As we come to the last few chapters of Genesis we are beginning to see the conclusion to the Joseph stories and Jesus continues to remain a central figure in these narratives as we have seen him portrayed in the others stories as well. For those new to this series of posts, my basic understanding is that all Scripture points to Christ and testifies to who he is and what he will do for his people. Jesus testified about this particular way of reading the Scriptures in John 5:39 where he said,
“You diligently study the scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me,”
A few months ago I started asking the question, “Where is Jesus in this story?” I had been reading in Genesis and so I just started there, half way through the book. The question has proved very fruitful for my devotional life and my approach to the Scriptures and I hope to continue on this path at the beginning of Genesis when I finish and then throughout other books of the Bible as well.
So today we have the story of Joseph and how he brings all the land under Pharaoh’s control, except the land of the priests. The famine has been in full swing and the people are unable to provide for themselves any longer, their money has all been used up, they have exchanged their livestock for grain as well. Now all that remains is their land and their bodies, which they gladly exchange for food to live by. In fact it is this verse which I would like to quote and explore more fully.
“Why should we perish before your eyes – we and our land as well? Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we with our land will be in bondage to Pharaoh. Give us seed so that we may live and not die, and that the land may not become desolate.” (Genesis 47:19)
Is this not the cry of every believer at some point in their life. We struggle to make ends meet and we struggle to find food that will nourish our souls and finally we come to the one who has all the resources in the universe. We come and so often we beg for what will nourish our souls, for Jesus has said,
“my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.” (John 6:55)
We are willing to become slaves in order to eat this food and find peace against the storms and difficulties of life. And in fact that is the bargain that Jesus is willing to make with each and every one of us, your life in exchange for mine, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39), bondage to me in exchange for release from bondage to death and the world.
But there is another interesting group of people in this passage and that is the priests of Pharaoh. Their land isn’t confiscated because Pharaoh supplies them with all that they need in order to be free from the struggles of life. The Word tells us,
“they received a regular allotment from Pharaoh and had food enough from the allotment Pharaoh gave them. That is why they did not sell their land.” (Genesis 47:22b)
Now an interesting thing happens in conversion. When we come to God begging for life, he grants us salvation but he also changes our status to that of priests and we become beneficiaries of his goodness and not slaves without any rights. For we are told by the apostle Peter,
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1Peter 2:9)
In fact, Jesus calls us brothers and not slaves at all,
“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)
We become the heirs of all that the master has and owns. We become his people, full of his blessings, able to serve in gratitude instead of out of duty. We are blessed. This is the gift we find in coming to the Lord and seeking his salvation, we find life and life abundantly. May you be encouraged for the land belongs to God and you are free priests in the land.