KEY SCRIPTURE Genesis 41:42-44
And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.
The Bible is full of faith stories, and not many come more profound than that of Pharaoh. Mostly overlooked, Pharoah's faith matched that of the Centurion who spoke with Jesus.
When Pharaoh put his country's future in Joseph's hands, all went well. Preachers often use the Pharaoh-Joseph story to illustrate how great our lives can become when we place ourselves under the Holy Spirit, letting Him direct our activities. We being Pharaoh and the Holy Spirit within being Joseph.
I don't want to retell that story. Instead, I want to focus on the extraordinary faith Pharaoh displayed by leaving his vast fortune, family heritage and power—everything he and his forebears had built over many generations—in the hands of Joseph and his God.
While we struggle to find and use a mustard seed of faith, Pharaoh, a supposed unbeliever like the Centurion, placed himself, his family, his entire country and people under God's control to do with as God saw fit. He based his immense change of government entirely on the interpretation of a dream.
Joseph foresaw and detailed Egypt's future. Pharaoh feared and immediately changed the governing structure. It's not much different from what the Bible foretells about our future without God. Maybe a few good years, but chaos and destruction in the end. It would be nice to see the world react as urgently and thoroughly?
Not once during Egypt's seven successful years did Pharaoh try to wrest power and take back the kingdom and the glory. Something many people do after God's gives them a touch of properity. Nor during the seven hard years did Pharaoh attempt to "sort this mess out!"
Pharaoh stood by his decree without buckling. How often did he look over Joseph's shoulder and hint instructions like, "Wouldn't you be better doing it this way? Or "I'd do it another way."
Like the Centurion, military command was second nature to Pharaoh, and may have had an impact on his command of faith. Nobody challenged his decrees. So he made his decision to place Joseph in charge and then did all to stand. And he stood by it for many years to come. Not a bad record of faith?
But we can't attribute all his faith to the military. Namaan the leper, the great commander to the King of Syria, who visited Elisha for healing, despised the river where he was to bathe. Elisha instructed him to wash seven times in the Jordan River. God healed Namaan through his eventual bathing, yet he erred in that moment of disdain. (2 Kings 5)
A seed of faith grows deeper and more reliable in a fully receptive heart.
Where did Pharaoh find the faith that God seeks from us all? To leave everything—our possessions and future and even our dreams—in God's hands and at His disposal? Did it grow as he grew? Were obedience and understanding bred into him from a child, along wth power?
In 2 Timothy 1:12b Paul shows us that type of faith. "nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day."
Like the Centurion, who had faith in the holder of the power to heal paralysis—Jesus, Pharaoh had faith in the God who saved his nation from a forthcoming paralysis and possible death.
Both soldiers comprehended faith, then stood firm! The Pharaoh Factor, like the Centurion's story, can teach us more than perhaps we realise.
Dear Lord, Pharaoh presents so strongly in faith, yet Jacob and Joseph were meant to be the faith warriors. For years Pharaoh was able to hand over all his life's work to Joseph without stress. Please help me grow my faith that I may hand over all my life to you just as completely.
Photo by Jeremy Bezanger