Genesis 41:37-45 (Prophet, Priest, and King – The Savior of the World)

Genesis 41:37-45
Prophet, Priest, and King
The Savior of the World

Introduction: As a biblical figure, Joseph is somewhat like David in several ways. He was the second youngest of a big family and David was the youngest. Both were raised as shepherds as well. Joseph’s brothers rejected him and sold him off as a slave. David’s brother Eliab mocked him when he inquired about fighting the great champion Goliath.

Eventually though, both rose to be great rulers who would lead and shepherd their people. They were great men of God who overcame trials and obstacles while maintaining their faith in God’s providential care over them.

Although we’ll be looking at how Joseph pictures Christ throughout the verses today, we shouldn’t forget that he was just a regular person chosen by God to do great things. We may not have the opportunity to interpret dreams for a king, but we do have the opportunity to do great things for the Lord.

Billy Graham dedicated his life to preaching about Jesus and look at what he did. But no less important are the people who moved his podium or set up the sound system. Every person can do something great, even if it’s unnoticed. Greatness from a biblical context is being noted as a person of faith and a person who lives faithfully.

Before he was exalted, Joseph was thrown into a prison and he eventually ran that prison, and he did it without losing faith. Your participation in whatever you do, when it is founded on faith, will be rewarded by God. Trust this, have faith in it, and remember this as we look at the details of the life and times of Joseph.

Text Verse: He made him lord of his house,
And ruler of all his possessions,
22 To bind his princes at his pleasure,
And teach his elders wisdom. Psalm 105:21, 22

Joseph was given great responsibilities. First in Potiphar’s house, then in prison. Both times he handled his duties wisely, even when he could have just given up. Eventually as Pharaoh’s appointed ruler of the land, he served faithfully there as well.

We can learn how to handle our own lives in the right way by paying attention to the word God has given us, and so… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. The Spirit of God

Unexplained dreams, sound interpretations, and wise counsel have all led to where we are today. After displaying that God truly is with him and showing that he is suitable to understand the times and needs of the people and land under Pharaoh, Joseph will now receive release from the many years of bondage that he has faced.

What seemed only moments earlier to be a life destined for obscurity and meaningless servitude, and even unending imprisonment, will now be replaced with blessing, honor, and rule. The life of Joseph is securely in the hands of God and the dreams he had more than 13 years earlier will not go unfulfilled.

And so we turn to the words of Scripture to show us the exaltation of Joseph and the same story picturing the greater exaltation of our Lord Jesus…

37 So the advice was good in the eyes of Pharaoh and in the eyes of all his servants.

Joseph’s advice was taken as it should have been. Pharaoh didn’t count it presumptuous or arrogant, but rather as well-grounded and fully sufficient to meet the crisis anticipated in his dreams. Here Joseph reflects many passages which speak of the coming Christ.

In Isaiah 9, Jesus is called the Wonderful Counselor because of His wisdom and ability to both discern and communicate that wisdom. In Isaiah 11:2, a verse perfectly descriptive of Joseph here and the Lord whom he pictures is found –

The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.

Joseph knew when to speak, what to speak, and when to stop speaking. As he now listens to Pharaoh, compliments are bestowed upon him from the ruler of the great house. We have to remember as we go along, that Joseph was dirty, wearing prisoners clothing, and without hope only a few short minutes earlier.

And the same can be applied to many of us in a variety of ways. If we look back on our life, we may see times of trial, times of sadness, times of scratching out an existence, or maybe an issue with our health.

It may have seemed as if the suffering would never end, but it did. Or maybe we’re in a low spot now. Can good come out of it? The answer is “Yes.” It may come in an unexpected way, or it may come only after we pass on and we receive our reward, but if we are in Christ, all of the hardships will someday be forgotten.

Peter speaks about this in his first epistle. There he says, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,…” 1 Peter 1:6,  7

 38 And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?”

Encompassed by his counselors, wise men, magicians, and leaders, this verse almost sounds as much like an accusation from Pharaoh on their inability to interpret his dreams as it is a compliment on Joseph. Where they have failed, he has prevailed. Where they were blind, he was able to see. In the place of incompetence, depth of understanding has arrived.

And what seems even a further indictment on them because of the gods they sought out, Pharaoh says that Joseph is “a man in whom is the Spirit of God.” The term is ruakh elohim – the “Spirit of God.” This is the very first time that this term has been used since the creation of the world as is recorded in Genesis 1:2 –

“The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”

Ruakh elohim can be translated in a plural way as in the “spirit of the gods” but this is not what Pharaoh is referring to. Joseph has already stated several times that only “the” God, ha’elohim can interpret dreams. The preciseness of what is written is to ensure we see that Pharaoh understood this.

And so Pharaoh repeats this and says that the Spirit of God is in him. Perfectly picturing Jesus in this sense, the first time that the same term “Spirit of God” is used in the New Testament, it is speaking of the baptism of Jesus in Matthew 3:16 –

“When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'”

The three are being harmoniously tied together in the Bible. The Spirit of God was there at the creation. The Spirit of God resides in Joseph who pictures the coming Redeemer, and the Spirit of God rests upon Christ – the Lord of Creation and our great Redeemer. The patterns are rich, elegant, and carefully woven together.

The Spirit of God rests upon His anointed
Joseph as he now rules over Pharaoh’s land as lord
And the One to whom these things have pointed
Is our Savior Jesus; God’s incarnate Word

II. Presiding Over the Great House

39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you.

Pharaoh now credits Joseph’s ability to God. In his address, he uses the words ain nabown v’khakam – none as discerning and wise. This is the Bible’s first use of the word for this type of discernment and only the second use of the word for “wise.” The first time it was used was speaking about Pharaoh’s wise men.

There is the wisdom and discernment from God and there is the wisdom of the world. In 1 Corinthians 1, Paul speaks of this –

For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” 20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. (19-21)

This is exactly what’s happened here. A message of good news was in fact preached and Pharaoh accepted it. The wise, the scribe, and the disputers of the age of Egypt were made foolish to demonstrate the superiority of the discernment and knowledge which comes from God.

And now, Pharaoh’s words of Joseph’s exaltation come, each pointing directly to the future Christ so clearly that it is simply not possible to miss if one is looking rightly at what he says. They are reflected in Paul’s words in Philippians 2 –

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (9-11)

 40 You shall be over my house

Joseph is given complete rule over Pharaoh’s house. Remember, Pharaoh means “Great House” and is picturing all of God’s creation, including heaven itself. This is reflected in several passages from the New Testament.

This one from Hebrews 3 perfectly mirrors the authority Pharaoh has granted to Joseph as reflected in the appointing of Jesus over God’s house –

“For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.” Hebrews 3:4-6

And Jesus’ words to the disciples concerning His authority reflects the same type of authority Joseph has been granted –

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:18-20

Joseph rules over the great house of Pharaoh; Jesus rules over the God’s Great House; heaven and earth. He sits as the final authority over all matters.

40 (con’t) and all my people shall be ruled according to your word;

Pharaoh leaves no person who is not subject to Joseph’s authority and to his spoken word. The rule is complete and without limitation in person or practice. An interesting phrase is used here by Pharaoh.

In the Hebrew he says, v’al pika yishaq khal ammi. This is literally translated as “At your mouth do all my people kiss.” In this culture as in others, it was and still at times is customary to kiss something that is relayed from a superior, or is possessed by that person.

We see this in the Catholics who kiss the ring of the pope. It is his supposed symbol of authority and so they kiss it acknowledging that. We see it in other similar displays in the world we live in – both in religious and kingly contexts.

In the context of Joseph, it is specifically referring to the proclamation of Pharaoh which would be made into a written edict which would then have been kissed by all who received it. This would symbolize their obedience and due respect for the title and position of their appointed sovereign.

To refuse the kiss would result in banishment, or more probably, death. The parallel to Jesus is seen directly in the Psalm 2 –

“Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.
12  Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.” (10-12)

Peter tells us that it is this Son, Jesus, “who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.”1 Peter 3:22

40 (con’t) only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.”

Pharaoh finishes his grant with these words. The throne of the Great House alone is reserved from Joseph’s rule. Rather than this being an argument against Jesus’ deity in type, it actually confirms it. The parallel is seen in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians –

For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. 1 Corinthians 15:27-28

God is One – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each has a role within the Godhead. Thus Jesus – even though fully God, is subject to the Godhead to which He is a member. We see this in Joseph’s rule over the domain of Pharaoh while still being subject to Pharaoh.

In the words “only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you” we find the description of the one who has sole management of all state of affairs, all authority, and all rule. It is a correct and beautiful picture of the Lord Jesus within the Godhead.

To Jesus is granted all rule and all authority
To Him shall every knee bow and every tongue confess
For only He prevailed over death, gaining the victory
Let us, the glorious and exalted name of Jesus profess

41 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.”

Joseph is granted rule over “all the land of Egypt.” Egypt, meaning “double distress” is symbolic of the fallen, unredeemed world which is in double distress – living without God’s law and having no hope. But now there is hope. In Joseph, there is a ruler who will bring that hope, and he pictures the greater Hope found in Jesus.

Jesus has been granted authority over all the world. It includes all rule, all power, all resources. It is His world to direct and His to rule. In this verse then we see Pharaoh’s edict which establishes Joseph’s rule. Next will come his installation to that same office…

III. Prophet, Priest, and King – The Savior of the World

42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring off his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand;

The symbol of Pharaoh’s rule and authority is given to Joseph in this act. What Joseph now decides will have the same weight as if issued by Pharaoh himself. No other person in the kingdom could challenge his authority or countermand an order given by him.

This goes right back to Jesus’ authority granted Him by God the Father. All rule and authority belongs now to Him and all powers and authorities are subject to Him. He alone rules the domain which has been brought under His hand.

42 (con’t) and he clothed him in garments of fine linen

Even today we can look at the immensely precious quality of the linen which was used at the time of Joseph by looking at the garments which mummies were wrapped in. This special linen was worn by the priests of Egypt and so this portion of verse 42 is showing that the priests were not exempt from Joseph’s authority.

In fact, because of his rule, he is now not only over the people as a sovereign, but also the priests as their high priest. And in this then we have a picture of Jesus in His three main roles. His role of Prophet is seen in Joseph’s interpretation of the dreams.

His role as King is seen in Joseph’s granted authority – the signet ring. And His role as High Priest is seen in this verse by the garment Joseph is given. In type and picture, Joseph prefigures Jesus – our Prophet, Priest, and King.

These fine linen garments are called shesh in Hebrew and are translated into the Greek Old Testament as bussinien, a word used to indicate its extreme whiteness. The writings of Pliny and Herodotus show that these were in fact used by the priestly class. They were of the very finest linen.

In the Hebrew there is an unusual dash at the end of the word. It’s believed to indicate that this garment was granted in accord with a set custom. This might seem like too much detail for us to look at, until we read the words of Mark 9 which speak of Jesus’ transfiguration –

“Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.” (2, 3)

The unusual Hebrew of this verse, this extra dash, is a precursor to Mark’s vivid description. Jesus’ clothes were exceedingly white, such as no launderer on earth could whiten them. This is why these hints are given in the Old Testament. Each points to Jesus, even an unusual dash inserted at the end of a word in Hebrew.

42 (con’t) and put a gold chain around his neck.

Pharaoh also places a gold chain on Joseph’s neck. This, like the ring, was a badge of the office. Something similar is seen given to Daniel as a result of his promotion to third highest in the land. Again, this looks forward to Jesus. It’s seen in the golden band he wears in Revelation 1-

“Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.” (12, 13)

43 And he had him ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried out before him, “Bow the knee!”

The symbolism of the chariot ties in to Jesus as well. Psalm 104 says that the Lord makes the clouds His chariot. This psalm is attributed to Jesus in Hebrews 1. Isaiah as well speaks of the Lord and His chariots –

“For behold, the Lord will come with fire
And with His chariots, like a whirlwind,
To render His anger with fury,
And His rebuke with flames of fire.” Isaiah 66:15

As Joseph rode in His chariot, it says “they cried out before him, “Bow the knee.” The word is avrekh. Unfortunately, this is the only time in the Bible the word is used and its not certain what it actually means, but the general consensus is that it refers to bowing. Such would be fulfilled in this verse about Jesus –

“…that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,” Philippians 2:10

Set in highest honor, with all rule and authority
The signet and the chariot, and a golden chain
Before Him shall bow each and every knee
Every tongue will confess and none shall refrain

43 (con’t) So he set him over all the land of Egypt.

With the installation complete, Pharaoh’s words to Joseph are fulfilled. He is now over all of the land of Egypt. In like manner, Jesus has been ordained as the Lord of Heaven and Earth. And in confirmation of this, Pharaoh speaks yet one more time…

44 Pharaoh also said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no man may lift his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.”

The formal procedure of the rite has closed and Pharaoh seals the proceeding with his words. “I am Pharaoh, and these honors I bestow upon you. You have absolute authority over my domain.”

The word testifies to the act. This is just what is seen of Jesus in the second psalm and referred to by the author of Hebrews in Jesus’ role as both king and priest –

“I will declare the decree:
The Lord has said to Me,
‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession. Psalm 2:7, 8

At the word of Pharaoh Joseph is ordained, and at the word of the Jehovah, Jesus likewise is ordained. Not a single verse has failed to be fulfilled in Jesus as we’ve travelled through these eight verses. With only one left, will we be able to find Jesus in that one too?

45 And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnath-Paaneah.

The name Zaphnath-Paaneah is translated by the Christian theologian Jerome into Latin as Salvatorem mundi – the Savior of the World. This is an exact description which is used twice by John in his writings about Jesus. In his first epistle, he confirms what he saw and heard concerning the Lord –

“And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.” 1 John 4:14

Matthew Henry says about this title, “The brightest glories, even of the upper world, are put upon Christ, the highest trust lodged in his hand, and all power given him, both in heaven and earth.”

Without a proper interpretation and handling of Pharaoh’s dreams, the land of Egypt would have been swept away in famine and drought. In acknowledgment that God sent Joseph to save them, the title has been given indicating that through Joseph the world will be saved.

And the same is true with Jesus, sent by God to save the world when there was otherwise no hope at all. He has been promoted to the highest position of all, to rule heaven and earth.

45 (con’t) And he gave him as a wife Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On.

In the uniting of his kingly and priestly roles, Joseph is given a wife from the priestly class. She is Asenath, meaning “She who is of Neith.” Neith refers to wisdom. Asenath is the dauther of Potiphera, the priest of On. On means “light” and Potiphera means “He whom the Ra gave.” Ra being the sun.

All three of these names, Asenath, Potiphera, and On have meaning, and be assured, each name and word is given for a reason. But the main similarity between Joseph and Jesus is seen in the gentile bride each receives.

While Joseph is rejected by and removed from his brothers, he has become a blessing to the Egyptian people and is given this gentile wife. And in the same way, while Jesus is rejected by and removed from His people Israel during this dispensation, He has become the Blessing to the gentiles and has procured for Himself a bride.

This is seen in Acts 15, Ephesians 5, and also in this verse from 2 Corinthians 11:2 –

“For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”

Paul, speaking to the gentiles of Corinth, confirmed that the church is betrothed as a bride to Christ. We are the wise bride of Christ just as this gentile whose name means “She who is of wisdom” is the gentile bride of Joseph. And remember, this is a time of his brother’s rejection of him. They sold him off to the gentiles, just as the Jewish people sold Jesus off.

And we will see in the coming chapters that Joseph’s brothers will in fact come to Egypt, bow to Joseph, and be reconciled to Him. For those who dismiss the Jewish people’s role in future history as God’s people, all they need to do is to look back to Genesis and the structure of these stories which time and again show us that they are not out. Israel will be reconciled to their Lord.

The time is coming and it probably won’t be long. The church age will end and Israel will again be the very center of God’s attention. The Bible tells us that patterns in history repeat and it often gives the first of the patterns so that we can recognize the repetition when it comes.

So, let’s not make one of two mistakes –

The first would be to say that Israel is right with God at this point. Joseph was betrayed and sold and his brothers are out of the picture during that period. This is the same with Israel. Though we should support her, we cannot condone her rejection of Christ. And we cannot waffle on our convictions concerning their need for him.

The second error would be to say that Israel is out and done. This entire panorama of the life of Joseph shows us that this isn’t the case. And with their return, we are right at a wondrous time in human history. The spiritual banner will soon pass back to Israel. They will bow to their Lord and shed tears of joy at the reunion.

45 (fin) So Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.

Yes, Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt and the message of Jesus has gone out and continues to go out into all the world. Joseph rules; Jesus rules. The patterns are beautiful and the story is marvelous. God chose these short, concise stories to show us that He is in control of time and circumstance.

Every word opens up into another panorama of beauty which speaks of Jesus. And remember, if He is showing us Jesus, then He wants us to know Jesus. If we know every detail and see every picture, but miss the purpose of those things, then we have made the biggest mistake of all.

As Paul says in his great discourse on love, “though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” The stories are given to show the love.

The love of God, found in Jesus, is what we see. Egypt is headed for disaster and God sends a deliverer. The sons of Israel will be headed for disaster and God sends deliverance. We are on the path to destruction, and God sends Jesus. If He didn’t love us, He wouldn’t have done any of it.

But to demonstrate His love, grant us His mercy, and bestow upon us His grace, He condescended to come down to our lowly station and wash our dirty feet. Indeed, what manner of love is this! For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

If you’ve never called on Jesus as Lord, let me explain to you why you need to and how very simple it is.

Closing Verse: “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.” John 4:42

Next Week: Genesis 41:46-57 (Prosperity and Famine) (103rd Genesis Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you and He has a good plan and purpose for you. Call on Him and let Him do marvelous things for you and through you.

The Savior of the World

So the advice of Joseph was good
In the eyes of Pharaoh as was noted
And in the eyes of all his servants
Yes, each word as Joseph is quoted

And Pharaoh said to his servants
“Can we find such a one as this
A man in whom is the Spirit of God?”
To not listen to him would certainly be remiss

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph words well thought through
“Inasmuch as God has shown you all this
There is no one as discerning and wise as you
Your wisdom and tact I shall not dismiss

You shall be over my house in every affair
And all my people shall be ruled
According to your word as you declare
It shall be that by you my leaders shall be schooled

“Only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you
And Pharaoh said to Joseph “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.”
The word I speak is true

Then Pharaoh took his signet ring
Off his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand instead
And he clothed him in garments of fine linen
Mazel tov, a blessing upon his head

And around his neck he put a gold chain
In this act he honored Joseph once again

And he had him ride in the second chariot which he had
And they cried out before him, “Bow the knee!”
So he set him over all the land of Egypt, not so bad
From prisoner to ruler almost instantly

Pharaoh also said to Joseph
“I am Pharaoh, and without your consent
No man may lift his hand or foot
In all the land of Egypt, none shall circumvent

And Pharaoh from then on called Joseph’s name
To remember that one, make up a word game

And he gave him as a wife Asenath
The daughter of Poti-Pherah, Priest of On
So Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt
And he was the sovereign ruler from that time on

In a marvelous array of pictures of Jesus
God has shown us Joseph’s life and times
These have been given graciously to us
For more than just fun and rhymes

Rather, they are words which show us
Of the majesty pronounced upon the Lord
The one who prevailed over the tomb, Jesus
As is revealed in God’s Superior Word

Every detail, every verse we read
Is marvelously and intricately woven by God’s hand
So to this precious book, let us ever pay heed
Through it, His heart we can truly understand

God’s glory is revealed in its pages, showing us His light
God’s grace radiates to His children as we plainly see
Let us exalt this marvelous Lord with all our might
Let us receive the gift of Jesus who paid our debt on the cross of Calvary

Hallelujah and Amen…

Leave a Reply