Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Humanity in Sin Part 49: Pharaoh's Dream

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on 6th April 2008 in Newton Life. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: Genesis 41

What is the difference between dreams and revelation of God? What kind of general principles did Joseph and Daniel used? When God reveal the truth to men, it did not happen only once and through one method. But He revealed through many different methods and progressively, culminating in Jesus Christ. Prophets are God’s spokesmen. On one hand we need to listen to God’s messengers but on the other hand we need to reject false prophets. From Genesis to Malachi, there were times when God used dreams to reveal His will. But not all dreams are God’s revelation. In the few thousand years of Old Testament, not many people receive God’s revelation through dreams, not many were recorded. If a dream is from God, it will certainly come true.

In the latter days particularly, there are many false dreams. Why are the dreams in the latter part not as important as the earlier dreams? Because as God’s revelation progresses, we understand God through His written Word. The importance of dreams therefore diminishes.

There are four incidences of the Holy Spirit descending in the book of Acts but they happened in a span of 28 years and were not repeated on the same group of people. Jerusallem, Samaria, Cornellius’ household and the church of Ephesus received the Holy Spirit only once. It is a mistake for the Pentacostals to think that the Holy Spirit would keep descending year after year.

The cupbearer forgot Joseph after being released from prison. It is human weakness to forget people’s goodness but to remember people’s offence. But even when people forget, God does not forget. Two years later, Pharaoh had a dream and he did not know the meaning. He summoned all the magicians and wise men to interpret for him but none could do it. That was when the cupbearer remembered Joseph. Why did Joseph have to wait so long in jail? Why must it be Pharaoh’s dream? It was all in God’s timing. Often times we could not wait for God’s timing. We move before God’s timing and find ourselves in all kinds of troubles. Jesus Christ left a good example for us on following God’s timing.

When Joseph was summoned and told of the dream, he was very conscious that he did everything for the glory of God. Joseph told Pharaoh that God revealed to Pharaoh what was to come. Here we see that God’s special revelation was sometimes given to the Gentiles. There would be 7 years of abundance followed by 7 years of famine. Pharaoh’s two dreams had the same meaning, implying that God had determined to let it come to pass. Joseph suggested to Pharaoh to find the wisest person to take care of this. Immediately Joseph became a second man to Pharaoh. A prisoner was raised to glory in a day. Joseph did not grumble during those years of silent sufferings. He knew he was treated unjustly but he also knew to submit to God’s timing. God used people like that.

There is a group of people who do not grumble, who wait for God’s timing, who are always thankful, and keep doing their work faithfully in the midst of sufferings. They are not jealous and will praise God for others’ successes and ask for God’s mercy for people’s failures. They will be used by God. People who are narrow-minded might escape being fooled by others but they are seldom used by God. God would not use a person who keep grumbling.

If we always care for our own interests, God will not remember us. If we work for God’s glory and do not remember ourselves, God remembers us. Honor is not the result of our strife. It is given from above. Joseph was maligned and suffered greatly. But when God’s timing came, he became the prime minister in the most important country in the ancient world.

Do not keep thinking about our own glory and honor. We only owe the debt of glory to God, the debt of love to our neighbor, and the gospel to the lost.

Joseph was also given the daughter of a priest in Egypt as his wife, which was considered a great honor in Egypt. In Egypt, he worked for God. How many Christians today are the representatives of God before the non-Christians? Pharaoh said he could not find anyone better than Joseph. It was not from Joseph’s mouth, but from the words of Pharaoh. When others look at us, what kind of person do they see?


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