Summary: Trust God in the test, because He gives His people the best. The world can only give its people cheap junk that doesn't last, but God give His people real wealth that lasts forever. So choose to live for Him not for the things of the world.
Years ago, there was a near-sighted professor who was an expert in entomology. His office walls were covered with pinned and framed insects. One day his students decided to play a practical joke. They took the body of one bug, the legs of another, and the head of yet another and glued them all together.
The students then brought the specimen to the professor for identification. “What kind of bug is this?” they asked.
The professor eyed the bug closely and finally replied, “Gentlemen, this is a humbug!” (Ben Patterson, “Noble Volunteer,” Leadership, Summer 1982, p.29; www.Preaching Today.com)
Unfortunately, that “humbug” describes some Christians I know. They say they’ve given their hearts to Jesus, but their heads seem to be run by the world and their hands by the devil himself, at times. This is not something that God created. It’s “humbug!”
And we must make a choice. We must choose to either follow Christ or the ways of this world. We cannot do both. Jesus made it very clear, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money” (Matthew 6:24).
So what will it be for you? What will it be for me? Will we serve God? Or will we serve money and the other things this world has to offer? There is a clear choice before us this morning. But before we make that choice, I want us to explore the benefits of serving God in contrast to the benefits of serving this world.
If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Genesis 46, Genesis 46, where we see those benefits in stark contrast to one another as God’s people come to live in Egypt under Joseph’s rule.
Genesis 46:31-34 Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and speak to Pharaoh and will say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household, who were living in the land of Canaan, have come to me. The men are shepherds; they tend livestock, and they have brought along their flocks and herds and everything they own.’ When Pharaoh calls you in and asks, ‘What is your occupation?’ you should answer, ‘Your servants have tended livestock from our boyhood on, just as our fathers did.’ Then you will be allowed to settle in the region of Goshen, for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians.” (NIV)
Literally, shepherds are an abomination to the Egyptians. You see, the people of this world often despise the people of God.
Genesis 47:1-4 Joseph went and told Pharaoh, “My father and brothers, with their flocks and herds and everything they own, have come from the land of Canaan and are now in Goshen.” He chose five of his brothers and presented them before Pharaoh. Pharaoh asked the brothers, “What is your occupation?” “Your servants are shepherds,” they replied to Pharaoh, “just as our fathers were.” They also said to him, “We have come to live here awhile, because the famine is severe in Canaan and your servants’ flocks have no pasture. So now, please let your servants settle in Goshen.” (NIV)
They only want to stay there “awhile.” Literally, they want to dwell as guests or strangers in Egypt. You see, this earth is not home for the people of God. We’re only here as guests or strangers for a little while.
Genesis 47:5-9 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you, 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.” Then Joseph brought his father Jacob in and presented him before Pharaoh. After Jacob blessed Pharaoh, Pharaoh asked him, “How old are you?” And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers.” (NIV)
Jacob’s father lived to be 180, and his grandfather lived to be 175, much older than Jacob is at this point.
Genesis 47:10 Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from his presence. (NIV)
Here, we have the patriarch blessing the politician, the greater blessing the lesser. You see, even though God’s people are despised strangers in this world, they are greater in God’s eyes than any ruler on the planet.
Genesis 47:11-12 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. (NIV)