. Consider Jesus' teaching in Matt. 5:44, "But I say to you, love you enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven." If you are in a position to share God's word with someone, are you able to look past differences between you, and even forgive them, in order to share what God wants them to hear?
Praise God for examples of humble seeking and gracious sharing! May we all learn to set circumstances aside, and forgive wrong from the heart so that the gospel of Christ may be found by every sincere soul!
In what ways has God helped humble you in your search for Him? What are some of the biases you struggle with overcoming when sharing the gospel with others? Share your thoughts and comments below.