There is Corn in Egypt
Gen. 42:12 — “There is corn in Egypt.”
Genesis is the book of beginnings. Many streams from which the saints of all ages have quenched their thirst have their source in these chapters. Man may turn from these lessons taught here and say to us who revere the whole Book, that we are “under the law,” yet when I remember that this Old Testament was the Scriptures of Jesus which He advised the people of His day to search, declaring at the same time, “they are they which testify of Me,” I conclude, for one, that I will stay by the whole Book. Genesis is the authentic basis of the Bible. Before I enter its portals to scan the treasures it contains, I am overwhelmed by the statement the Divine mind first makes to man, “In the beginning God.” Remember, in this, no matter what great mysteries are revealed to my untutored mind, nor how massive the truths I meet, God is the explanation of all these. What He does not see fit to reveal to me now I shall know hereafter. But there are more facts left on record than I can comprehend. I learn that in all ages God has had a people, and, wherever He has had a people, there the providences of God were engaged in their behalf. The man who slept on the mountain top all alone said he “had God for his next door neighbor;” but as I step quickly along the history of man, passing from century to century, scanning the footprints of the race, I find also the footsteps of God Himself, always working good to man. And I am firmly convinced “His footsteps down the centuries beat one eternal rhyme.” If man fails in the garden under the most perfect conditions, I find that God gives him another opportunity and brightens the clouds that lower over him with a precious glowing promise: ‘The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head.” If I find man unrepentant and wicked until God in His wrath lets loose the reservoirs of the skies, and the fountains of the great deep are broken up until the waters, rising mountain high, sweep a race beneath their waves, thank God, I also find those very same waters bearing on their breast an ark of salvation that assures the coming of a mighty Deliverer who shall destroy all the works of the devil. In the loins of the occupant of that ark is the seed of the Comer (so the Jews call the Messiah), the Christ of Calvary. In the Book of Genesis I learn unmistakably this great comforting truth, you cannot thwart God. Shadows may come, but back of the shadows is God, keeping watch above His own. The clouds we so much dread are big with mercies. Man may say God is on the side of big battalions, but this book declares He is on the side of truth. “The eternal years of God are hers.”
Oh the calmness of the eternal God! He takes a man out of the midst of idolaters, transplants him into a strange land, puts him in to a deep sleep, so he will be still, and then holds converse with him. “Know of a surety thy seed shall be as the stars of the heavens for multitude, and they shall be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them, and they shall afflict them four hundred years, but that nation will judge and they shall come out with great substance.” The promises of God are for the people of God. The promise made to Abraham is renewed to his son, and the same Providence cares for and watches over him. To his son’s son, God again says, “Thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.” And right here I see in this man’s history the story of your life and mine. God has outlined the plan for us, made it known to us in His Word, and by His Spirit, and yet we forget the Word; and, when trials come, when clouds cast their shadows, when God in love is exercising His parental right to strip us, we say, “All these things are against us.” We sing with tears on our cheeks, aye, and mean it when we sing:
“The soul that on Jesus doth lean for repose
He’ll never, no never forsake to its foes;
That soul though all hell should endeavor to shake,
He’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”
And then within six hours or less we forget the promises of God and, distrusting His providences, let the great enemy of God and our souls get us on the run. Read carefully the context and get the lesson God would teach us.
I see here the child of the promise in the midst of famine — the land once so bountiful now blasted and withered, as if by the curse of God — a child of God, an heir of the promise, surrounded by his children, and his children’s children, all heirs of the same promise, and all threatened by the same famine. A mark of God’s displeasure? Nay, a mark of His providential care. That famine is a hint from God to Jacob to move out of his nest; it is an assurance, if he but knew it, that the God of Abraham and Isaac is on the throne, and that His eyes are upon His people. We are so short-sighted that a little stress of circumstances makes us forget promises, forget the Promiser, and go to bemoaning our fate, forgetting that the “love of God is broader than the measure of man’s mind, and the love of the eternal is most wonderfully kind.” That famine means that the Almighty God is moving along the lines of His thought for His people, to get them where He wants them. He is pointing them to the fulfillment of His promises made to Abraham: “Thy seed shall be strangers in a strange land that is not theirs.” It means that He is robbing them of sustenance, depriving them of corn; it means He wants to put them where there is corn in abundance. He cannot fail, He will not forget. To the child of promise “All things work together for good” — all things temporal and spiritual. A man in Nebraska sowed sugar beet, and felt good over the prospect of an excellent crop. But one morning he went to his fields and the frost had nipped them badly. Discouraged, he went away to another farm that he owned, saying, “What a failure; what a disappointment!” Some weeks after, having occasion to return that way, he saw the finest crop of growing sugar beets, he had ever looked upon. The frost had only pruned the plants; the roots had struck down deeper and stronger, and he reaped bountifully from that field. When God sends a frost to nip your plans, when your prospects are blasted, hold still; God wants you to take a better grip, a firmer hold upon Himself. Paul on horseback surrounded by Roman soldiers, Paul on ship and wrecked, in charge of a Roman centurion, is more than the prisoner of Rome; he is the prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ, who must testify for his Lord and Master at Rome, and he is on the way to greater triumphs, escorted by the cavalry of the greatest world power of the age. I hear him as he gives a trumpet blast from his Gospel trumpet, after looking over the entire field: “Who shall separate us from the love of God? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I am here reminded of a dying soldier boy left to perish, and no loved ones near. The chaplain came that way and found him, and, kneeling by the dying boy, he asked him of his faith, to what did he belong. “Belong?” asked the dying boy, not getting the import of the question. “Yes,” said the chaplain, “of what persuasion are you?” “Oh,” said the boy, not far from the glory to come, “same as Paul: I am persuaded that neither life nor death shall separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus my Lord.” And he responded to the last roll call, and went up to see God.
This famine is a blessing to Jacob, if he would only look up, and it is the road to greater blessings, to promises fulfilled, to mighty displays of God’s power. It is the road to divided seas, enemies overthrown, angels’ food, smitten rocks, to the possession of wells already dug, cities already built, a land in which there is no scarceness of bread, that flows with milk and honey. But what trouble God does have with us to get us there! Their need was great, sure. The famine did pinch, sure. But let me say right here that God does always anticipate our needs. He is never surprised. There are no accidents with God. He is not shortsighted; He knows the end from the beginning. A gentleman visited an asylum of deaf and dumb children and, examining them, he wrote this question, “Does God reason?” One of the children wrote underneath immediately this answer, “God knows and sees every thing. Reason implies doubt and uncertainty, therefore, God does not have to reason.” Aye, God knows . every need, every sigh, every heartache. God knew all about the famine, and made provision for it seven years before it came. . Down in Egypt, the richest bottom land in all the world had been producing bountifully, and the Egyptians had been storing it up for the heirs of the promise. I know the Egyptians had some, too, but that is God’s way of doing. He blesses His own people so abundantly, that much of it runs over to bless other folks. There was corn in Egypt, God had not forgotten and, better yet, He had His man in charge of the corn. And more yet, His man was a friend of the famine stricken. God had not only prepared an abundance of corn, but He had been preparing the way to get the heirs of the promise to the corn. Jacob shall have corn, but God will have His way to get him there. Look at him, surrounded by his children, among them two upon whom he dotes, around whom his heartstrings seem to twine. The father’s love for Joseph breeds envy in the hearts of the brethren, and they conspire to get rid of the dreamer. A dreamer sure enough he is, but his dreams are of God. In his youth God gave him intuitions of coming greatness. In his dreams of the night he saw the sun, moon and eleven stars make obeisance to him. He saw his own sheaf, standing upright in the field while eleven sheaves bowed to his sheaf. The world, aye, and the church, crucifies men who have visions from God. It sends a John Bunyan to jail while it keeps a cruel and God-defying Jeffries on the bench. And this dreamer was no exception. In his way to the future, to which God had called him to be the redeemer and preserver of his brethren, there was the pit, the dungeon, the slavery and the exile. His own brethren sell him to the Ishmaelites, take his coat of many colors, dip it in blood, and say to Jacob, “Know thou if this be thy son’s coat?” And Jacob, mourning his son as dead, refused to be comforted, and said, “I will go down to the grave unto my son, mourning.” Then his father wept for him. Did God permit it? Yes. Already His providence is at work for Jacob, and he is to learn the lesson, that the man who will live for God shall find that all things are his servants. Sorrows are not meant to disfigure tis; they are to transfigure. The folks who go through fiery furnaces, heated seven times hotter than they are wont to be heated; are on the way to promotion. Lions’ dens and jails are stepping stones for saints. Crosses are wings by which they pass over mountains, and get within whispering distance of the throne. This sorrow is a stepping stone out of famine to plenty. Job had twice as much after his trial as he had before it. Don’t let the devil frighten you by magnifying trials. Where he puts up a scarecrow depend upon it there is corn, go ahead, and find it, and find the devil’s scarecrows are harmless things. My Bible says, “Many shall be purified, and made white and tried.” Trials are an evidence of your sonship. By suffering with Jesus God is getting you ready to reign with Him. When famine comes He will tell you where the corn is; when trials come, grace will be nigh al hand. God is able to make all grace abound toward you that ye always having all sufficiency in all things may abound to every good work.
There is an old adage, “Troubles never come singly.” How we do remember such sayings of the world, proverbs born of their sorrows and unbelief! forgetting that God’s Word assures us that there are two messengers of God that accompany every child of God. Listen to the sweet singer of Israel: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” No wonder he adds, “And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Trials are apt to double up, but, remember this, “When the tale of brick is doubled, Moses comes.” Famine grows sore upon them, and death threatens, for Jacob says “Go down into Egypt that we may live and not die.” And when they go in obedience to his command, and return with sufficient for awhile, they are told not to return unless they bring Benjamin, the son of Jacob’s right hand. And very soon it is a question of life and death again, but then the Governor who has all the corn of Egypt at his command says: “No, Benjamin, no corn. Jacob, you want life; you want corn; you must let your Benjamin go.” “What? Joseph is gone! Simeon is gone! Must Benjamin go, too? Will yet take him away also?” How like us today. God wants to bless us, to enrich us, to feed us, on the very same terms, but we hold on to our Benjamin though we sing,
“The dearest idol I have known,
Whate’er that idol be
Help me to tear it from
And worship only Thee.”
When God instituted the Church in the family of Abraham, He taught us a lesson we are so slow to learn. We admire the man who left everything else at the foot of the mountain, and went up with his Isaac, and deliberately bound him, and put him on the altar, but there are few Isaacs surrendered today. The church at large holds on to the dollars, the Mammon it worships, gives to build million-dollar churches, while it recalls missionaries from the fields, saying, “We have not the money.” It burns incense to nets, while forgetting the world at large, dying and without hope. God help us, ministry and people, to practice what we preach! God says in His Word that there are great returns for giving up the best we have. “For iron I will give you brass, for brass I will give you silver, for silver I will give you gold.” A man once said he got back more than he shoveled out, for God had the largest shovel. ‘Tis true, as many of God’s folks have found out. A lady of wealth being well saved took off her pearls and diamonds and, selling them, with the proceeds she built a Rescue Home. For months she visited it, taking great interest in the inmates. In a few years a precious soul saved through the instrumentality of the home was on her deathbed. She wanted to see the founder of the home, and when she came, in gratitude she told how the Lord saved her through the home, and admitting that if it had not been for the Home she would have been lost. As she bent over to kiss the lady’s hand, the tears fell on the fingers where the diamonds were once worn. And as the lady looked at them, in gratitude to God she said, “My diamonds have come back again.” Surely God gives us back again that which we have given Him.
How loath we are to surrender the dearest! He says, “I want your boy for Africa, I want your girl for India.” “O Lord, anything but that.” “I want your property. I want to transmute your gold into jewels for my crown. I want to send the Gospel abroad. I want others to hear that there is corn in Egypt. Give Me your money.” God wants our dearest and best, and we must surrender or starve our souls.
I see old Jacob standing at the door of his tent: “Joseph is gone, Simeon is gone, and now Benjamin! I am bereft indeed!” But was he? How we do misinterpret God’s dealings. Down yonder Joseph is Governor of all Egypt, and all the corn is in his hands, at his disposal, and his heart is longing for Jacob. Down yonder Simeon is boarding at Joseph’s expense, and the land of Goshen, the garden spot of Egypt, awaits the whole family. Jacob, cheer up! “We scan His works in vain. God is His own interpreter, and He will make it plain.” A lady was working on a piece of tapestry when her pastor came in and, seeing the wrong side of it, he said, “What a strange piece of work! No figure! The whole thing is askew.” “Oh,” she said, “you are looking on the wrong side of it. There is another side.” When Joseph, and Simeon, and Benjamin are all gone, when the last surrender is made, then trust a little, and you will soon see the wagons coming, — wagons that Joseph will send for you; for Joseph is alive and he will come with them. He is riding in the second chariot and holds the key to all the grain. Soon you shall eat at his table, feel his embraces, and know his kisses on your lips. Do we get the lesson? Do we find this Scripture profitable? Must God tear away our nest before we will try our wings? “He builds too low who builds beneath the skies.” Our treasures are in heaven. This is not our abiding place. God wants us to move on and up. Our affections must be set on things above, where our Joseph sits at the right hand of the Father. All power is given him in heaven and on earth. Trust His Word! He says, “I am with you always;” “I am coming again to receive you unto myself, that where I am there ye may be also, I go to prepare a place for you.” Jacob started for the corn and on his way met the chariot, and Joseph and a great company of Joseph’s friends. We are on the way, and, at any moment, our Joseph is apt to come, in His chariot riding along the edge of the clouds and with Him a great company. He will receive us to Himself. We will sup with Him. Sorrow and saints will be divorced forever. “Then let our songs abound; let every tear be dry. We are marching through Immanuel’s land to fairer worlds on high.”