FOR THE RAINY DAY:
Things To Save For Hard Times, Expected and Unexpected
“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.”
Sometimes scarcity comes to test how clever you were when you had plenty. If you are intelligent, you shouldn’t be indulgent when you are affluent. Dry spell may just be around the corner.
Cows Eating Cows
This is the story of Joseph in Egypt.
Pharaoh, king of Egypt, had multiple dreams on the same night. He realised that these were no ordinary dreams. He had to find an oneirocritic to interpret the dreams. Meanwhile, Joseph who had dreamed his way into trouble, would soon realise that somebody’s dream would get him out of trouble.
In the dream, Pharaoh stood by the Nile. There came up out of the river seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. After them, another seven cows, ugly and emaciated, came up out of the river. They stood beside the fat ones. The cows that were ugly and emaciated ate up the fat ones.
In the second dream, he saw seven ears of corn that came up upon one stalk, healthy and good. And, like in the first dream, there appeared seven other ears of corn—thin and scorched by the east wind. The thin ears of corn swallowed up the seven healthy ears (see Genesis 41:1-7).
Pharaoh had sought the help of all the magicians and wise men in Egypt but found none who could help interpret the dreams. That is when Joseph was called upon after having earlier interpreted a dream for one of Pharaoh’s servants who shared a prison with him (Joseph) but was later reinstated just as Joseph had interpreted from a dream.
After Pharaoh told him the dream, Joseph explained to him that his two dreams had identical meaning. In the dream, God had shown Pharaoh what He was about to do. Both the seven good cows and the seven good ears of corn represented seven years of plenty. The seven lean ugly cows and the seven worthless ears of corn were seven years of famine.
When an expert or a gifted person does his job, he makes it look so easy everybody else thinks he could also do it with ease. In the same way, when God inspires a person with wisdom, his counselling would look like an ordinary common sense, making some people think that they could have also come up with the idea. This must have been the feeling after Joseph interpreted the dreams. The good thing is that the wise men and magicians of Egypt had had the first chance but they failed.
A question that comes to mind which will also help us appreciate the importance of stewardship is: Why did it have to be the lean ugly cows eating up the fat well-fed cows and not vice versa or thin ears of corn swallowing up the healthy ones instead of the other way round? The answer is that when things are left to take their own course without an intelligent management, the power of destruction always overwhelm that of construction. Without God deliberately and intelligently managing the universe, there was only emptiness, formlessness and darkness.
“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”—Genesis 1:2.
It was not enough that God had created the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1:1). He had to set upon setting up order, light and life (vs. 3 onwards).
A farmer has to manage his farm. If he lets crops grow without getting himself involved, the weeds will always swallow up the crops. Stewardship is truly fundamental. Is it any wonder that in the parables related to stewardship, Jesus pronounced harsh judgement over those who would do nothing? The Lord Jesus knows that if we don’t do anything, the ugly mean lean cows of evil will swallow up all the resources He provided for posterity.