Spoiler alert: this is not about ice cream sandwiches, though admittedly I’m a fan.
I’ve read through the Bible about thirty times, which means that I’ve read through the Book of Genesis about thirty times, which means that I’ve read Genesis 41 about thirty times, which means that I’ve read the story of “Joseph and Pharaoh’s Dreams” about thirty times. Impressed by my logic and math skills so far?
So here’s the scoop (ice cream pun fully intended)! During my last read-through, I noticed a detail which I had not noticed before. (I’ll bet that happens to you on occasion.) The first time that the dreams are reported in the Scriptures, we learn about the seven “ugly and thin” cows, and the seven “attractive and plump” cows. You may remember: in the dream, the seven skinny cows ate the seven fat cows. We also learn that Pharaoh was troubled by his dreams. We also learn that Pharaoh could not find anybody who could interpret them. Enter Joseph, remembered for his interpretive prowess just in time by the chief cupbearer.
But here’s what I noticed for the first time: when Pharaoh tells Joseph about the dreams, the king includes another bit of information – which is new to us as the reader. Here’s the detail: after the seven skinny cows had feasted on the seven fat cows, “no one would have known that they had eaten them, for they were still as ugly as at the beginning” (41:21).
Call me a Bible nerd, but I find that intriguing! And it’s probably because I know that not a single word of Scripture is wasted. If it’s recorded for us, that means that God recorded it, and that means that we need to hear it!
I suppose it’s anybody’s guess why that detail appears in the story. It’s kind of a funny detail, because – in our mind’s eye – we’re already picturing ugly cows … only to be told that they’re still ugly! Even after chowing down on some scrumptious beef! I could have some fun with this and talk about “cannibal cows” or the first mention of Chick-fil-A imagery in God’s Word, but I won’t go down any of those roads – you’ll be relieved to know. (P.S. I once saw a Chick-fil-A directly adjacent to a Krispy Kreme, and I wondered for a second if that was the place Jesus was referring to when He promised to get it ready so He could take us there. But I digress.)
Could it be that this specific detail of Pharaoh’s dream was necessary to unlock the dream’s underlying meaning – the impending famine – for Joseph? I don’t know. You and I can’t know. At least not here and now. But we can know that there was a reason, and there is a reason, why it’s in the Bible. And that’s my point. You and I must come under the absolute authority of the Word of God. Even the parts of it which seem trivial to us. Even the parts of it which seem inconsequential to us. Even the parts of it which seem irrelevant to us. (That would include “archaic.”) Even the parts of it which seem superfluous to us.
Not a word of the Word is wasted, friends. All of it matters. And, somehow, it all points to Jesus Christ. I like to say it like this: Christ is the Hero of every page.
And make no mistake about it, fellow sojourners: our greatest point of tension with the chaotic culture which surrounds us is the Bible. They’re O.K. with “Jesus,” as long as it’s a Jesus whom they can create in their own image. But they have no use for the Jesus of the Bible. Hear me again, please: the world will not tolerate the Jesus of the Bible.
If they can have a Jesus who says that there’s no such thing as sin, then Jesus is welcome. But the risen-from-the-dead Jesus who shed His blood to atone sacrificially for the total depravity of the human race, that Jesus is not welcome.
If they can have a Jesus who says that “love is love” – in the sense that our culture clearly intends that line to be interpreted – then Jesus is welcome. But the Jesus who claims that sexual intimacy is a divine gift to be celebrated between a husband and wife within the lifetime commitment of a monogamous marriage, that Jesus is not welcome.
If they can have a Jesus who claims that there are many ways to God, then Jesus is welcome. But the Jesus who preaches that He alone is the only Way – that Jesus is unequivocally not welcome.
And, if Jesus is not welcome, you and I might not expect red-carpet treatment either.
I’m going to make a strong statement, so heads up: if we lose the Bible, we lose Jesus. That’s because the Son of God can’t be separated from the Word of God. It’s all His Word.
So chow down, friends. And chow down now. You’re going to need sustenance of eternal value in order to thrive in these “tolerant” times. Humble yourself before God’s Word, and feast liberally, regularly, and ferociously.
Because, unlike the consumption of a fat cow, the consumption of the Word of the living God will make us shine with the radiance and beauty of Christ.