For Food, We Will Be Slaves (1/28)

Thought from today’s Bible reading from Genesis 46-47.

Bible students are familiar with the period of slavery the children of Israel endured in Egypt. But there was another period of Egyptian bondage that occurred earlier. In this case, the slaves were not the Israelites or any other foreign people, they were the Egyptians themselves.

During the time of the famine, the Egyptian people willingly gave themselves over to be slaves. But it took some time for this to happen. First they used all of their money to buy grain (Genesis 47:13-14). When their money was gone and the famine was still ongoing, they exchanged their livestock for food (Genesis 47:15-17). But the famine continued.

When the year was ended, they came to him the next year and said to him, ‘We will not hide from my lord that our money is all spent, and the cattle are my lord’s. There is nothing left for my lord except our bodies and our lands. Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we and our land will be slaves to Pharaoh” (Genesis 47:18-19).

There is an inherent yearning for freedom within human beings. So why would a society willingly sell themselves into slavery? It is because the inclination toward self-preservation often trumps the desire for freedom. While a few might declare, “Give me liberty or give me death,” most prefer life, even if it means living in bondage.

When the famine hit Egypt, the people were unprepared. Pharaoh was prepared, but the common people were not. They had to decide between starving to death or becoming enslaved to Pharaoh. They chose slavery.

The famine in Egypt was an extraordinary period of hardship, so much so that it took a divine warning and seven years of plenty with the excess being stored up just for the people to survive. Though not as severe, we are facing a period of economic uncertainty and decline today. Just how far conditions will deteriorate is unknown. But it may be wise to be prepared.

If we are unprepared and times really get tough, we may face a similar decision as the Egyptians did: starve to death or become enslaved to the only entity in a position to help – the government. If we are forced to do this, we may then find it difficult to assemble with brethren to worship God (John 4:24; Hebrews 10:24-25), teach His word as we ought (1 Peter 4:11), and “lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:2), without facing harassment, imprisonment, or death.

To the degree which we are able, we should “work with [our] hands… so that [we] will… not be in any need” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12), even to the point of preparing for possible hardships in the future.

Tomorrow’s reading: Genesis 48-50

[I’m using the Chronological reading plan on the Bible Gateway website if you’d like to follow along, too.]

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