When Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dream and rises to a position of power in Egypt, we get a view into one of the best financial lessons in the Bible. Indeed, there’s many lessons to be drawn from this scripture in Genesis, but the financial lessons alone are powerful. Keep reading for financial lessons from Joseph and what we can apply to our modern-day money decisions.
"Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they quickly brought him out of the pit. And when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” Genesis 41:14-15 ESV
Joseph, having a earned a reputation for interpreting dreams, is summoned by Egypt’s Pharaoh to interpret the ruler’s dream. Joseph then tells Pharaoh what the dream means. He describes how Egypt will face seven years of prosperity followed by seven years of famine. Pharaoh makes a great decision here to seek wise counsel. He validates that Joseph has the specific skillset he needs and asks for help.
Recognizing a Need
"There will come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt, but after them there will arise seven years of famine, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt. The famine will consume the land, and the plenty will be unknown in the land by reason of the famine that will follow, for it will be very severe." Genesis 41:29-30 ESV
Joseph outlines for Egypt’s ruler what is going to happen ahead. He advises Pharaoh of the coming times of plenty and famine. Joseph then recognizes the need to do something about it. He proposes storing food during the good times to ease the suffering during the bad times. Joseph recognizes the need to prepare for uncertainty and difficult times. This is our first recorded example of an emergency fund!
Taking Action to Prepare
"And let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. That food shall be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine that are to occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish through the famine.” Genesis 41:35-36 ESV
A plan is only valuable if action is taken. Egypt, under the administrative direction of Joseph, takes action. The nation stores up grain over seven years to form a reserve for when times are not so prosperous. This act of creating a reserve and saving it for a future need is an Egyptian “rainy day fund.” If you read between the lines, the impression is given that nations outside of Egypt did not make the same preparations.
Modern Day Application of Joseph’s Preparations for Famine
There’s positive lessons we can take from Joseph’s preparations for Egypt to help us manage our finances better.
There are times in our financial lives, when both big and small decisions can be easier with the help of an expert. The value of wise counsel comes up many times in the Bible such as in Proverbs. If you seek out an expert to help with your family’s financial life, this is a sign of wisdom. It’s not always easy to ask for help, but the benefits are real.
Recognize Good Times and Bad Times are Part of Life
Your family life will have good years and more challenging years financially. It’s important to recognize this ebb and flow are part of the seasons we encounter in life when dealing with money. As part of this acceptance, it’s important to prepare during prosperous times for the not so prosperous times.
Create an Emergency Fund
An emergency fund is incredibly important. The Federal Reserve found in a survey that 4 out of 10 adults could not cover a $400 emergency. The likely and unfortunate path for many who face that kind of emergency would be credit card debt. An emergency fund helps protect your family from those outcomes like considerable debt.
Does everything go according to plan in your life? No, of course it doesn’t. None of us knows what life will bring in any given year, but we know unexpected things will happen. This can make it hard to plan. Unlike your phone bill, unexpected events never happen the same way twice. That’s the key behind why you need an emergency fund. Unexpected events WILL happen and impact your wallet. By building an emergency fund, you can help keep these events from causing significant stress to your family. This financial buffer will also keep you from getting into debt when the unexpected happens.
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