The Journey of Joseph: Joseph and the Famine

13 Now there was no food in all the land, for the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished by reason of the famine. 14 And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, in exchange for the grain that they bought. And Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house. 15 And when the money was all spent in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, “Give us food. Why should we die before your eyes? For our money is gone.” 16 And Joseph answered, “Give your livestock, and I will give you food in exchange for your livestock, if your money is gone.” 17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them food in exchange for the horses, the flocks, the herds, and the donkeys. He supplied them with food in exchange for all their livestock that year. 18 And when that year was ended, they came to him the following year and said to him, “We will not hide from my lord that our money is all spent. The herds of livestock are my lord’s. There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our land. 19 Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we with our land will be servants to Pharaoh. And give us seed that we may live and not die, and that the land may not be desolate.” 20 So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh, for all the Egyptians sold their fields, because the famine was severe on them. The land became Pharaoh’s. 21 As for the people, he made servants of them from one end of Egypt to the other. 22 Only the land of the priests he did not buy, for the priests had a fixed allowance from Pharaoh and lived on the allowance that Pharaoh gave them; therefore they did not sell their land.” (Genesis 47:13–22 (ESV)

It may be easy to forget that in the immediate aftermath of Joseph’s reunion with his family there remained five years of famine in the land (Gen. 45:1-6). Joseph still had a lot of work to do. His leadership skills from the LORD would be sorely tested.

It is also easy for most of us to begin tasks and projects. It is another thing entirely to complete those undertakings with the same enthusiasm and excellence with which we started. The fervor we possessed at the beginning of a job may lapse into fatigue before we are finished.

Believers in Christ should remember the perspective we are to have when undertaking a project or doing our job at work. Colossians 3:23–24 (ESV) says, 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ”

To work heartily means that all we do is for the LORD and should be done with our entire soul and spirit. This is how God works, how Joseph worked and how we are to work.

One author writes, “This work to save the land of the Nile shows how wickedly ungrateful it was for another pharaoh to enslave Joseph’s family (Ex. 1:8–14). From beginning to end, all blessings are from the Lord. The Egyptians prospered when they treated God’s chosen well and heeded the wisdom He gave through Abraham’s sons. In Moses’ day, Egypt suffered because she ceased to bless the Lord’s people (Ex. 7–14).”

We may not have control over the ultimate results of the work we do and the projects we accomplish. However, in what we are responsible for may the LORD find us faithful to honor and glorify Him in the effort.

Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “According to John Calvin and Matthew Henry, the famine and relief described in today’s passage remind us that we live and die at God’s mercy. It is easy to forget that we live, move, and have our being in the Lord (Acts 17:28) and that we must be grateful to Him for every blessing in our lives. When we forget Him, as a later pharaoh reveals, we cannot be surprised if we suffer the consequences. Offer thanks to God for the many specific blessings in your life today.”

Have a blessed day.

Soli deo Gloria!

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