Summary: What Joseph did was to take steps to save the nation. He took steps to bring everything in Egypt under the authority of the throne. You can see this played out in these verses.
As I read the story of Joseph, I am convinced that he had his act together. He is a man who knows how to handle himself in all kinds of situations.
For the last few weeks, we have been covering the details of Joseph’s relationship with his brothers and his father. Those events are the primary emphasis of these chapters. But, it is easy to forget that while Joseph was dealing with his brothers, he was also managing a crisis in Egypt. By the time Joseph faces this time of trouble, he has become master of crisis management. Consider the trials he had already faced and overcome.
• His mother died while he was young.
• His family was in a state of constant upheaval.
• There was jealousy, hatred and infighting within his family.
• He was betrayed and sold into slavery by his brothers.
• He was lied on and falsely accused in Egypt.
• He was imprisoned.
• The butler, who promised to help him, forgot about him for two years.
• He was suddenly promoted to a position of prominence, power and responsibility.
• He suddenly finds himself occupied with preparing an entire nation to deal with a famine.
• In every crisis he faces, Joseph displayed exceptional wisdom and faith.
In this passage, we are allowed to witness how the Lord used Joseph to prevent a nation from descending into starvation and anarchy. We get the see Joseph use all his skills of Crisis Management.
Genesis 42:1-47:12 is a parentheses passage. As we pick up the story of Joseph today, we see that the verses we have read are a recap of Gen. 41:53-57. In that passage, the people are hungry and they come to Pharaoh for help. His advice to them is clear, “Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do,” Gen. 41:55. That is what the people did, and they survived that famine as a result. The people were brought to the end of themselves and of their own resources. They turned to Joseph because they knew there was no future apart from him.
What Joseph did was to take steps to save the nation. He took steps to bring everything in Egypt under the authority of the throne. You can see this played out in these verses.
• Joseph took control of their Money (v. 13-14): Joseph took control of all the money in the land. All of the people were placed on the same level. There were no longer rich people and poor people, there were just people. Every dime was brought under the control of the throne.
That is where our money needs to be as well. We should strive to bring every cent we possess under the control of the Lord. Let Him use it in His work as He sees fit.
• Joseph took control of their Possessions (v. 15-17): When the money ran out, the people traded their livestock and their possessions for food. Everything they possessed was brought under the control of the throne.
Shouldn’t the same thing be true in our lives? Everything we have should be dedicated to the glory of the Lord. If you possess anything that cannot be dedicated to the Lord to be used for His glory has no place in your life.
• Joseph took control of their Property (v. 18-20): when their money was exhausted and their possessions were all gone, they gave Joseph their land. He brought that under the control of the throne.
Again, everything we possess should be relinquished to God for Him to use as He sees fit. After all, it all came from Him anyway, James 1:17.
• Joseph took control of their Persons (v. 19; 21): When their money, their possessions and their property was all gone, they willingly gave themselves up to be the servants of Pharaoh, in exchange for food to eat.
We need to consider self, right here. Sometimes we are able to give the Lord everything we own, but we keep ourselves back for our own use. He would have us surrender the totality of ourselves on the altar for His glory. After all, if you are saved, He owns you already.
• Joseph took control of their Positions (v. 21): Joseph moved the people from the country and other outlying areas and brought them into the cities, where work and food distribution could be more easily managed.
Just a reminder, but you and I really have no say in where we go and what we do. We belong to Him and He chooses where we serve; how long we serve; and what happens while we serve there. He is the Lord of His people.
• Joseph took control of their Production (v. 23-26): At the end of the famine, everything in Egypt was under the control of the throne. Joseph was in absolute control over everything and over every person in the land of Egypt. He graciously gave the people seed to sow on the land and allowed them to keep eighty percent of everything they raised. Everything they produced was subject to a twenty percent tax.