Food for Thought: A funeral like no other, forgiveness, and a future hope…
When I was in high school I remember the funeral of Princess Diana. I had never seen so many people assemble to celebrate the life of one of the world’s most famous princesses, and humanitarians. The streets of London were packed with mourners, carrying pictures, signs, flowers and memorabilia. People all the world mourned her death. About the same time Princess Dian died, Mother Teresa died. Her death made the evening news, but there wasn’t the same fanfare involved. I didn’t know Mother Teresa, but I bet the lack of media hoopla is how she would have wanted it. The death of Jacob in Gen 49-50 is mourned by the sons of Jacob no doubt, but did you notice the whole nation of Egypt mourned the death of Joseph’s dad (50:3). Joseph made a vow to Jacob that he would take his bones and bury them in the land of Canaan in the cave purchased in Gen 23. Pharaoh grants his request, and instead of sending his well wishes. There is quite a parade towards Canaan. Notice the funeral procession in 50:7-9, “7 So Joseph went up to bury his father. All Pharaoh’s officials accompanied him—the dignitaries of his court and all the dignitaries of Egypt— 8 besides all the members of Joseph’s household and his brothers and those belonging to his father’s household. Only their children and their flocks and herds were left in Goshen. 9 Chariots and horsemenalso went up with him. It was a very large company.” Not only is this a very large company, but it almost seems like this a funeral procession fit for a king. Joseph was the number two man in the nation of Egypt. He had been used by God to protect his family, but also the nation of Egypt. His concerns are the concerns of Egypt.
After the burial of Jacob in the land of Canaan, Joseph and his brothers return to Egypt. With Jacob dead, Joseph’s brothers are fearful of revenge. So, they concoct a plan that assures their forgiveness. In this attempt to avoid being dealt with harshly, Joseph again is confronted with the hurt from his past. But, instead of violence and vengeance, Joseph reminds his doubting and fearful brothers that their misdeed has resulted in vindication and victory. Pay attention to 50:20-21, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So, then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.’ And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.” What a great lesson we learn from Joseph. Joseph doesn’t exact revenge on his brothers. Instead he models the grace and heart of God. We would do well to extend the same grace to those who wrong us.
Joseph dies in chapter 50. He lived to be 110 years old ,and is able to see the third generation of Ephraim’s children (50:23). Before we come to a close in our time together, you must pay special attention to 50:24-25, “24 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” 25 And Joseph made the Israelites swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.” Egypt will not be Israel’s forever home. Sure, God brings them here for a time to preserve them, and allow them to increase. But, Egypt is not the Promise Land. Egypt was rest stop on the journey, a long one indeed, but it is not the final destination for the descendants of Abraham. Joseph instructs his brother to also take his bones up out of Egypt and to bury him in the land of Canaan. While Israel doesn’t know the Exodus chapter 1 is coming, they do hear that one day God will come to their aid. While they don’t know slavery is right around the corner, Joseph assures them of their deliverance. Sometimes it is hard to know just what God is going to do, and how the experiences in our lives will lead us to where God wants us. Again, over and over we have talked about our need to trust God. We haven’t just been reading cute bed time fairy-tales. Hopefully, somewhere along the way you have encountered the Creator, the Caller, the Blessing, Covenant, Making God that sees you! The same God that created the heavens and the earth is the same God who knows you by name, who loves you, provides for you, and has sent Jesus to rescue us from our Egypts and leads us on a new Exodus. May we surrender to the One who surrendered himself to a Roman cross to make us new!
1. What stood out to you today?
2. What is one thing you can take away from this chapter?