Joseph, son of Jacob from the book of Genesis, is one of my favorite people in the Bible. He was the next-to-youngest of the twelve sons of Jacob. Jacob had four wives, but only one true love. That was Rachel, who was Joseph’s mother. It was undoubtedly Jacob’s love for Rachel that caused her son Joseph to be his favorite of his twelve sons.
This blatant favoritism caused Joseph’s ten older brothers to despise him. His father treated him to a coat that was the envy of the whole family. “Why just him and not us?” And Joseph had dreams in which all of his brothers and even his parents would one day bow down to him. He was foolish enough to tell his brothers about those dreams. They already hated him. Why did he have to give them more fuel for the fire?
His brothers wanted him dead, but then his brother Judah (the head of the tribe that Jesus is descended from) found a way to profit from Joseph’s demise. Instead of outright killing him, they could sell him into slavery and split the money between them. Yeah, that’s the ticket!
The book of Genesis has 50 chapters and Joseph is the star of the show in 14 of them. Although his life is scrutinized in Scripture, nowhere does it say anything negative about him. He is presented as a man of sterling character in the face of some unimaginably difficult circumstances, a man who flourishes in every setting, borne along by an unshakable faith in God.
Joseph is cherished by his father, but despised by his older brothers. He is sold into slavery and manages his master Potiphar’s house brilliantly until he is falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife as her revenge for his refusal to commit adultery with her. He is thrown into prison where he is once again blessed by God with success at everything he does, leading to his promotion to Head Trustee. In that capacity, he meets two high officials of Pharaoh’s court who have been imprisoned with him. Through his gift of dream interpretation, Joseph correctly foretells the fate of both prisoners, but is promptly forgotten by the one who is released.
Two years later, Pharaoh has two troubling dreams that no one can tell him the meaning of. Then his jailbird cupbearer remembers Joseph, the Hebrew trustee who interpreted both his and royal baker’s dreams, and both came out exactly as he had said. After years steadfast service to God through slavery, false accusation, imprisonment, and abandonment, Joseph is summoned from the dungeon to stand before the most powerful man on earth and interpret dreams that no one else could decipher.
No pressure, right?
Humbly giving all credit to God for what he is about to reveal, Joseph tells Pharaoh the ultimate good news / bad news story. The good news is that the nation of Egypt is about to begin seven years of record-shattering productivity. There will be bumper crops like have never been seen before and prosperity will saturate the land. The bad news is that those seven years will be followed by seven years of famine that will be so severe that no one will remember the good times that preceded them. Prosperity will be swallowed up by abject poverty.
Wow. Bummer. So what do we do?
What you need to do is not blow it all as fast as it comes in. You can still live well during the good times while you sock away provisions for the hard times to come. God will bless you with enough now to carry you through the famine, but only if you manage it properly. Only if you save it and store it and preserve it and show some foresight and restraint. You’ll be OK if you plan ahead and live below your means today so that you can meet your needs tomorrow.
Noah was the first of the Genesis Preppers that we looked at. Except for liking animals a lot, I’m not much like Noah. Noah was a guy who was good at working with his hands. He built a monster of a ship. For all I can tell, it might have been the first ship of all time, and it was a doozy. He was a real survivalist. He stepped off his ship onto an empty planet and had the skills to begin rebuilding the world. Me? I get confused about which end of a hammer you’re supposed to hold onto.
I bring this up because conventional prepper wisdom holds that there is just too much stuff for one guy to manage on his own. You need to get a team of specialists together to be able to survive doomsday successfully. You need a construction worker, a mechanic, a doctor, a security specialist, a farmer, a hunter, etc. Nowhere does it say that you need a middle-aged desktop publisher. Nowhere does it say that you should look for a guy who knows how to format documents and proofread really well. So when I look at Noah, I’m inclined to say to myself, “You’re not gonna make it, dude. You ain’t got the chops.”
But then I look at Joseph. He was an interpreter of dreams. Like the others, this isn’t a skill that I possess, but I see that it was something that God placed in him and something that he used for the glory of God and the good of mankind. If I just focus on those things, I’ll be OK. And so will you.