GOD PROSPERS THOSE WHO SEEK FIRST HIS KINGDOM AGENDA
In studying the book of Genesis we must never lose sight of God’s Kingdom Agenda. We began the book in Paradise – the Garden of Eden where all was right and good in the world dominated by God’s righteousness and justice. After the Fall of man, we saw the introduction in Gen. 3 of the promise of the seed of the woman who would eventually come to accomplish ultimate redemption and restoration. The worldwide focus of God’s program recorded the increasing wickedness that culminated in the Flood with God saving only a small remnant in the family of Noah via the ark. As mankind again began to populate the world, it took God’s sovereign judgment of the multiplication of tongues and dispersion as a result of man’s pride and rebellion at the Tower of Babel in order to further God’s Kingdom Agenda. Then we saw God’s focus narrow to working through the lineage of one man – Abraham – and his key descendants – Isaac, Jacob and now Judah and Joseph. The covenant promises made to Abraham were critical to the ultimate blessing that God intends to bring upon the entire world.
We have seen God’s sovereign providence at work in protecting and prospering Abraham and then Isaac and then Jacob and now Joseph to accomplish His ultimate purposes. We are reminded of Christ’s command coupled with His promise of reassurance in Matt. 6:33:
“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.”
What are we making the priority in our life? Can we expect God to prosper us if we obey His commands and devote ourselves to His program for today which is the growth of His church? What will that prosperity look like in our lives?
Let’s study 3 Key Areas Where God Prospered Joseph
I. (:1-12) JOSEPH’S DIPLOMACY — EXERCISING POLITICAL WISDOM TO ENSURE THE SUCCESSFUL SETTLEMENT OF HIS FAMILY IN IDEAL INCUBATION CONDITIONS IN EGYPT
A. (:1-6) Expecting Big Blessings From God
1. (:1) Laying the Groundwork
“Then Joseph went in and told Pharaoh, and said, ‘My father and my brothers and their flocks and their herds and all that they have, have come out of the land of Canaan; and behold, they are in the land of Goshen.’”
Parunak: The seclusion of Israel in Goshen is crucial to God’s purposes. It isolates them from the main stream of Egyptian population and the priestly centers on the central Nile. They can grow into a nation while retaining their distinctive identity, without the corruption that Canaan had already begun to insinuate among them.
2. (:2-4) Coaching for Success
“And he took five men from among his brothers, and presented them to Pharaoh. Then Pharaoh said to his brothers, ‘What is your occupation?’
So they said to Pharaoh, ‘Your servants are shepherds, both we and our fathers.’ And they said to Pharaoh, ‘We have come to sojourn in the land, for there is no pasture for your servants’ flocks, for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. Now, therefore, please let your servants live in the land of Goshen.’”
3. (:5-6) Reaping the Rewards
“Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Your father and your brothers have come to you. The land of Egypt is at your disposal; settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land, let them live in the land of Goshen; and if you know any capable men among them, then put them in charge of my livestock.’”
R C Sproul: The pharaoh graciously grants the requests of Jacob’s family and even puts them in charge of his livestock (vv. 5–6), establishing Jacob and his sons as court officials and thereby investing them with legal rights and protection. Incidentally, this turn of events corroborates what is known about ancient Egyptian civilization, again demonstrating Scripture’s trustworthiness. A later pharaoh, Rameses III, employed over 3,200 foreigners as overseers of his vast herds of cattle and other animals.
Received blessings that surpassed the initial scope of the request – family members were to be put in charge of Pharaoh’s livestock
B. (:7-10) Wisely Interacting with Those in Authority
1. (:7) Introductory Blessing
“Then Joseph brought his father Jacob and presented him to Pharaoh;
and Jacob blessed Pharaoh.”
Parunak: —Lit, “stood him up.” Jacob is so old and feeble that he must be carried into Pharaoh’s presence.
Heb 7:7 — “the less is blessed of the better.”
2. (:8-9) Maintaining Pilgrim Mentality
“And Pharaoh said to Jacob, ‘How many years have you lived?’
So Jacob said to Pharaoh, ‘The years of my sojourning are one hundred and thirty; few and unpleasant have been the years of my life, nor have they attained the years that my fathers lived during the days of their sojourning.’”
– “Few” in comparison with his fathers; Abraham died at 175 (25:7), and Isaac at 180 (35:28); Jacob is now only 130, and will die at 147 (47:28).
– “Evil” in recognition of the difficulties through which God has brought him: strife in his parental home, abuse and deception by Laban, strife between his wives, the rape of his daughter, the viciousness of Simeon and Levi, the loss of Rachel, Reuben’s rape of his handmaid, the apparent death of Joseph, and now famine that forces him to leave the land of promise. All of these were necessary for God to form him and his family; but subjectively, all were unpleasant and “evil.”
R C Sproul: As bad as his life has been, it represents only a “sojourning” (47:9) — a temporary residence in exile from his heavenly home, according to Hebrews 11:13–16. Life in this present age, while by no means insignificant, will pale in comparison to our final home where we will dwell with the Lord on a renewed earth (Rev. 21:1–8). Jacob believed this truth, though he grasped it only in shadows. Under the new covenant, we long for this day with fuller clarity. John Chrysostom said believers in all ages “have the same attitude to this life as if living in a foreign land” (Homilies on Genesis, 65.10).
Being careful not to present himself as a rival kingdom that would pose any threat to Pharaoh
3. (:10) Concluding Blessing
“And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from his presence.”
C. (:11-12) Receiving Big Blessings From God
1. (:11) Possession of Choice Land
“So Joseph settled his father and his brothers, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had ordered.”
Parunak: They are not treated as nomads, but are given legal title to their homesteads. At this point, they have more of a legal claim to the land of their exile than they do to the land that God has promised them!
2. (:12) Provision of Essential Food
“And Joseph provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to their little ones.”
II. (:13-26) JOSEPH’S BUSINESS AND ADMINSTRATIVE SKILL — ACQUIRING WEALTH FOR PHARAOH WHILE MAKING THE PEOPLE GRATEFUL SLAVES
A. (:13-22) Enriching Pharaoh’s House — Consequences of Severe Famine
1. (:13) No Food – in Egypt or Canaan = Opportunity to Demonstrate Business and Administrative Skill
“Now there was no food in all the land, because the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished because of the famine.”
2. (:14-15) No Money – All Money Acquired by Joseph
“And Joseph gathered all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land
of Canaan for the grain which they bought, and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house.”
“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, for why should we die in your presence? For our money is gone.’”
3. (:16-17) No Livestock – All Livestock Acquired by Joseph
“Then Joseph said, ‘Give up your livestock, and I will give you food for your livestock, since your money is gone.’”
“So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them food in exchange for the horses and the flocks and the herds and the donkeys; and he fed them with food in exchange for all their livestock that year.”
4. (:18-22) No Land – All Land Acquired by Joseph
a. (:18-20) Acquiring Land and People
“And when that year was ended, they came to him the next year and said to him, ‘We will not hide from my lord that our money is all spent, and the cattle are my lord’s. There is nothing left for my lord except our bodies and our lands. Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we and our land will be slaves to Pharaoh. So give us seed, that we may live and not die, and that the land may not be desolate.’”
“So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh, for every Egyptian sold his field, because the famine was severe upon them. Thus the land became Pharaoh’s.”
Deffinbaugh: The sale of their livestock enabled the Egyptians to live through another year. As the following year approached, they found themselves once again appealing to Joseph for life-sustaining grain. They did not have either money or cattle, but they still possessed two valuable commodities: land and labor. At their own suggestion, the Egyptians exchanged their land and their labor for grain to survive the famine. Their land would belong to Pharaoh, they said, and they would be his slaves. Joseph also agreed to provide them with grain for seed when the famine ended and planting time came (47:18-19).
b. (:21-22) Exception: Priests Retained Their Land
“And as for the people, he removed them to the cities from one end of Egypt’s border to the other. Only the land of the priests he did not buy, for the priests had an allotment from Pharaoh, and they lived off the allotment which Pharaoh gave them. Therefore, they did not sell their land.”
Deffinbaugh: This was probably for a couple of administrative reasons. First of all, the grain was stored in the cities (41:35) and thus could be more efficiently distributed there. Perhaps also, removing the people from their land made the transfer of ownership more tangible and permanent. Once their land was left, the emotional attachment to it would tend to weaken.
B. (:23-26) Exalting the Leadership of Joseph
1. (:23-24) Defining the Feudal Agreement
“Then Joseph said to the people, ‘Behold, I have today bought you and your land for Pharaoh; now, here is seed for you, and you may sow the land. And at the harvest you shall give a fifth to Pharaoh, and four-fifths shall be your own for seed of the field and for your food and for those of your households and as food for your little ones.’”
2. (:25) Receiving Praise from the People
“So they said, ‘You have saved our lives! Let us find favor in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s slaves.’”
3. (:26) Codifying the Feudal Agreement – with One Exception
“And Joseph made it a statute concerning the land of Egypt valid to this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth; only the land of the priests did not become Pharaoh’s.”
III. (:27-31) JOSEPH’S FAITHFULNESS TO GOD’S COVENANT PURPOSES – PROMISING TO RETURN HIS FATHER’S BONES TO THEIR PROPER BURIAL PLACE IN THE LAND OF CANAAN
A. (:27-28) Historical Summary of God’s Providential Provision
1. (:27) Property / Possessions / Progeny
“Now Israel lived in the land of Egypt, in Goshen, and they acquired property in it and were fruitful and became very numerous.”
Parunak: This verse repeats the three themes from 11-12.
– Israel dwelt.—This is the same verb as “placed” in v.11. Joseph caused them to dwell, and they dwelt there.
– They had possessions.—This picks up “possession” in v.11, and reemphasizes that Israel gained land from the famine, while the rest of the Egyptians lost their land.
– They … grew, and multiplied.—This is the result of the sustenance with which Joseph provided them on an ongoing basis.
2. (:28) Long Life for Jacob
“And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years; so the length of Jacob’s life was one hundred and forty-seven years.”
B. (:29-31) Solemn Oath Confirming Joseph’s Faithfulness to God’s Covenant Promises
1. (:29-30) Content of the Oath
“When the time for Israel to die drew near, he called his son Joseph and said to him, ‘Please, if I have found favor in your sight, place now your hand under my thigh and deal with me in kindness and faithfulness. Please do not bury me in Egypt, but when I lie down with my fathers, you shall carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.’ And he said, ‘I will do as you have said.’”
2. (:31a) Confirmation of the Oath
“And he said, ‘Swear to me.’
So he swore to him.”
3. (:31b) Celebration of the Oath
“Then Israel bowed in worship at the head of the bed.”
Parunak: Notice both the content of this request, its seriousness, and the manner in which it is phrased.
Content. — Jacob recognizes that he will shortly die. He does not want to be buried in a strange land, but insists that Joseph enter into a solemn oath to return his body to Canaan for burial. This is a sign of his love for the land that God had promised his people, and of his faith in the promise of God to bring him back to the land (46:4). Like the previous two episodes in which Joseph’s family comes to Egypt, this one will also end with a return to Canaan. Moses is emphasizing that the migration is temporary, and is already looking forward to the return.
Seriousness. — Recall comments on 24:2, the only other oath made with the hand under the thigh. “The word “thigh” can be used euphemistically for the loins, cf. Gen 46:26; Ex 1:5. Understood in this way, such an oath is viewed as binding the one who takes the oath not only to the lord who imposes it, but also to his offspring. … The oath is being required by an old man who may die … before the promised action is completed. The offspring will have to oversee the execution of the promise.”
Manner. — We might expect Jacob, as the aged patriarch, to assert his superiority as head over the family to Joseph. Quite the contrary, he is submissive and acknowledges Joseph’s superiority to him, in two ways.
• 29, The clause “If I have found grace in thy sight” is a clear sign of deference. It is always addressed by an inferior to a superior, by one who is unworthy to one who is in a position to give grace. . .
• At this point Israel finally accepts fully the implications of the dream, and does obeisance to his son.