Recent Virginia Church Service – Stimulus Sermon
I would love to give the Pastor of this church in Virginia a hug and a high five. This guy is obviously a leader. Perhaps we should each decide who our real leader is. It is amazing to see that very little has changed in 4,000 years.
Good morning, brothers and sisters; it’s always a delight to see the pews crowded on Sunday morning, and so eager to get into God’s Word. Turn with me in your Bibles, if you will to the 47th chapter of Genesis, we’ll begin our reading at verse 13, and go through verse 27. Brother Ray, would you stand and read that great passage for us? …..(reading)…..
Joseph and the Famine
13 There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine. 14 Joseph collected all the money that was to be found in Egypt and Canaan in payment for the grain they were buying, and he brought it to Pharaoh’s palace. 15 When the money of the people of Egypt and Canaan was gone, all Egypt came to Joseph and said, “Give us food. Why should we die before your eyes? Our money is used up.”
16 “Then bring your livestock,” said Joseph. “I will sell you food in exchange for your livestock, since your money is gone.” 17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and he gave them food in exchange for their horses, their sheep and goats, their cattle and donkeys. And he brought them through that year with food in exchange for all their livestock.
18 When that year was over, they came to him the following year and said, “We cannot hide from our lord the fact that since our money is gone and our livestock belongs to you, there is nothing left for our lord except our bodies and our land. 19 Why should we perish before your eyes—we and our land as well? Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we with our land will be in bondage to Pharaoh. Give us seed so that we may live and not die, and that the land may not become desolate.”
20 So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. The Egyptians, one and all, sold their fields, because the famine was too severe for them. The land became Pharaoh’s, 21 and Joseph reduced the people to servitude, [a] from one end of Egypt to the other. 22 However, he did not buy the land of the priests, because they received a regular allotment from Pharaoh and had food enough from the allotment Pharaoh gave them. That is why they did not sell their land.
23 Joseph said to the people, “Now that I have bought you and your land today for Pharaoh, here is seed for you so you can plant the ground. 24 But when the crop comes in, give a fifth of it to Pharaoh. The other four-fifths you may keep as seed for the fields and as food for yourselves and your households and your children.”
25 “You have saved our lives,” they said. “May we find favor in the eyes of our lord; we will be in bondage to Pharaoh.”
26 So Joseph established it as a law concerning land in Egypt—still in force today—that a fifth of the produce belongs to Pharaoh. It was only the land of the priests that did not become Pharaoh’s.
27 Now the Israelites settled in Egypt in the region of Goshen. They acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number.
Thank you for that fine reading, Brother Ray. So we see that economic hard times fell upon Egypt, and the people turned to the government of Pharaoh to deal with this for them. And Pharaoh nationalized the grain harvest, and placed the grain in great storehouses that he had built. So the people brought their money to Pharaoh, like a great tax increase, and gave it all to him willingly in return for grain. And this went on until their money ran out, and they were hungry again.
So when they went to Pharaoh after that, they brought their livestock - their cattle, their horses, their sheep, and their donkey - to barter for grain, and verse 17 says that only took them through the end of that year. But the famine wasn’t over, was it? So the next year, the people came before Pharaoh and admitted they had nothing left, except their land and their own lives.
“There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our land. Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we with our land will be servants to Pharaoh.” So they surrendered their homes, their land, and their real estate to Pharaoh’s government, and then sold themselves into slavery to him, in return for grain.
What can we learn from this, brothers and sisters? That turning to the government instead of to God to be our provider in hard times only leads to slavery? Yes.
That the only reason government wants to be our provider is to also become our master? Yes.
But look how that passage ends, brothers and sisters! Thus Israel settled in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen .. And they gained possessions in it, and were fruitful and multiplied greatly.” God provided for His people, just as He always has! They didn’t end up giving all their possessions to government, no, it says they gained possessions!
But I also tell you a great truth today, and an ominous one. We see the same thing happening today – the government today wants to “share the wealth “once again, to take it from us and redistribute it back to us. It wants to take control of healthcare, just as it has taken control of education, and ration it back to us, and when government rations it, then government decides who gets it, and how much, and what kind. And if we go along with it, and do it willingly, then we will wind up no differently than the people of Egypt did four thousand years ago – as slaves to the government, and as slaves to our leaders.
What Mr. Obama’s government is doing now is no different from what Pharaoh’s government did then, and it will end the same. And a lot of people like to call Mr. Obama a “Messiah,” don’t they? Is he a Messiah? A savior? Didn’t the Egyptians say, after Pharaoh made them his slaves, ”You have saved our lives; may it please my lord, we will be servants to Pharaoh”? Well, I tell you this - I know the Messiah; the Messiah is a friend of mine; and Mr. Obama is no Messiah! No, brothers and sisters, if Mr. Obama is a character from the Bible, then he is Pharaoh.
Bow with me in prayer, if you will. ”Lord, You alone are worthy to be served, and we rely on You, and You alone. We confess that the government is not our deliverer, and never rightly will be. We read in the eighth chapter of 1 Samuel, when Samuel warned the people of what a ruler would do, where it says “And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.” And Lord, we acknowledge that day has come. We cry out to you because of the ruler that we have chosen for ourselves as a nation. Lord, we pray for this nation. We pray for revival, and we pray for deliverance from those who would be our masters. Give us hearts to seek You and hands to serve You, and protect Your people from the atrocities of Pharaoh’s government. In God We Trust.”
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January 26, 2010 - Posted by hallmarkknits | Faith
6 Comments »
Thanks for this. I was only just reading that passage a couple of days ago, but I didn’t think about it this way
Comment by Rachel | January 26, 2010
And all God’s people said, “AMEN! and AMEN!!!!”
Comment by Mom (Better known as Nana) | February 9, 2010
The sermon is timely – but misguided. The pastor speaks words that many might like to hear, but it doesn’t seem to be rooted in very good theology.
This text is widely interpreted by commentators as speaking to our absolute need for God’s providence. Unfortunately – it is in moments of abundance that our perceived need for God diminishes. In times of crisis – the people of Egypt finally realize that silver and gold will not feed them – they must have corn. In response – they part with their property and even their liberty for the saving of their lives. It is only in letting go of their dependancy on earthly possessions that they finally reach the point of real freedom from a slavery of their own making.
The pastor from Virginia suggests that the Egyptians undoing came by relinquishing their possessions to Pharaoh – or in a modern sense – the government. He writes, ‘turning to the government instead of to God to be our provider in hard times only leads to slavery.’ He suggests the people’s actions were leading them into slavery. Most commentaries – however – seem to agree that the people were already enslaved. In fact, their undoing was not at the hands of Pharaoh (the government) – but rather an unrealistic reliance on themselves. It was only in having it all taken away – that the people are finally brought back into a right relationship and a proper dependency on the grace and goodness of God.
I would recommend reading Walter Bruggemann’s piece entitled ‘The Liturgy of Abundance, The Myth of Scarcity.’ It is easily found on the net. This deals with the current situation well, but also stays true to the biblical text. If you’re truly interested in this topic – it’s worth a read.
The Liturgy of Abundance, The Myth of Scarcity
by Walter Brueggemann
"As a little child Jesus must often have heard his mother, Mary, singing. And as we know, the sang a revolutionary song, the Magnificat--the anthem of Luke's Gospel. She sang about neighborliness: about how God brings down the mighty from their thrones and lifts up the lowly; about how God fills the hungry with good things and sends the rich away empty. Mary did not make up this dangerous song. She took it from another mother, Hannah, who sang it much earlier to little Samuel, who became one of ancient Israel's greatest revolutionaries. Hannah, Mary, and their little boys imagined a great social transformation. Jesus enacted his mother's song well. Everywhere he went he broke the vicious cycles of poverty, bondage, fear and death; he healed, transformed, empowered and brought new life. Jesus' example gives us the mandate to transform our public life."