Famine of the Heart

Genesis 47:25 “’You have saved our lives,’ they said. ‘May we find favor in the eyes of our lord; we will be in bondage to Pharaoh’” (NIV).

Observation: Joseph was governor of Egypt, in charge of all grain distribution, as famine grew more severe. In payment for grain, Joseph collected all the money to be found in Egypt (Ex. 47:14) yet still the famine continued. Still needy, the people sold Pharaoh their livestock for food until no private ownership of animals remained anywhere in the country (v. 17). Finally, the people offered their land and themselves as slaves to Pharaoh in exchange for personal sustenance and for seed for a new crop when the famine ended (v. 19). Then, in utter poverty and dependency, they said, “You have saved our lives. May we find favor in the eyes of our lord; we will be in bondage to Pharaoh.”

Application: I should first see the natural progression here. When famine began, people had some cash reserves that they gladly spent to save their lives, gaining for themselves a measure of temporary relief. Then, since famine continued but with life savings spent, Joseph suggested they give more substantial assets to sustain life. Flocks and herds represented part of their capital endowment—assets that produced renewable benefit such as eggs, milk, cheese, skins for clothing, and offspring for butcher. But again, their relief was only temporary. At last, with nothing left with which to stave off death, it occurred that they might give themselves and their land to Pharaoh, not to just sustain life for another year, but to acquire seed for future life.

As the story unfolds, does Joseph seem a hard taskmaster, requiring their all in return for life? Does the thought occur that if he were a godly man, or even just a nice man, he would have simply given the king’s food to the needy at no cost?

I must see myself in this story. I am one of those needy ones. I have found myself in a famine of the heart, desperate for life-giving, lasting nourishment. Shall I value something that cost me nothing? The life my King is so eager to bestow has cost Him everything; should I not be required to follow His example in complete surrender?

O to be in the same place as Joseph’s subjects, who gave no hint of resentment. They willingly surrendered their fancy camels with on-board navigation, their time-share tents, their entertainment campfires. But rather than resentment, I hear gratitude: “You have saved our lives. May we find favor in your eyes. We will serve you, love you, forever.” They found themselves utterly dependent upon the resources of the king. Nothing less will give me more than temporary relief. Nothing less will satisfy Him.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, through Joseph’s wise stewardship You have shown all I gain by giving up all I have. O my God! What an awesome exchange!

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