Pastor Josh Combs
“And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphenath-paneah.” Genesis 41:45
Joseph was dragged from an Egyptian prison and brought before Pharaoh, the most powerful man on Earth. The almighty leader of the world’s greatest empire had had a series of dreams and was extremely troubled. Joseph, who was gifted by God with dream interpretation, was remembered by an old cellmate and brought to the palace. What happens next is the biblical equivalent of a Cinderella story. Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dreams, which warned him and all the kingdom of a coming famine. Instantly, this 30-year-old Hebrew slave is exalted to the highest ranks of Egyptian society. He is given the signet ring of Pharaoh, royal robes, a chariot, authority over all the kingdom (second only to Pharaoh), a princess as a wife, authority over preparations for the impending food crisis, and a new name: Zaphenath-paneah.
John MacArthur writes, “This name probably means ‘The Nourisher of the Two Lands, the Living one.’ It could also mean ‘God speaks and He lives.’” Joseph, by contrast means, “May the Lord add.”
Joseph’s name was given to him by his mother, Rachel, who was his father’s favorite and beloved wife. Joseph was without question his father’s favorite child and all his siblings knew it. Joseph now stands before Pharaoh, who without any hesitation changes this young slave’s name. But what Pharaoh couldn’t change was Joseph. This incredible man of integrity had endured the abuse of his brothers, had been sold into slavery, was falsely accused of sexual assault, and then was imprisoned and forgotten. Through each trial, the Scripture simply says, “The Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed” (Genesis 39:23).
Years later as Egypt and the surrounding countries fall into the grip of a devastating famine, Joseph’s family comes to Egypt for food. They have long since forgotten about their brother, whom they had sold into slavery. Yet, when they arrive to Egypt, Joseph hadn’t forgotten them, and he immediately recognizes them. They, however, don’t recognize their brother, Joseph, who is now second in charge of all of Egypt. What has the makings of a Count of Monte Cristo-type revenge story becomes an extraordinary story of forgiveness. When Joseph finally reveals his true identity, through loud weeping he says, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” (Genesis 45:3) His brothers, unable to speak and certainly filled with terror, hear their brother gently say, “God sent me before you to preserve life” (Genesis 45:5).
Through the living nightmare he had endured, Joseph continued in love towards his father and trusted that God had a plan. Trials and difficulties had tested the mettle of this young man and he had remained true to the God of his fathers. Joseph did not excuse the evil that his brothers had done. Rather, he acknowledged God’s sovereignty even in the face of evil. “You meant evil against me,” Joseph said to his brothers, “but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).
You and I can let difficulties, trials, and the Pharaohs of this world give us our identity, or we can place our lives in the hand of almighty God and trust that whatever comes, He will carry us through (Romans 8:28).
Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis chapters 37 and 39-50