What Did Pharaoh Think?

We represent our God to the world as did Joseph and his father in their times What a solemn task! As the Lord Jesus was in the world, so are we, 1 John 4, 17, He is the standard, the faithful and true witness. Rev, 3. 14. We will consider how Pharaoh was confronted by the God of Israel through the Hebrews. who came to his Egypt by a series of God-directed events. How the world subsequently reacts to testimony is the responsibility of the world rather than of the servant of God. We know nothing of Pharaoh’s response: this rests in eternity.

Whereas Joseph had faithfully sought the honour of God and not his own honour when interpreting the dreams of Pharaoh’s officers in prison, Gen. 40. 8; cf. 41. 9-13, after two years the butler had forgotten this vital truth. How consistently we need to remind the world that we do every good work in the Name of the Lord Jesus. Mark 9. 41 Having made sure that his appearance did not detract from his message, Gen. 41. 14, Joseph respectfully corrected Pharaoh’s impression of his ability to interpret dreams: “It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace”, 41. 16. Before even hearing what Pharaoh had dreamed, Joseph had declared his opinion of himself (a presentiment of the Lord’s words, “without me ye can do nothing”, John 15. 5), and his complete confidence that God would use him. and that God willed that a Gentile outsider would be blessed. Nor did he even shrink of speaking of his God on this first audience with a man of such a high station. Would my testimony be as clear?

Joseph’s testimony to God’s sovereign actions and revealing grace is driven home as the dreams are interpreted to Pharaoh, Gen. 41. 25-36. Joseph s words are full of assurance, and there is no hint of apology. Pharaoh was impressed, and in the council confesses that Joseph’s relation to God was unique in the realm of Egypt, “Can we find such a one as this is. a man in whom the Spirit of God is?”, v. 38. Allowing that Joseph’s powers were his God’s, Pharaoh advances him to be his Prime Minister, vv. 39-43. Joseph was as content to maintain a testimony for his God which brought him to prison (see Gen. 39. 9), as he was to be brought out of prison and honoured for his faithfulness This is a test of genuine godliness in this world.

Joseph, who was just as consistent in pressing the claims of God on his faithless brothers. Gen. 42-45, presented five of them before Pharaoh, but they only told him of their business occupation and of the famine in Canaan without a word of testimony for their God as far as we know, 47. 1-4.

In His grace, future generations were going to know God as the God of Jacob. Exod. 3. 6. etc. If Joseph had given such an impressive testimony to God before Pharaoh, surely his father would witness to God’s faithfulness even more weightily. Who had known such grace as Jacob with his twisted personality? He had clearer revelations than had Joseph, and a confirmation of the solemn covenant, Gen. 35. 9-11, as well as a direct command to come to Egypt, 46. 1-4. And now he has the opportunity to testify to Pharaoh in an interview, 47. 7-10. He could confirm Joseph’s witness, and perhaps God would bring the king to faith and change the course of Egyptian history The testimony of the old pilgrim might count for so much compared with the words of his son. But in complete contrast to Joseph, we do not read that Jacob made any mention of the name of God at all. Perhaps he did, but it was not of significance to the Spirit’s record of the audience. Whatever Jacob said when he blessed Pharaoh was not of sufficient note to quote. Perhaps our greetings and wishes for unsaved folk who look to us for spiritual help are empty. Maybe we have nothing more for them than to pass the time of day and express some hollow worldly hope.

Courteously Pharaoh enquired Jacob’s age. This could have been an opportunity to recount life’s experience of the greatness and guidance of God In New Testament words, “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear”, 1 Pet. 3. 15. The author could tell his age from birth and from his new birth. Now Jacob was going to live another 17 years, Gen. 47. 28, yet he complained to Pharaoh that he had only lived 130 years! None of the other patriarchs questioned the purposes of God in the years of their “sojourning” (rather than “pilgrimage”) in this world. How much better to confess to the world, “My times are in thy hand”, Psa. 31. 15. Jacob describes these years as “few and evil”. All the evil and the wasted years were the result of Jacob’s own crookedness His weakness magnified the goodness of God to such a reprobate. But Pharaoh heard nothing of the kindness and grace of the God of Jacob; he only saw an old man who compared his lot unfavourably with Abraham (who lived 175 years, Gen. 25. 7), and Isaac (180 years. 35. 28). So this was Jacob’s testimony to the faithfulness of God! Admittedly, at the end of his life and in his own circle. Jacob recorded the faithfulness of God. Gen. 48 & 49, but was this the impression left with Pharaoh? After another blessing, the audience came to an end. Scripture does not say that Jacob ever had an opportunity to testify to Pharaoh again Do I leave this sort of impression of my Lord on people I meet in the world?