Read: Genesis 50
Consider: Hebrews 11 moves on to consider Joseph as the next example of faith in action. Genesis 50:22-26 records very briefly the death of Joseph and there we read: 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’ (Genesis 50:25).
We must remember that Joseph’s request to the Israelites was at a time when he held a position of considerable importance in Egypt and his father and brothers (with their families) had been living in Egypt to escape the famine in their homeland. Joseph was looking beyond his comfortable existence to a time in the future when God would come to the aid of the Israelites and deliver them from oppression in Egypt. He was obviously being led by the Holy Spirit in saying what he did. Personally he could not have foreseen how things would go for the Israelites, but God could.
There is also the implication that Joseph did not see his ultimate home as being Egypt. He had been in Egypt many years and his sons were born there. He would have had a comfortable home, status and wealth. Despite all this, he saw his ultimate home away from the privilege and ostentation of Egypt, back to the promised land. We know that after his father’s (Jacob) death they took his body back to their homeland for burial. Because of this it would be easy to see Joseph’s request that his body (bones) be taken from Egypt and buried elsewhere as purely identification with his family’s roots. While this probably has an element of truth in it, it is not the full explanation. Through the Holy Spirit Joseph foresaw the oppression of the Israelites and the final exodus from Egypt. He knew that his place was not in Egypt, but with the Israelites.
As Christians we generally have a sense that although we are part of the world, we are apart from the world. Like Joseph we need our focus to be away from our circumstances on to our future. Joseph could have settled for the burial that someone in his position in Egypt would have been given, but instead he wanted his body to be returned to his homeland.
When writing this post a song that Jim Reeves sang came to mind. In that song there is a line – ‘This world is not my home, I’m just passing through’. I don’t think we will ever lose that feeling that our final resting place is elsewhere. Despite what we feel, we are now part of God’s people. As Paul says in his letter to the believers in Ephesus: Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:19-20).
Pray: Father, forgive us when we become attached to worldly possessions like wealth, status and possessions. May our focus be on eternity, when we will be with you forever. Amen