Joseph: Ongoing Opposition, Unwavering Integrity – Gen 50
All good things must come to an end-and today we have come to the end of Joseph’s story. Last week I made mention how we started this series way back in January-when all of us thought 2020 was going to be a nice, simple, straightforward year-off to a good start. Obviously that wasn’t the case, 2020 has been anything but normal so this sermon series got interrupted many times-so that now on 4th of July we’re finishing it up. And as we do Joseph is going to communicate his dying wish to his brothers. And I don’t want to sound overly morbid this morning-but what would be your dying wish? If you had one last request before the end? Maybe it’s one last trip to the beach to see the ocean or to have one last bite of your favorite meal. But there was a very strange request made in 2008 by Fredric Baur as he was dying. Now you may not have heard of his name before but he’s the guy who came up with a very important invention that we use all the time in our world-the Pringles packaging system. Back in 1966 he filed for a patent for the tubular Pringles container and for the method of packaging the curved, stacked chips in the container. Best way to store chips ever! A revolution in the realm of snack food! So on his deathbed, having been so proud of this life-changing invention, he requested that part of his ashes be put into a Pringles can and buried. Only fitting right? So his family honored his request by placing part of his cremated remains in a Pringles can while the rest of his remains were placed in an urn and buried along with the can. Time magazine actually reports that his children stopped at Walgreen’s for a burial can of Pringles on their way to the funeral home. And the oldest son, Larry said, “My siblings and I briefly debated what flavor to use, but I said, ‘Look, we need to use original.’” How inspiring is that? The man’s ashes were buried in the Pringles can he invented!
Well this morning, as we examine Joseph’s burial request, it’s not quite as unique as that-however it is very important in highlighting the essence of our faith. So if you have your Bibles you can open them up to Genesis 50. And last week we talked about Jacob’s death-that of course being Joseph’s father. And after the great family reunion in Egypt, when Jacob and Jospeh, father and son reconnected, Jacob was 130 years old-not bad at all! But he went on to live 17 more years in Egypt with all of his family who moved there to reach the ripe old age of 147! And when he died, they embalmed him-using the Egyptian mummification process-and then we read about that great funeral procession through the desert. It was Joseph and his brothers and all their children and families, along with the dignitaries and rulers from Pharaoh’s court, and the horsemen and chariots from the army all traveling from Egypt across the desert to Canaan, where Jacob had requested to be buried with his father Isaac and grandfather Abraham. It was a truly magnificent caravan and fitting tribute for Jacob-the one for whom the nation of Israel is named. So as we come to Joseph’s death today, his request for burial is similar, but the timing is different. Take a look at Gen 50:22-24. So first of all, Joseph lived to be 110! Again, not bad at all! But if you do the math as we’ve frequently done in this series, do you remember how old Joseph was when he was chucked in the pit and sold off to Egypt? 17 years old. So that means 93 out of his 110 years of life were lived in Egypt. Joseph spent 93 years in Egypt-he never moved back home. So obviously Joseph was very “Egyptian” in all of his manners and customs. He was second in command to Pharaoh. He spent all of his career and adult life immersed in Egyptian politics and government. He married an Egyptian wife, his boys were born in Egypt, he dressed and spoke Egyptian, ate Egyptian food. He lived among the pyramids and sphinx and saved the nation during the famine. For 93 years he was Egyptian-and yet he wasn’t Egyptian in his heart.
Joseph knew his heritage, he knew where he came from, he knew his homeland-and it was the land that God had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob-his father, grandfather and great grandfather. I love how Joseph never forgot this promise. Because when was it spoken? Way back to his great grandfather Abraham in Gen 15:5-7. And that’s Canaan, the Promised Land. That’s where that great caravan went to bury Jacob. But listen to what God says next to Abraham-Gen 15:13-14. And that is specifically referring to the nation of Egypt and how they would one day enslave and oppress the Israelites. Right now they have provided hospitality to Joseph’s family. They’ve given them the best of the land-all is good-but that won’t be the case for much longer-because after Joseph passes away and a new Pharaoh takes over who doesn’t remember or care about how Joseph saved the nation from famine, he’s going to enslave them. So as God gave this promise to Abraham that they would one day leave Egypt, so Abraham has passed that promise down to his son Isaac who passed it down to his son Jacob who has passed it down to his son Joseph. And that’s what Joseph is referring to now on his deathbed. Back to Gen 50:24. That being Canaan, the Promised Land. And now listen to Joseph’s request-Gen 50:25-26. So just like his father Jacob, Joseph was embalmed according to the Egyptian mummification custom-but unlike Jacob, there wasn’t a grand funeral procession through the desert to take him to Canaan to be buried. As the verse says-Joseph’s body was placed in a coffin in Egypt-pic. Not a Pringles can-but this is a life-size replica that you can actually buy on Wayfair for $1300 to decorate your house. But that’s the sort of coffin you can picture Jospeh’s body being placed in-and there it stayed in Egypt-until the time came when the Israelites departed from Egypt.
And why is that important? This is the one thing in Joseph’s life that’s highlighted in the NT. When you think across all the different experiences Joseph had and all the amazing and godly ways he responded with that unwavering integrity, there would be lots of things in his life to highlight. Great moments of faith-but this is what the NT chooses to highlight-Heb 11:22. Joseph was a man of faith in the things that he knew God would do even though he couldn’t see it in the moment. He had no idea what the Exodus would look like-that God would send a guy called Moses and bring about 10 plagues and part the Red Sea. Joseph didn’t know any of that-but he knew God-and he knew that God is absolutely trustworthy; that what God says will happen-even if it was spoken to his great grandfather many years before. Back to his words-Gen 50:24-25. Joseph is emphasizing the certainty of God’s promise. He will surely visit you, He will deliver you, He will lead you home to the Promised Land. So Pt1:Joseph saw the certainty of God’s promises; do we see that same certainty? This is where Joseph’s faith was rock solid. So confident in God’s promise that Joseph said-Leave my old bones here until the day when God’s promise is fulfilled and He leads you home. Joseph had spent a lifetime seeing over and over how faithful God is. He had seen God’s deliverance in so many situations. He had seen God’s protection and provision and blessing-so there was no doubt in Joseph’s mind that God wouldn’t do what He says He’ll do. What about you? Do you doubt God’s promises or tend to question whether He’ll come through in your life? God promises His peace that passes all understanding-do lean upon that peace with all you have or tend to doubt it? He promises to never leave you or abandon you-do cling to that promises even in the darkest and most difficult moments of life? He promises that there’s no condemnation if you’re trusting in His Son Jesus. Do you see the certainty of that incredible promise-or worry that you’ll somehow mess things up, make God angry with you and lose your salvation somewhere along the way? God doesn’t make promises just to forget about them later. We do that-or even end up regretting the promises we made and try to get out of them. Not God! What God says He will surely do! Joseph saw that and knew that with certainty-even if he didn’t see how all the details would come together. But here’s the thing Joseph wasn’t trusting in the details, He was trusting in His God. Big difference.
So often we have to see how all the details will work out before we’ll trust. We demand the details-show me all the steps ahead of time God, let me see that it all works out safely and well-and then I’ll trust you’ve got this. Have you said that or thought that before? I know I have. But that’s not what faith is. What would happen if you left the details to God and just trusted in His plans? Remember what it says earlier in Heb 11:1-2. And that was Joseph. He didn’t see any of the details of this upcoming Exodus-he didn’t know about the plagues of frogs and darkness and the Passover lamb and the Red Sea. But Joseph wasn’t trusting in the details, He wasn’t demanding to see the details or the game plan. He was sure of what he hoped for in God-and he knew without a doubt that God was capable of making it happen. By faith Joseph saw the destination where God would one day bring His people. It’s not any different for us. We’re also awaiting where God is going to bring us. We have His promise that He’s going to return for us and that He’s going to lead us home in a great exodus when this world ends-but not just to a promised land on this earth-but the Promised Land of the new heavens and new earth. And that’s what this all boils down to-Pt2:Joseph saw the unseen Exodus by faith; do we see Eternity by faith? Are you resting confidently and securely in what God has in store for you-the destination He’s preparing for you? It’s no accident Jesus was a carpenter on earth, because now He’s in heaven taking His carpentry skills to the nth degree by constructing an eternal home for us as we believe in Him. By faith do we see it and bank on it? Look at what it says in 2 Cor 4:18-5:1. I love that comparison that our earthy dwelling is a tent, something flimsy and weak. Anybody want to settle in long-term in a tent? No-but that’s the analogy of this earthly life because what awaits us in eternity is a building-an eternal house. Do you see that with the eyes of faith? Do you anticipate that eternal home not made with human hands that lasts forever? One day this is literally where you’ll dwell if you’ve trusted in Jesus. One day this future glimpse will be actual reality-your permanent residence! Back to Pt2. Joseph saw a great future for his people-and it was based on an old promise given to his great grandfather about an upcoming exodus. We have a great future too-an even better future-and it’s based on an old promise given centuries ago in God’s Word-but that doesn’t make it any less real or relevant. Because God will fulfill His promises as we look to Him in faith. God has something remarkable in store for us beyond all comparison. Joseph and his family were blessed in Egypt-abundantly blessed-but it wasn’t their final home. And we have been abundantly blessed in this country too-and we remember those blessings on a July 4th weekend like this-we praise and thank God for those blessings-but this isn’t our final home either. We’re strangers and alines here, people just passing through. This earth is the train station. Our real citizenship lies elsewhere. Look at Heb 11:13-16. That’s what awaits you-and it’s all based on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. To belong to that city one day means you need to belong to Him today.