Beckett: Pastoral Thoughts – Joseph Given All Authority (Genesis 41:40, 43, 56-57)

“[Pharaoh said], ‘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.’ …Thus, he set him over all the land of Egypt… So, when the famine had spread over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. Moreover, all the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the earth” (Genesis 41:40, 43, 56-57).

By the grace and faithfulness of God, the Lord was with Joseph (39:21). By His omnipotence, the Lord guided events so that Joseph would come out on top not for his own sake but for the sake of God’s people. Joseph’s God-given gift of interpreting dreams pleased the Pharaoh so much that he gave him all authority over his house. It is because of Joseph’s position in government that he was not only able to provide grain for people in need, but especially the people of Israel.

As Joseph says later to his brothers, “‘And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.’ …Thus, Israel settled in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen. And they gained possession in it, and were fruitful and multiplied greatly” (45:7-8; 47:27). It turns out Joseph’s dreams did come true, just not in the way he had thought or for the purpose for which he would have authority over his brothers. Joseph thought he would have authority for the sole purpose of ruling; but although he does rule in this position, the purpose is for mercy.

This, of course, prefigures Christ. Just as Pharaoh had given Joseph all authority over his house by God’s orchestration, so God the Father has given Jesus Christ His only-begotten Son all authority. “And Jesus came and said to [His disciples], ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me'” (Matthew 28:18). Just as people from all over the earth came to Joseph because of the famine, so people from all over the earth come to Jesus—they are in spiritual famine, begin separated from God; and the place to which they go to come to Him is through local means, the church, which is the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).

Christ has all authority in heaven and on earth. He reigns! He reigns with both Law and Gospel. He reigns the world through His Law and He reigns for His people in the church through His Gospel, where He has given His means of grace in Word and Sacrament to distribute His mercy of forgiveness, life, and salvation.

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