Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Genesis Chapter 50 ~ Jacob's Burial, Evil for Good, & Joseph's Death

Genesis Chapter 50

Jacob's Burial
After Jacob died Joseph fell on his father's face and wept over him and kissed him (v. 1). Joseph commanded his servants to embalm Jacob and they did over 40 days, and the Egyptians wept for Jacob 70 days (v. 3). When the mourning period was over Joseph asked to be able to fulfill Jacob's wish to be buried in Canaan, and Pharaoh allowed him. All the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of Pharaoh's household, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, the household of Joseph, his brothers, and Jacob's household went with him (v. 7-8). Only the children and the live-stock stayed behind in Goshen. Chariots and horsemen, a great company went with Joseph (v. 9): "They lamented there with a very great and grievous lamentation, and he made a mourning for his father seven days." (v. 10)

Then the Canaanites saw their mourning they said, "This is a grievous mourning by the Egyptians." (v. 11) Jacob's sons did as he asked, they carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave of the field at Machpelah (v. 13). After Jacob was buried Joseph returned to Egypt with his brothers and everyone who went up with him.

God Meant Man's Evil for Good
After Jacob's death Joseph's brothers said, "It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back or all the evil that we did to him." (v. 15) So they sent Joseph a message they made up, saying, "Your father gave this command before he died: 'Say to Joseph, "Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you."'" (v. 16-17)

Joseph wept and they spoke to him, "Behold, we are your servants." (v. 18) But Joseph said to them:

"Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones." (v. 19-21)

He was kind to them and comforted them.

Joseph's Death
Joseph remained in Egypt and lived 110 years. Joseph saw Ephraim's children of the 3rd generation. Also, the children of Machir the son of Manasseh were counted as Joseph's own. Joseph said to his brothers, "I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob." (v. 24)

Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, "God will surely visit you, and you shall carry my bones from here." (v. 25) Joseph died, and they embalmed him and put him in a coffin in Egypt (v. 26).

Reflections on Genesis 50
First - The Sovereignty of God. As the book of Genesis comes to a close we see that just as God created all things out of nothing by speaking, we see that He continues to be at work in His creation. God is not a cosmic inventor who stands idly by His created machine. No, He is at work in all the details in this world. He exercises a meticulous sovereignty over all things, even evil.

Second - The Responsibility of Man. Even though the Lord sovereignly uses and accomplishes His good and just purposes by "meaning" evil for good, mankind is not off the hook. This speaks to the reality that just because God uses a means to a good end that doesn't prove that it was a good and holy action on the part of mankind. We will be held responsible for the evil we intend and commit. God will pour our his perfectly just judgment and punishment in eternal conscious torment on all who commit evil acts. We know, though, in the midst of this, that God is working in and through evil circumstances for good.

Third - Foreshadow. Even as the large company makes the journey to Canaan to bury Jacob, Joseph speaks prophetically of the nation of Israel coming back into the land at a later time in his request, "God will surely visit you, and you shall carry my bones from here." Genesis 50:25-26 are pregnant with meaning. In Genesis 15:13-14, God's covenant with Abraham entailed the giving of the land of Canaan to his offspring after 400 years of sojourning in a land that is not theirs: "Then the LORD said to Abram, 'Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions'". Now we know what land God was speaking of, Egypt. And now we will wait 400 years to see the next chapter of the story of the history of redemption. We will wait 400 years before we see how God's promise of a Savior will be carried through the lineage of Israel. The last phrase of Genesis 50 is powerful, "So Joseph died, being 110 years old. They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt." His bones were not taken to Canaan like Jacob's. They would sit in Egypt while the next 400 years pass. This is building up in anticipation of what is yet to come.

Jesus Christ
This reminds me of the four hundred years of silence between the Old and New Testaments. Even as we await the salvation and exodus of God's people from slavery in Egypt between Genesis and Exodus, so in the 400 years of silence between the Old and New Testaments we anticipate God's true king, Jesus Christ, who would come to save a people from all nations, tribes, and languages from their sin and the eternal wrath of God. Praise God, that even though time rolls along, His salvation is certain. Even now we wait for the glorious revealing of Christ our King when He will come again to finally bring us home to the eternal joy of being with Him. It will come, we only wait, and pray along with the Apostle John, "Come, Lord Jesus."

No comments: