Sermon August 30, 2015 “Living By Faith Between Bones and a Burial Place” Genesis 49:29-50:14 and 50:22-26

August 30, 2015 The Conclusion to the Book of Genesis   Genesis 49:29-50:14 and 50:22-26
Series: Divine Hope for Dysfunctional Families
Today’s Message: “Living by Faith between Bones and a Burial Place”

Pastor Louis Prontnicki   Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church

Intro: For the past eleven months we have been in Genesis chapters 24-50, and today is the concluding message. We come to the end of an amazing book… and yet, you might feel that you are left hanging by the conclusion of the book. After all, two funerals do not seem to be a very bright ending for such an engaging book. For if we look back beyond this sermon series, to Genesis 1-3, we see that man’s origin began in the garden of perfection and beauty in paradise….but it ends in two deaths, with one body in Canaan, and the other in Egypt. It seems like a disappointing conclusion, doesn’t it? And yet Genesis chapter 50 is not the end of the story; it is only the end of the book. Moses has yet four books to write, and God has ordained another 61 before the final chapter is written. And in the final chapters of the book of the Revelation, we once again return to paradise. But for this morning, let’s consider these two deaths, and what they say to us, through the lens of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I. Jacob’s Funeral and Burial Place Give Us Hope
Jacob leaves clear instructions as to what is to happen to his body after he dies, in Gen. 49:29-32. He says, “Bury me in the burial place of my father and grandfather, in the land of God’s promise.” Then after he dies, his sons carry out his wishes (Gen. 50:4-14), as we see them burying Jacob’s body in the burial place in Canaan. This was the burial place which Abraham had bought in faith, as a marker that one day, the Lord would fulfill His promise to give his descendants all the land, and be a (gospel) blessing to all the nations (Gen. 12:2-3).
Note that in 49:29-32 and 50:5-14 we read the words “bury” or burial place” some 13 times! That’s the focus. God wants us, the readers of Genesis, to think about this burial and burial place.
Now, how many of you are going to tell your family that when you die, you want to be buried in the land of your ancestors? This would be like some of you asking to be buried in Ireland or England! And yet, that’s what Jacob’s sons do with his dead body. His funeral and burial place signify three things:

First, Jacob’s funeral foreshadowed the Lord’s future deliverance. (The Land)
Jacob’s final journey is his personal exodus out of Egypt, and this journey is the initial fulfillment of God’s promise that He would one day bring all His people to the Promised Land (46:3-4). [In fact this promise would echo in the gospel, even for God’s own beloved Son, Jesus our Lord: Matt. 2:15 “Out of Egypt I called my son.”]
Jacob’s personal exodus out of Egypt and into God’s Promised Land was a foreshadowing, a sign and guarantee of the later and greater reality; the firstfruits of the promise. (Like 1 Cor. 15:20 “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”

Second, the guests at his burial foreshadowed the global scope of the Lord’s mission. (All Nations)
Jacob’s extensive funeral entourage, with all the VIPS from Egypt (50:7-9), and the people of Canaan all watching (50:11) was a foreshadowing of the day when all the nations would come to the Lord, in the gospel of Jesus Christ. (Mt. 28:18-20). See Isa. 60 “Nations will come to your light…the wealth of the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come.” (See Gen. 12:1-3) “Jacob’s family, with its attendant company of gentiles, rehearses, so to speak, in miniature, the ultimate homecoming of his sons, one day to be escorted to their inheritance ‘for all the nations…upon horses, and in chariots.” (Isa. 66:20) {Derek Kidner}
So here we get a glimpse of the vast number of people who will be gathered to the Lord on the final day, as all the nations bow down before the Lord Jesus Christ.

Third, Jacob’s funeral foreshadowed the Lord’s final victory. (Victory over the Grave)
Jacob’s funeral tells us that death is not the end. That was what Jacob had foolishly believed for many years. That is why he was so eager for it to come. He looked forward to death as the end of his earthly woes, especially when he thought his beloved son Joseph was dead, for 22 years. But in his final 17 years spent in Egypt, Jacob came to a different view of death. God was at work in him, even in his very old age (And that’s an encouraging thought for those who think that “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”) Now, no longer did Jacob consider death the end of everything. For in the “resurrection” of Joseph, God had taught Jacob that even if a man were to lose his cherished son, it was not the end of the world. For God was able, so to speak, to raise Joseph from the dead! Was this not the lesson that Abraham learned, when God had commanded him to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac? Abraham believed that God could raise him again, and that there was life after death. (Hebrews 11:17-19).
In the same way, death is not the end for the believer in Christ.
Summary: Jacob’s funeral and burial point us to God’s promises, to God’s resurrection power, and to the final victory of Jesus Christ, when he returns! His funeral and burial give divine hope to dysfunctional people (like Jacob) and dysfunctional families (like his sons)!

II. Joseph’s Bones Give Us Hope.
Joseph also has a plan for his body after he dies, and he too communicates it to his brothers in Genesis 50:24-25. Listen to what he urges them to do, in v. 25 “And Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath and said, ‘God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place’.” (That is, carry his bones to the land which the Lord promised, when He comes and takes you out of this land of Egypt.)
Now let me ask you a question. If you asked your family, that after you are dead, they would take your bones with them when they moved to California or Alaska, and since that time, perhaps 400 years pass… you really think any of your great-great-great-great grandchildren are going to carry our your wishes? But here’s what happens:
400 years later, God does come to Israel’s aid, after centuries of Egyptian oppression. He raises up Moses to lead them out of Egypt, and the Lord does great and terrible signs and wonders to redeem His chosen people out of slavery and into the Promised Land.
And as they start to go, Moses, with all the responsibilities upon his shoulders, (leading two million people in a mass exodus), remembers to take along Joseph’s bones! (See Exodus 13:19) Think about the significance of that! And for the next 40 years, Joseph’s bones are carried along through the wilderness.
the way, we read in Gen. 50:26 that Joseph’s body was place in a coffin. The great book of Genesis ends with the words “He was placed in a coffin in Egypt.” Therefore we could say that:
The book of Genesis begins with a man, Adam, in a garden, enjoying God’s presence;
The book of Genesis ends with a man, Joseph, in a coffin, expecting God’s presence.

Now the Hebrew word for “coffin” in v. 26 is the same word used to refer to the Ark of the Covenant. Therefore in the wilderness, the people of God were carrying two arks: (1) the Ark of the Covenant, with the Ten Commandments inside, and (2) the ark of Joseph’s coffin, which contained his bones. Both of those arks bore testimony of the Lord’s faithfulness to His people:
(a) The Ark of the Covenant testified to God’s presence, that He would always be with them… a promise that Jesus reinforced not only in Matt. 28:20 “I will be with you always” but also in sending us the Holy Spirit of God, to live in us!
(b) Likewise, the ark carrying Joseph’s bones also testified to God’s faithfulness to His promise, that God would lead his people in victory over the oppression of Egypt, and into the blessings of the Promised Land. Not only did Moses and the people carry Joseph’s bones into the Promised Land, but even after Joshua took charge, they remembered Joseph’s words of faith in the Lord, and we read in Joshua 24:32 “And Joseph’s bones, which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem…”
But we are not finished with Joseph’s bones. For we read in Hebrews 11:22 “By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of Israel from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones.” I find that intriguing. Of all the things that Joseph did by faith, the writer of Hebrews selects the part about his bones. Joseph’s charge concerning his bones was a statement of faith in the Lord’s power and mercy, which would not be disappointed.
Joseph’s bones “declared” that God’s promises are true. Joseph believed that the Lord would be his God in his death, burial, and resurrection, even as He had been in life.
Joseph’s faith, even from his coffin, spoke loudly of God’s purpose to break sin’s power and save a people. As would be written about Abel in Hebrews 11:4 “And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.”
One more thing: Joseph’s coffin containing his bones also symbolized the Lord’s return. Consider Joseph’s dying words in Gen. 50:25 “God will visit you” or “God will come to your aid.” These final words exemplified the hope of all true believers in both the OT and the NT, who die in faith, confident that the Lord will come again and that He will redeem us.
John 14:3 “I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
Rev. 22:20 – He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Summary: Joseph’s bones point us to God’s promises, to God’s resurrection power, and to the final victory of Jesus Christ, when he returns! His bones give divine hope to dysfunctional people and dysfunctional families!

When we put together the funeral & burial of Jacob, and the bones of Joseph, we might say that the people of Israel, during their 400 years of oppression, slavery, and suffering in Egypt, lived by faith between Joseph’s bones and Jacob’s burial place. They lived between the “already” and the “not yet” aspects of the Lord’s deliverance. The bones gave them encouragement that the Lord would indeed visit His people once again and lead them out of suffering in Egypt, and into the land flowing with milk and honey. The burial place called out to them, reminding them that just as Jacob had already been carried from Egypt to the Promised Land, so too, they also would be carried from here to that land. The lived, by faith, between Joseph’s bones and Jacob’s burial place.
We too, today, as God’s people, live, by faith, between a burial place (Jesus’ empty tomb) and the Lord’s return. We, in Christ, live by faith between the “already” and the “not yet” aspects of the Lord’s salvation. One day the Lord will make dead dry bones come alive again (Ezek. 37). He will take our “bones” to the promised land of heaven! And that, my brothers and sisters, is divine hope for dysfunctional people and dysfunctional families.
How about you? Are you living by faith and hope in God’s great and precious promises, so that you can face death unafraid?
Both Jacob and Joseph died in faith; but the end of their lives on earth was not the end of their story, but just the closing page in volume one, that led into a new and better sequel.