Genesis 47:3
And Pharaoh said to his brothers, What is your occupation? And they said to Pharaoh, Your servants are shepherds, both we…

I. OUR NEED OF AN OCCUPATION. Divine provision implies human need. It also measures and meets it.

1. Economically. Work is to the race an absolute condition of existence. Since the fall the ground yields a full fruit only to labour (Genesis 3:17, 19). Only on condition that he works can man be fed (Proverbs 6:6, 10). Idleness is an anomaly, a blunder, and a sin.

2. Physiologically. The health and growth of our powers depend on it. The body was not made to be still. It requires motion, and craves for it. A mind inert becomes enfeebled, whereas intellectual activity tends to intellectual strength. So also in the spiritual ,department: the spiritual nature grows by exercise, and languishes in inactivity. Opportunities of loving increase the capacity to love.

3. Morally: Idleness is the natural ally of immorality. The laziest lives are notoriously the most vicious. Good, honest work has a double action. It keeps down appetite and it keeps out of temptation's way.

II. THE OCCUPATION WE NEED. Occupation, like other good things, may be abused, and so become the occasion of evil. This happens —

1. When our occupation is followed to the point of drudgery. Distinguish work from toil. The one strengthens our powers, the other wastes them.

2. When our occupation is one-sided. A tree that makes much wood makes little fruit. A man who over-works his body neglects his mind. A man absorbed in secular matters neglects and will soon bring atrophy to his moral nature. Activity in one direction cannot be exaggerated but at the expense of neglect in another. We can do only one thing well at a time. The Christian who thrives finds time somehow for spiritual exercises, and the exclusive consideration of spiritual things.

III. THE PROPER END OF ALL OCCUPATION. There must be not only work and lawful work, but the doing of this with lofty purpose. The true work is work done as service to God — "as to the Lord and not to men." Application:

1. Recognize the universal obligation to work.

2. Try to find your enjoyment in your work.

3. Labour not for the meat that perisheth, but for that which endureth unto eternal life.

(J. Edgar Henry, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Pharaoh said unto his brethren, What is your occupation? And they said unto Pharaoh, Thy servants are shepherds, both we, and also our fathers.

WEB: Pharaoh said to his brothers, "What is your occupation?" They said to Pharaoh, "Your servants are shepherds, both we, and our fathers."

The Presentation to Pharaoh
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