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By: Larry Shaffer
A Big God
Joseph, lesson 31
Now when the news was heard in Pharaoh’s house that Joseph’s brothers had come, it pleased Pharaoh and his servants. Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Say to your brothers, ‘do this: load your beasts and go to the land of Canaan, and take your father and your households and come to me, and I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you will eat the fat of the land.’ Now you are ordered, ‘Do this: take wagons from the land of Egypt for your little ones and for your wives, and bring your father and come.’
‘Do not concern yourselves with your goods, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.’ Genesis 45:16-20
When reading Bible narratives, such as this, I try to keep in my mind that there is a ‘big picture’ plan that God is unfolding within the story. In addition, He is giving particular attention to the individual lives that He is affecting while accomplishing His large-scale purposes. It’s the same thing in our lives. We are not the center of the world. Jesus is the center of the universe. God is accomplishing His large-scale plan around us and we are His subjects in His massive production.
The world stage that we observe daily on the 24-hour news channels is a whirlwind of events; seen and unseen, moving toward a crescendo of phenomenal happenings, culminating soon in every knee bowing and every tongue confessing that Jesus is Lord. With that in mind, God cares for us greatly. He gives full and focused attention to every detail of our being. We lack nothing from Him. He gives us the full breadth and depth of His care and concern.
He is so great and so big that He is able to orchestrate all the events of world history while at the same time, caring about my sniffly nose or scratchy throat. I am not the center of the world, but nevertheless, I am the apple of His eye.
The Big Picture
Back to the story…God is fulfilling His covenant promises to Jacob which includes land, seed and a great nation. The promised land is Canaan. There is also the promise of a great nation that will come from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Finally, the promise of the seed of the woman who will be the Messiah.
What’s interesting is that at this point in Israel’s history, God takes them out of Canaan (for now) where Jacob was living with his clan of about 75 people and sets them up in Egypt. He removes them from the promised land, for now. He sets them up in style whereby the Pharaoh gives them the best of all the land. (God holds the king’s heart in the palm of His hand.) With five years still remaining of the famine, Jacob’s clan would have died off if they remained in Canaan. Egypt becomes an incubator for this clan and they flourish and multiply into a nation of millions. God is working out His big-picture plan and fulfilling His covenant promises.
The promise of the land will be delayed while the nation grows in number and while the line of the Messiah, through Judah, is sustained in Egypt. The return to the promised land will come later through the Exodus and the leadership of Joshua.
While God is orchestrating His plan, He is giving attention to the physical and spiritual development of His beloved people. He has sustained Joseph through both the pain and despair of prison and through the allure of riches and power. He has transformed the lives of the brothers with special attention to the redemption of Judah and the development of his spiritual character and leadership.
Father, today is just another day; beginning and ending in the most ordinary of ways. But the reality is, You are working; working within every detail of the universe and within every detail of my ordinary life. This day will bring me closer to my home. Yes, you provide the provisions of Pharaoh in our lives for now, but life in Egypt is not my home. Take me closer this day to my promised land and as You move me closer, may I be faithful, humble and obedient. To You belongs all glory! Amen.