Thursday, January 06, 2011

Famine Hits - Genesis 41:53-57

When the seven years of plenty which had been in the land of Egypt came to an end, and the seven years of famine began to come, just as Joseph had said, then there was famine in all the lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread.  So when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried out to pharaoh for bread; and Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph; whatever he says to you, you shall do.”  When the famine was spread over all the face of the earth, then Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold to the Egyptians; and the famine was severe in the land of Egypt.  And the people of all the earth came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the earth.

As God had promised, the seven years of abundance came to an end and the seven years of famine started.  From the text we note it was a famine that was widespread far beyond Egypt.  Egypt itself, as a result of Joseph’s overseeing the carrying out of the instructions God had provided in a dream to the Pharaoh, had plenty of bread available.  As the people got hungry and demanded bread from Pharaoh, he simply sent them to Joseph and told them to do whatever he said.

Meanwhile, Joseph had opened up all the storehouses he had amassed the grain in and set up shop.  He basically sold grain to the Egyptians so they could make bread.  Our text says that the famine was so severe that people came from all over the then known world to buy grain from Joseph.

Several points are worthy of note in this otherwise simple portion of text.  First, when God says something will happen, it does.  The seven years of plenty were followed by the seven years of famine so bad that the years of plenty were forgotten.  Second, when God’s instructions to avoid annihilation are followed, they work.  By storing up grain, Joseph was able to sell food to the Egyptians and others.

Third, good news travels far and wide.  People from all over heard that there was grain to be bought in Egypt and they traveled miles to get it.  People were seeking to survive physically and Joseph had what it took.  People also want to somehow address their spiritual needs and if they believe you have the means to show them how, they will travel far and long to get to you.  I think that in some way, that explains why some bible-believing, truth-preaching churches get as large as they do.

Fourth, Joseph welcomed all as buyers of the food.  To our knowledge at this point, there were no exceptions.  The good news was for everyone.

When you stop to think about it, the whole thing with the famine was very simple.  God did what He said He would.  Man obeyed and was saved.  The good news was shared so others could also be saved.  Is not that a most succinct summary of what the entire human race is faced with?  God has told us what will happen and given us instructions.  Some have obeyed and rejoice.  Others who seek the same assurance may find it.

As I reflect this morning, I wonder how seriously many of us accept that simplistic plan God has laid out for our lives and purpose here?  Joseph was “in the know” from the start and played a key part in the situation Egypt found itself in.  The question for us today is, “have we found our part in God’s spiritual economy, and if so, are we fulfilling it?” 

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