A sweet reunion finally occurs. Jacob and all his family have moved down to Egypt. Genesis 46:29 records this sweet reunion between Joseph and his father who he has not seen for more than 22 years. Jacob and the eleven sons settle in the land of Goshen. Genesis 47 records the severity of the famine. The famine is so severe that the Egyptians no longer have money to buy grain from Joseph (47:15). So the Egyptians ask Joseph what they are to do since they have no money to buy food any longer. Joseph accepts the Egyptians’ livestock in trade for grain. But that lasts about a year and the famine continues to be severe (47:18). So the Egyptians come to Joseph and say that they need grain again but they don’t have anything to trade because all that they have left are their bodies and their land. So the Egyptians offer to sell their land to Egypt in exchange for grain. So all the land of Egypt becomes owned by Pharaoh. Further, Joseph gives the Egyptians seed to sow in the land they just bought. Twenty percent of the harvest will belong to Pharaoh and the rest will belong to the Egyptians to live on. The Egyptians are grateful and happy with the administration of Joseph over the land of Egypt.
God Will Provide
The author is trying to show us something amazing in this text. The Egyptians are suffering under this famine. They are out of money. They have to sell their livestock. They have to sell their possessions. They have to sell their land. They have to sell themselves as slaves. But listen to the words recorded in Genesis 47:27.
Thus Israel settled in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen. And they gained possessions in it, and were fruitful and multiplied greatly. (Genesis 47:27 ESV)
Israel was gaining possessions in Egypt and are fruitful in Egypt while the Egyptians are languishing. We are seeing the rich provisions of God as he provides particularly for those who are his covenant people. This truth still remains as a promise by God to his people.
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:31–34 ESV)
You will not be rich and famous. But will provide. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. This is our faith. By faith we seek first everything about Jesus and his kingdom relying on the promise that God will take care of the rest of the things we need because he knows that we need them. So here is God providing for Israel. He does not leave them in Canaan to die in the famine. God moves them to Egypt through the sinful actions of Jacob’s sons. Now God provides again for Israel. While Egypt is suffering under the famine and selling everything they have, God is providing what Israel needs and his people are gaining. A beautiful picture of God’s covenant promises at work. A beautiful picture of the rich provisions of God.
A Greater Prosperity
Even though God is providing for Israel while in Egypt and the people are gaining possessions, Jacob has a different focus. Look at what Jacob says to Joseph in Genesis 47:29-31. Jacob demands that his son Joseph make a covenant with him to not bury his body in Egypt but to bury him in the promised land, in the cave of Machpelah, where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, and Leah are buried. No matter how well things go in Egypt, this is not where they belong. God has a place for them and that place was not Egypt. Jacob is showing faith in the promises of God. God had promised them the land and Jacob did not care about Egypt. The rich provision of God was not to look at the prosperity of Egypt, but to the promises of God and that promised land.
How need to have the same eyes of faith that we see Jacob having in his God. We live here and we thank God for his provisions in this life. But this earth is not our focus. Our focus and our hope is the promised land of eternity with God in heaven. Jesus has gone and prepared a place for his disciples through his death and resurrection. That is the home we desire. We desire the rich provisions of God in the heavenly places, not this earthly place. Our desire must always be what we read Paul declaring — going to home to God.
I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. (Philippians 1:23 ESV)
Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8 ESV)
If these words are not true for our lives, then it reveals to us that we have bound our hope in this world. We have too much invested in this life and are unwilling to let go of this land. Notice that Paul says it is his desire to go to be with the Lord in eternity. It is not his resignation that he has to leave this world to be with the Lord. It is his desire! Friends, we are in Egypt right now. Yes, we have prosperity. Yes, God has richly provided for us. But we want the home with God. If God says that today is my last day to live, I am not begging for 50 more years. I am ready to be at home with my God. Never forget that we are only in Egypt looking forward to the redemption of our bodies and our full adoption as his children (Romans 8:23).
This rich provision of God to be adopted as his children is the final concept we will look at in our study today. It is our adoption as God’s children that gives us hope to be with the Lord for eternity and not grasp on to every breath in this life. Genesis 48 records Jacob beginning to give his blessings on the family as he is about to die. Since it is the end of Jacob’s life, Joseph has come to Jacob to see him before he dies. Joseph brings his two sons. Remember these two sons were born in Egypt to his Egyptian wife, whom he named Manasseh and Ephraim. But listen to the words of Jacob:
And now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon are. (Genesis 48:5 ESV)
Jacob says that these two sons of Joseph do not belong to Egypt. They belong to Israel. They are to be treated equally in the family of Israel just as Reuben and Simeon are, the first two children of Jacob. They are not to be treated as outsiders but as full blood like the rest of the Jacob’s sons. Manasseh and Ephraim, children born outside the land, outside the covenant, to a foreign woman are adopted into Israel, God’s family. All the descendants of Joseph will belong under the rights of Manasseh and Ephraim.
Then to confirm this amazing picture, Jacob lays his hands on the two sons. The firstborn should be under the right hand of Jacob as he begins the blessing. But Jacob crosses his hands as he starts to bless them. Joseph is displeased with this and takes Jacob’s hand off of Ephraim and begins to uncross his arms so that his right hand moves to Manasseh. But Jacob refuses (48:19). The younger brother is going to be greater than the older and then Jacob pronounces his blessings. Not only are Joseph’s children fully adopted into the family of Israel, the latter child, not the firstborn, continues to receive the blessings. God keeps doing this in the book of Genesis. Remember that Isaac is receives the blessing, not Ishmael the firstborn. Jacob receives the blessing, not Esau the firstborn. Judah is going to receive the blessing, not Reuben the firstborn. Of Judah’s children, Perez will receive the blessing, not Zerah the firstborn (38:27-30). Now Ephraim receives the blessing, not Manasseh the firstborn.
Do you see the picture? Order is not the deciding factor in receiving God’s covenant blessings. God is teaching a subtle message that the electing grace of God does not follow rules. The second receives the blessing not the first and God is able to bring outsiders into his covenant of grace. This is God’s foreshadowing in Genesis which is fully realized in Christ. The message of salvation, election, and grace in the New Testament is that the second, the Gentiles, rather than the first, the Jews, would be adopted into God’s family and receive full covenant blessings from God. We get to be like Ephraim, with no right to belong to Israel, the people of God, but now fully adopted. Gentiles, outsiders who are full of sin, can come into God’s kingdom and be full participants and full heirs of the promises of God. You can be adopted as God’s children and receive all of God’s blessings and mercy. No longer set your heart on this earth for we in merely in Egypt. Set your heart on eternity with Christ and see the rich provisions of God that can be received as his children. This is God’s grace to you so that you can overcome the trials, suffering, and pain that comes in this life. Our hope is in eternity and not in the affairs of this earth.