When the seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end,
I. CONSIDER THE POLICY OF THIS EGYPTIAN PRIME MINISTER. Many things we admire in Joseph, but we must not be blind to the fact that he thought more of binding the people to the throne than of benefiting the people themselves. He was the first statesman of that day. His policy determined in great measure what should be the standard of internal prosperity, and what position the country should hold in the eyes of other nations. He sought to make Pharaoh's rule absolute. He gave no benefit without payment, no supplies without sacrifice. He took all the money first (Genesis 47:14), then the cattle (ibid. ver. 16), then the lands and their persons (ibid. ver. 23). He thus reduced the people of Egypt to the position of slaves. He made all the land crown lands. Thus the monarch was pleased, and the priests, being exempt, were flattered. It is possible that in this Joseph laid the foundation of that system of mismanagement, which has made the most flourishing spot in the world the basest of kingdoms. He seems also to have striven to give some sort of preeminence to his brethren, and to advance them. Exempt from the burdens pressing on others, they gained power, and would have become eventually the dominant race in Egypt, but that another Pharaoh arose who knew not Joseph, i.e. who, although he knew of his having lived and served the nation, yet recognized not his policy. The state to which Joseph reduced the Egyptians was that to which afterwards his own descendants were reduced. Thus our plans are overthrown. Time tries success, and by removing dimness from our vision enables us to test it better.
II. CONSIDER THE PRIVATE LIFE OF THIS EGYPTIAN PRIME MINISTER, He was soon led to conform to the spirit and practice of an ungodly nation. He used a divining cup (Genesis 44:15, 16), took his meals apart (Genesis 43:32), recognizing and sustaining class distinctions. He learned the mode of speech common among the Egyptians, swore by the life of Pharaoh (Genesis 42:15), and was affianced to an idolatress, probably a priestess (Genesis 41:45). He made no effort to return to his own land, or to the pastoral life of his fathers. It was in his power also for nine years to have sent to make search for his father, who was sorrowing for him as dead, but he sent not. Not until trouble, by an apparent chance, drove his brethren to him did he appear to think of them, or of home and Jacob. When they came he was very slow to make known himself, as though he feared it might compromise him in the eyes of the Egyptians to be known to have relatives who were shepherds, an occupation which was abominable to the Egyptians (Genesis 46:34). When he revealed himself to them, it was without the knowledge or presence of the Egyptians. He removed his brethren also to a distant part of Egypt: that they might not constantly, by their presence, remind him and others of his origin. We fancy that Joseph had weaknesses and imperfections such as other men had. He had dwelt in Egypt and caught its spirit. In the names he gave to his children there seems some indication of regret at his forgetfulness and wonder at his fruitfulness. Amid views that might depress there is some brightness. His forgiveness of his brethren was noble. His affection for his father returned. His faith in God was pure at last. Dying, he "gave commandment concerning his bones." He showed that though outwardly an Egyptian, he was inwardly an Israelite. - H.
1. Providence puts an end to plenty at His will, however sensual men think not of it.
I. JOSEPH OPENED THE STOREHOUSES BY ROYAL AUTHORITY.
Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians.I. JOSEPH'S ADMINISTRATION.
1. It showed great prudence and skill.
2. It showed a spirit of dependence upon God.
3. It was the exhibition of a character worthy of the highest confidence.
1. How quickly adversity awaits upon prosperity.
2. What an advantage to have a true and powerful friend in the day of calamity.
3. God often brings about His purposes of love and mercy by affliction.
(T. H. Leale.)
1. The king was only to be approached through Joseph (ver. 55). So with Jesus (John 14:6).
2. The king commanded that Joseph should be obeyed (ver. 55; see John 5:23).
3. In all the land no other could open a storehouse save Joseph (see John 3:35).
II. JOSEPH WAS A FIT PERSON TO BE THUS AUTHORIZED TO OPEN THE STOREHOUSES,
1. He planned the storehouses, and was justly appointed to control them (vers. 33-36, 38).
2. He carried out the storage, and so proved himself practical as well as inventive (ver. 49).
3. He did it on a noble scale (ver. 49).
III. JOSEPH ACTUALLY OPENED THE STOREHOUSES.
1. For this purpose he filled them. Grace is meant to be used.
2. To have kept them closed would have been no gain to him.
3. He opened them at a fit time (vers. 55, 56).
4. He kept them open while the famine lasted.
IV. JOSEPH OPENED THE STOREHOUSE TO ALL COMERS. Yet Joseph did but sell, while Jesus gives without money.
V. JOSEPH ACQUIRED POSSESSION OF ALL EGYPT FOR THE KING. Full submission and consecration are the grand result of infinite love.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
2. The fruitfulest land becometh barren if God speak the word; even Egypt.
3. Periods of full conditions are observable by men; God's Spirit notes them (ver. 54).
4. In the design of Providence, wants succeed plenty at the heels.
5. Entrance of dearth, though grievous, yet may make but small impression on souls.
6. Not a word of God falleth to the ground, but as He saith, so it is.
7. Providence orders lands for scarcity as well as plenty.
8. God can give bread to Egypt when He denieth it to other nations for His own ends (ver. 54).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
2. Wants make nations stoop and seek about for the support of life.
3. Grace can make poor captives become preservers of nations.
4. Sore plagues may be made to make men inquire after and prize abused mercies.
5. General judgments are sent to manifest God's special ends of grace to His (ver. 57).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
(M. Doris, D. D.)Ephesians 3:8: "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ." "Riches of Christ!" said he to himself;" 'Unsearchable riches of Christ!' What have I preached of these? What do I know of these?" Under the blessing of the Spirit of God he was thus awakened to a new life and a new ministry. Are there not some yet living who might put to their own consciences similar questions?
( C. H. Spurgeon.)Ephesians 1:3). Our election is by Him (ver. 4). Our adoption is by Him (ver. 5). Our redemption and remission of sins are both through Him. All the gracious transactions between God and His people are through Christ. God loves us through Christ; He hears our prayers through Christ; He forgives us all our sins through Christ. Through Christ He justifies us; through Christ He sanctifies us; through Christ Pie upholds us; through Christ He perfects us. All His relations to us are through Christ; all we have is from Christ; all we expect to have hangs upon Him. He is the golden hinge upon which all our salvation turns.
(George Lawson, D. D.).
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