31 And Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s entire family, “I will go to Pharaoh and tell him, ‘My brothers and my father’s entire family have come to me from the land of Canaan. 32 These men are shepherds, and they raise livestock. They have brought with them their flocks and herds and everything they own.’”33 Then he said, “When Pharaoh calls for you and asks you about your occupation, 34 you must tell him, ‘We, your servants, have raised livestock all our lives, as our ancestors have always done.’ When you tell him this, he will let you live here in the region of Goshen, for the Egyptians despise shepherds.”
Genesis 47:5-6; 11-12
5 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you, 6 and the land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land. Let them live in Goshen. And if you know of any among them with special ability, put them in charge of my own livestock. ”So Joseph settled his father and his brothers in Egypt and gave them property in the best part of the land, the district of Rameses, as Pharaoh directed. Joseph also provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their children.
Family is what many of us consider to be the closest bond on earth, where we are supposed to experience love, protection and acceptance. Yet for Joseph his experience was one of heartache, being sold into slavery by his family. For over 10 years he has been alone and now as God brings them back into his life we get to see how he will respond. Instead of a payback, we see him interceding for them with Pharaoh because they have a problem; they are foreigners and shepherds, an abomination to the Egyptians. On their own, his family has no hope because of who they are, shepherds. But because Joseph intercedes for them, these despised strangers end up with:
- A Place in the best part of the land (vs.11)
- Provision of all the food they need (vs.12)
- Power- their brother is a ruler in Egypt
- Purpose- Pharaoh has put them in charge of his own livestock (vs.6).
We, like Joseph’s family, have a problem. We are sinners, despised strangers, and on our own without someone to intercede for us, we have no hope. Our Joseph is Jesus Christ, who suffered even more than Joseph so we could be saved. Just as God sent Joseph ahead through all the pain to intercede for his family, God sent Jesus to intercede for us. When we accept the free gift of forgiveness we can become a part of God’s family. We are no longer the despised strangers but the ones that God gives a place, provision, power and purpose.
This world is not our home but God has prepared a place for us and like Joseph’s family who were given property in the best part of the land God has prepared the best for us, He does not give us junk.
Hebrews 10:34 “You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.”
Joseph’s family came out of a famine and into a feast. They needed food to sustain them, to help them grow and Joseph provided exactly what they needed because he knew them, he knew how many of them there were. Jesus said in Matthew 4:4 “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Jesus knows what we need to grow and he provides it, the question is what are we filling ourselves with? Are we consuming what He has provided or are we trying to feed ourselves stumbling around in the famine of what this world has to offer only to go hungry? God gives us the provision of everything we need. Philippians 4:19 says, “My God will meet ALL your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Who is meeting your needs, who are you looking to for your provision?
Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive POWER when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
When we become a part of God’s family we receive His power, like Joseph’s brothers whose power did not come through their own effort or work but because they were connected to Joseph, they were part of the family.
In Ephesians 1, the Apostle Paul says, “I pray…that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know… his incomparably great POWER for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms far above all rule and authority, power and dominion…” (Ephesians 1:18-21).
Even though Joseph had incredible power, it is nothing compared to God’s resurrection power that is available to us. Yet do we understand what that power can do, are we willing to really plug into that power? Change only comes when we submit to His power at work within us. Ephesians 3:20 says, “He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” Whose power are you doing life in?
For many, finding purpose in life seems daunting. We are often overworked, stressed out, financially limited, emotionally drained and generally in a state of unrest. There are countless books, DVDs, and CDs to help people try every known way of looking for a purpose in life, and yet it continues to elude many. One of a Christian’s main purposes in life is to Go. Matthew 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” We are called to serve, to interceded for others, we can’t save them but we can lead them to the Savior. Joseph’s brothers were no longer just homeless wonders in charge of their own livestock but now they have been put in charge of the king’s livestock. What are you living for? What herds are you shepherding, your own or the kings?