the seven years of plenty that occurred in the land of egypt came to an end, 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. 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.”
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. moreover, all the earth came to egypt to joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the earth. [genesis 41:53-57]
why do famines exist?
famines exist for the same reason that everything exists, to show the surpassing glory of God in all things. famines–physical famines where no crops grow, or pain that gives us no respite, or famines of spiritual things–can drive us further from God to other things, or they can drive us to dependence upon God. famines of course, aren’t part of the original creation–the garden of eden was lush, and filled with plenty of good food to eat.
and the Lord God planted a garden in eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. and out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. [genesis 2:8-9a]
and you know the rest of the story–adam and eve broke relationship with God, and as the puritan benjamin harris said it-”in adam’s fall, we sinned all” which brought with it the consequences of famines, of crops and of our souls. but there is hope–
why does bread exist?
one of the pivotal theological shifts in my life was a sermon that john piper preached to the prisoners of the infamous angola prison. the title of the sermon was “Jesus came not to give bread, but to be bread”, and i recommend a listen: in a winsome and challenging way, piper expressed that the reason why bread exists is to show us the infinite glory of Jesus Christ:
Jesus said to them, “i am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. [john 6:35]
Jesus wants us to come to him when we are hungry, spiritually and physically–he is our bread, he fills us. though we try to comfort ourselves with food and sex and games, those things cannot bring true comfort, only Christ fills us.
i am the bread of life. your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. this is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. i am the living bread that came down from heaven. if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” [john 6:48-51]
Christ sustains us day by day, only he can promise us true fulfillment, only he can promise us eternal life.
and he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “this is my body, which is given for you. do this in remembrance of me.” [luke 22:19]
joseph was a savior to egypt and all the world because of God’s provision of sustaining bread. God the Father provides us with true bread–Christ, the bread of the world, whom he broke for us, his own son’s death to give us eternal life and to sustain us day to day.
when we are famished, going through a spiritual or physical famine–when we face lack, when we are seeking deeper intimacy with God, let us ask him for our daily bread–Jesus Christ!