When Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt, Jacob said to his sons, “Why do you look at one another?” And he said, “Indeed I have heard that there is grain in Egypt; go down to that place and buy for us there, that we may live and not die.” (Genesis 42:1-2)
According to tradition, this occurred in the second year of the famine. And though Jacob’s motive for sending his sons down to Egypt was survival, he had no idea that God had orchestrated all of this for his good. In fact there are several occasions recorded in Scripture where God used famine to bring about his purposes. In the days of Elijah God used a famine to force the people of Israel to come to Mt Carmel and be confronted with the fallacy of their false worship (1 Kings 18). In the end, the people acknowledged that, “The LORD, He is God.” Again, there are many other cases where the Almighty used famine to get people’s attention (and He will do so again according to Revelation 6). One of the most prominent examples is actually found in a parable — the parable of the prodigal or lost son. The Messiah shared how it was a famine that brought him to his senses and provoked him to return to his father’s and be reunited with his family (Luke 15).
Jacob didn’t realize when he sent ten brothers down to Egypt that it was the first step in being reunited with his lost son. And so we are reminded that what seems to be a dire situation to us may be the environment orchestrated by the Almighty to bring about a great miracle -– one that will restore what has been lost and bind up what has been broken. As the Psalmist said:
Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. (Psalm 126:5-6)
So let us not despise the famine; it may be God’s way of answering our heart’s most desperate prayer.
Blessings and Shalom,