By Henry Mahan
Joseph had been sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, who resented Jacob's great love for Joseph (Gen. 37:3-4) and the dreams Joseph had in which God revealed that his brethren would one day bow to and serve Joseph (Gen. 37: 5-8). Due to several acts of God's providence, Joseph wound up in prison in Egypt, where he met the chief butler of Pharaoh's court and interpreted his dream. Later, when Pharaoh had a dream which no one could interpret, the chief butler remembered the young Hebrew, Joseph (Gen. 41:9-14); and he was called before Pharaoh to interpret his dream. God revealed to Joseph that there would be seven years of plenty in the land followed by seven years of great famine (Gen. 41:28-32). Pharaoh appointed Joseph to be the ruler over all Egypt, second only to himself (Gen. 41:39-44).
There are so many lessons to be learned from this story.
1. The sovereign providence and divine purpose of God in the life of Joseph, bringing him from a Hebrew shepherd boy to the throne of Egypt. God ruled and overruled all events, all creatures, and all their actions to accomplish his will and purpose toward Joseph (Gen. 45:5; Gen. 50:20; Isa. 46:9-11; Acts 4:26-28; John 6:37- 39).
2. The sovereignty of God not only over men, but over the weather, crops, heathen nations, and even over men's dreams.
3. The faithfulness of God's servant, Joseph. In the greatest trials, adversity, and surroundings Joseph walked with God and maintained a strong testimony to truth and grace. Even in a heathen nation, Joseph glorified God and God blessed him.
But this entire story, as all scripture, is given to praise, exalt, and reveal our Lord Jesus Christ in his redemptive work (Luke 24:27, 44-45).
During the seven years of famine, Joseph supervised the crops and filled the storehouses; and when the famine was over the land, Joseph opened the storehouses and sold unto all who had need (Gen. 41:56).
1. Joseph opened the storehouses by royal authority Pharaoh gave all things (all authority and all the food) into the hands of Joseph (vv. 41, 44-45). When people came to Pharaoh, he sent them to Joseph. By God's royal decree and design, all things pertaining to life, salvation, mercy, and heaven have been given into the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:35-36; John 17:2-3; Col. 1:14-19; Col. 2:9-10).
What? all spiritual blessings, all fullness.
Where? in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:3-4).
Why? 'It pleased God' (Acts 2:36).
2. Joseph was the only fit person to open the storehouses Joseph prophesied the famine; no one else knew about it.
Joseph planned the crops and the storehouses (v. 35). Joseph gathered the corn and stored it up (v. 49).
Our Lord Jesus is the only fit and qualified one to open the storehouse of mercy to sinners.
He foreknew the fall and famine of human nature (Rom. 5:12, 19).
He purposed and planned the everlasting covenant of mercy whereby a people would be saved from Adam's race (Heb. 13:20-21).
He came to earth in the likeness of human flesh and obeyed the law in order that his people might have a perfect righteousness before God's law, and he died on the cross that they might all be justified in God's sight. He filled the storehouse with grace and mercy for all who would come to eat; as the disciples replied, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.'
He is the only one who has the capacity to contain all the fullness of God, the only one who has the wisdom to distribute the fullness of God, and the only one who has the eternality to continue to be our fullness (2 Tim. 1:12; Phil. 3:20-21).
3. Joseph opened the storehouses! That is why Joseph filled the storehouses, in order that the people might eat. That is why Christ became our surety and our sin-offering, in order that sinners might be saved (Matt. 1:21; 1 Tim. 1:15; Luke 19:10).
To have kept the storehouses closed would have brought no glory to Joseph nor good to the people. He had plenty and was delighted to distribute it. Our Lord is plenteous in mercy, and he delights to show mercy. His chief glory is his goodness (Exo. 33:18-19). He says, 'Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come to the waters' (John 7:37-38).
Joseph opened the storehouses at a fit time. 'When the people cried for bread, Joseph opened the storehouses.' All who are hungry will be fed (Rom. 10:13; Gal. 1:15).
Joseph opened the storehouses to all who came (v. 57). Not the Egyptians only, but all nations came to Joseph. Our Lord Jesus opens the storehouses of grace to Jew and Gentile, male and female, bond and free. 'Whosoever will, let him take the water of life' (Matt. 11:28; Rev. 22:17). As the famine is universal, the command to repent and come to Christ is universal. 'He is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God by him' (Heb. 7:25).