Authority

Genesis 47:20-26

20So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. The Egyptians, one and all, sold their fields, because the famine was too severe for them. The land became Pharaoh’s, 21and Joseph reduced the people to servitude, from one end of Egypt to the other. 22However, he did not buy the land of the priests, because 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.

23Joseph said to the people, “Now that I have bought you and your land today for Pharaoh, here is seed for you so you can plant the ground. 24But when the crop comes in, give a fifth of it to Pharaoh. The other four-fifths you may keep as seed for the fields and as food for yourselves and your households and your children.”

25“You have saved our lives,” they said. “May we find favor in the eyes of our lord; we will be in bondage to Pharaoh.”

26So Joseph established it as a law concerning land in Egypt—still in force today—that a fifth of the produce belongs to Pharaoh. It was only the land of the priests that did not become Pharaoh’s.

Sungka

Have you ever played “Sungka?” “Sungka” is a Filipino Traditional Game for 2 players. It’s commonly made out of wood with 14 holes filled with 7 pebbles in each hole, and 2 larger holes at the end of ‘sungka’ that serve as ‘home’ where the pebbles will be collected. The goal is to accumulate all pebbles to the ‘home.’

The game “sungka” reminds us to accumulate treasures for life in eternity. Games have winners and losers. Many individuals want to win at any cost. Some players would cheat just to win the game! Disgraced players who have cheated in the Olympics have proven that cheating has undesirable consequences.

Is it possible to enjoy a game regardless of the outcome? Everybody loves to win, or do you love to lose? Can you readily accept losing in a game!

Do you believe that God is interested in watching people playing games?

Can you agree that God has decreed who should win or lose a game?

Winning invites commercial endorsements which is good for professional players. After losing game, many players grieve, as if they were stricken by calamity.

It says in Lamentations 3:37-38, 37Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? 38Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?

How about the years of abundance and famine in the ancient world in the time of Joseph or at any other times? Do you accept that the Lord decreed them?

Do you believe that the Lord has moved Pharaoh’s heart to appoint Joseph as ruler in Egypt and to give him the authority to administer the food supply?

During the famine, Joseph allotted food supply for Pharaoh’s household and market. Ordinary people exchanged their valuable items and livestock for food. And from Pharaoh’s food allotment, the priests have received their portion.

1. Portion

20So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. The Egyptians, one and all, sold their fields, because the famine was too severe for them. The land became Pharaoh’s, 21and Joseph reduced the people to servitude, from one end of Egypt to the other.

Joseph apportioned food supply for Pharaoh’s household together with his family. They received their portion of food supply for free. They did not wait in line for their food. Joseph may have ordered the delivery of their food supplies.

All over Egypt, ordinary people became tenants of their own fields that they have sold to Pharaoh. Pharaoh got a portion of their harvest. Such difficult situation helps us understand of the severity of famine in the time of Joseph.

Interestingly, the priests were exempted from starvation. They didn’t worry about their food. They received their portion from the allotment of Pharaoh.

 22However, he did not buy the land of the priests, because 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.

While ordinary people sold their land, the priest did not. The lands of the priests were preserved which implies social status. They’re no ordinary citizens. They served as spiritual leaders of the people. Pharaoh may even have given the priests political power and responsibilities outside their spiritual obligations.

Why did Pharaoh apportion food supply for the priests? Pharaoh was god on earth of ancient Egypt, mediator between gods and people, and priests pray to him. Praying to the king as god on earth has similarity to other ancient nations.

It says in Daniel 6:7, The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den.

Daniel served as administrator of King Darius at that time. Darius planned to promote Daniel as administrator of the whole kingdom. Envious politicians persuaded the king to issue a decree to be enforced. But, Daniel continued to pray to the Lord. So, he was thrown into the lion’s den but God saved him.

It says in Daniel 2:20-21, 20“Praise be to the name of God forever and ever; wisdom and power are his. 21He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.

Daniel’s declaration happened while serving different kings. Powerful political groups connived to harm Daniel but his faith in the Lord grew stronger.

Faith in God is often tested for us to evaluate the strength of our faith.

The tougher the testing would be, the stronger our faith would become.

Joseph has proven that his faith in God was strong. He was sold as slave and imprisoned for false accusation. Troubles served as training ground that prepared Joseph to be responsible and wise ruler in Egypt. And, Joseph decreed to the people that a percentage of their harvest should be given to Pharaoh.

2. Percentage

23Joseph said to the people, “Now that I have bought you and your land today for Pharaoh, here is seed for you so you can plant the ground. 24But when the crop comes in, give a fifth (20%) of it to Pharaoh. The other four-fifths (80%) you may keep as seed for the fields and as food for yourselves and your households and your children.” 25“You have saved our lives,” they said. “May we find favor in the eyes of our lord; we will be in bondage to Pharaoh.”

The people considered Joseph as their savior from starvation. He provided seed for them to plant and decreed that 20% of their harvest belongs to Pharaoh.

The people were grateful and indebted to Joseph. They acknowledged also that they have officially become slaves of Pharaoh all their life.

In our generation, can you happily accept a 20% interest for loans? Before you grab a 20% interest from loan sharks, you might want to explore APP.

Advance Payments Program

Have you heard of the Advance Payment Program of our government in Canada? What is the Advance Payments Program (APP)?

The APP is a federal program of low-interest cash advances provided for agricultural producers (farmers, ranchers). Producers can access up to $400,000 per program year based on the value of their agricultural product, and interest on the first $100,000 advanced is paid by the Government of Canada.

Who is eligible for the program? Canadian Citizen or permanent resident; or a corporation, cooperative or partnership of which the majority interest is held by Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

The Advance Payment Program is just one of the many programs of the Government of Canada that may benefit citizens and residents. This is also one good reason that we should regularly pray that God would give wisdom for all elected government officials so that they would perform diligently for our benefits.

Jeremiah 29:7 says, 7Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.

When the Israelites were exiled, the Lord instructed them to pray for the city where they settled in. Indeed, they prospered and some of them became prominent, namely: Daniel and his friends, Esther and her cousin Mordecai, and Nehemiah. When Cyrus became king, he encouraged the Israelites to return to Jerusalem. Some Israelites return to Israel but others preferred to stay where they settled. Actually, some of them have even bought male and female slaves.

Indeed, it is a godly lifestyle to pray for our government, unconditionally.

Do you believe that those who win the election can be God’s instrument for His purposes? It is advisable and beneficial for us to regularly pray that God would give wisdom to our government officials for them to perform diligently.

It says in Isaiah 14:24 24The Lord Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.

It also says in Isaiah 14:27, 27For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?

It takes enough faith to believe that whatever the Lord has decreed, it will certainly happen. The Lord knows what is best for everyone, even for our nation.

The Lord does not need to ask for our opinions or ideas. So, why do we need to pray if the Lord knows already what we should pray for?

Praying is practical proof of faith in the Lord. We trust that He does best!

We pray not to change the design of the Lord. Actually, we acknowledge that the Lord desires and knows what is best for us when we pray. It requires enough faith also to understand such reality. So, the more we grow in our faith, our prayer life will also grow. We can check our spiritual growth by our prayer life.

How much time do we spend praying alone?

How much time do we spend praying with our family?

How much time do we spend praying with other church members?

Relationship with friends is defined by time spent together. Similarly, praying is spending time with the Lord, and reading His word is listening to Him.

It says in Psalm 145:8-14, 8The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. 9The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. 10All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you. 11They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, 12so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. 13Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. 14The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.

These realities of God’s word had been personally experienced by Joseph. The Lord revealed to Joseph that he will become greater than his brothers. His brothers hated him so much but he trusted the Lord. He was sold as slave, he was falsely accused and imprisoned in Egypt but he kept on trusting the Lord.

Indeed, Joseph became greater than his brother after Pharaoh had given him authority to rule Egypt. And, Joseph decreed that 20% of all harvest in Egypt belongs to Pharaoh. Pharaoh must have praised Joseph for that promulgation.

3. Promulgation

26So Joseph established it as a law concerning land in Egypt—still in force today—that a fifth of the produce belongs to Pharaoh. It was only the land of the priests that did not become Pharaoh’s.

The promulgation of Joseph that 20% or produce belongs to Pharaoh may have made him more prominent in the court of Pharaoh. For sure, Pharaoh was very grateful that he gave Joseph the authority to rule in Egypt. Did anyone dare to disobey him? Were there any politicians who may have opposed to Joseph?

It says in Psalm 33:9-11, 9For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. 10The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. 11But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

It is possible that some politicians did not like that Joseph who was a Hebrew became their prime minister. They just did not dare to show their grudge.

And, who would dare to challenge the wisdom of Joseph?  Spiritually speaking, if the Lord can move the heart of Pharaoh to appoint Joseph as prime minister in Egypt, He can easily made the people submit to Joseph as ruler.

There are times when events happen that would oppose our expectations. What it happens, our normal tendency is to challenge or oppose it.

John the Baptist

The disciples of John the Baptist did not oppose when they saw that Jesus and his disciples were also baptizing many people. It narrated in John 3:26-27, 26They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” 27To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven.

Many believers are zealous like the disciples of John the Baptist.

We become very protective of believers who attend our church. We feel very sad when church attendees go to other churches, right?

When believers join other churches, it is possible that the Lord wants to use them to explore His purpose for them in the churches they would attend to.

We desire that our church attendance may increase. That’s is very noble.

Pray that God brings people He has prepared for His purposes.

It says in Isaiah 45:7, 7I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.

And in Isaiah 46:10, 10I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’

Christ has been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Like it or not, whatever He desires to happen will be accomplished according to His purposes.

The people in the time of Joseph were grateful for Joseph as their ruler. They acknowledged him as their savior from starvation.

Let’s check our lifestyle!

Do we have such gratitude for the great things the Lord has done to us?

Are we grateful that the Lord has given us eternal life?

How are we responding with gratitude to the authority of Christ in our life?

Pray for increase of faith.

Obedience to the Lord is the most practical proof of faith in Him.

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