47 During the seven plentiful years the earth produced abundantly, 48 and he gathered up all the food of these seven years, which occurred in the land of Egypt, and put the food in the cities. He put in every city the food from the fields around it. 49 And Joseph stored up grain in great abundance, like the sand of the sea, until he ceased to measure it, for it could not be measured.
53 The seven years of plenty that occurred in the land of Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began to come, as Joseph had said. There was famine in all lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. 55 When all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph. What he says to you, do.”
56 So when the famine had spread over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt.57 Moreover, all the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the earth. Genesis 41:47-49,53-57
The story of Joseph has been told so many times and offers so many lessons that sometimes it’s easy to think we know the story and that’s that. However, when you stop learning you become complacent and ineffective and self-centred – not exactly qualities of following God’s will.
A couple of years ago I was asking the Lord for some insight to why the commonly accepted financial wisdom was to accumulate money for the future (not that this is bad, it’s the emphasis on it for retirement that is perplexing) He lead me to the story of Joseph and revealed some interesting principles that address so many financial issues that cause uncertainty for people today.
Typically the interpretation of what Joseph put in place in Egypt after interpreting Pharoph’s dream of 7 years of prosperity followed by 7 years of famine is that the Egyptians saved up the food during the good years so they wouldn’t starve to death during the famine. It’s interesting to note that the passage doesn’t mention any fear running out or not having enough, nor does it mention storing the food just for the Egyptians.
What the passage actually says is that the Egyptians produced the food from the land and it was collected and stored in the cities throughout the country. When the famine came, the Egyptians sold the food locally and to people who came from abroad. Producing the food from the land, meant they processed it in some way and selling it meant they created income from their efforts. In this way, what they created was a sustainable economy.
It seems to me that God provided fruitful land from which the Egyptians could work together at the local level to use their talents to produce goods that benefited them and others. Because the produced food was available in cities throughout the country they had a distribution network so the produce was accessible to and beneficial to many people.
Today to produce abundance means despite an apparent lack or gap I resources, means you have to first focus on the prosperity that you do have available, then find a way to produce something of value to others; particularly something that is essential and consumable. Then work with others to create a system to sell your goods. This is the entrepreneurial spirit of infinite possibilities that creates abundance, rather than stockpiling for personal survival with a concern that you might not have enough or might run out. Your plan doesn’t have to be huge with a worldwide audience, it just has to start with a mindset of creating a sustainable income in your personal economy by considering the needs of others as well as yourself.
You can read more about the consequences of our current thinking around personal finance following the accumulation model in The Death by Money Report available at www.deathbymoney.com