Year 2 Day 302
Read - Genesis 47
Message - Scott Woodburn
A word that has constantly found its way into these Genesis devotions is “providence”. God provides for His people. He rules over them and guides their path and opens doors and puts them where He wants them to be. God provides. Jacob knew all about the providence of God and he would soon see a little bit more for he and his sons would stand before the most powerful man on planet earth, Egypt’s Pharaoh.
Standing before any such individual would cause fear and trepidation in even the bravest of souls but not even a Pharaoh can resist the hand of Almighty God. Joseph’s brothers received an audience with Pharaoh and were immediately asked “what is your occupation?” (v3) This seems like an innocuous enough question until we remember that Egyptians hated shepherds (Genesis 46v34). Why? Various reasons have been suggested. Perhaps it was to do with racial customs - the Egyptians didn’t eat with the Hebrews (Genesis 43v32) and perhaps they didn’t want to mix with them either. Others suggest that the Egyptians had an age old distrust of nomadic shepherd people who were seen as untrustworthy. Or maybe it was down to sheer arrogance from city folk looking down upon the common shepherd. Whatever the reason…Egyptians hated shepherds and Jacob’s sons were shepherds (v3b).
Egyptians may have hated shepherds but God is sovereign over sinful attitudes. Pharaoh offers Joseph’s family the best of the land and wants one of the clan to be in charge over his own flocks (v6). Later at Pharaoh’s command and by Joseph’s obedience, Jacob and his family are settled in the land of Rameses also called Goshen (v11). It was a land that providentially kept the people of Israel close to Canaan while at the same time sparing them from full integration into Egyptian life and customs.
If God rules providentially over the lives of His people, He also providentially governs those who reject Him. The famine continued in Egypt and was beginning to have a massive impact. Providentially the Lord had placed Joseph in exactly the right place. He bought grain from the people (v14) and later exchanged food for livestock (v17). When the famine continued the people again returned to Joseph and this time he bought their land from them in exchange for food (v20). He then made a statute that decreed that from any future harvests the people would owe Pharaoh a fifth of their produce (v26).
Despite the poor situation they were in (no money, no food, no livestock, no land) the people were incredibly thankful for Joseph’s work. They may now have been Pharaoh’s slaves but they happily declared that Joseph had “saved our lives” (v25).
This seems like an odd account but within it we again see the providence of God. Joseph’s family multiply in the land of Goshen (v27). The people and the land had been saved from the grip of the famine by Joseph’s governance - many lived who would surely have died. At the same time, Joseph’s dealings with the people and his statute had underlined Pharaoh’s power and riches. The land of Egypt had been blessed by the presence of God’s people and by the unseen but always working hand of Almighty God.
Nothing has changed. The Lord still overrules attitudes. The Lord remains sovereign over kings and queens. The Lord directs our footsteps and preserves us in the land. He causes the rain to fall on the wicked and righteous alike. He is the great God of providence who is good and faithful in all His ways. Trust Him!
Q61 What is forbidden in the fourth commandment? The fourth commandment forbiddeth the omission, or careless performance, of the duties required, and the profaning the day by idleness, or doing that which is in itself sinful, or by unnecessary thoughts, words, or works, about our worldly employments or recreations.