And Pharaoh awoke, and behold, it was a dream. So in the morning his spirit was troubled, and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was none who could interpret them to Pharaoh. Genesis 41:7b-8
The official farm report is in for Cambodia. This year’s planting season will be filled with bad news followed by worse news. That’s the prognosis if you believe the predictions given by Cambodia’s two royal oxen.
Have I lost you? Let me explain. Every year, before planting season, seven golden trays holding rice, maize, sesame, beans, rice wine, water, and grass are put in front of two royal oxen. Predictions on the future are made on the basis of what the oxen eat or drink. A good harvest is anticipated if the oxen eat the rice, and a drought is imminent if the oxen drink the wine and avoid the water. You see how it is supposed to work.
This year the farmers of Cambodia are despondent. The first of the oxen looked at the trays and then wandered off without eating anything. The second of the oxen ate up half the corn before it also ambled away.
Does this custom sound foolish? Possibly, but the Cambodian custom did remind me of an ancient event recorded in the Old Testament. Many of you may remember the story of how the Pharaoh of Egypt had a disconcerting dream about fat cows and skinny cows. You might also recall how the mighty ruler went to his magicians to find an interpretation for what his dream might mean. When these skilled soothsayers proved unequal to the task, God gave Joseph the ability to interpret the dream. The story ends with Joseph being freed from prison, the country of Egypt being freed from a great drought, and Jacob’s brothers being freed from the guilt they had carried since they sold their little sibling into slavery.
The casual observer might easily notice the many similarities between the story about the farmers of Cambodia and the Biblical narrative of Joseph. Both take place in agricultural counties, speak of cattle, and deal with discerning the future. In spite of these parallels, the story of Joseph has one, all-important difference: God. The Genesis story of Pharaoh’s dream is just one puzzle piece that God puts in place so He might keep His salvation promises to sinful humanity. Because Joseph is saved, God’s people are saved. Because God’s people are saved, the Savior is born in Bethlehem, crucified on Calvary, and rises from the dead. Because Jesus’ sacrifice has been accepted, all who believe on Him as their Savior have been redeemed.
And that, my friends, is a wonderful difference. It is a difference that means we are in the hands of a gracious God and not at the mercy of some munching oxen.
THE PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, as Your redeemed people, we give thanks that You have kept Your promises to send Your Son to save sinful humanity. May we learn to rely upon You and You alone. In the name of Jesus we ask this, Amen.
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