Genesis 47: Lessons From Israel’s Family on Living Holy Lives in the World

Introduction: In Genesis 47, God set the stage for the events that would lead to the Exodus approximately 400 years later. Here, God used the seven-year drought to transfer the wealth of the Egyptians and Israel’s family to Pharaoh. Israel’s family would live as servants to Pharaoh. They would also live separated from the Egyptians in what the Egyptians considered to be a loathsome profession. In the Bible, Egypt is both a real place and a metaphor for the world. Here, from Israel’s family, God reveals seven lessons for living holy lives while in the world.

First, Israel and his sons told Pharaoh that they were shepherds. Because their profession was considered loathsome to the Egyptians, Pharaoh sent the Jews to live in the land of Goshen. In this place, they would be isolated from the Egyptians. From this, God reveals that you are to lead a life in the world that is set apart for His use. Second, acting as God’s representative, Israel blessed Pharaoh for helping God’s people. From this, God reveals that He will bless those who help the Jews. He also wants you to live as a blessing to others. Third, even in the midst of a drought, God provided for His people in Egypt through Joseph. From this, God reveals that He wants you to trust in His provision. Fourth, even as He transferred the wealth of Israel and all of Egypt to Pharaoh during the seven-year drought, God continued to bless Israel’s descendants. But their treasures were in Him, not amongst the things of the Earth. From this, God reveals that He wants you to store up your treasures in heaven and not on Earth. Fifth, as Pharaoh’s subjects, God expected the Jews to pay their taxes like everyone else. From this, God reveals that believers are required to live in submission to government authority. Sixth, even in the midst of the drought and servitude in Egypt, God remained faithful to His promise to bless and multiply Israel and his descendants. From this, God reveals that He wants you to live using the fruit of the Spirit that He gives you for His Kingdom. Finally, as his death drew near, Israel pleaded in faith for Joseph to bury his bones in the Promised Land. From this, God reveals that He wants you to place your hope in the eternal Promised Land and not the things of this world.

1. Live a Life Set Apart from the World for God’s Use. Gen. 47:1-6.

  • Israel’s family seeks out and receives a life of isolation in Egypt. Joseph told his brothers and his father exactly what they needed to say before they met with Pharaoh (Gen. 46:31-34). Pursuant to his directions, Israel and five of his representative sons told Pharaoh that they were a family of shepherds: “1 Then Joseph went in and told Pharaoh, and said, ‘My father and my brothers and their flocks and their herds and all that they have, have come out of the land of Canaan; and behold, they are in the land of Goshen.’ 2 He took five men from among his brothers and presented them to Pharaoh. 3 Then Pharaoh said to his brothers, ‘What is your occupation?’ So they said to Pharaoh, ‘Your servants are shepherds, both we and our fathers.’ 4 They said to Pharaoh, ‘We have come to sojourn in the land, for there is no pasture for your servants’ flocks, for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. Now, therefore, please let your servants live in the land of Goshen.’ 5 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Your father and your brothers have come to you. 6 The land of Egypt is at your disposal; settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land, let them live in the land of Goshen; and if you know any capable men among them, then put them in charge of my livestock.’” (Gen. 47:1-6). Joseph’s goal was for his family to convince Pharaoh that they engaged in a profession that the Egyptians found to be loathsome: ‘“. . . for every shepherd is loathsome to the Egyptians.”’ (Gen. 46:34; 43:32). Dating back to the time of Cain and Abel, being a tiller of the ground was considered to be more prestigious than being a shepherd (Gen. 4:2). The Jews’ isolation would ensure their survival as a separate and distinct group while God multiplied them and transformed them into a nation.

  • The great leaders of the Old Testament were sojourners. Israel’s family told Pharaoh that they had come to “to sojourn in the land .” (Gen. 47:4). David later observed that “Israel also came into Egypt; thus Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham [Egypt].” (Ps. 105:23). At Sarah’s death, Abraham also stated that he had lived as “a stranger and a sojourner among” Canaanites (Gen. 23:3-4). In reference to Abraham, Hebrews explains that: “By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise;” (Heb. 11:9). In reference to Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and his descendants, Hebrews explains: “All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” (Heb. 11:13). Moses later called one of his sons “Gershom” because he was also a sojourner (Ex. 2:2). David also called himself a sojourner: “Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry; do not be silent at my tears; for I am a stranger with You, a sojourner like all my fathers.” (Ps. 39:12). “I am a stranger in the earth; . . .” (Ps. 119:19). “For we are sojourners before You, and tenants, as all our fathers were; . . ..” (1 Chr. 29:15). These great leaders of the Bible all saw their real home as being in heaven.

  • Jesus lived as a sojourner without a home on Earth. Like the other great leaders of the Old Testament, Jesus journeyed through the Promised Land without a permanent home: “And Jesus said to him, ‘The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.’” (Lk. 9:58; Matt. 8:20). His home was and is in heaven. Jesus and the other great leaders of the Bible should set an example for you.

  • Live in the world but not of the world. Pharaoh told Israel’s family to settle wherever they pleased. “The land of Egypt is at your disposal; settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land.” (Gen. 47:6). Abimelech also gave a similar offer to Abraham: “‘Behold, my land is before you; settle wherever you please.’” (Gen. 20:15). You also have the opportunity to settle and enjoy the land around you. Yet, God does not want you to think of your permanent inheritance as being on Earth because the land belongs to Him: “The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me.” (Lev. 25:23). Thus, He wants you to live as a stranger to the evil things of this world: “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.” (1 Pet. 2:11). Have you lived as a stranger to the evil things of the flesh? Or, have you become at home living like non-believers?

  • Labor hard for the Lord wherever you are called to be. One commentator observes that “Pharaoh offered to employ them as shepherds, provided they were active men. Whatever our business or employment is, we should aim to excel in it, and to prove ourselves clever and industrious.” (Mathew Henry on Gen. 47).1 It is a sin for a believer not to work hard: “For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you;” (2 Thess. 3:7-8). Are you working hard wherever you are called?

  • Use the talents that Jesus has given you. Through Pharaoh, God called upon Israel’s family to serve their new Egyptian master as shepherds. Jesus tells believers that they have all been given “talents” or abilities from Him. If you fail to use your talents to serve others, you are robbing from the labor and talents that God meant for His Church to serve others: “But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.”’ (Matt. 25:26-27). If God has given you the ability to labor for His kingdom and for those in need and you don’t work, your slothfulness is also a form of theft from God: “He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.” (Eph. 4:28). “In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35). Are you using the talents that Jesus has given you to serve others?

  • Appoint capable leaders to manage God’s flock. Pharaoh told Joseph to appoint “capable men among them, then put them in charge of my livestock .” (Gen. 46:6). Moses’ father-in-law Jethro later told Moses to also appoint capable leaders to manage God’s flock: “Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens. Let them judge the people at all times; and let it be that every major dispute they will bring to you, but every minor dispute they themselves will judge.” (Ex. 18:21-23). “Choose wise and discerning and experienced men from your tribes, and I will appoint them as your heads.” (Dt. 1:13). Moses followed that advice (Ex. 18:25). David also chose capable leaders for his armies (2 Sam. 18:1). This wisdom also applies to the Church today. Many large churches lead through a single person. Small group leaders exist. But no real leadership structure with mutual accountability exists.

  • Seven lessons for selecting a Godly leader. God provides several guidelines for selecting leaders. First, believers must let the Holy Spirit pick leaders (Jo. 14:16-18; 26). This typically requires prayer and patience: “do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.” (1 Tim. 5:22). Second, a prospective leader must be content (1 Tim. 6:6-9). In other words, the person should not covet the leadership position. Third, the leader must be “above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach.” (1 Tim. 3:2). Fourth, the leader must not be “addicted to wine or be pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money.” (1 Tim. 3:3; 6:6-10). The leader must also manage his own household well (1 Tim. 3:4). Fifth, the leader must also not be a new convert (1 Tim. 3:6). Sixth, the leader must also be a servant leader (1 Tim. 6:2). Finally, you will also know God’s appointed leaders by fruit of their lives (Matt. 7:16, 20). Every believer is a potential leader as part of God’s nation of priests (1 Pet. 2:5). Meditate on this list of leadership attributes and ask God to show you where to improve.

2. Live as a Blessing to All Around You, Including Your Enemies. Gen. 47:7-11.

  • Israel’s blessings to Pharaoh. During their meeting, “Jacob” revealed that he had lived an “unpleasant” life living by the flesh for most of his life. Yet, as the man reborn by faith, he no longer focused on just himself. Instead, he now represented God by blessing Pharaoh for providing for his family: “7 Then Joseph brought his father Jacob and presented him to Pharaoh; and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. 8 Pharaoh said to Jacob, ‘How many years have you lived?’ 9 So Jacob said to Pharaoh, ‘The years of my sojourning are one hundred and thirty; few and unpleasant have been the years of my life, nor have they attained the years that my fathers lived during the days of their sojourning.’ 10 And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from his presence.” (Gen. 47:7-11). It is possible that sin had weathered Israel’s appearance. It is also possible that Israel’s age of 130 was astonishing to Pharaoh. From God’s perspective, the more important thing was that Israel was now living by faith. Blessings can only come from God. Israel showed faith by extending His blessings to others.

Jacob appeared before Pharaoh2

Jacob then blessed Pharaoh3

  • God promises to bless those who bless His people and curse those who oppose them. As God’s representative through faith, Israel blessed Pharaoh because he provided for God’s people in Egypt. God previously promised Abraham that He would bless those people who blessed His people: “And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Gen. 12:3). A different Pharaoh approximately 400 years later would be cursed after he turned on the Jews. This same promise and warning apply today. Those nations who have blessed and supported the Jews have prospered. By contrast, those who have opposed or oppressed them have suffered. When leaders oppose Israel or the Jews, the Church must intervene to stop them.

  • Be a holy blessing to others. God promised to make Abraham a great nation. He also promised that Abraham’s descendants would be a blessing to everyone on Earth: “since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed?” (Gen. 18:18). Paul repeated that the blessings that God extended through Abraham were meant to extend to every nation: “The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘All the nations will be blessed in you.’” (Gal. 3:8). Through faith, you become a descendant of Abraham and an heir to his blessings. As a recipient of God’s blessings, you are called upon to be blessing to others. You can bless others by living a holy life as a witness to God’s light: “For I am the LORD your God . . . be holy, for I am holy.” (Lev. 11:44). “Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.” (Lev. 19:2). “You are to be my holy people.” (Ex. 22:31). “for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” (1 Pet. 1:16). Jesus is the light of the world today (Jo. 8:12). His light burns inside you as a beacon for those around you (Matt. 5:14). In turn, you are commanded to share the hope that lies within you (1 Pet. 3:15; Matt. 28:19-20). Jesus also calls upon you to bless others by serving others in need: “It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave;” (Matt. 20:26-7). “Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.’” (Mk. 9:35; Lk. 22:25-6). You can also blessed others through prayers of faith, just like Israel did with Pharaoh. Is your life a blessing to others?

3. Live Trusting in God’s Provision. Gen. 47:11-12.

  • God’s provision of land and food for Israel’s family in the midst of the drought. Even in the midst of a severe drought, God provided for His people in Egypt through Joseph: “11 So Joseph settled his father and his brothers and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had ordered. 12 Joseph provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to their little ones.” (Gen. 47:11-12). Both during their captivity and when the Jews later traveled in the wilderness, God was always faithful to provide for their needs. In return, He wanted the Jews to trust Him and have faith in Him, even when they suffered and lived day to day.

Joseph used his authority to provide for his family4

  • Where God guides, He provides. After approximately 400 years of captivity and 40 years in the wilderness, Moses reminded the Jews that there were a blessed people. God always provided for them: “For the Lord your God has blessed you in all that you have done; He has known your wanderings through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you; you have not lacked a thing.”’ (Dt. 2:7). After He turned the Jews into a great nation, He freed them from their Egyptian bondage (Ex. 7:6-11:10). He then crushed the Egyptian army as they chased after the Jews (Ex. 13:7-15:21). He then defeated the Amalekites in battle (Ex. 17:9-12). He made water come out from a rock at Horeb (Ex. 17:6). He also transformed the waters of Marah to provide drinking water (Ex. 15:22-27). He then provided both manna and quail after they grumbled about their food (Ex. 16:1-8). He provided the “rabble” (half breeds) meat when they grew tired of God’s manna (Nu. 11:4-6, 32-33). Near the end of their journey, He also caused the waters to gush out of a rock at Meribah (Nu. 20:10-11; Ps. 81:16; 106:41). He further guided the Jews by a visible pillar of light (Ex. 13:21-22; 14:19). He even protected their feet from swelling (Dt. 8:4). They never had any reason to doubt that He would provide for them. He demonstrated that He always keeps His promises so that you will also trust Him.

  • Jesus will bless and provide for you as well. Jesus also cares for you in the wilderness (Hos. 13:5). He is your manna and your food (Jo. 6:35; Matt. 6:31). He is also the “rock” who gives you the water of contentment in our spiritual wilderness (Jo. 4:14; 6:36; 7:37-381 Cor. 10:3-4). He clothes you (Matt. 6:30). He is also “the rock of our salvation” (Ps. 95:1; Dt. 32:3-4; Isa. 26:4). Likewise, He is a rock and a shield for all who take refuge in Him (Ps. 18:30; 2 Sam. 22:3, 31). Jesus tells you not to worry about our provision (Matt. 6:34). He wants you to trust Him with a child-like faith: “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:3). If you worry about your provisions, you are not trusting Him. You must “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33). Are there areas of worry or doubt in your life? If so, repent of these things.

4. Live Storing Your Treasures in Heaven, Not on Earth. Gen. 47:13-22.

  • Because of God, Pharaoh amassed all the wealth of Egypt. Wealth is not and has never been a measure of God’s blessings. He previously blessed Job, Abraham, Isaac, and Israel with great wealth. Yet, even as He transferred the wealth of Israel and all of Egypt to Pharaoh, He continued to bless Israel’s descendants: “13 Now there was no food in all the land, because the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished because of the famine. 14 Joseph gathered all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan for the grain which they bought, and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house. 15 When the money was all spent in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, ‘Give us food, for why should we die in your presence? For our money is gone.’ 16 Then Joseph said, ‘Give up your livestock, and I will give you food for your livestock, since your money is gone.’ 17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them food in exchange for the horses and the flocks and the herds and the donkeys; and he fed them with food in exchange for all their livestock that year. 18 When that year was ended, they came to him the next year and said to him, ‘We will not hide from my lord that our money is all spent, and the cattle are my lord’s. There is nothing left for my lord except our bodies and our lands. 19 Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we and our land will be slaves to Pharaoh. So give us seed, that we may live and not die, and that the land may not be desolate. 20 So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh, for every Egyptian sold his field, because the famine was severe upon them. Thus the land became Pharaoh’s. 21 As for the people, he removed them to the cities from one end of Egypt’s border to the other. 22 Only the land of the priests he did not buy, for the priests had an allotment from Pharaoh, and they lived off the allotment which Pharaoh gave them. Therefore, they did not sell their land.” (Gen. 47:13-22). Pharaoh was deluded into seeing himself as a descendant of the gods. Thus, it might seem odd that God would transfer all the wealth of Israel’s family and the Egyptians to him. Yet, this served three purposes. First, it demonstrated that God is faithful to bless those who bless His people (Gen. 12:3). Second, these events fulfilled God’s prophecy that the Jews would become slaves in Egypt. “God said to Abram, ‘Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years.’” (Gen. 15:13). Finally, to turn Israel into His nation, He wanted them to depend upon Him alone. If they broke free from Egypt as a wealthy people, they might have given credit to their own power and not God. Or, if they remained wealthy in Egypt, they might have had no reason to leave.

  • Store up your treasures in heaven. The Jews in Egypt had no choice but to give up their possessions. Yet, God later called upon His priests to voluntarily give up their inheritance in this world and instead seek an inheritance in Him: “Therefore, Levi does not have a portion or inheritance with his brothers; the Lord is his inheritance, just as the Lord your God spoke to him.” (Dt. 10:9). You are part of Christ’s royal priesthood (1 Pet. 2:9). As one of His priests, you also are urged to voluntarily forgo pleasures on Earth and instead store up treasures in heaven: “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;” (Matt. 6:20). Are you denying yourself of anything for Jesus? What treasures will you have waiting for you in heaven?

  • God promises you victory, but not without struggle. Just as the Jews in Egypt did not experience a pain-free life, God also has not promised you a pain-free life. Believers live in a cursed world where they must toil to support themselves (Gen. 3:17). Thus, Christ warns that you will experience tribulation in the world (Jo. 16:33). Yet, He promises you that He will provide for you (Matt. 6:25-34). He also promises you the peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7). This means that you can find peace in the midst of struggle. Have you imposed upon God a requirement that He free you from all of your struggles in order to be happy? Or, are you seeking His peace in the midst of your struggles?

5. Live in Submission to Government Authority. Gen. 47:23-26.

  • Joseph’s command for the people of Egypt to pay 20% of their income in taxes. As Pharaoh’s subjects, God expected the Jews to pay their taxes like everyone else: “23 Then Joseph said to the people, ‘Behold, I have today bought you and your land for Pharaoh; now, here is seed for you, and you may sow the land. 24 At the harvest you shall give a fifth to Pharaoh, and four-fifths shall be your own for seed of the field and for your food and for those of your households and as food for your little ones.’ 25 So they said, ‘You have saved our lives! Let us find favor in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s slaves.’ 26 Joseph made it a statute concerning the land of Egypt valid to this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth; only the land of the priests did not become Pharaoh’s.” (Gen. 47:23-26). Joseph established that everyone would pay a flat tax rate of 20 percent on their earnings. If Joseph were alive today, he would be mocked for instituting a regressive tax on the poor. Others might mock him for helping Pharaoh accumulate nearly unlimited power. But his example shows that all believers are obligated to obey Government authority.

  • Live in obedience to government authorities. God commands that believers submit to His appointed leaders. First, believers must submit to God through his Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:14), His Word (2 Tim. 3:16), and His church leadership (Matt. 18:17-20, Heb. 13:17). Second, believers must submit to their civil authorities (1 Pet. 2:13-14; Rom. 13:1-2). Third, believers must submit to their families (Eph. 5:22-25; 6:10). Only when authorities refuse to follow God’s law can believers ignore them (Acts. 4:19). Satan’s goal has always been to break down authority through rebellion. His goal is to create chaos and misery. His first rebellion led a third of the angels in rebellion against God’s rule (Rev. 12:3-9). He then led Eve to rebel against God’s rules (Gen. 3:1-4). He then led Adam and Eve to rebel against each other (Gen 3:16). All of Satan’s 12 rebellions in the wilderness sought to depose Moses as the leader of the Jews. Jesus warned that when a leader is struck down: “ . . . the sheep shall be scattered.” (Mark 14:23(b)). Are you submitting to your leaders?

6. Live a Fruitful Life in the Spirit. Gen. 47:27-28.

  • God’s faithfulness in making the nation of Israel fruitful. Even in the midst of the drought and servitude in Egypt, God remained faithful to His promise to bless and multiply Israel and his descendants: “27 Now Israel lived in the land of Egypt, in Goshen, and they acquired property in it and were fruitful and became very numerous. 28 Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years; so the length of Jacob’s life was one hundred and forty-seven years.” (Gen. 47:27-28). Israel’s family arrived in Egypt with only 70 male members (Gen. 46:27). By making them “fruitful” and “very numerous” (Gen. 47:27), God fulfilled His promise to Abraham: “And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing;” (Gen. 12:2; 17:6). He made a similar promise to Isaac: “I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, . . ;” (Gen. 26:4; Ex. 1:7, 12). “You shall answer and say before the LORD your God, ‘My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down to Egypt and sojourned there, few in number; but there he became a great, mighty and populous nation.”’ (Dt. 26:5; Acts 7:17). You also can trust in His promises. Yet, if you have never studied His promises, it’s hard to have faith in them.

The Jews settle in the land of Goshen5

  • Live using the gifts of the Spirit. God has many ways that He can make you fruitful. This can include children (Ps. 127:3). It can also include the fruit of the Spirit. “[T]he fruit of the Spirit is (1) love, (2) joy, (3) peace, (4) forbearance, (5) kindness, (6) goodness, (7) faithfulness, (8) gentleness and (9) self-control.” (Gal. 5:22-23). He can also give you gifts of the Spirit. When He makes you fruitful in His gifts, you are called upon to use them for the common good. “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Cor. 12:7). “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.” (Ep. 4:7). Of all the gifts of the Spirit, love is the greatest: “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:13). As an outgrowth of love, you should be motivated to give freely to those in need: “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (Ja. 1:27). You should also give cheerfully, not out of obligation: “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:7). If God has made you fruitful in the Spirit, are you using His gifts for others and His Kingdom?

7. Live Placing Your Hope in Heaven, Not the Things of the World. Gen. 47:29-31.

  • Israel’s request to be buried in the Promised Land. As his death drew near, Israel pleaded in faith for Joseph to bury his bones in the Promised Land: “29 When the time for Israel to die drew near, he called his son Joseph and said to him, ‘Please, if I have found favor in your sight, place now your hand under my thigh and deal with me in kindness and faithfulness. Please do not bury me in Egypt, 30 but when I lie down with my fathers, you shall carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.’ And he said, ‘I will do as you have said.’ 31 He said, ‘Swear to me.’ So he swore to him. Then Israel bowed in worship at the head of the bed.” (Gen. 47:29-31). Abraham buried Sarah in a tomb located in Machpelah (Gen. 23:17-20). Abraham was later buried in this same tomb (Gen. 25:9). Although God promised Abraham all of the Promised Land, this was the only piece of land that he owned while alive. Isaac would later be buried here (Gen. 49:31). Israel pleaded to be buried in the same grave (Gen. 49:29). The Jews later returned Israel’s bones to this same grave (Gen. 50:1-14). “And Jacob went down to Egypt and there he and our fathers died. From there they were removed to Shechem and laid in the tomb which Abraham had purchased for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.” (Acts 7:15-16). After 400 years of captivity, the Jews also carried the bones of Joseph through the wilderness. After conquering the Canaanites, they also buried him in the Promised Land as well (Josh. 24:32). Like the patriarchs, God wants you to place your hope in heaven, not in the things of the world.

Israel asked to be buried in the Promised Land6

  • Place your hope in God’s unseen eternal promises. Like Israel, Jesus reveals that a true person of faith values his or her investment in the eternal Promised Land far beyond any investment on Earth: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matt. 13:44-46). Paul also said: “while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:18). “For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?” (Ro. 8:24). The Kingdom of Heaven should also be considered your most treasured possession. If an accountant were to analyze how you use your time, talent, and treasure, would your investments in the Kingdom of Heaven come anywhere close to your investments on this Earth? Many believers should feel convicted by this question. If you do, pray for the Spirit to reveal to you how you can better reallocate the use of your time, treasure, and investments to serve Jesus and the Kingdom of Heaven.