Help in Times of Famine: Genesis 42:1-2

Photo Credit: tvstar.com.mk

Read Genesis 42:1-2

Last post on Genesis we saw what happened to Joseph after Pharaoh heard him interpret his dreams. We also examined how Joseph determined direction for the nation of Egypt and how you can determine direction yourself. (see previous post: God, Joseph, and Direction)

In today’s post we’ll look at where Jacob sends his sons for grain during a famine. And we’ll look at where we can go when we’re experiencing famine, be it financial, physical, or emotional famine.


Genesis 42:1-2

After Jacob figures out there’s grain in Egypt, he says to his sons, Why just sit around and look at each other? Go where the bread is, go to the source of nourishment. Go to where you, and me, and our families can be saved — from this famine. Go to where the bread is, so that we may live and not die.


Help in Times of Famine:

Jacob’s sons” reluctance to go to Egypt for grain reminds me of another story:

“Do you want to get well?” Jesus asked the lame man at the pool of Bethesda.

I want to get down to the pool, because I think it’ll heal me, but I have no one to help me. Someone always gets there ahead of me, the lame man said.

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

The only problem was, Jesus did this on the Sabbath. So when the leaders found out, they were angry. That’s when Jesus said to them, concerning the Old Testament: “These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (emphasis mine, see John Chapter 5)

Jacob and his sons don’t know it yet, but it won’t be long before they’ll find out, Joseph is the source they’ll be receiving food from, so that they may live and not die. And we also know Jesus said of the Old Testament: “These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40) So here we have another example of how the Scriptures testify of Jesus. We again see in Joseph, a divine prophetic expression of Jesus Christ.

Jacob’s sons looking at each other, and their reluctance to go to Joseph to be saved, is a picture of how Jesus’ brothers, the Jewish leadership, were reluctant to go to Jesus. It’s also a picture of what you and I so often do when we respond to famine. When the famine comes, we often look to each other, and other human beings, to be saved. But what God, our heavenly Father, would have us do, is go to Jesus for our bread. Christ is the source of our grain, if you will. He is the Word made flesh. He is the Bread of life. (John 1:14)

Jesus is our Joseph.

And Jesus is the Word. So God’s word is where God would have us go “so that we may live and not die.”

Maybe things are so bad right now, you feel like you’re going to die. Maybe you’re experiencing famine. Maybe it’s a financial famine: you’re unemployed or just struggling to make it. Or maybe it’s a physical famine: you’re sick, or injured, or the doctor came back with a diagnosis of cancer. Or maybe it’s an emotional famine: you’re dealing with a divorce, or she betrayed you, or they’re attacking you personally.

The question is, where do you go when there’s famine? Do you look at those around you for answers? Or do you go to where the bread is?

The Bible, is where the bread is, and God has good reasons for sending us there.

When I read the Bible I’m gaining insight into the very mind of God. That, in and of itself, makes it the most important book to read there is.

When I read the Bible I’m reading the very same words Jesus studied and read.

When I read the gospels in the Bible, I’m studying the very words spoken by Jesus Christ Himself.

When I read the Bible I’m reminded of great truths.

When I read the Bible I’m more oriented toward what’s important to God and less anxious about the things of this world.

When I read the Bible I’m more mindful of eternal things, heavenly things, things that will matter forever (and that’s a long time).

I know from experience, reading the Bible regularly, changes who I am. When I read the Bible I’m a different person than when I don’t. I know this because my wife says she prefers the kurt who reads the Bible regularly, to the kurt who does not.

It’s true for anybody. Reading the Bible regularly will make you less like your current self, and more like the person both you and God want you to become.

So why just sit around and look at each other? Go where the bread is, go to the source of nourishment. Go to where you and your family can be saved. Go to where the bread is, “so that you may live and not die.”

Read your Bible.

It will change your life.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT


Love Like Jesus — Diet, Exercise, and Rest. Really?: John 4:5-8

So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

John 4:5-8


How Jesus Loved People:

Jesus took care of Himself.

What’s that? You’re asking, Jesus took care of Himself? So what? What does that have to do with loving people?

That’s a great question.

Here, in this passage of scripture, we see Jesus, the Son of God, the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation, taking care of Himself. He’s just finished exercising if you will, as He walked to the town of Sychar. He’s about to take in fluids, as He asked for a drink of water. He’s mindful of His diet, as He sent His disciples to buy food. And He’s resting, seated by the well. (Colossians 1:15)

It is a rather curious thing, isn’t it?


How to Love Like Jesus:

Maybe you’re like me and you feel like taking care of yourself is selfish. If you are you might be interested in this story.

When I was in my 40s, I wasn’t living like Jesus. I wasn’t taking time to go for a walk through Samaria. I didn’t have time to walk or exercise. I wasn’t taking time to ask anyone to refresh me with water. I didn’t send anyone to buy food, I only had time for fast food, my diet was terrible. I wasn’t taking time to sit down by the well, I wasn’t resting.

I was a high energy guy who didn’t have time for such things. I was in constant motion. I took on extra responsibility at the fire department, I signed up as an elder at my church, I hosted a home church group, I taught a men’s bible study on leadership once a week, I built a house and contracted it myself, my wife and I started a vacation rental business, I went to school for my Bachelors in Fire Administration, I started writing a book.

I was charging hard. I figured, hey, diet, exercise, rest, I’ll take care of all that after I’m dead.

Well — that very nearly happened. One night after a Fire Administration class in Portland, I was crossing the street to go to the Lloyd’s Center Mall. Suddenly I found it hard to breathe. I honestly thought I walked into a hazardous materials cloud of some kind. The only problem with that theory was, nobody else around me was having a problem.

Next thing I know, ka-boom, I’m in the hospital for a double by-pass operation.

God decided to take me down a notch.

Turns out it was a very big notch. Gone was all that energy I had. Some days I felt completely exhausted by 10 in the morning. But do you think I changed my approach to life? Nope. I took a promotion at work. I continued to sign up for classes for my Bachelors degree. I bought another vacation rental. I continued my involvement at church. I finished my book.

Needless to say, things didn’t work out very well. Without any gas in the tank I had trouble just functioning, let alone performing at a high level. I fell into a depression, which of course made things even worse. I struggled in every area of my life: spiritual, work, family, all of it.

I wonder how things might have been different had I taken care of myself.

Jesus didn’t live like I did. Jesus, the Power of God and the radiance of God’s glory, walked. (1 Corinthians 1:24, Hebrews 1:3) He took fluids. He ate. He rested. Jesus made sure He was in good condition to love people.

It’s true, it is selfish to rest, relax, and maintain yourself — when resting, relaxing, and maintaining are your end goals.

But taking care of yourself so you can do more for the Lord, so you can love Him more, so you can love people more fully, so you can become a sharper instrument to be used, by Him, for His purposes…

THAT’S NOT SELFISH.

You and I might think we’ll bear more fruit for God by keeping our gas pedal to the floor, but that’s a trap. When I’m too busy, or too tired, or too sedentary, or burned out, I don’t do well loving people.

My guess is, you don’t either.

Take care of yourself, so you can love people better.

Jesus did.

Egypt’s New Capital will be Jerusalem according to Rally Leader for Egypt’s New President

“Our capitol shall not be Cairo, Mecca, or Medina, it shall be Jerusalem. Allah is willing.” –Leader of a rally held for newly elected Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsi.

He also says, “Our cry shall be: Millions of martyrs march toward Jerusalem!” And “We are all Hamas, we are all Hamas, we are all Hamas!” The crowd chants these phrases back to him.

Then a guy starts singing about how all the Egyptians are Hamas, and how they need to brandish their weapons.

It should be noted, the man at the podium is one of the rally leaders, and not President Morsi. The man at the podium is a Muslim Cleric named Safwat al-Hegazy. The rally took place a couple of weeks ago and since then, President Morsi has distanced himself from al-Hegazy’s remarks.

But still, the fanaticism for invading Israel is disturbing.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Psalm 122:6

God, Joseph, and Direction: Genesis 41:41-57

Read Genesis 41:41-57

In our last post on Genesis we saw how Joseph, after living faithfully through all kinds of hardships: betrayal by his family, slavery, false accusation, and ten years in a dungeon, was ultimately raised up, raised up in one day, to second in command over Egypt. In today’s post we’ll look at what happens to Joseph and Egypt, after Pharaoh’s decision to appoint him as governor. Where Joseph’s life continues to paint a picture of Jesus, I simply couldn’t help myself, I just had to insert commentary to point out those scriptures. Finally, we’ll look at Joseph’s process for choosing direction as it relates to God’s Spirit and Joseph’s abilities.


Genesis 41:41-57

So after Pharaoh hears what the cupbearer says about how the Lord used Joseph to accurately interpret dreams, and after Pharaoh hears Joseph’s interpretation of his own dreams, he sees God’s Spirit is in Joseph. (Genesis 41:38) Just as soon as Pharaoh recognizes Joseph is led by God’s Spirit, he makes a command decision.

I’m putting you in charge, of the whole country, Pharaoh says to Joseph. Then he takes off his signet ring and puts it on Joseph’s finger. He orders up some clothes fitting for a man who’s second in command and has Joseph put them on. He gives Joseph a gold chain to wear around his neck. And he has him ride in a chariot, as his right hand man, and the people shout out before him, Make way!

And that’s how it went down when Joseph was appointed as the governor of Egypt, only with respect to the throne, was Pharaoh greater than Joseph. (Genesis 41:40)

After all the ceremony, Pharaoh says to Joseph, Yes I’m Pharaoh, but nobody will lift a finger in all of Egypt without your word. Pharaoh renames Joseph, he calls him Zaphenath-Paneah. And he gives him a wife named Asenath, daughter of Potiphera, priest of On.

Pharaoh says to Joseph, “,,,without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.” (Genesis 41:44) Even as Jesus said in John 15:5, “…apart from me you can do nothing.”

Joseph is given a Gentile bride. Even as Jesus is given His Gentile bride, us, you and me, the church. (Revelation 21:9)

Then Joseph travels all over Egypt to learn about the land he’s governing.

He’s thirty years old when he enters into public service.

I can’t help but notice Joseph is thirty years old when he enters into serving the public, even as Jesus was thirty when he entered into public ministry. (Luke 3:23)

So he’s traveling throughout Egypt, and during the seven years of prosperity the land produces bountifully, just as God, through Joseph, said it would. And Joseph collects all the food produced in those seven years and stores it in the cities. Each city has it’s storage from the food produced in the fields around it. The quantities of grain Joseph collects and stores are like the sand of the sea; there’s so much that he can’t keep track of it so he stops keeping records. The crop production is so great, it’s beyond measure.

During these first seven years Joseph has two sons with his wife Asenath, daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. Joseph names his first son Manasseh (which means causing to forget). He says he named him that, “…because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” The second son he names Ephraim (which means I shall be doubly fruitful), “…because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”

Well, just as God’s Spirit predicted, the seven years of abundance come to an end, and the seven years of famine begin. All around people are hurting for food. But Egypt is prepared for the shortage. When Egypt begins to feel the famine, the people cry out to Pharaoh, who tells all the Egyptians, Just go see Joseph and do whatever he tells you.

When the people cry out to be saved, from starvation, Pharaoh directs them to Joseph. “…do what he tells you,” Pharaoh says to the Egyptians. (Genesis 41:55) Even as God, when the people cry out to be saved, from their own sin, directs them to Jesus. Speaking of Jesus on the mount of transfiguration God said, “…listen to Him.” (Luke 9:35)

When the famine is effecting the whole of Egypt, Joseph opens the storehouses and sells grain to the Egyptians. The famine is terrible, and everyone both inside and outside of Egypt comes to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine is so severe, everywhere.

Through Joseph, God saves the nations from starvation. Through Jesus, God saves the world from their sin.


God, Joseph, and Decisions:

It’s obvious Joseph was one in whom is the Spirit of God. (Genesis 41:38) And God’s Spirit in him resulted in his prospering and in an ability to make great decisions.

But maybe you’ve read about Joseph and you’re asking yourself, How does that work? Does Joseph use reason and wisdom? Or does he use the leading of God’s Spirit to make decisions?

I believe the answer is both. To gain insight, I think it’s important to see how Joseph had God’s Spirit two distinct ways.

1) First, he had God’s Spirit in the same way some of the craftsmen who built the tabernacle had God’s Spirit: …he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills, Moses said of the man chosen to lead the building of the tabernacle. (Exodus 35:30-35)

Joseph had skills born of God’s Spirit. Joseph was faithful to his duty, even in the beginning, in the day of small things. He was industrious and he had great integrity. Based on his rapid rise to prominence in Potipher’s household, and in prison, and in Pharaoh’s administration, I believe Jospeh also had great skills as a communicator, as an organizer, and as a problem solver. (see previous post Joseph’s 4 Steps to Success)

No doubt Joseph used all these skills in his decision making and problem solving wherever he worked. And I don’t think there’s any doubt these skills served him well.

But there’s a danger here. Sometimes the more skills God blesses you with, the more you tend to rely on those skills — at the exclusion of seeking God’s direction. Which brings us to the second way in which Joseph experienced God’s Spirit.

2) The second way in which Joseph had God’s Spirit was through connection. Joseph was connected to God in a way that opened communication with God’s Spirit. I believe Joseph was someone who was constantly seeking God’s direction. He was seeking God’s will in his life. He was sensitive to God’s Spirit.

Can you imagine the consequences, had Joseph relied solely on his gifts and skills, without tapping into the leading of the Spirit? Egypt’s economy would have gone into deep depression. The recovery from such devastation would have taken decades, if there even was a recovery. And most importantly, millions in Egypt and in the surrounding nations would have died of starvation.

I’m reminded of Joshua, another man gifted with great administrative abilities. When the Gibeonites came and requested of Joshua that Israel enter into an alliance with them, they told him they were from a far away country. Joshua, relying on his powers of deduction, saw they had worn clothes, and old wineskins, and moldy bread. What a seemingly simple decision. It’s so obvious. They’re from a far away country.

We’re not to ally ourselves with anyone local, Joshua told them, but an alliance with you? No problem. It’s easy to figure out, you’re not from around here.

Joshua 9:14 says, they checked out their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. (see Joshua Chapter 9)

Three days later the Israeli people find out the truth about the Gibeonites. And they’re protesting against Joshua and the others leading Israel, because they were duped.

Not long after that, Israel has to march all night, and risk lives in battle, to honor their alliance with the Gibeonites.

Like Joshua, Joseph was blessed with brains and abilities, but he recognized the value in seeking God’s direction. And like Joseph, like Joshua, and like anyone, you and I can’t see one single second into the future. Right now you can’t see beyond the four walls of the room you’re in, or if you’re outside, you’re limited to the strength of your eyesight. You can’t see into the past except for what others have recorded and what you remember. Even with television and the internet, your awareness of the time-space continuum is just the tiniest fraction of what God sees, which is everything.

Joseph recognized this. “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.” He said to the cupbearer and to the baker. (Genesis 40:8) When Pharaoh asked Joseph to interpret his dreams he immediately said,

“I can’t do it…”

“…but…”

“…God will give the answer…”

God had the answer. He saved millions of lives from death by starvation.

God has the answers still. For you and for me.

Thank God for the skills, gifts, and abilities He’s blessed you with. But don’t rely on your gifts exclusively. Don’t neglect seeking His direction.

Pray through life decisions.

Seek His direction constantly.

Pray for Him to direct your steps.

Pray for sensitivity to His Holy Spirit.

If you do you could be blessed like Joseph was.

If you do you could be led down a path that will save you and your people from disaster.

I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.

Psalm 143:8


References:

Bible Gateway

Blue Letter Bible

J.B. Jackson, A Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names1908

Matthew Henry

Walton, Matthews, Chavalas, (2000) IVP Bible Background Commentary, Old Testament

Jon Courson

Drawing Close to God

Close to God James 4:8

Image by Jonathan Kos-Read – Creative Commons.

Every person on the planet is precisely as close to God as he or she wants to be. Have you ever thought about that?

James 4:8 says if you draw near to God, He will draw near to you.

That truth compels you, and I, and every one of us to ask ourselves,

“What am I doing to draw near to God?”

He’s waiting for you, you know. He’s watching. He’s watching for when you begin to move toward Him. While you’re still a long way off, He’ll see you, and be filled with compassion for you; He’ll run to you, and throw His arms around you. (Luke 15:11-32)

Get up and go to Him.

Opening the Casket on Abortion by Scott Klusendorf

Opening the Casket on Abortion by Scott Klusendorf — Posted on Justin Taylor’s blog, Between Two Worlds.

This is a powerful blog post written by Scott Klusendorf. It’s about Emmett Till, a 14 year old African American youth from Chicago. While visiting Money, Mississippi, Emmett made the mistake of flirting with a young woman who was white and married. The year was 1955, and it didn’t take long for some locals to take matters into their own hands. At 2 AM the next morning they pulled Emmett from the house he was staying and killed him. They also beat his face beyond recognition. (Read Klusendorf’s article here)

Emmett was shipped back to his mother in a coffin. What happened next turned out to be a big part of the beginning of the civil rights movement. Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till, insisted on an open casket funeral service.

After telling Emmett’s story, the author of this blog post, Scott Klusendorf, goes on to say, we, as Christians, need to open the casket on abortion.

What happened to Emmett Till wasn’t right. It was dark. It was horrible. Emmett didn’t break any laws. And at 14, Emmett had very limited capability to defend himself, or to run, or even to gather friends and family to help him.

Unborn children don’t have limited capability to do such things — they have no capability. They have no means of defending themselves. They have no voice to cry out with for help. And they’re completely innocent.

I’m with Klusendorf. It’s time to take the casket off of abortion.

We need to share the visual devastation of abortion in a way that transcends the Christian world view.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.”

Proverbs 31:8

 

Opening the Casket on Abortion by Scott Klusendorf.

Resurrection: Genesis 41:1-40

Jesus Old Testament

Read Genesis 41:1-40

Verse 1: “When two full years had passed…” Wait, let’s stop right there. Two years? Yes, two full years. But that was after Joseph had already been in prison for eight years. So Joseph was left in the dungeon for two full years after his encounter with the chief cupbearer and the chief baker and for a total of ten years. In our last post on Genesis we looked at how Joseph was apparently forgotten and what that feels like. We also saw how Joseph’s life paints a prophetic picture of Jesus. (See previous post Forgotten) In today’s post, we’ll see Joseph resurrected from the dungeon. Continue reading

How to Love Like Jesus — Show the Way: John 3:1-15

Nicodemus with Jesus at Night (Photo Credit: Eastminster Presbyterian Church)

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

John 3:1-15

How Jesus Loved People:

When Nicodemus came to Him Jesus referred back to the story in the Old Testament when the Israelites were traveling through the wilderness, and they began complaining. They complained about the food (manna), they complained about Moses, and they complained about God.

In response, the Lord sent venomous snakes among the Israelites, and many were bitten and died. “We sinned…” the Israelites said to Moses. “Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.”

So Moses prayed and the Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived. (Numbers 21:4-9)

Jesus told Nicodemus, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

Jesus tells Nicodemus that He, Jesus, must be lifted up in the same way as that brass snake. But not so people can be saved from snake bites, but so people can be saved forever, eternally!

How to Love Like Jesus:

Jesus loved Nicodemus enough to share the truth about how to attain eternal life. You and I must love people enough to do the same. Think about it: you know the way to eternal life, and you know people who don’t. God would have you share what you know! That person’s eternal life is at stake.

So be sensitive to those who might have questions like Nicodemus did.

Look for a quiet opportunity, maybe at night, like Jesus did.

Recognize the role of God’s Spirit, as Jesus did.

Then share the truth, about the way to eternal life like Jesus did.

Perhaps you’re knowledgeable about the Bible. Maybe you’ve been blessed with the opportunity to receive instruction from the Lord. Flesh gives birth to flesh, and Spirit gives birth to Spirit, but when a baby needs to be birthed, and the mother can’t deliver, there are problems. In the same way, if you’re not birthing spiritually, you’ll have problems. Over and over and over I see people who are saved, people who are Christians, who know God’s word, and believe in Jesus, but they aren’t sharing the way to eternal life as Jesus did with Nicodemus. Over time problems develop. It’s as though they’re breathing in but never breathing out. When someone does that physically, they become faint. When someone does that spiritually, they become spiritually faint. They lose spiritual strength. There’s a lack of responsiveness in their relationship with God. A spiritual sluggishness creeps in.

Don’t become that person.

Find a way, to share the way to eternal life, like Jesus did. Talk with someone you suspect has questions, when things get quiet, maybe at night. Ask for the Holy Spirit’s help.

Or make a phone call.

Or send an email.

Or start a blog.

But find a way.

Do it out of love for God.

Do it out of love for people.

Do it because you love yourself, because you’ll be blessed when you share.

But do it.