Total Commitment – Bible Study – Genesis 47

Written by Dave Urbanski

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As we continue looking at the life of Joseph, we find him dealing with the consequences of the famine that has swept over the land. The people were desperate. No food means no life. Pastor Scott made a keen connection to the fact that today we’re living through our own kind of famine — a spiritual famine. Thing is, there’s no lack of abundance in terms of the availability of God’s word, the Bible. Anyone can quickly access it, read if they want to … but fewer and fewer people are reading it as time goes by. 

And here’s some news that may (or may not) be a shocker: A recent study found that about 60% of people between the ages of 18 and 39 who consider themselves born-again Christians don’t believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven. That’s scary. And that’s indicative of a culture that has been drawing in and negatively influencing the younger generations to the point where they’re tossing aside very basic, very standard Christian theology for beliefs that may feel good and are acceptable to the culture at-large, but ultimately are false.

Indeed, many of us — in the church even — are spiritually malnourished. How much emphasis are we placing on short-term cures that leave God out but ultimately leave us unsatisfied and unhealthy? Are we dining at a spiritual McDonald’s instead of “eating right” with the Lord’s commands in Scripture?
Another very crucial part of the famine story in Genesis 47 is the fact that the desperate Egyptians are giving everything they had to Joseph in exchange for food … their money, their livestock, their land, and even their lives. They became servants to Pharaoh so they could live another day. 

Interesting, isn’t it? When you’re hungry and thirsty and on death’s door, you’ll exchange ANYTHING in order to live. It ought to be the same way with regard to our relationships with Jesus. He wants EVERYTHING from us. Our time, our finances, our careers, our priorities. Everything. But more often than not, we put off giving Jesus everything in our lives because we’re not under the kind of stress one feels at the point of starvation! So we put it off. “I’ll be more committed to the Lord tomorrow,” we tell ourselves. 

But Pastor Scott really brought home the truth that this is one thing we cannot put off. And he challenged us to look into our own hearts and emotions for clues that we’re not where we need to be in our relationships with Jesus. Are we angrier than we ought to be? Are we way more anxious about things in our daily lives? If so, it likely means there are areas in our lives that we’re not giving over to God and letting him control; grain we’re keeping for ourselves in our own crumbling storehouses. Jesus told us that if we try to hang on to our life, we will lose it. And there is nothing on earth worth the price of our own souls. We must give everything over to the King.

Also, in verse 27 we see that amid the famine, Joseph’s father and brothers are thriving in the land that Joseph gave to them. Why is that? They submitted to Joseph and called upon him for help, and Joseph responded by giving them the best part of the land upon which to live and work. In the same way, as Christians we must be the subculture that lives differently than the rest of the world going in the wrong direction, submitting ourselves to the Lord’s direction and trusting in his guidance and plan for our lives. And indeed, by doing so we will avoid the pitfalls of our culture’s short-term pleasures and “solutions” and thrive through God’s power and provision.

Finally, we see Jacob reaching the end of his life and making Joseph swear that he’ll bury him in the land of his forefathers rather than in Egypt. And it’s, again, a reminder for all of us that this world is not our home; we are sojourners and just passing through. Jacob had a bigger picture of what God was doing — and we must have that same long-term view!

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