Introduction: Genesis Chapter 1 begins the book by looking back to celebrate and praise the Creator. Genesis Chapter 50 concludes the book by celebrating the return of the people of faith to their Creator. Many place their hope in what the Creator made. By contrast, the great leaders of the Bible placed their hope in the Creator. In the final chapter of Genesis, Israel’s family fulfilled his dying wish to be buried in the Promised Land. Joseph also made his family pledge to one day return his remains to the Promised Land, a vow that the Jews would fulfill four hundred years later. From the faith-based desire of Israel and Joseph to be buried in the Promised Land, God reveals seven lessons on placing your hope in returning to Him in heaven.
First, Joseph prepared Israel’s body and made his return trip to the Promised Land possible. In this way, he foreshadowed Christ. Christ prepared your body by allowing you to be born again to make your trip to the Promised Land possible. Second, the Jews traveled to Canaan in a large procession to mourn their deceased father. Their large caravan of mourners was noticed, even by the Canaanites. From this, God reveals that you are to mourn those who have died. Yet, He does not want you to mourn without hope, not like non-believers. Third, Israel lost everything he had built up in the seven-year drought. Yet, this did not trouble him. His only desire was to have his bones buried in the Promised Land. Joseph buried his father in one of only two plots of land that the patriarchs ever owned. From this, God reveals that when your hope lies in the Promised Land it can never be taken away. Fourth, after Israel’s death, Joseph’s brothers took their eyes off God and feared that Joseph would retaliate against them. They did not trust in his promises of forgiveness. From this, God reveals that hope in the eternal Promised Land requires your faith in His promises. Fifth, Joseph told his brothers that he had to suffer to save them. Joseph again foreshadowed Christ. From this, God reveals that your hope in the eternal Promised Land would not be possible without Christ’s suffering on the cross for you. Sixth, God rewarded Joseph for his faith with a prolonged life. From this and other promises in the Bible, God also reveals that He will “prolong” your life when you live in faith. Yet, you will not know until you get to heaven the amount of time that He has added to your life. Finally, like his father, Joseph pleaded for his family to one day bury him in the Promised Land. Yet, unlike Israel, his body would need to be resurrected and moved 400 years later. Of all the great acts of faith in Joseph’s life time, this was deemed to be the most important by the author of Hebrews. From this, God reveals that your hope in Christ includes the promise of your future resurrection.
Joseph’s preparations to burry Israel in the Promised Land. Israel had just died (Gen. 49:33). After mourning his death, Joseph faithfully executed his father’s dying request to be buried in the Promised Land by (1) preparing his body and (2) seeking permission to bring him there: “1 Then Joseph fell on his father’s face, and wept over him and kissed him. 2 Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel. 3 Now forty days were required for it, for such is the period required for embalming. And the Egyptians wept for him seventy days. 4 When the days of mourning for him were past, Joseph spoke to the household of Pharaoh, saying, ‘If now I have found favor in your sight, please speak to Pharaoh, saying, 5 ‘My father made me swear, saying, ‘Behold, I am about to die; in my grave which I dug for myself in the land of Canaan, there you shall bury me.’ Now therefore, please let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.’ 6 Pharaoh said, ‘Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear.’” (Gen. 50:1-6). God previously promised Israel that He would return his bones to the Promised Land if he acted in faith by taking his family to Egypt: ‘“I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will close your eyes.”’ (Gen. 46:4). Joseph pledged to fulfill this request (Gen. 47:29-30). First, he carried out Israel’s request by preparing the body so that it would not decay. Second, he sought permission to bring his body to the Promised Land. Here, Joseph foreshadowed Christ in the two things that He does to prepare you for the Promised Land.
Like Joseph, Jesus prepares you for the journey to the Promised Land. At the time of His death, Jesus’ disciples (like Joseph) prepared His body with spices to prevent it from decaying. “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him.” (Mk. 16:1; Lk. 23:56). Unlike Israel, Jesus escaped decay. When you have faith in Him, He will also help you to escape decay. Just as Joseph alone had the power to transport Israel to the Promised Land, Jesus alone can transport you to the eternal Promised Land. “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (Jo. 10:9). “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”’ (Jo. 14:6). While Joseph prepared and transported Israel’s body by embalming it, Jesus will prepare and transport you by making you born again in the Spirit. “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.”’ (Jo. 3:7). If you have found the door, are you helping others to find it?
Like Joseph, Jesus will seek and obtain permission to bring you to the Promised Land. Joseph petitioned to Pharaoh for the right to return to the Promised Land to bury his father. Joseph’s fulfillment of his pledge to Israel is celebrated as one of the most important points in Old Testament history: “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). Just as Joseph used his influence with Pharaoh to bring Israel to the Promised Land, Jesus will use His influence with the Father to grant you access to the eternal Promised Land. You only need to confess Jesus as Lord and Savior to others: “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 10:32; Lk. 12:8). “[I]f you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;” (Ro. 10:9). Have you proclaimed Jesus as your Lord and Savior to others?
The royal mourning for the loss of Israel. Joseph and his Egyptian servants mourned Israel with such royal pageantry that even the Canaanites took notice: “7 So Joseph went up to bury his father, and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his household and all the elders of the land of Egypt, 8 and all the household of Joseph and his brothers and his father’s household; they left only their little ones and their flocks and their herds in the land of Goshen. 9 There also went up with him both chariots and horsemen; and it was a very great company. 10 When they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, they lamented there with a very great and sorrowful lamentation; and he observed seven days mourning for his father. 11 Now when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, ‘This is a grievous mourning for the Egyptians.’ Therefore it was named Abel-mizraim, which is beyond the Jordan.” (Gen. 50:7-11). Israel had the greatest period of mourning of any person in the Bible. Joseph and the Egyptians first mourned his death for 70 days (Gen. 50:3). Joseph then mourned his death an additional seven days at Atad (Gen. 50:10). By contrast, Aaron and Moses each received a period of mourning of 30 days (Nu. 20:29; Dt. 34:8). The typical Jewish mourning period was seven days.
Mourning is a natural and healthy process. As a man of faith, Joseph knew that Israel was in a better place with God. Yet, it was still within his right to deeply grieve and feel sorrow for his loss of his father. Solomon said that there is “a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.” (Ecc. 3:4). Thus, you should never rebuke or undermine a believer mourning the loss of a loved one. One commentator observes: “Grace does not destroy, but it purifies, moderates, and regulates natural affection. The departed soul is out of the reach of any tokens of our affection; but it is proper to show respect to the body, of which we look for a glorious and joyful resurrection, whatever may become of its remains in this world . . . The death of good men is a loss to any place, and ought to be greatly lamented.” (Mathew Henry on Gen. 50).
Celebrate the hope of being with Christ in death. Joseph’s grief is recorded to let believers know that it is healthy to grieve the loss of loved ones. Yet, that grief today should also contain the hope of knowing that a believer is only “asleep” until Christ returns: “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.” (1 Thess. 4:13-14). “who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him.” (1 Thess. 5:10). “For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” (Ro. 14:9). “It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;” (2 Tim. 2:11). Knowing that your loved one is in a better place that you cannot see is the kind of faith that God expects from you: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1). “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). “for we walk by faith, not by sight-- we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” (2 Cor. 5:7-8). If you know someone is grieving the loss of a believer, let them grieve. Yet, also encourage them that the believer is merely “asleep” until Christ returns to take that person home.
Israel’s burial at Machpelah. Israel’s sons buried him in the same caves used for his father Isaac and his grandfather Abraham: “12 Thus his sons did for him as he had charged them; 13 for his sons carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre, which Abraham had bought along with the field for a burial site from Ephron the Hittite. 14 After he had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, he and his brothers, and all who had gone up with him to bury his father.” (Gen. 50:12-14). After paying the full price, Abraham buried Sarah at Machpelah (Gen. 23:17-20). Abraham would later be 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). After the drought, Israel’s wealth was transferred to Pharaoh (Gen. 47:13-25). Yet, this did not trouble him. He only cared about having his bones buried in the Promised Land (Gen. 47:29-30). Just as the patriarchs came into the world with nothing, they left with nothing as well. They had only two plots of land. One was the cave where the patriarchs were buried. The fact that the patriarchs only owned two plots of land reveals where their true home was located. They saw themselves as mere sojourners in the Promised Land. “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). Christ 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?
Place your hope in what cannot be taken away. Before he walked in faith, Jacob walked in fear that the thing he treasured most, his last son though Rachel, would be taken from him. “But Jacob said, ‘My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he alone is left. If harm should befall him on the journey you are taking, then you will bring my gray hair down to Sheol in sorrow.”’ (Gen. 42:38). He was later transformed after seeing Joseph again. “Then Israel said to Joseph, ‘Now let me die, since I have seen your face, that you are still alive.”’ (Gen. 46:30). He did not care about any physical belonging. Like Israel, you will not be troubled by the loss of your physical things if your real treasure lies in the eternal Promised Land: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;” (Matt. 6:19-20). Like Israel, does your hope lie in God’s Kingdom or in things that can be taken away?
Invest in God’s unseen eternal promises. Jesus also reveals that a person of faith values his or her investment in the Kingdom of Heaven 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). Abraham showed that his investment in heaven exceeded anything on Earth by making only one land purchase; a tomb. 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 in 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.
Joseph’s brothers’ fear of retaliation after Israel’s death. After the burial, Joseph’s brothers became filled with fear that he would retaliate: “15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, ‘What if Joseph bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him!’ 16 So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, ‘Your father charged before he died, saying, 17 ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph, ‘Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong.’’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.’ And Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, ‘Behold, we are your servants.’” (Gen. 50:15-18). After throwing Joseph into the pit, the brothers callously ate the food that Joseph brought from their father (Gen. 37:25). They then ignored his cries for help: “‘Truly we are guilty concerning our brother, because we saw the distress of his soul when he pleaded with us, yet we would not listen; therefore this distress has come upon us.’” (Gen. 42:21). Out of greed, the brothers then sold him into slavery (Gen. 37:26-28). They then staged his death by placing goat blood on his tunic so that his father would not look for him (Gen. 37:31-32). Joseph then suffered greatly in Egypt first as a slave and then as a prisoner. If anyone had a right to retaliation, it was Joseph. Out of fear, the brothers bowed before him and called themselves his servant. They then again fulfilled the prophesy that God gave to Joseph that they would bow before him (Gen. 37:5-9).
If you have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, have faith that your sins are forgotten. If you have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, your sins will be forgiven. ‘“But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’ . . .” (Mk. 2:10; Ps. 103:12: Is. 44:12). Even better than His forgiveness of your sins, He promises to forget your sins as well. “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.” (Is. 43:25; Heb. 8:12). Yet, unlike Joseph’s brothers, you must accept in faith Jesus’ promises to forgive and forget your sins: “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Heb. 11:6). “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;” (1 Pet. 3:18). Have you fully accepted in faith that your old sins were nailed to the cross and forgiven?
Failing to trust in Jesus’ forgiveness will also grieve Him. Joseph was grieved and wept when he learned that his brothers did not trust his prior forgiveness of their sins (Gen. 50:17). The brothers effectively stated that they had little trust in his character. They assumed that his forgiveness was merely an act for their father. When you fail to trust in Jesus’ forgiveness of your old sins, you grieve Jesus in a similar way. You are effectively stating that what He did on the cross was not good enough to atone for your sins. If you are still beating yourself up over your old sins, repent of your unbelief. Likewise, if you know someone who does not trust in Christ’s forgiveness, restore them.
Those who reject Christ’s forgiveness will one day tremble in fear like Joseph’s brothers. Although Joseph was human, he is frequently seen as a foreshadow of Christ. Both were innocent of any crime. Both suffered at the hands of their jealous brethren. Both suffered as part of God’s greater plan to save lives. Like Joseph’s brothers, Jesus’ people could not see Him for who He really was when He dwelt with them. Like Joseph’s brothers, those who reject Him will one day tremble in fear when He reveals His true identity to them. “so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,” (Phil. 2:10; Ro. 14:11). “And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.’” (Rev. 5:13). “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” (Ja. 2:19). If you know people who have rejected Christ, be a witness and save them from this fear.
Joseph knew that he had to suffer for his brothers. Joseph was able to forgive his brothers because God revealed that his suffering was necessary to bring salvation to both his family and his known world: “19 But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. 21 So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” (Gen. 50:19-21). Joseph previously told his brothers that he had both forgiven them and understood that God had orchestrated the events for a greater good: “Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. . . . God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.” (Gen. 45:5, 7-8).
Forgive those who have hurt you. As a role model for all believers, Jesus forgave those who crucified Him while He hung on the cross dying a painful death. ‘But Jesus was saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’” (Lk. 23:24(a)). Just as Joseph and later Jesus forgave those who hurt them, you too are called upon to forgive those who have hurt you: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matt. 5:7). “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.” (Lk. 6:37). “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression.” (Prov. 19:11). “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:32). “bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” (Col. 3:13). Is there anyone you need to forgive?
Forgiveness should be granted liberally and often. Joseph could have said that the sins against him were too big to forgive. Yet, Jesus warned that you should grant forgiveness liberally and often: “Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’” (Matt. 18:21-22). If someone has committed an unforgivable sin against you or a loved one, Jesus still calls upon you to forgive. When you forgive the unforgivable, you too will release your pent-up pain.
God will forgive your sins when you forgive others. Jesus also warns that you must forgive others to be able to receive God the Father’s forgiveness: “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matt. 6:14-15). “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.” (Mk. 11:26). Thus, if you are looking for God’s forgiveness, don’t delay in forgiving others.
Joseph’s forgiveness came through recognizing God’s sovereignty and control. Joseph did not minimize the brothers’ sins. Yet, he was able to forgive because he had faith that God used their evil acts for a greater good (Gen. 45:6-13). Jacob restated his power to reassure his brothers of God’s greater purpose. Joseph did not pretend that their evil acts caused no harm to him. Yet, he found forgiveness in knowing that God used their evil to save the family. After Jacob’s death years later, the brothers again feared that Joseph would retaliate. Here, he again reassured them that God was in control (Gen. 50:20). When a believer sins, you are not to use that opportunity to condemn the believer. Instead, like Joseph did with his fearful brothers, you are to restore your brothers and sisters in Christ with love. “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.” (Gal. 6:1). Do you condemn others caught in sin around you? Or, like Joseph, do you seek to restore those filled with fear?
God’s greater purpose in sending the Jews into bondage. God previously told Abraham that He had planned in advance for Abraham’s descendants to spend 400 years in slavery: “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). Some might question why God would send His people into bondage. Yet, Judah showed what would have happened if Jacob’s family had stayed in the Promised Land. Like Judah’s family, they would have intermarried with Canaanites, slept with temple prostitutes, and adopted the idols and morals of the Canaanites. God called the Jews to be the light to the world (Is. 42:6). Yet, they would have only broadcast darkness from their conduct. By contrast, the Egyptians considered the Hebrews to be loathsome and would not even eat with them: “the Egyptians could not eat bread with the Hebrews, for that is loathsome to the Egyptians.” (Gen. 43:32(b)). “you shall say, ‘Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth even until now, both we and our fathers,’ that you may live in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is loathsome to the Egyptians.” (Gen. 46:34). In Egypt, they would not have the same opportunities to sleep with prostitutes and marry Egyptians. Thus, God had a plan to remold His people where they would be kept separate from other evil influences. “But the LORD has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, from Egypt, to be a people for His own possession, as today.” (Dt. 4:20; Is. 48:10; Ps. 66:10; Jer. 9:7; Zech. 13:9). At the time, the Jews could not have understood God’s greater plan for them. Yet, they still had to trust Him.
Always trust that God is control, even when bad things happen. Like Joseph, Paul understood that God can use the evil acts of people for His greater glory: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Ro. 8:28). He wants you to trust Him, even if His plan does not make sense to you. ‘“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD.” (Is. 55:8). Unless you accept that God is in control and trust Him, it will be harder to forgive people when they hurt you. When bad things happen to you, do you trust in God’s greater plan for you?
Joseph’s blessing of a long life and grandchildren. Because of his faith, Joseph was blessed with a long life: “22 Now Joseph stayed in Egypt, he and his father’s household, and Joseph lived one hundred and ten years. 23 Joseph saw the third generation of Ephraim’s sons; also the sons of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were born on Joseph’s knees.” (Gen. 50:22-23). Joseph and Joshua both died at age 110 (Gen. 50:26; Josh. 24:29; Jdgs. 2:8). In ancient Egypt, 110 was considered to be the ideal life span. Moses was also blessed with a long life. He lived until he was 120 years old. He further died with both the eyesight and stamina of a younger man: “7 Although Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died, his eye was not dim, nor his vigor abated. 8 So the sons of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses came to an end.” (Dt. 34:7-8). Abraham was blessed with an even longer life. He lived until he was 175 years old (Gen. 25:7-8). His long life also fulfilled God’s promise to him: “As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age.” (Gen. 15:15). Finally, Isaac was blessed with the longest of any patriarch. He lived until he was 180 years old (Gen. 35:28-29). Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were all blessed to have God identify Himself by their names: “He said also, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.” (Ex. 3:6).
When your faith leads to obedience, God will also “prolong” your life. The Ten Commandments cannot bring salvation. Yet, those who keep God’s Ten Commandments out of love (and not obligation) will also be blessed with a prolonged life: “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep My commandments; for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.” (Prov. 3:1-2). ‘“Take to your heart all the words with which I am warning you today, which you shall command your sons to observe carefully, even all the words of this law. 47 For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life. And by this word you will prolong your days in the land, . .. .” (Dt. 32:46-47). “Walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.” (Dt. 5:32-33). “So you shall keep His statutes and His commandments which I am giving you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may live long on the land which the LORD your God is giving you for all time.” (Dt. 4:40; 6:1-2; 12:28; 22:6-7; 25:13-16; Lev. 18:5). Among other parts of the Law, God specifically promises a “prolonged” life for those who follow the Fifth Commandment by honoring their parents (Ex. 20:12; Dt. 5:16; Eph. 6:2-3). This does not mean that God promises that you will live until you are old. You could die at any moment. Yet, God promises to “prolong” your life when your faith leads to obedience. You may have a minute, a week, a year, a decade, or some other increment of time added to your life time. Only when you get to heaven will you learn of the amount of time that God has added to your life. Out of faith, are you living obediently to God receive this blessing?
The death and burial of Joseph. Although Joseph could not expect for his family to immediately be moved to the Promised Land, he pleaded for his descendants not to bury his body so that it could one day be moved to the Promised Land: “24 Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.’ 25 Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, ‘God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones up from here.’ 26 So Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten years; and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.” (Gen. 50:24-26). Joseph did not want to leave his people behind. Thus, he did not want his body moved until everyone left Egypt. Approximately four hundred years later, Moses fulfilled Joseph’s request by having his coffin carried to the Promised Land. “Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, ‘God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones from here with you.’” (Ex. 13:19). Normally, it would be a dishonor not to bury a body. His request not to have his body buried was an act of faith: “By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones.” (Heb. 11:22). Joseph’s faith helped save the Jews and turn them into a mighty nation. He never doubted God when he was sold into slavery (Gen. 37:18-36; Acts 7:16). He also never doubted God when he was thrown into jail based upon false charges (Gen. 39:20). His body stood above ground in a mausoleum for 400 years. It was a constant reminder to the Jews while they went about their daily lives that they were mere sojourners in Egypt. Their real home was in the land that God promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. The Book of Joshua concludes with a record of Joseph’s later burial in Shechem: “32 Now they buried the bones of Joseph, which the sons of Israel brought up from Egypt, at Shechem, in the piece of ground which Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for one hundred pieces of money; and they became the inheritance of Joseph’s sons.” (Josh. 24:32). Like Joseph, others should see the example set by your faith and feel inspired to follow after Jesus.
Jesus escaped death to give you hope in your resurrection. Abraham, Isaac, Israel, Joseph, and Joshua were all, at times, sinners. Yet, at times, they were also role models because of their faith. Yet, unlike Christ, their righteousness was not enough to save them from the corruption of death. Only Christ can allow you to escape corruption and give you rest in the eternal Promised Land. “16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thess. 4:16-17). “knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you.” (2 Cor. 4:14). “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” (1 Cor. 15:52). Your salvation is unearned. Have you given thanks for the hope in your resurrection that Jesus made possible?