206 nations come together in a series of games to compete for the bronze, silver, and gold while trying to set some world records.
There’s nothing quite like it.
I suppose that a few millennia ago, the only thing that would cause such a convergence of countries would be plagues, violence, war, or even famine.
In Genesis chapter 41, we observe such a famine where all the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain because the famine was severe over all the earth (verse 57).
Instead of the whole world coming together to celebrate peace, sportsmanship and “friendly” competition, this time they all gathered to Joseph in Egypt.
Yes, Joseph, the man of God who was down on his luck, sold into slavery and thrown into prison for a decade or so . . . THAT guy!
In another recent article Joseph interpreted two dreams for a cupbearer and baker. Sadly, the cupbearer completely forgot this miracle and over the next two years didn’t think about the wise prisoner who brought him his meals in the dungeon.
Until something happened. Pharaoh had a troubling dream:
He was standing beside the Nile when seven healthy-looking, well-fed cows came up from the Nile and began to graze among the reeds. After them, seven other cows, sickly and thin, came up from the Nile and stood beside those cows along the bank of the Nile. The sickly, thin cows ate the healthy, well-fed cows.
Then Pharaoh awakened. He fell asleep and dreamed a second time:
Seven heads of grain, plump and good, came upon one stalk. After them, seven heads of grain, thin and scorched by the east wind, sprouted up. The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven plump, full ones. Then Pharaoh woke up, and it was only a dream.
When morning came, he was troubled, so he summoned all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.
Pharaoh must be very frustrated by now. He must have had a LOT of wise men and magicians who he paid for situations like this… And they were all at a loss (correlating story in Daniel 2).
So I can imagine the King of Egypt is stressed out, throwing cups around as a catharsis when his chief cupbearer, the one who met Joseph, suddenly remembers his time in prison.
He also had a puzzling dream once and decides to tell Pharaoh: “When (you) were angry with me and the chief baker, you placed us into the custody of the captain of the guards (Potiphar’s jail). The baker and I had dreams on the same night; each dream had its meaning. Now (Joseph) was with us there. We told him our dreams, he interpreted our dreams for us, and each had its interpretation. It turned out just the way he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was hanged.”
After shaving and putting on a fresh set of clothes, Joseph entered the presence of Pharaoh.
Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said about you that you can hear a dream and interpret it.”
“I am not able to,” Joseph answered Pharaoh. “It is God who will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”
So Pharaoh told the Hebrew slave his dreams. (Interestingly, Pharaoh was talking to Joseph – this showed his desperation as their social classes were as far as they could be).
“God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do . . . The dreams mean the same thing. Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt. After them, seven years of famine will take place, and all the abundance in the land of Egypt will be forgotten. The famine will devastate the land. The abundance in the land will not be remembered because of the famine that follows it, for the famine will be very severe. Since the dream was given twice to Pharaoh, it means that the matter has been determined by God, and he will carry it out soon.”
I like to imagine there’s a pause here in Joseph’s spiel. Perhaps there’s a hush that goes over the crowded courtroom as the gravity of the situation hovers heavily in the air.
Joseph takes a breath and continues, “Let Pharaoh do this: Let him appoint overseers over the land and take a fifth of the harvest of the land of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. Under Pharaoh’s authority, store the grain in the cities, so they may preserve it as food. The food will be a reserve for the land during the seven years of famine that will take place in the land of Egypt. Then the country will not be wiped out by the famine.”
The proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants, and he said to them, “Can we find anyone like this, a man who has God’s spirit in him?” So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one as discerning and wise as you are. You will be over my house, and all my people will obey your commands. Only I, as King, will be greater than you. See, I am placing you over all the land of Egypt.”
Pharaoh removed his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, clothed him with fine linen garments, and placed a gold chain around his neck.
Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-paneah (the man to whom mysteries are revealed) and gave him a wife, Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest at On.
Joseph was feeling 30, flirty, and fabulous. He’s out of prison, married, second to the King, and has an important job to do!
As Joseph had predicted, seven years of abundance takes place with outstanding harvests. The excess food was so much that Joseph stopped measuring it all as it was like the sand of the sea.
He also became a father before the famine hit. Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh and said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and my whole family.” And the second son he named Ephraim because “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”
Then the seven years of abundance in the land of Egypt came to an end, and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was a famine in every land, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food (Genesis 41:53-54).
Egypt was prepared, and when the people became hungry, Joseph opened all the storehouses and started selling the excess food (Pharaoh is about to be a rich man).
The famine spread beyond Egypt’s borders, and all the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain.
So not only did God provide for Joseph and free him from slavery and prison, but God also provided for Egypt and all the nations of the earth so they wouldn’t starve.
That’s a gold medal victory for God’s team – with Joseph being an Adam Peaty, Simone Biles or a legendary Sue Bird.
God can win a victory in your life too if you trust in his timing and his provision.
“The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.” (Psalm 145:15-16). s
In love and truth,