Robert Jeffress - When Your Deliverance Comes
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. When a major crisis comes crashing into our lives, we can't help but wonder why God would allow us to experience such hardship. Well, it's impossible to judge where our life is going based on one single traumatic event, but in most cases, there comes a day when we can look back and say, "Now I understand". Today, we're going to look at a moment when Joseph finally discovered the why for his years of misfortune and suffering. My message is titled, "When Your Deliverance Comes," on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
It's really unwise to judge an experience, a single experience in our life as good or bad until we know the whole picture, isn't it? It's kind of like trying to judge a parade by looking through the knothole in a fence. All you can see if you look through that knothole is what is immediately in front of you. You can't see what preceded or comes afterwards, but if you were standing on a tall building looking down, you could see the whole parade past, present and future, all of it together, and make a more accurate judgment. You know, God is like that. God doesn't see things in terms of the past, the present or the future. He's not bound by time like we are. He sees the whole of our life. And even when we can't make sense of individual events, God makes sense of those individual events, because not only does he know what is going to happen to us, he has planned what is going to happen to us. And it is a plan for our ultimate good and his ultimate glory.
Today, we're going to look at an incident in the life of Joseph that began to allow him to see what God was really doing in his life. And today we're going to discover what happens when your day of deliverance finally comes. If you have your Bibles, turn to Genesis 41. Genesis 41. Remember what's happened so far in Joseph's life? He was the favored son of Jacob. That was good, but his brothers got jealous and sold him into slavery, that's bad. But he ended up in Potiphar's house, where he was promoted, that's good. But Potiphar's wife accused him of rape and had him thrown into prison, that's bad. But while he was in prison, he met two people, and one of them was going to be released and promised to remember him, the cupbearer, when he came into Pharaoh's presence, that's good.
But notice how chapter 40 ends, verse 23. "Yet the cup bearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him," that's bad. But look at verse 1, chapter 41 as we begin to see Joseph's exoneration. "Now it happened at the end of two full years". Don't pass by those words too quickly. Two full years Joseph was in that stinking prison. You know, waiting is hard, isn't it? Never forget, while you're waiting, God is working. When you're waiting, God is working. And waiting time doesn't have to be wasted time. First of all, God's working in your life, in your own life.
Remember what we said last time? God is not nearly as concerned of what's happening to you as he is about what's happening inside of you. There's not one circumstance you're facing right now God couldn't change immediately if he wanted to. God has a purpose, he's working in your life. He's shaping you, molding you into that person he wants you to be so he can use you in an even more significant way in the days ahead. But when we are waiting, God's not only working in our hear, he's working in the hearts of other people as well who will shape the events of your life. He's great, did you know God is great at multitasking? He can be doing something here in your life and be doing something over here as well. And that's what God was doing here. While he was working in Joseph's heart in prison, he was also working in Pharaoh's heart. Look at verse 1 of Genesis 41. "Now it came about at the end of two full and never ending years that Pharaoh had a dream".
Now, let me just say a word about dreams in the Bible. In the days before Jesus Christ, in the days before scripture, God often gave revelation to people through dreams or angelic visitations or visions. He spoke in those ways. When somebody comes to me today and says, "I had this troubling dream last night, what do you think it means"? My usual response is, "It means you ought to quit eating before you go to bed". Now, the reason I say that is, I'm not saying God can never speak to you through a dream, but for the most part, he doesn't lead in those ways any longer. Hebrews 1:1-2 says, "God, after he spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets and in many portions and in many diverse ways, in these last days God has spoken to us in his son". Everything we need to know about God no longer comes through revelation or angelic experiences. Everything about God you need to know is deposited in the living Word of God, Jesus Christ, and in the written Word of God, the Bible. Jude verse 3 says the faith, the body of truth you need to know, has been once for all delivered to the saints.
Now, I'm not saying God doesn't still lead us. Of course, he leads us. Those who are indwelt by the Spirit of God are led by the Spirit of God. God leads us exactly where he wants us to go. But for the most part, God doesn't reveal new truth about himself through visions. But to Pharaoh, he spoke to him as a dream, and notice it was Pharaoh who had the dream. Pharaoh wasn't a believer, he was a pagan. Don't ever think that God is limited in only being able to work in the lives of Christians. Proverbs 21:1 says, "The heart of the king is in the Lord's hands to turn whichever way he wants". Some of you are right now under the authority of a non-Christian. Maybe you're married to a non-Christian husband. Maybe you have a non-Christian boss at work. Don't forget, God can still work through that person for your benefit. Their faithlessness is no match for God's faithfulness.
And it was true with Pharaoh. He had a message he wanted to get to Pharaoh, and so he gave him two dreams. The first dream is recorded in verses 2 to 4. Pharaoh in his dream saw seven healthy, fat cows, half submerged in the Nile River, the source of life for the Egyptians. And then he saw seven skinny cows that arose out of the Nile and they devoured the seven healthy cows. Well, that disturbed Pharaoh. He awakened, went into the refrigerator and got a glass of milk. Thought maybe that would solve the problem. He goes back to bed and he has another troubling dream. This time, he sees a stalk of wheat with seven plump ears of wheat on the stalk. And then there are seven skinny ears of wheat that have been withered away by the wind, and they devour the seven healthy ears of grain. And he was very troubled, verse 8, about his dreams.
Now, remember this was the Spirit of God who was troubling Pharaoh. Have you ever heard people say, "If you're a fearful or worried about something, that doesn't come from God"? That's not always true. Sometimes the Holy Spirit of God isn't just here to comfort us, he's here to convict us or to deliver a message that we need to know. Vance Havner said the Spirit of God is here to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. Sometimes God wants to stir something in our heart and get a message to us. That's what was going on with Pharaoh. And so he awakened, and he calls on all of his soothSayers and sorcerers to come to the palace to interpret his disturbing dreams. And they were completely unable to do so. They had no ability to interpret the dream. Pharaoh was exasperated, "Why do I have these guys on my payroll if they can't help me"?
He was desperate, and the Bible says at that moment the cupbearer, after two years, remembered Joseph. Just think about what that scene must have been like. The cup bearer said to Pharaoh, "You know, I know this is a sore subject to bring up, Pharaoh, but remember a couple of years ago when I dropped that glass of wine on the Persian rug and you let me have it and threw me into prison? Remember that? Oh yeah, I remember. Well, while I was in prison, I met a Hebrew slave who has the ability to interpret dreams. Maybe he could help". And Pharaoh was so desperate, he was willing to turn anywhere, even a Hebrew slave to get a word from God. And so they bring Joseph into Pharaoh's court. And we're ready for Joseph's explanation of Pharaoh's dream. Verse 14, "Then Pharaoh sent and called for Joseph, and they hurriedly brought him out of the dungeon. But when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, then he came to Pharaoh. Pharaoh said, 'I hear you can interpret dreams'". Notice what Joseph says in verse 16. "It is not I who interprets dreams, but God".
Now, that is what you call bold. You say, "Well, what's bold about that"? Remember in Egypt, there was nobody greater than Pharaoh. And Joseph had the audacity to tell Pharaoh, "Pharaoh, there's somebody greater than you are". And he's going to tell you what you need to do. The reason he was able to act with such a holy boldness is he had lost everything by this point. And I'm sure part of his thinking is, "Hey, what do I have to lose by standing for God? I've already lost everything". He had a kind of a holy detachment from this world that gave him a holy boldness in this world. There's some of you right now who are having difficulty being a strong spokesman for God wherever you are. And the reason is you're afraid of losing something important to you. You're afraid of losing your popularity or perhaps your position or your possessions. But when you've been stripped of everything and realize they all belong to God anyway, it gives you a boldness to say not what people want you to say, but what you should say.
That's what Joseph did here. He approached him with boldness and he gave this interpretation of the dreams. He said, "Those dreams mean, Pharaoh, that seven years we're going to have a tremendous bumper crop of a harvest of wheat here in Egypt. But those seven years of plenty are going to be followed by seven years of famine. That's what the skinny cows and the skinny ears of wheat represent, seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. And therefore here's what we should do. During the years of plentiful harvest, we should set aside 20% of the harvest every year and store it to use for the future".
Remember Proverbs 21:20? "There is precious oil and treasure in the dwelling of the wise, but the foolish person swallows it all up". It is a fool who says, "Let the good times roll. I'll worry about tomorrow, tomorrow". The wise person sets aside income now for the future. That's exactly what Joseph was saying. And then he added, "Now, of course, you'll need somebody to oversee this massive operation, to try to help everybody put aside 20% of the grain, to have the silos in which to store the grain. You're going to need somebody to help you oversee that". Now, there's no reason to think Joseph was recommending himself for the position. The fact is he had given up any hope of being released from prison, but Pharaoh had another idea.
Look at what he says in verse 37. Pharaoh thought this was a fantastic idea. He said, "Where can we find a man like this one who is possessed by Ruah Elohim, the Spirit of God". Isn't that interesting? A pagan like Pharaoh realized there's something different about this guy. He is possessed by the Spirit of God. And so he put Joseph in charge, look at verse 41. "Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'see, I have set over you all the land of Egypt,' then Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand and he put it on Joseph's hand and he clothed him in garments of fine linen and put the gold necklace around his neck".
Now, that signet ring was a ring that Pharaoh used to stamp official documents. If a document, an order came from Pharaoh, it would be sealed in wax and Pharaoh would take his signet ring and put it in the wax with the insignia of Pharaoh on it. To have the king's ring means you could do pretty much whatever you wanted to and know that you had Pharaoh's backing. Look at verse 43, "And Pharaoh had him ride in his second chariot and they proclaimed before him, 'bow the knee'! And he set Joseph over all the land of Egypt. Moreover, Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'though I am Pharaoh, yet without your permission no one shall raise his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt'".
Wow, just think how far he had gone, from prison to Pharaoh's palace. It all happened in the space of a few hours. What a difference a day can make. Remember, your day of deliverance is coming. It was written on God's calendar before the beginning of the world. Your day of deliverance has already been scheduled. How do you know when it's coming?
Let me close today with three ways to know when your deliverance may be on the horizon. First of all, when we have reached the limit of our own strength. It doesn't always happen this way. Many times God uses our efforts to achieve his purpose for our life, but many times God waits until we have completely exhausted every option we know, everything we know and can do. It's only then that he reaches down and he delivers us. Why does sometimes God wait until we've exhausted our own strength and wisdom? Because when our day of deliverance comes, God wants to get the glory for it. First Peter 5:6 says, "Therefor, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he might exalt you at the proper time".
A second way you know that your day of deliverance may be coming is when someone else pleads your case. Now, there's nothing wrong with using connections and people to try to help you out. Joseph asked the cupbearer to remember him in Pharaoh's court, but then isn't an interesting, the cupbearer forgot Joseph. And the only reason he remembered him is because God reminded him of him. And I have found again in my own life many times it's somebody you may or may not know working behind the scenes to accomplish God's purpose in your life.
Now, I know what some of you're thinking. You're thinking, "Well, I don't know anybody who can help me, I don't know anybody to plead my case. I don't have any great connections". That doesn't matter. God has the biggest Rolodex in the universe. He knows everybody and he can move in anybody's heart to accomplish his purpose for you. And never forget, when you don't think you have an advocate, anybody to stand up for you, you've got the most powerful advocate of all, the Lord Jesus Christ. First John 2:1 says, "For we have an advocate before God the Father, the righteous one, Jesus Christ". You know where Jesus is right now? He's at the right hand of God the Father in heaven. Hebrews 7:25 says he lives to plead our case, to make intercession for us. He is praying for you and he is pleading your case before God the Father.
Finally, your day of deliverance may be coming when God reaches you apart from any effort on your part. He reaches you without any effort on your part. Again, nothing wrong with effort. Sometimes God uses our effort. But think about Joseph for a moment. The first time he was in that cistern, that pit that his brothers threw him in, how did he get out of there? It's not anything he did. There was no rope ladder he could climb out of. Instead, God moved in the brother's heart to rescue him. Same thing here, how did he get out of two years of prison? How did he get out? He was powerless to do anything.
God is the one who lifted him out of the prison. And never forget, he knows where you are right now as well. When you're tempted to say, "Oh Lord, where are you? Will you forget me forever?," don't forget the words of the Psalmist. Psalm 139, "Where can I go from your spirit, o God? Where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you're there. If I make my bed in sheol, behold, you are there. If I take the wings of the Dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there your hand will lead me and your right hand will lay hold of me". God one day will lay hold of you, and on a day that begins like any other day, that day will be different, for it will be your day of deliverance.