< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Genesis 49:29 - 50:26

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Genesis 49:29 - 50:26

Genesis 49:29 - 50:26

29 Then he gave them these instructions: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. 31 There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. 32 The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.”

33 When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.

Joseph threw himself on his father and wept over him and kissed him. Then Joseph directed the physicians in his service to embalm his father Israel. So the physicians embalmed him, taking a full forty days, for that was the time required for embalming. And the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.

Jacob, as Joseph’s father, was also held in high esteem by the Egyptians whom he lived among for seventeen years. This is particularly seen in their prolonged mourning for him. It lasted 70 days. No other burial recorded in Scripture is given such honor or described with such wealth of detail. Whatever his failings were in his earlier days, in later years and particularly in old age, he attains a spiritual maturity and moral dignity which give him a unique place in Bible history.

Note where it says that Jacob breathed his last and was gathered to his people.
He was gathered to Noah, Enoch, Abraham, Isaac and all the others already living in the presence of God. This is clear recognition of the aliveness of those who died in faith.

Jesus said in Matthew 22:31-32 - 31 But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

And John 11:26 – Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me shall never die.” The believer never consciously experiences death, because when he closes his eyes on earth, they open in heaven.

That Jacob was embalmed was kind of interesting. Scripture only mentions two Israelites who were embalmed: Jacob and later Joseph.

Genesis 50: 4-6 When the days of mourning had passed, Joseph said to Pharaoh’s court, “If I have found favor in your eyes, speak to Pharaoh for me. Tell him, ‘My father made me swear an oath and said, “I am about to die; bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.’”

Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear to do.

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— 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. Chariots and horsemen also went up with him. It was a very large company.
10 When they reached the threshing floor of Atad, near the Jordan, they lamented loudly and bitterly; and there Joseph observed a seven-day period of mourning for his father. 11 When the Canaanites who lived there saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “The Egyptians are holding a solemn ceremony of mourning.” That is why that place near the Jordan is called Abel Mizraim.

12 So Jacob’s sons did as he had commanded them: 13 They carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre, which Abraham had bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite.

All of Pharoah’s officials went! This was quite a procession. And you know the Egyptians didn’t like the people of Canaan. Remember they wouldn’t eat at the same table as Joseph’s brothers. They did all this out of respect for Joseph and Jacob, but it’s probably the first time Egyptians went to Canaan for a funeral!

Genesis 50:14-21 14 After burying Jacob, Joseph returned to Egypt with his brothers and all who had accompanied him to his father’s burial. 15 But now that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers became fearful. “Now Joseph will show his anger and pay us back for all the wrong we did to him,” they said.

16 So they sent this message to Joseph: “Before your father died, he instructed us 17 to say to you: ‘Please forgive your brothers for the great wrong they did to you—for their sin in treating you so cruelly.’ So we, the servants of the God of your father, beg you to forgive our sin.” When Joseph received the message, he broke down and wept. 18 Then his brothers came and threw themselves down before Joseph. “Look, we are your slaves!” they said.

19 But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. 21 No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them.

They doubted his forgiveness. But Joseph said “Am I in place of God?” He was saying judgment for sin belonged to God, not to him. And “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” This is one of the most quoted verses in the Bible. Because God can use anything for good. Someone recently told me that a lot of Muslims are converting to Christianity because of Isis. That seeing how they act wasn’t their idea of what the Muslim religion was about, so they were leaving it.

A commentator wrote that evil is never allowed near God’s own child without His permission first. If it IS allowed, as in Joseph’s slavery and imprisonment, David’s exile by Saul and particularly Jesus’ death on the cross, it’s because God plans to use it for the good of His child and for the fulfillment of His purpose.
Joseph kept his eyes on God. If God allowed this, He would work it out for good.

What a lesson!

If we can continue to trust God through a suffering, when it’s over we emerge with an experience that proves God is sufficient in every need and with power to help those who need help.

Genesis 50:22 – 26 22 So Joseph and his brothers and their families continued to live in Egypt. Joseph lived to the age of 110. 23 He lived to see three generations of descendants of his son Ephraim, and he lived to see the birth of the children of Manasseh’s son Makir, whom he claimed as his own.

24 “Soon I will die,” Joseph told his brothers, “but God will surely come to help you and lead you out of this land of Egypt. He will bring you back to the land he solemnly promised to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”

25 Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath, and he said, “When God comes to help you and lead you back, you must take my bones with you.” 26 So Joseph died at the age of 110. The Egyptians embalmed him, and his body was placed in a coffin in Egypt.

Even after living all this time in Egypt, Joseph knew he belonged in Canaan because of God’s promise. His faith is shown here. He said, “WHEN God comes to lead you back.”

And one day, four hundred years later, over a million slaves marched out of Egypt, led by God who used a pillar of cloud in the daytime and a fiery pillar at night to direct them. And in their midst was Joseph’s coffin.

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