David Megaw - Joseph, Just One Life

In the first two verses of chapter 42, when Jacob saw there was corn in Egypt, he said, "Why? Why do ye look one upon another?…Buy for us from thence, that we may live, and not die."  Now just to paint you a little picture concerning this verse — this was the time two years after the seven plenteous years had passed in Egypt, seven years when it says the earth brought forth by handfuls and, of course, Joseph was given the responsibility of saving that harvest.  Well then, it tells us about this famine coming — and it is described as a sore famine.  Later on, it is described as being very sore, so we can understand what it was like during this time.  The famine was sore. 

Two years had passed and now seven more years had passed and it tells us in a previous verse in the former chapter that a dearth was in all the lands.  Further down, it says all countries came unto Egypt to buy corn — all lands.  In all lands.  Now, this famine wasn’t isolated to Egypt — it was in all the land.  People from all countries round about came to Joseph for corn.  Over in some of the other chapters, it tells us that Canaan was affected by this famine. 

We have read now that Jacob saw there was corn in Egypt, in Egypt. That would mean that a hungry man, his sons and their families were feeling the effects of the famine and were hungry.  The question uppermost in their minds was bread, getting bread, getting corn that they might live and not die.  Just by those few little words we see that the situation was serious and bread had become a vital question.  They weren’t so interested in silver or gold, it wasn’t such a big thing at that time.  Silver and gold could never have sustained that people no matter how much they might have had — it was bread they knew they needed to sustain the life they had.  The little picture I received was their concern for getting bread. 

When I read those verses it appealed to me what Jacob saw…God appealed to him through what he saw, and not only what he saw, but He appealed to him through what he heard.  This is often the way.  People are appealed to by what they see and what they hear.  We know ourselves even, when we look out in creation or whatever it might be, it either appeals to us or it doesn’t.  What we see, what we hear, and what this man saw appealed very much to his need because he had a need.  He knew his sons and their families had a need that was great and bread appealed to them. The answer to their need was down in Egypt, the only place in all the countries round about Egypt where there was corn.  Naturally Jacob said to his sons, "You get down to Egypt and buy us corn that we might live and not die."

 

I like to think why there was corn in Egypt and not anywhere else.  Why was there no corn except in Egypt?  It was mainly because of a young man down there who stood by himself with the fear of God in his heart; a young man who exercised his faith in many dark experiences.  He was Joseph.  You know how that young boy, 17 years of age, was wrenched away from his father and family, his closest connections on this earth, and the only thought in his mind was, "I’ll probably never see them again." But that didn’t alter his purpose to see and to keep true to God.  That would be a dark experience.  We probably can’t appreciate it or even understand it.  It was a very dark experience for this young man.  We know he was closely attached to his father, it was very strong and it was a tremendous break.  He was going to a people he had never met before, who didn’t think the same as he thought when it came to the things of God.  There was no one else in Egypt with the same kind of faith as Joseph had, no one who believed the same things of God.  But he was able to stand in the Way and his life was used wonderfully so bread was provided to all the countries round about.  Isn’t that a committed life? 


We can also say he was like a dying corn of wheat, nothing less than a dying corn of wheat which meant bread was available to all the other countries.  God worked through him to make an abundant provision— through one individual life.  You know, God doesn’t need lots of anything to perform His wonders when He has one life that will go the way He wants them to go, He only needs one.  He only needed one at that time and it meant provision being made, a wonderful provision, so the hungry peoples’ need would be met.  Just one man. 


You know what I thought about Joseph when I sat here in this meeting?  We read about his coat of many colours and I thought of Christ the Man. There were many things about Christ that Joseph reminded me of — Jesus’ many colours.  It was in and through His life that God’s Son’s provision has been made for the salvation of the whole world. 


I like to read about this provision and abundance when those boys went down into Egypt. They returned with their sacks full and not only that, they brought money to buy the corn. It was restored.  Then we read about the asses laden down with the corn of Egypt being returned to Jacob and his household, so their hunger would be met.  In later chapters, we read about 20 asses laden with the good things of Egypt, bread and corn and meat for Jacob.  Isn’t that just a little picture of the provision that was made for the hungry? God sent up to Jacob bread through Joseph’s efforts. 


You know, it was over 20 years now since Joseph had been taken away from his father’s house, 22 in fact, a long time, and during those years Joseph was on his own keeping true and being used of God.  God foresaw all this; God always sees the end from the beginning.  God foresaw the famine to come and planned that Joseph would go down into Egypt in the way that he did.  God had all this in mind from the very beginning.  The Lord has our future in mind, too.  He makes provision for us in the present for us to live in the future, to sustain and help see us through to the end of the journey.  All this happened with no credit to the Egyptians but credit goes to Joseph, because God was able to speak to him.  He was able to reveal the dream to Joseph, and it was through Joseph that God worked. 


Now what really appeals to me about what I have been telling you, is that as God’s people, we are really living, as it were, in Egypt today.  And we are still in Egypt.  This world is like Egypt and God, through the lives of His people still seeks to provide bread to hungry souls.  Think of all the people in the world, billions of people, there must still be a heart here and there, some with a real hunger in their soul for true bread.  I wonder if they, like Jacob, can see that.  In Egypt, there is corn only through God’s people showing evidence in their lives of being satisfied, honest and united by the love of God.  The only true corn found in the world today is the corn God provides, in and through His Kingdom or in and through His people in this world.  You know to my mind, it presents us with a real challenge to provide the true bread.

 

I’d like to give you a little illustration that bears out what I have been trying to say today.  I know a young man, middle-aged by now, some of you know him.  He is married with a young family; and his work was office work.  One day, a person came to him and said, “You seem to be contented; you have a peace I’ve never seen in anybody’s life before.  Would you tell me why that is?”  This man told that other person what he had in his life; how he had received it, and the hope and faith he had in Christ.  That man, after listening intently, was invited to come and hear the gospel, and he professed.  He has gone on and has done very well in the Truth in spite of facing, or living, in a very difficult circumstance.  To me, that man is just a little picture of a person providing corn to Egypt, true corn, and a hungry soul seeing it and wanting it just as Jacob and his household did, feeling their need for true corn.  The Lord has kept it there and we are very thankful for that. 


I’d like you to think along this line of thought today that this man, being able to see that need in Egypt shared it.  This young man Joseph, just one man at that time, 39 years of age when this story unfolds, and Jacob saw there was corn in Egypt.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Lord could help us, live in us, and through us, so He could provide corn?  The only hope today for a hungry world is through the dying lives of His people.