We read today that Joseph becomes Egypt’s Prime Minister. After interpreting Pharaoh’s dream, he is put in charge. Pharaoh provides Joseph with his own signet ring, a wife, clothes, and transportation. Basically, Pharaoh gives Joseph everything a man could ask for.
Per his recommendation to Pharaoh, for the next seven years, Joseph collects 20% of all of the grain grown in Egypt. Then for the next seven years, Joseph sells the grain back to the people of Egypt. Joseph also sells grain to the surrounding countries because the famine is so great.
Now, I don’t know about the economic situation in Egypt at the time, but this sounds like a double-taxation. First, the people are taxed 20% and then they have to buy back what they were taxed. (Genesis 41:34, 56-57) But, on the other hand, it’s possible that Pharaoh owned everything and the people merely grew the grain for him. I suspect this was the case. But why did God tell Joseph to collect 20% instead of just over 14% (1/7 of the grain) for distributing back over the next seven years? Notice that Joseph sold some of the grain to the surrounding countries. In order to do this, Joseph would need more than enough to cover the seven years of famine.
God provided for Jacob/Israel’s family by Joseph storing up excess grain in Egypt. Who would have thought that God would use a pagan nation to supply the needs for His people? God did.
God calls His children to be good stewards of His riches. God wants His children to lend, not borrow. (Deuteronomy 15:6) And right after God says this, He tells His people to be generous in lending and not be greedy in charging interest to the borrower, especially when lending to another member of God’s family. (Deuteronomy 15:7-11) He also notes that debts are to be canceled every seven years. All of this demonstrates God’s generosity toward people, especially His people.
In last night’s Sunday Night Bible Study on Mark 8, we talked about Jesus’ miraculous feeding of well over nine thousand people (including the story from Mark 6) from just a few loaves of bread and a few fish. Baskets (both small and large baskets) of leftovers were collected. In my preparation before our study, I learned that the “broken pieces” collected in the baskets weren’t crumbs. Instead, they were leftovers from the original “broken” loaves of bread and fish! When Jesus performs a miracle, He does it abundantly!
God still does miracles. Although He doesn’t promise material blessings to His people in exchange for their obedience, we know that God loves His people. The greatest blessing His people could ever have is God Himself. At the same time, we know that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. (Psalm 50:10)
If you have material needs, God is only a prayer away. Maybe you need to be a better steward of what God provides in order to cover your needs. But occasionally, we need a little additional help. Know that it’s ok to ask God to slaughter one of those cows on one of those thousand hills. And don’t be surprised if He does! Because He is a good God. He does everything well and gives abundantly beyond what we could ask or even think! (Ephesians 3:20)
You may feel that you shouldn’t ask God for stuff. You may feel that you need to work things out on your own. After all, God helps those who help themselves, right? Uh, no! You won’t find that principle anywhere in the Bible; Ben Franklin — a Deist — wrote that famous unbiblical quote in Poor Richard’s Almanac.
Remember that if God is the Provider (and He is), you glorify Him by asking Him to provide!