A Possession in Egypt

“Joseph settled his father and his brothers and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded” (Gen. 47:11).  

- Genesis 47:11–12

One commentator has noted that like Jacob, believers throughout church history have often found themselves blessing the world even though their days could likewise be regarded as “few and evil” (Gen. 47:9). Martin Luther, for example, faced exile, depression, an unjust excommunication, and years of death threats. However, his rediscovery of the biblical doctrine of justification brought needed reform to the church, and it also transformed Western society. 

We think also of William Carey, who helped to reignite a passion for the Great Commission more than two hundred years ago. The major corporation of his day opposed Carey as he tried to establish a foothold for the Gospel in India. He also buried two wives, the first of whom suffered insanity in her later years, and dealt with countless other problems, including the loss of much of his translation work in a fire. Yet God used this man to remind the church of His call for world outreach, and countless individuals across the globe have heard the Gospel because of his work and inspiring example.

Luther and Carey had their personal sins as well, showing us the Lord can work through the faults as well as the tribulations of His people to bless the world just as He did with Jacob. And like Jacob we can also count on our Creator to provide for us when we bless society in sharing the Gospel and doing good works to serve our neighbors. Today’s passage records how Joseph’s father settled in “the best of the land” of Rameses (v. 11), which was another name for Goshen, the region the pharaoh gave to Jacob’s family (vv. 5–6). In this we see our Father’s good providence reach a high point in the patriarchal age. Despite having sinned greatly, Jacob and his sons were favored by the Lord in their latter years. Nothing thwarted His intent to preserve and multiply Abraham’s sons (12:1–3).

This is good news indeed for the church. Like the patriarchs, none of us can be a perfectly faithful disciple. But even when we are faithless, He remains faithful (2 Tim. 2:13). Though we do not take Him for granted, we can be confident our sins, enemies, and setbacks will not stop Him from using us to bless the earth.

Coram Deo

Are you discouraged this day because you believe your remaining sin makes it impossible for the Lord to use you? Do the apparent victories of your foes encourage you to give up your service to God? Has a work you are doing for the kingdom been slowed because of lack of funds or other problems? If so, rejoice that our Father loves to use human failings to advance His plan. Press on and depend upon Him, for you will bless the world if you abide in Christ.

Passages for Further Study

2 Sam. 23:1–5
Ps. 106
Isa. 54:1–10
Rom. 3:3–4

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