So here’s the deal. You remember Joseph, right? The guy with the crazy life story: mean brothers, sold as a slave, crazy lady, jail time, wonky dreams, etc.?
Yeah, that guy. But the only verse about Joseph in Hebrews says this:
“By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.” Hebrews 11:22
Wait, that’s it? All it mentions is Joseph talking about the exodus and telling the brothers what to do with his bones? Hmm.
Ok, well, let’s look at this.
The two things that are said in Hebrews 11:22. The first one: Joseph “made mention of the exodus of the Israelites.”
Going back, after Joseph was reunited with his brothers, the family all moved to Egypt during the famine. They settled there for the time, lived through the famine, and eventually Joseph grows old.
Genesis 50:24-25 says: “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 my bones from here.’”
What’s he talking about here? What does he mean that God will bring them out of this land?
Genesis 15:13-14 is where this comes from. God tells Abraham, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there… afterward they shall come out with great possessions.”
So this promise of God had been passed down through the generations, pointing them to God’s Word that said He would bring them out of a foreign land.
This is the reference Joseph makes at the end of his life: reminding his brothers what God had said. That they would be sojourners for a time and then God would lead them out and back to the Promised Land.
So Joseph points his brothers’ eyes where they need to be: back on God, God who had promised them an inheritance in Canaan. God who had promised to be with them.
This was Joseph’s faith in God’s promises. He had been told through the years of what God had said. And he believed.
Through all those years of being apart from his family, God had kept Joseph’s faith through all those hardships. As only God can, He had kept Joseph’s heart soft instead of angry at all the stuff that had happened to him. He had guided Joseph’s heart to forgiveness of his brothers after all those years.
Only God could keep someone through all that.
And even after all his success in the new land, Joseph could have said to his family, “this is a new life for us here, forget about the old stuff.”
But instead, he turned his family’s eyes back to God’s promises. To God’s action on their behalf.
Another point of note is the verbs:
Genesis 50:24-25 says: “And Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land…”
See those “God will” statements? That’s Joseph’s confidence that God would act as He had promised.
That is where Joseph directs the eyes of his family:
God will act for you. God is for you. Remember what He promised.
And that thing about taking his bones? Joseph believed what God had said about the Israelites returning to the Promised Land, coming out of Egypt. So he makes his brothers promise to “take him with” as it were.
Like Joseph, we too have some horrible things and some amazing things in our lives. But through it all, God is walking with us and keeping us in the faith.
Trust His promises. What He has said He will do, He will do.
God does not fail you. He is gently walking with you, even though what you see around you is so confusing or messed up.
You are His. He will not leave you.
Rest in Him.
Thanks for always point us to Christ Gretchen!