So when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried out to Pharaoh for bread, and Pharaoh said to the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph, whatever he says to do, you shall do,” Genesis 41:55.
The favoritism of Jacob toward his son Joseph, coupled with the jealousy of his brothers, persuaded them to sell Joseph into slavery when he was seventeen years old, and lie to their father, saying that a wild beast had killed his beloved son, and the blood on the multi-colored coat, was positive proof of the tragedy. So Jacob mourned the loss of his son for many years and the brothers of Joseph continued to live out their lie. Meanwhile Joseph had prospered in the land of Egypt and was eventually placed in a leadership role of Potiphar’s many holdings. The handsome young Joseph was continually being seduced by Potiphar’s wife but Joseph resisted her advances. When she grabbed hold of his garment one day, and brazenly said to Joseph, “Come lie with me. My husband is away,” Joseph fled, saying, “How can I do this great evil and sin against God?” The spurned adulteress then falsely accused Joseph of making advances toward her. Potiphar had his prized and gifted worker thrown into prison. While there, God’s hand continued to be on Joseph and he prospered there as well, interpreting the dreams of two fellow prisoners, the chief cupbearer and baker. The cupbearer would be released in three days and the baker would be hung from a tree in three days. Joseph asked the cupbearer to remember him before Pharaoh. He forgot. But later Pharaoh had a troubling dream-seven lean cows and seven fat cows. When no one could interpret the dream, the cupbearer remembered Joseph, informed Pharaoh of Joseph’s revelation to him, and Joseph was summoned. The seven fat cows represented seven years of plenty while the seven thin cows prophesied seven years of famine. Joseph was made Pharaoh’s chief executive officer, overseeing the stockpiling of food during the seven years of plenty, and then managing the food distribution and collection of money for the starving multitudes who came for food.
This brings us to the text stated earlier. The people of Egypt were famished, suffering untold misery and starvation. They watched as their animals and little ones perished from the famine. When in this desperate state, when all seemed to be lost, the people fled to Pharaoh for help. He told them to go to Joseph, to do whatever he told them.
Do we not clearly see the parallels between Joseph and Jesus? The Old Testament is a shadow of what is to come in the fullness of New Testament revelation. Joseph became a savior to the desperate, famished people of Egypt; and later, to Jacob and his sons, the covenant people of God. While Joseph was abundantly able to supply food for physical sustenance, Jesus is the One who supplies Himself, the manna which has come down from heaven, the only lover of our soul who can abundantly, overwhelmingly, and supernaturally supply all our needs. When the sons of Jacob later came to Joseph for food, he had them arrested as spies and imprisoned them for three days. They did not recognize Joseph nor did they understand what was happening to them. They were in prison but it was Joseph’s prison. He would take care of them while they suffered. Their suffering, ultimately, was to sanctify them for greater things. A child ought willingly to receive the rod of a loving father, trusting him for what it will produce in maturity. After their release Joseph had their bags filled with corn. They had come to him empty handed but he supplied abundantly. He had more than enough food for them. The riches of Christ are unfathomable, abundant, beyond anything we can imagine or think.
My friends-are you famished? If you are not yet in Christ, if you are not a true believer, then you are famished even though you know it not. You have long sought for sustenance from pleasure. Man always is looking for pleasure, and he seeks it wherever he thinks he can secure it. Early in a boy’s life, he often seeks it through participation in sports. By his late teens, into his twenties he believes he can find it in women. By his thirties until the end of his life he seeks it in power, money, prestige, and possessions. What he needs is spiritual food which only the Lord Jesus, the manna which has come down from heaven, can supply; but he looks for it elsewhere. What about you? Are you seeking psychological wellness from a therapist or from anti-depressant medication? Are you seeking it in politics, living or dying with the candidates you support, the legislation you labor to have passed or blocked? Are you living your life through your children, being up or down according to their performances in sports or academics? Are you dominated by your favorite sports team, living or dying with their next performance? Until you realize this dead end street, you will never run to the true source of sustenance. You will return time after time to the folly of your own degradation. As the Egyptians were instructed to go to Joseph, so you must go to Jesus. Only Joseph had the material abundance the people needed and craved. Only Jesus has the spiritual, eternal food you must have. Without it you will surely die. And if you are a follower of Jesus, one who is born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, then you still may be looking to cardboard and dust to satisfy the hunger in your heart. What folly!
Believer and unbeliever alike tend to look to the creation rather than the Creator and Redeemer for sustenance. Not until the Egyptians saw their desperate state did they run to Pharaoh for help. And what will drive you to desperation? Only the law of God will do. For the unbeliever, it shows his condemned position before the Holy One who will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. He has served many other gods. He has repeatedly taken the Lord’s name in vain, accusing God of malfeasance when things do not go his way. He has neglected the Lord’s Day and worked, recreated, and totally ignored the clear admonition to focus that one day on the Lord of glory. He has neglected to show care, respect, and honor to his parents; and he has repeatedly failed to submit to the many authorities in his life-his boss, the police, the local, state, and federal laws. He has murdered others with his racial hatred, bigotry, or has allowed bitterness to dominate him. He has committed adultery with his eyes and with his body, dealing treacherously with the wife of his youth. He has stolen from his employer, his government, and his friends. He has lied, putting others in a very bad light. He has desired the wealth of others, being consumed with jealousy. He must see his desperate need, that to disobey one law is to be guilty of breaking all the laws of God (James 2:10). He must be convinced, therefore, of his perilous condition, that he is spiritually and morally bankrupt, that he is out of options, that he is headed for perdition, eventually standing before the Holy One, and hearing the most awful words imaginable-“Depart from Me, accursed ones into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels, ” (Matthew 25:41). Do you see how desperate your situation is? Without this desperation you will never truly go to Jesus.
And Christian, you are to perfect holiness in the fear of God, you are to walk by the Spirit, you are to obey God from the heart in gratitude. The law of God also shows you how desperate your situation is. When you see it, then you too must run to Jesus, not for salvation, but for sanctification, all the while remembering that you have no holiness in yourself. Jesus is your sanctification and holiness (1 Corinthians 1:30). “O the depths of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God. How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable his ways,” (Romans 11:33). You are infinitely rich in Jesus. You don’t need to settle for leeks and onions in Egypt. Go daily into the promised land, flowing with the milk and honey of Christ’s presence and love. When you eat of His flesh and drink of His blood, you will never thirst (John 6:35).