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.” (Genesis 41:53–57 (ESV)
Moses recorded that Joseph was thirty years old when he began serving Pharaoh, the king of Egypt (Gen. 41:46). Joseph’s service coincided with the beginning of the seven years of plenty (Gen. 41:47).
Today’s text indicates that the seven years of plenty ended and the seven years of famine began to come (Gen. 41:53-54). This would make Joseph thirty-seven at the beginning of the seven years of famine. Joseph was in the prime of adulthood.
As God revealed through Joseph to Pharaoh (Gen. 41:25-36), the famine was devastating. No country was exempt from the agricultural crisis. However, the text states that there was bread in Egypt (Gen. 41:54).
United States Fleet Admiral William F. Halsey Jr. (1882-1959) wrote, “There are no great men, only great challenges that ordinary men are forced by circumstances to meet.” With respect to the Patriarch Joseph, he was an ordinary man who faced a great challenge but who the One, True God equipped him to meet the challenge.
Not only did the Egyptians come to buy grain from the storehouses, but also did other people from other countries. When Moses wrote, “Moreover, all the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the earth,” he was using the literary figure of speech known as hyperbole or exaggeration. We must always remember to interpret the Scriptures literally. This means to recognize that the Bible is literature and contains the various components of such. This will assist us in rightly dividing the Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
Dr. John MacArthur writes, “The use of hyperbole with “all” (vv. 54, 56–57) emphatically indicates the widespread ravaging impact of famine far beyond Egypt’s borders. She had become indeed the “breadbasket” of the ancient world.”
Today’s text reveals the temporal salvation from physical starvation of the then known world depended on one descendant of the patriarchs: Joseph (Gen. 12:3; 39:5). Likewise, the eternal salvation of God from His judgment depended upon one descendant of the patriarchs: Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38).
Take the opportunity today to thank God for providence and care: both temporally and eternally. Thank the Lord for equipping you, and other ordinary people, to meet great challenges. Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Soli deo Gloria!