Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, day, 21 February 2022:
Genesis 50:12 — Thus his sons did for him as he had commanded them, for his sons carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave of the field at Machpelah, to the east of Mamre, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite to possess as a burying place.
Joseph and his brothers did as they were commanded by Jacob and fulfilled their promise to him by burying him in the land of Canaan (the Promised Land) as Abraham had done for Sarai, the first burial and first land transaction mentioned in the Bible. Not only did Abraham bury his wife in the cave of Machpelah, but he would also be buried there as would Isaac and Rebekah before Jacob. We also see in today’s readings that Joseph also made his family promise to bury him in the Promised Land – “Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, ‘God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.’ So Joseph died, being 110 years old. They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.” Ultimately, it would be hundreds of years before the promise to Joseph would be fulfilled when the Israelites finally entered the Promised Land following the great Exodus which had been prophesied well before hand.
As mentioned previously in the notes on Genesis 23 (https://wordpress.com/post/defendersbiblereadingplan.com/4076) Jacob and Joseph’s demand to be buried in the land of Canaan was a testimony to all generations of the hope (complete confidence) they had that God would fulfill His promise of the Promised Land and that they would see the promised fulfilled in the afterlife as they enjoyed eternal life in Him. Though Joseph had risen to a position of great power in Egypt, and though Joseph’s family now prospered in the most fertile land in Egypt, Goshen, they didn’t lose sight of the greater Promise from God, which was an eternal promise; and though the Israelites, as we will soon read, will eventually endure hundreds of years of slavery followed by decades wandering in the desert, they remained driven by their hope in God’s promise of the Promised Land and a future Messiah who will reign eternally over a restored, renewed Heaven and earth. Today Christians are to be driven by the same hope and confidence, proclaiming the Kingdom of God both in how we live and in how we die. In life, whether we experience great prosperity for great hardship, our love, joy, and peace should be immovably grounded in the hope we have in Jesus Christ. The Christian should see death as victory – “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) The Christian funeral, though justifiably mournful as we grieve the loss of a loved one we will no longer have fellowship with on earth, should also be a joyful testimony to the world because we know that our separation will only be temporary and that those who die in Christ have certainly passed into new, eternal life. As John Chrysostom wrote: “Since death has been turned into slumber and life’s end into repose, and since there is great certitude of resurrection, we rejoice and exult at death like people moving from one life to another” (Homilies on Genesis, 67.17).
Genesis 50:15 – When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.”
For the joy of reconciliation to be experienced, forgiveness must not only be received, it must be believed. Though Joseph had forgiven his brothers, they still greatly feared him and did not trust him. Likewise, Christians who don’t have genuine belief in the forgiveness they have received in Jesus remain in fear, shame, and doubt, lacking complete joy. To have the fulness of joy and life God wants for you, to truly be one with Christ and increasingly conformed to His character (John 17:3, 22, 23; Romans 8:28, 29), and to be an effective witness to the world of the glory of God and the truth of the Gospel, you must learn to not only intellectually accept the Gospel message, but you must trust in it enough to live in it and experience it – you must have faith that you have truly been justified in Christ and made righteous (right with God) by His merit (not yours) and your faith in Him. You must truly believe that you have been completely forgiven, no matter what you have done, and that God loves you just as you are, perfectly and eternally – nothing can separate you from His love. You are no longer a worthless sinner. You are a sinner who the Almighty, Sovereign Creator said is worthy of the sacrifice of His One and Only Son, Jesus! You are worthy, not because of what you have or haven’t done but solely because God loves you and says you are worthy. God chose you to be His child, now act like it.
Genesis 50:19-21 – 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.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
Joseph models for us how to respond to abuse from others: Leave judgment to God; remember that God is in complete control, knows exactly what is going on, and is using your circumstances for a greater good you cannot understand; forgive; and return good for evil, trusting that God will cover your losses. Compare Joseph’s response to his brothers with Jesus’ response to Judas and the friends who would abandon Him in His darkest hour – “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose… and began to wash the disciples’ feet.” (John 13:3-5) We will only respond to crisis and culprits with an eternal perspective and faith that what we can’t see if far greater than what we can see –
- Hebrews 11:1 — Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation.
- Romans 8:24-25 — For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Genesis 50:24-25 – And 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.” Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.”
Joseph new what God was going to do with his family, perhaps because God had already revealed this part of His plan to Abraham – “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.’” (Genesis 15:13) The Bible says that God reveals His plans to His servants (Amos 3:7), and God has revealed His redemptive plan to us through His word, the Bible. What has God revealed to you? How will what God has shown you change your attitudes and your actions?
Acts 8:3, 4 – “Saul was ravaging the church…. Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.”
Saul was intent on crushing Christianity – God had a different plan. God used Saul’s persecution to scatter the church and shake out the “salt” so the Gospel would spread more broadly across many peoples. Also, God had a plan to transform Saul into Paul, “a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God… by the will of God.” (Romans 1:1; Ephesians 1:1)
Note how the apostles responded to persecution: they avoided it while continuing to proclaim Christ where they could — “And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said…. as they were going along the road…. as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.” (Acts 8:6, 40)
1) Nothing or no one can stop God’s plan.
2) God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. God has placed you where you are and in your circumstances for a reason – proclaim Christ where you are as the Holy Spirit leads!
3) There are times to stay and times to go, times to fight and times to withdraw; either way, follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and proclaim Christ!
4) You never know what God has in store for the “Sauls” in your life – He may be preparing to make them “Pauls.” Don’t worry about them. Be a witness and ambassador to all. The Holy Spirit will move where the Holy Spirit moves. You communicate, and the Holy Spirit convicts. Be faithful with what God has called you to do, and trust Him with the outcome.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) — 21 Feb 22: Share the Gospel today where God has placed you, and don’t presume to know who God will convict and who He won’t.