Early Warnings


Our technology-filled world invests great attention and resources to detect potential hurricanes, tornadoes, and forest fires to provide early warnings for people who live in their path. Tragically, some choose to ignore the warnings and, as a result, suffer injury and death. In today’s passage, a king selects an outsider with uncommon knowledge to prepare the nation for a severe disaster.

  • How do you respond to warnings?
  • To whom do you go to in times of need?


37 This proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. 38 And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” 39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. 40 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.” 41 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck. 43 And he made him ride in his second chariot. And they called out before him, “Bow the knee!” Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt. 44 Moreover, Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no one shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” 45 And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphenath-paneah. And he gave him in marriage Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On. So Joseph went out over the land of Egypt.

46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh and went through all the land of Egypt. 47 During the seven plentiful years the earth produced abundantly, 48 and he gathered up all the food of these seven years, which occurred in the land of Egypt, and put the food in the cities. He put in every city the food from the fields around it. 49 And Joseph stored up grain in great abundance, like the sand of the sea, until he ceased to measure it, for it could not be measured.

50 Before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph. Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore them to him. 51 Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” 52 The name of the second he called Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”

53 The seven years of plenty that occurred in the land of Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began to come, as Joseph had said. There was famine in all lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. 55 When all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph. What he says to you, do.”

56 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. 57 Moreover, all the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the earth.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. What reasons did Pharaoh give for selecting Joseph (vss. 38, 39)?
  2. Upon entering Pharaoh’s service, what did Joseph do (vss. 46-49)? What stands out to you?
  3. What did Joseph’s naming of his sons reveal about his relationship with God (vss. 50-52)?
  4. Where do you see the activity of God in this passage? What does that tell you about God, and what does that tell you about God’s ability to act in the midst of your circumstances today?


Joseph was an unlikely nominee for the king’s service. An unjustly imprisoned foreigner, he had every reason to be bitter about his life and toward God. Yet, the king appointed Joseph second-in-command, citing his wisdom, discernment, and the presence of the Spirit of God upon him. Our responses to God during times of difficulty and in times of plenty matter. Joseph remained steadfast in his faith and acted accordingly in all circumstances based on what he knew to be true. As Joseph trusted God, God used Joseph to make a way for life.

  • Talk to God about how he might want to use you in your circumstances—no matter what they are.
  • Ask God for ears to hear his “early warnings” and for courage to do what he says.