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Lessons in Emergency Preparedness from Joseph

April 06, 2023 0 Comments

With Easter approaching, it feels like the right time to introduce (or re-introduce) you to the Bible hero Joseph.

No, not Joseph as in Mary and Joseph.

I’m talking about the Old Testament Joseph whose story is told in the Book of Genesis.

Most often, our understanding of Joseph comes from the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors…and the brothers who sold him into slavery.

But that’s not the story we are focusing on today.

While the betrayal by his brothers is certainly a key chapter in his story, many people forget that this same Joseph grew up to be the interpreter of Pharaoh’s dreams and was put in charge of Egypt as Pharaoh's second-in-command.

Joseph ended up helping the people survive the 7-year famine – including the brothers who had sold him into slavery 22 years earlier.

To put it simply, Joseph’s story of survival and redemption is amazing! Let’s take some time today to review 10 key preparedness lessons from the mighty Old Testament hero.

The Story of Joseph

Before we break down the different emergency preparedness tips we can glean from Joseph’s story, we need to familiarize ourselves with his story.

Here is the Bible story condensed for you.

Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years; it is one and the same dream. The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years, and so are the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind: They are seven years of famine.

“It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land. The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe. The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.

“And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.” (Genesis 41:25-36)

So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” (Genesis 41:41)

Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout Egypt. During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully. Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it. Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure. (Genesis 41:46-49)

The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other lands, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food. When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.”

When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt. And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere. (Genesis 41:53-57)

Now, let’s glean some valuable emergency preparedness tips from this story.

1. The Importance of Foresight

Joseph's ability to interpret Pharaoh's dream about the 7 years of plenty followed by 7 years of famine allowed Egypt to prepare for the difficult times ahead.

Even if we aren’t given the gift of dream interpretation or biblical foresight, we can make wise decisions based on what we know is possible. For example, is it possible we will experience a natural disaster? Yes.

2. Strategic Planning

Joseph's careful planning and organization of resources during the years of plenty helped Egypt manage the famine effectively.

Some people today refer to saving as “The Joseph Principle.” Joseph carefully planned to save during the years with more so they could survive the years with less.

3. Stockpiling Resources

Joseph's approach of gathering and storing grain during the prosperous years provided a buffer against scarcity when the famine struck.

Even though they had access to grain during the years of surplus, Joseph recognized the importance of not using it all and stockpiling for future emergencies.

4. Managing Food Distribution

Joseph's centralized control of grain distribution ensured an equitable and organized approach to managing the limited resources during the famine.

During the famine years, Joseph was responsible for distributing food to Egyptians and others. This also meant dealing with those who ran out of money. In these cases, Joseph allowed people to barter their livestock, land, and labor.

5. Diversifying Food Sources

Egypt's reliance on the Nile River for agriculture underscored the importance of diversifying food sources to enhance resilience during times of crisis.

After the years of famine were over, Joseph gave the people seeds for planting, ensuring they could grow their own food.

6. Learning from Past Experiences

The story of Joseph reminds us to learn from past events and use that knowledge to prepare for future emergencies.

Some people tend to think those with pantries stocked with emergency food are extreme, but since Bible times, people have been hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.

[Related Read: What the Bible Can Teach Us about Preparedness]

7. The Role of Strong Leadership

Joseph's wisdom and leadership were instrumental in helping Egypt navigate the difficult years of famine and ultimately thrive.

Tearfund explains, “Joseph had the skills of good management. He was guided by God and so able to plan carefully, and to predict what was likely to happen. In order to carry out his clear planning, he needed authority and power. Anyone put in charge of a disaster management program also needs authority to make and carry out quick decisions that others will respect and obey.”

8. Supporting Neighboring Regions

Joseph's management of the famine not only benefited Egypt, but also allowed the country to provide assistance to surrounding nations facing the same crisis.

Tearfund explains, “Egypt was the only land that was prepared for the famine in the Middle East. It met its own needs as well as those of neighboring countries. Good disaster planning can have far-reaching benefits.”

9. The Importance of Adaptability

The story of Joseph and the 7-year famine teaches us the value of being adaptable and resourceful in times of crisis.

Joseph’s life certainly turned out differently than he had planned, but he proved to be adaptable and wise in various circumstances.

10. Maintaining Faith during Difficult Times

Throughout the famine, Joseph remained steadfast in his faith, which helped him persevere and guide Egypt through this challenging period.

Happy Easter, friends!

In Liberty,

Grant Miller

My Patriot Supply

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