Bothered by two dreams, the most powerful man on the earth at that time did not know how to respond until he heard their interpretation from a lowly, forgotten Hebrew recently plucked from the jail. Notice how Joseph underlines from the very beginning: “It’s not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer” (Genesis 41:16). Then he repeats, “God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do” (Genesis 41:25). “God has shown to Pharaoh what he is about to do” (Genesis 41:28). “And the doubling of Pharaoh’s dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about” (Genesis 41:32).
Pharaoh responds in accordance with God’s righteous government and gives His chosen one ample authority to govern righteously and in submission to him. “‘Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?’ Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.’ And Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt’” (Genesis 41:38-41). Notice the wide authority with one prohibition, just like Yahweh had given Adam!
In accordance with the times revealed to Pharaoh in his dreams (remember that Yahweh in His righteousness puts a limit on the destructive forces of nature: the famine although severe, will have a limit of seven years), Joseph begins to govern in integrity and righteousness. And the blessing of his just government reaches all nations: “All the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the earth” (Genesis 41:57).
Here in Joseph and Pharaoh we have an example of what Yahweh has desired since the beginning:
1. One chosen by God who governs with wide authority but always in submission to the higher authority,
2. who governs in integrity and in agreement with God’s righteousness,
3. and who governs for the good of all the nations.
And his government will be for God’s glory, as Joseph will tell his brothers at the end of the book: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20).
May God receive glory as we also govern with integrity and righteousness within the limits of our authority: in our families, in our workplaces, in our communities and above all in our churches. May we make wise decisions in agreement with God’s righteousness. May we act in concert with the authorities that God has placed above and around us for the blessing of all the nations.