Genesis 47:11-27 God blesses those who has faith in Him and who are loyal to their church
11 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. 12 Joseph provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to their little ones.
13 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. 14 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. 15 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.” 16 Then Joseph said, “Give up your livestock, and I will give you food for your livestock, since your money is gone.” 17 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. 18 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. 19 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.”
20 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. 21 As for the people, he removed them to the cities from one end of Egypt’s border to the other. 22 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. 23 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. 24 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.” 25 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.” 26 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. 27 Now Israel lived in the land of Egypt, in Goshen, and they acquired property in it and were fruitful and became very numerous.
By virtue of their relationship with Joseph, the Israelites received provisions of food and were granted the best of the land. So much so their privileges stood in stark contrast with the average Egyptian as they were accorded with rights equal to that of priests. The Israelites received divine protection from the famine because they had faith in the God of Abraham and were loyal to one another. In today’s devotion, we learn that faith in God and loyalty to men are critical components to experiencing divine abundance as God has intended.
So Joseph settled his father and his brothers and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt.
The holy family was given special privileges, more rights than the typical Egyptian. Firstly, they were given land (Joseph… gave them a possession in the land of Egypt), not just any land but the best of the land. Secondly, they were given food without the mention of them paying for it (Joseph provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food). The privileges were accorded by virtue of their relationship with Joseph who was seen as the saviour in Egypt.
Now there was no food in all the land, because the famine was very severe.
The famine systematically depleted the resources of the people inevitably ceding their land and themselves to state control. First, the Egyptians exchange money for food (v.13-14). Then, they mortgaged herds for grain (v.15-17). And they eventually mortgaged their land and became slaves for food (v.18-26). Considering their current predicament, the arrangement was considered an act of mercy. As royal slaves, they need not be concerned about food supply, for that has become the Pharaoh’s responsibility. In exchange for their land, they were given food and seed for sowing of which 80% of the yield would be retained by the grower saved 20% to be given to the state. What Joseph had instituted expediently by way of the famine has become the basis of the 20% income tax in Egypt: Joseph made it a statute concerning the land of Egypt valid to this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth.
As for the people, he removed them to the cities from one end of Egypt’s border to the other.
The priests of the land had special privileges and were given food. Hence, they need not sell their land: for the priests had an allotment from Pharaoh, and they lived off the allotment which Pharaoh gave them. But the rest of the people had to cede land to the state in exchange for food. And this gave the state the right to relocate the population for national interests. This is not uncommon, for we have seen instances in parts of the world where whole villages were relocated for labour distribution or for land planning purposes.
Now Israel lived in the land of Egypt, in Goshen, and they acquired property in it and were fruitful and became very numerous.
The Israelites were fruitful and became very numerous while the rest of the nation languished in famine. Both the Israelites and the Egyptians dwell in proximity to each other and lived under the same weather condition. But the life in Goshen is abundant and free whereas the rest of Egypt live in utter poverty and slavery. Israel’s fruitfulness can only be attributed to none other than divine intervention and favour. Joseph’s intervention gave the Israelites a reprieve, but divine provision, made them exceedingly fruitful and numerous.
God blesses those who has faith in Him and who are loyal to their church.
Joseph’s family enjoyed special rights for they had food and settled in the best of the land. Israel’s treatment stood in stark contrast with the average Egyptian for they were accorded with privileges almost equal to that of priests. It is important to note that the privileges the Israelites enjoyed was only by virtue of their familial relationship with Joseph, the saviour of all the land. And not forgetting that Joseph was providentially raised up as saviour because he is the son of Jacob, the possessor of the Abrahamic covenant.
There is a system through which divine blessing and protection are accorded; they are not equally experienced by all people. Divine blessing is founded first by faith in Jesus Christ and realised through loyalty to a physical church on earth. Both faith in Christ and loyalty to the local church are necessary components to experiencing grace as God intended. Faith, which acknowledges Christ as the Lord and Saviour grants the believer entrance into God’s kingdom. But unless he develops submission and loyalty to the church and to the pastor, he cannot experience grace as God has intended. Even as the believer’s faith is in God, divine blessings flow through channels of those divinely designated as the anointed in their respective churches. God declared to Jacob, ”And in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed” Genesis 28:14b. Jesus said to Peter, ”You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” Matthew 16:18. This timeless system through which believers receive divine grace in the Old Testament and the New Testament times continues to operate today.
Many churchgoers harbour no loyalty to the church or to their pastor, their loyalty is to a personal agenda or to certain ideals. Hence, they are inclined to “friendship” and “personal vision” as opposed to submission and loyalty; they are present to serve themselves, not the church. Thus, many come to a “middle ground” as opposed to wholehearted loyalty to the church’s vision. Even if they do settle in a place of choice, their self-centred mindset continues. As a result, they cannot experience in full what God had intended for them. Should the twelve sons of Jacob fail in their test of loyalty to one another as occasioned by Joseph, they would not have survived the famine. The psalmist sang about the abundance of blessing upon a united people,
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brothers to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Coming down upon the beard,
Even Aaron’s beard,
Coming down upon the edge of his robes.
It is like the dew of Hermon
Coming down upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the Lord commanded the blessing—life forever. Psalms 133
That said, the believer’s loyalty must not arise from human sentiment but from his faith in the truth; as long as the believer understands faith and loyalty, it matters less which church he goes to. As long as the church teaches the truth, it will draw people of the truth and loyalty no matter how unglamorous the church may appear. For people must be united by the truth as opposed to form or culture. Nevertheless, if the church persevere in teaching and living out the truth, they will grow and eventually become mighty in the land.
The Israelites were despised and sneered upon by the Egyptians as detestable in their trade. However, their prosperity by virtue of their faith and loyalty to one another is evident to all. One cannot help but notice in today’s Israel, their enduring distinctive of faith and loyalty that made them what they are, a strong and prosperous nation.
Do you see the church as a means to fulfil your personal agenda and need? The church serves to fulfill the following objectives:
- To teach truths that will enable discernment towards a prosperous and blessed life.
- To function as a channel of divine grace and provision for abundant living.
- To serve as a means through which believers serve and fulfil their calling.
The believer expresses faith and loyalty in the following ways:
- He diligently clarifies what is taught by the church. He studies the word to find out if what is taught is true. And he actively teaches it to others.
- He is sensitive to other people’s needs and that of the leaders. Loyalty translates into carrying for others.
- He is committed to the church’s local and overseas ministries and actively contributes to it.
Dear Lord, I thank you that my faith is built on your word and I express my faith by being loyal to the church that you have planted me in. Cause me to persevere in doing what is right to establish your kingdom. Bless me and protect my family, my church and my community from famine and dangers. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.