During the time of feasting, did you prepare for the famine?
We are living in a very unusual time. After seven or so years of "feasting and plenty," all around there are now signs of "want and famine." It seems as though just the other day people were spending money like there was no tomorrow. Everyone was upgrading their lifestyle: buying and building bigger houses; trading in their old cars for new ones; furnishing their homes with gigantic flat screen tv's, granite countertops, and stainless steel appliances. People were truly spending money with abandon. No restaurant was too fine. No electronic gadget was too costly. No material desires were unmet. People got caught up in the frenzy of the feast and forgot to set aside something in preparation for the future. Folks acted as though the high times would never end. But it did end. And now that the feast is over and the famine has begun, what do these same people have to get them through the drought?
What people should have been doing during the feast is shown to us in the bible. As I was reading God's Word the other night, the idea for this article came to me. In Genesis 41 it shows us another time in history when there was great abundance. It all took place in the land of Egypt. But before it happened, God used a man named Joseph to show Pharaoh and the people what was coming and what they should do. First let's see what was about to happen. Genesis 41:29, 47, "Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt. And in the seven plenteous years the earth brought forth by handfuls."
Did you see that? It says, The earth brought forth by handfuls. That sounds like good times were happening, indeed!
But we all know (or should know) that here on earth, nothing lasts forever. Joseph went on to warn the people that these good times were not going to last and that they must prepare for what else lay ahead. Joseph said, "And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land; and the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine following; for it shall be very grievous" (Genesis 41:30-31).
"Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years. And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine." (Genesis 41:34-36)
Joseph was letting the people know that they needed to have an emergency fund. They needed a cushion to get them through the rough times. They needed to be mindful to not squander what God had blessed them with and to make sure that they made provisions for their future. And this is also what people of our day should have done during the years of plenty. But many people made the mistake of living for the moment without giving thought to tomorrow or to a possible drought, and now there is economic turmoil and despair throughout the land.
But do you know what else this bible account made me reflect upon? Even more important than preparing for the time when the feasting ends, have you prepared for the time when your life will end? Are you so caught up in the cares and thrills of living that you have not made provisions for when you die? I'm not talking about having funeral arrangements or life insurance for your left behind loved ones. What have you done regarding where your soul will be for all eternity? Tomorrow could be the day when you breathe your last breath. As a matter of fact, tonight or one second from now could be the day when your life here on earth is over. Are you ready to face the Lord?
The people in the bible account we just read had Joseph, a man whom the Spirit of God was obviously living in, to warn, guide, and direct them on how to prepare for their future. We have someone far greater than Joseph who has shown us the way. Jesus has given us all that we need to be ready for eternity. But have you asked God for forgiveness and truly repented of your sins? Do you claim Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and are you following His instructions? There are far worse things than losing your house or having credit card debt or watching your 401k disappear. What is really a tragedy is that so many people will lose their soul and end up in hell because they were unconcerned with matters of salvation. Have you prepared and planned for your eternal future? Here are a few verses that speak on the importance of being ready for death:
Job 27:8, "For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul?"
Matthew 3:2, "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Matthew 24:42-44, "Watch therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh."
Mark 8:36, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"
Romans 13:11, "And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed."
2 Corinthians 5:10, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."
Hebrews 2:1-3, "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him."
Hebrews 9:27, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment."
2 Peter 1:10, "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall."
Revelation 20:15, "And whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire."
Again, as we have already seen, it is important to be a wise steward of all the material things that God gives you, and you should keep an emergency fund in place for unforeseen circumstances, but you should treasure a relationship with the Lord above all else. Make certain that you know that your name is written in God's Book of Life and that your soul is secure. No feast or fancy thing here on earth can compare to the peace of heart and joy of spirit that comes from knowing that heaven is your true home and that you are just a pilgrim here passing through.
In closing, let us learn from these last few important verses. Matthew 6:19-21, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
Luke 12:16-21, "And he [Jesus] spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
1 Corinthians 2:9, "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."
2 Corinthians 5:1, "For we know that, if our earthly house of this tabernacle [our body] were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."