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Joseph helped Egypt be wise as… ants!

November 8, 2021

Daily Scripture

Genesis 41:25-36; Proverbs 6:6-11

Genesis 41:25-36

25 Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Pharaoh has actually had one dream. God has announced to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26 The seven healthy cows are seven years, and the seven healthy ears of grain are seven years. It’s actually one dream. 27 The seven thin and frail cows, climbing up after them, are seven years. The seven thin ears of grain, scorched by the east wind, are seven years of famine. 28 It’s just as I told Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29 Seven years of great abundance are now coming throughout the entire land of Egypt. 30 After them, seven years of famine will appear, and all of the abundance in the land of Egypt will be forgotten. The famine will devastate the land. 31 No one will remember the abundance in the land because the famine that follows will be so very severe. 32 The dream occurred to Pharaoh twice because God has determined to do it, and God will make it happen soon.

33 “Now Pharaoh should find an intelligent, wise man and give him authority over the land of Egypt. 34 Then Pharaoh should appoint administrators over the land and take one-fifth of all the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. 35 During the good years that are coming, they should collect all such food and store the grain under Pharaoh’s control, protecting the food in the cities. 36 This food will be reserved for the seven years of famine to follow in the land of Egypt so that the land won’t be ravaged by the famine.”

Proverbs 6:6-11

6 Go to the ant, you lazy person;
observe its ways and grow wise.
7 The ant has no commander, officer, or ruler.
8 Even so, it gets its food in summer;
gathers its provisions at harvest.
9 How long, lazy person, will you lie down?
When will you rise from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the arms to lie down—
11 and poverty will come on you like a prowler,
destitution like a warrior.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Genesis 41 showed a memory shared by generations in Israel. The wise originality of Joseph’s “save for the future” idea so impressed Egypt’s Pharaoh that he hired this former prisoner to run Egypt’s economy. When the famine arrived, “the first recorded rationing in history was a hit.” Israel’s sages saw wisdom similar to Joseph’s as they watched ants “planning” and saving—unlike some humans.

  • Joseph led Egypt to save 20% of seven straight good harvests as a reserve for a future famine. This was seriously “living beneath your means.” What commercial and peer pressures encourage you to spend “as if there is no tomorrow”? Who (if anyone) has influenced you to make your financial choices with a longer view in mind, rather than simply immediate gratification?
  • Proverbs contrasted ants with a “lazy person.” Scholar John Goldingay said Hebrew Torah (“instruction”) and prophets stressed helping the poor. “Proverbs makes the complementary point. Not every person who loses his family farm can blame bad luck or injustice. It can be laziness…. an example of stupidity, while ants are an embodiment of wisdom.”** Is Biblical wisdom guiding you to wise choices? In what ways? (If you need help, watch for future Saving Grace personal finance classes.)

* From Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, a musical comedy with lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

** John Goldingay, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs for Everyone. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2014, p. 28.

GPS Insights

Picture of Kersee Meyer

Kersee Meyer

Kersee is a part of the Resurrection Experience team at the church and works alongside other creative folks to make videos to connect people to community, their faith and God.

Saving is an awesome tool we’ve been given by God. How is God calling us to use our savings, though?

My perception of savings has to do with the tomorrows ahead, like saving for retirement, kids’ college, future car, or a dream vacation. I hope that I get to do those things, but Joseph understood some hard truth about saving. It’s not just about us.

God loves a cheerful giver.

Joseph helping Egypt to save 20% of food for 7 years was the reason those people could continue eating for 7 years during the famine. He was listening to God and loving his neighbor. God didn’t ask Joseph to throw some harvest into his 401k.

I’m not suggesting we all stop saving for retirement, dream vacation or a future home. What I am wondering is, what is in our hearts behind saving? How can God use your savings to further his kingdom?

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.