Read Genesis 50
1 Joseph threw himself on his father and wept over him and kissed him. 2 Then Joseph directed the physicians in his service to embalm his father Israel. So the physicians embalmed him, 3 taking a full forty days, for that was the time required for embalming. And the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.
4 When the days of mourning had passed, Joseph said to Pharaoh’s court,“If I have found favor in your eyes, speak to Pharaoh for me. Tell him, 5 ‘My father made me swear an oath and said, “I am about to die; bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.’”
6 Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear to do.”
7 So Joseph went up to bury his father. All Pharaoh’s officials accompanied him—the dignitaries of his court and all the dignitaries of Egypt— 8 besides all the members of Joseph’s household and his brothers and those belonging to his father’s household. Only their children and their flocks and herds were left in Goshen. 9 Chariots and horsemen also went up with him. It was a very large company.
10 When they reached the threshing floor of Atad, near the Jordan, they lamented loudly and bitterly; and there Joseph observed a seven-day periodof mourning for his father. 11 When the Canaanites who lived there saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “The Egyptians are holding a solemn ceremony of mourning.” That is why that place near the Jordan is called Abel Mizraim.
12 So Jacob’s sons did as he had commanded them: 13 They carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre, which Abraham had bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. 14 After burying his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, together with his brothers and all the others who had gone with him to bury his father.
Joseph Reassures His Brothers
15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.
18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.
19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
The Death of Joseph
22 Joseph stayed in Egypt, along with all his father’s family. He lived a hundred and ten years 23 and saw the third generation of Ephraim’s children.Also the children of Makir son of Manasseh were placed at birth on Joseph’s knees.
24 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” 25 And Joseph made the Israelites swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.”
26 So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.
Genesis means “origin,” which makes sense, because the book of Genesis is the origin story of our faith. The characters and stories we’ve been following the past 50 days are the founding fathers and mothers of our faith. Their story is where our story begins.
But in all reality, as influential and compelling as these patriarchs and matriarchs of the faith are, this book isn’t just telling their stories. The book of Genesis tells us God’s story. And the overall story He’s telling in Genesis is that He is in control. Sin may be in the world, but He is not thwarted by it. He’s more powerful than sin. And even more than that, He is able to redeem it for His good plan.
Joseph says this perfectly in today’s reading. His brothers are worried now that Jacob is dead that Joseph will get them back for their ill treatment of him many years ago. But Joseph says this in verse 20: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” This verse could very well be the theme verse for the entire book of Genesis. All the evil that has been done, all the wrong choices that have been made, all the lies, deception, and deceit have been evil, indeed, but God has worked through it all to accomplish His good purpose.
God didn’t want Adam and Eve to eat the fruit off the tree and usher sin into the world, but He knew it was going to happen. How comforting that from the very beginning of our faith story, when all seemed lost, God set a plan in motion to bring good from evil. Genesis shows us how very wrong it all can go and how very broken people can be, but more than that, it shows us how very powerful God is. Nothing can stop His redemption plan. Do you trust that God will redeem all the hurt, pain, and evil you’ve gone through? Just watch Him; He’s proven in all 50 chapters of Genesis that He can and He will.
Why is it important to both Jacob and Joseph that their dead bodies be returned to Canaan? What can we learn from their insistence about this?
As we wrap up the story of Joseph and his brothers today, who do you connect with most? Where do you find yourself in their story?
In your life, how has God redeemed the pain, sin, and brokenness you’ve experienced?
Did You Know?
If the cave Machpelah sounds familiar to you, it’s because it is. It’s the cave Abraham purchased in Genesis 23 in order to bury Sarah. Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, and Leah are all buried there as well, and now Jacob. This is the only part of the land of Canaan that Abraham owned, even though it was God’s promised land to them. It was important for Jacob to be buried there as a way of reminding his family that Canaan, not Egypt, was to be their forever home and foreshadowing their return 400 years later.