So there were a group of fathers, expecting fathers, in the waiting room of a hospital. There were three of them and they're waiting for their wives who were in the delivery room to have their children. And a nurse walks into the waiting room and says to one of the men, are you Mr. So-and-So, yes I am, your wife just had twins. And he said that's wonderful! And it's very coincidental, for you see; I'm a third baseman for the Minnesota Twins. And he just thought that was great. Twenty minutes went by and another nurse came into that room and said where's Mr. So-and-So? He said that's me. She said congratulations; your wife just had triplets. You have three babies. And he went oh my goodness! That's, that's... that's a huge announcement but it's wonderful and by the way, what's really amazing is that I happen to work for the 3M company. Well as soon as all that happened, the third man fell out of his chair, laid completely flat on the ground and just started moaning and moaning. And the nurse said are you ok? He said yeah, but I want you to know I work for the 7-Up company.
What do you think Jacob felt like after 12 boys and 1 daughter? 13 children. I had one son. We tried to have more, wanted to have more; the Lord gave us one son. He's a wonderful boy. We wanted to have more. It doesn't matter if you have one or thirteen. All parents have a responsibility to the children that God has given. The Psalms speak about children like olive branches around a table. And then the psalmist says blessed, o how happy is the man whose quiver is full of them. Jacob had a full quiver of children. Of course, if you have 13 children, you might just quiver like the rest of your life. But now they're gathered around him. That quiver of children, those olive branches, are gathered around him on his deathbed. And he pronounces on them a blessing and a warning and an admonition, as we'll see as we finish chapter 49. But again, if you have one child, if you have 13 kids, my mom was one of 11, parents have the responsibility to, as Paul said, Ephesians chapter 6, parents bring up your children in the training, number one, and the admonition, number two, of the Lord.
The word admonition is a powerful word. Nouthesia. It means to place something before the mind and it's the idea of, if need be, confronting, warning. That's the idea of admonishing. Urging. It seems that Jacob never did the first part of that verse in Ephesians, Ephesians 6:4, never trained his children, but now on his deathbed he's deciding to warn them. It's a little... it's too little too late. But it's more than a warning. It's more than just well, I didn't do it while I was younger so now I'm gonna say something before I die. We discover that though he says something before he dies, it is actually a prophetic testimony that he brings to his children. What he does, and he goes child by child from the oldest down to the youngest, he remembers, he's 147 years old. But he remembers all of his children's names and their birth order and he remembers their character. And it's like, as if he isolates a single trait of each child. And he says something about that child as if to appraise the life and then predicts the future. So that is why, if you have noticed so far in Genesis, it's written in a narrative style. Now when we get to chapter 49, it's a poetic style.
Just look at your Bible and look at the difference. Look back a chapter and see how the words are laid out on the page in chapter 48, for the most part. And then in chapter 49, see how they're sort of staggered? Because that's Hebrew parallelism or Hebrew poetry. So he's giving this beautiful poetic oracle to his children one by one. To outline our study tonight, and we're again in the last two chapters of the Bible, we've covered half already of chapter 49. We have blessings in chapter 49 and we have burial in chapter 50. So chapter 49 are the blessings proclaimed in Egypt. He's on his deathbed in Egypt. He's gonna die in Egypt but he's gonna be buried in Canaan. So blessings pronounced in Egypt. Chapter 50, burial performed in Canaan. And that's the bulk of where we're going tonight.
Now chapter 47, beginning in verse 28, all through chapter 48, all through chapter 49 verse 32, maybe even 33, is the final scene. It's the deathbed scene. It's one scene in and of itself. So we've already gone through some of the kids including Judah. We left off at Naphtali, verse 13, oh I'm sorry, Zebulun. One of his children, his boys, named Zebulun. "Zebulun," says Jacob, "shall dwell by the haven of the sea; he shall become a haven for ships, and his border shall adjoin Sidon." If that were me, that would be an exciting prophecy. I love the ocean. Grew up around it. Always loved it. Here's the problem. It's the problem with Zebulun. When he comes into the land and occupies his portion of the land, he doesn't get any beachfront. He's landlocked. He has neighbors who have beachfront property. But he has nothing. He's in a beautiful little valley by Mount Carmel but he's landlocked. So what's up with this prediction? Zebulun shall dwell by the haven of the sea? Commentators have tried to figure this out. One suggests that Zebulun, as a tribe, merged with Issachar as another tribe. Issachar was by the Sea of Galilee. Not the ocean, but the lake--the Sea of Galilee. So because they merged, he's guessing, he doesn't know, perhaps that they had access to the Sea of Galilee as a tribe and were involved in working for the Phoenicians in their maritime pursuits. That's a suggestion. I don't buy it.
It's a puzzlement. He's landlocked but you have this prediction. Furthermore, Moses, in Deuteronomy chapter 33, is gonna make another prediction. He makes predictions of the tribes, Moses in Deuteronomy 33 says that Zebulun will take possession of the abundance of the seas or enjoy the abundance of the seas plural. And whenever you see it in the plural, it usually speaks of the oceans. He's gonna enjoy, or partake, of the abundance of the seas. So you have Jacob saying it, you have Moses saying seas and partake of the abundance, but there's no record in history of ever having any access to the ocean or the Sea of the Galilee. You can suppose anything you want. Here's my take on it. If you just keep reading in the Bible, you'll come to the book of Ezekiel. Ooh--thunder. In the book of Ezekiel, which is the kingdom age, it's the millennial age, the thousand-year reign on earth with Jesus Christ; it gives the borders of the twelve tribes of Israel. And in the millennium, the border for this tribe of Zebulun includes a huge stretch of beachfront property all the way up to Sidon. That's when it's going to be fulfilled. Has never yet been fulfilled. In the kingdom age, in the millennium, that's when they get their ocean. They'll enjoy it because in the new heaven and the new earth, there'll be no sea. Bummer.
Verse 14: "Issachar is a strong donkey." How'd you like to be Issachar listening to that? Son? You're a donkey. "Lying down between two burdens; he saw that rest was good, and that the land was pleasant; he bowed his shoulder to bear a burden, and became a band of slaves." That's not an insult; it's a compliment. Donkey was the pickup truck. He's saying son, your tribe is gonna be the tribe of hard workers. You're gonna be known for being hard workers. They didn't have a huge tribe; they didn't have a huge population. But they were the backbone of the workforce of Israel. The blue collar tribe of Israel. The group of hard workers like a donkey between two burdens. Now the valley itself is beautiful. It's agrarian. They were outside. They planted, like so many other tribes, they planted lots of beautiful produce. Here's what's interesting. If you drive through the area of Zebulun, through the tribe area of Zebulun, and I just did it a few months ago in Israel, as you drive from north to south on the main road which was part of the ancient way even back then, you notice two hills on either side--on the border. One is Mount Gilboa and the other is the Hill of Moray. And my tour guide, a friend of mine, said now notice what you see as you're coming through this big valley and you see these two huge heaps or burdens. And he says that's the meaning of the prophecy. You're gonna be the valley, that beautiful valley, sandwiched in between these two burdens of earth or hills, Mount Gilboa and Mount Tabor. One of the left; one on the right. "He bowed his shoulder to bear a burden, and became a band of slaves."
Verse 16: "Dan," is the next boy, "Dan shall judge his people." Now that's a play on words because the word Dan means judge. So if we were translating it fully into English: Judge? You're gonna judge your people. Makes sense. He'll live up to his name. "Dan shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent by the way, a viper by the path, that bites the horse's heels so that its rider shall fall backward." You say that doesn't sound like a great prophecy. Well it could be viewed positively or negatively. I believe, first of all, it's a positive thing--it's a prophecy--because there's a book in your Bible called the book of? Judges. The book of Dans. The book of Judges. And it lists those deliverers or those local judges that God used during that very dismal period in Israel's history. One of the prominent, most prominent, judges was a guy named Samson. He was a Danite. He came from the tribe of Dan. And he single-handedly gave stomach problems and nightmares to the Philistines. This guy was able, single-handedly, for a period of time to keep the Philistines from an incursion and an invasion and taking more land. For example, very creative terrorism that he resorted to. He took up 300 foxes and tied their tails together. So he'd take a bunch of foxes, like a few of them, tie their tails, a few more, tie their tails, and he had all these bunches of foxes with their tails tied together and he lit the tails of the foxes on fire and had them scatter through the fields of the Philistines at harvest time when it was dry.
So it's just like in five minutes the entire set of fields went up in flames. And he just sat back laughing all the way home. Very inventive. Then he took a jawbone of a donkey and walked around with it and just started popping people in the head with it and killed tons of people with it and just an amazing judge. It could be that he's referring to, during that period of judges, he'll judge. Or this can be viewed negatively. For you see, later on in Israel's history there's the kingdom. There's Saul. There's King David. There's Solomon. And then he has a son named Rehoboam. But there's this other guy named Jeroboam, unrelated. They're not like Miss Jerry and Re Boam. They're not like brothers--two different guys. Jeroboam rebels against the kingdom of David and Solomon and Rehoboam. And he takes two golden calves and he puts one at Bethel, right in the middle of the country, and one way up north at Dan--the tribe of Dan. So the tribe of Dan is what introduces idolatry into northern Israel while Bethel introduced it down south. A viper, by the way. A stumbling block. And he stumbles the entire nation. If you ever do come with us to Israel, I'll take you to a place called Tel Dan, or the hill of Dan. They've done excavations there and they have uncovered the very altar, or the base of the altar, itself where that statue stood thousands of years ago. We sat on it. Had our picture taken on this idolatrous altar where the golden calf stood at Dan. It could be that that is what the prediction refers to.
And then verse 18 is just this utterance of worship: "I have waited for your salvation, O Lord!" I think he knows soon he's going to die, and he will. Verse 33. Verse 19, the next boy, Gad, Gadzooks: "Gad, a troop shall tramp upon him, but he shall triumph at last." Now that's a play on words. It's a play on words because the word gad means troop. Remember when Gad was born and she said, or he said, look! A troop is coming! And there's so many kids coming. So he called him troop. So here it says a troop shall tramp upon him, but he shall triumph at last. The play on words, the best rendition, would be this: a troop was attacked by a troop of attackers but he attacked them. So it's basically saying this guy's gonna be a warrior; he's gonna be a fighter. He's gonna hold his own. Why does it say it of him? Look on the map and look at where Gad is. You see those three tribes on the east of the Jordan River? Gad was isolated from the rest of Israel being on the eastern side and the border that's not adjoining the rest of the nations of Israel. You see all of them had two borders: the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Very natural borders. But those on the eastern side didn't have the natural borders the other guys had. So many raids, border raids they were called by the people who lived around them, these incursions into their territory were very numerous for the Gadites. So Jacob says not to worry. Your kids are gonna hold their own in that land across the Jordan River. A prophecy fulfilled.
Verse 20: Asher. "Bread from Asher shall be rich, and he shall yield royal dainties." Asher is, in my opinion, the most beautiful part of the land of Israel. As you can see, it's on the northwest coast of Israel and it's way up north by Lebanon and I took a car and drove there, not this trip but last trip, because there's some beautiful places to photograph. It's lush. It's green. The dirt is brown. It's the breadbasket in the north. Judah is in south. It's the breadbasket of north. When I lived years ago in Israel on a kibbutz, my kibbutz was in the ancient tribe of Asher and I worked those fields and I saw the richness of the soil so I always loved this verse because I was able to hold the dirt from the tribe of Asher in my hands for months. Bread from Asher is rich. He shall yield royal dainties.
"Naphtali is a deer let loose; he uses beautiful words." Naphtali is north of Galilee. In Judges chapter 5, we'll get to it in the next millennium, takes us awhile in these Bible studies but it'll take us, when we get to the book of Judges, that was a joke, um, Deborah, Deborah will praise the warriors from the heights of Naphtali who were able to help in that war.
Now we come to Joseph, verse 22. Joseph occupies the greatest area of a pronouncement of blessing and the greatest blessing. In fact, Joseph gets the double portion because he has two children and you remember what Grandpa said. Those two kids are mine and I'm gonna not give you one tribe--I'm giving you two tribes in Israel named Ephraim and Manasseh. Your two boys. So he gets the double portion and this is the important thing: Joseph gets the blessing of the firstborn. Reuben was born first. He doesn't get the blessing of the firstborn. None of the kids get it except Joseph. This is the blessing of the firstborn. In fact, I'll turn to a Scripture in 1 Chronicles chapter 5. You can just jot it down unless you have speedy thumbs. This is one verse, two verses. 1 Chronicles 5:1 and 2. Now the sons of Reuben, the firstborn of Israel, he was indeed the firstborn but because he defiled his father's bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph, the son of Israel, so that the genealogy is not listed according to the birthright yet Judah prevailed over his brothers, that's the second born, and sent from him came a ruler although the birthright was from Joseph. So Judah becomes the head of the tribes but the birthright blessing is given to Joseph. And that's what we're about to read.
Verse 22. Now here's, I'm gonna slow down a little bit in these verses, because what Jacob effectively does is give to us the secret of Joseph's life. How did he do it? Well, in a beautiful metaphorical picture, he tells us how Joseph was able to handle all the bad stuff that happened to him. His brothers selling him as a slave into Egypt. False accusations by Potiphar's wife, the temptation she threw at him. The being forgotten by the butler and baker for two years. How did he deal with that? How did he handle it? Verse 22: "Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a well; his branches run over the wall. The archers have bitterly grieved him, shot at him and hated him. But his bow remained in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob."
Look at verse 22. Here's some of the characteristics of Jacob, or of Joseph, I'll give you four and this was his secret. Number one, Joseph was fruitful while he was away. He was away from home. He was away from the land of Israel, the land promised, the land of Canaan. He's in a foreign country but he's fruitful. He gets married. He has two kids. One is named Ephraim; one is Manasseh. Ephraim means fruitful because he says the Lord made me fruitful in the land of my affliction. And he was fruitful for the rest of the world in coming up with that wonderful government program to save. And it was a wonderful government program. He saved money. That's something governments don't like to do I see these days, but he did it. He saved up for seven years, tightened the reins, so that in the time that it really got bad, he was able to provide. He was fruitful while he was away.
Notice it also says a fruitful branch by a well. By a well. Here's the second mark and characteristic. He was faithful while he was alone. You ever think about this? Who around Joseph could he have fellowship with? Who around Joseph believed in the same God of Jacob, of Isaac, of Abraham? No one. He had no brothers around there. No one in covenant relationship. He was the only guy. So his solution is to move his life closer and closer and closer to God and stay there. Stay there. Get as close to God as you can and, while you're alone, be faithful to God. That was his secret. And that's part of that picture. He's a fruitful bough or branch by a well. Now whenever a tree or a plant is growing by a well, it has a special relationship with its water source. You don't have to water it every day. You don't have to take a hose out there. You don't have to take a bucket out there. You don't have to sprinkle it to get a sprinkling system. It's growing by a well. It's just got a continual water source. So here's Joseph. He moved his life so close to God and that was the secret of his fruitfulness. You know what this reminds me of? Psalm 1. Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly nor stand in the way of sinners nor sit in the seat of the scornful, but his delight is in the law of the Lord and in His law doth he meditate day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the waters that brings forth its fruit in its season.
Jesus put it this way: Abide in Me and you will bring forth much fruit. Abide in Me. Stay close to Me. One of the things I love about this fellowship, one of the things I love about you, is that you bring friends to church and that's why when we have altar calls like we did last Wednesday night you have 50 people sometimes that come and hundreds and hundreds of people this last year have given their lives to Christ. I love that. However, though I love seeing the quantity of converts, my concern is for the quality of those converts. Are they really applying God's truth? You can see once they get into a jam, as they get into a mess, are they applying it? Take personal inventory tonight of your life. How close to God are you rooted? Where are your roots? Are your roots far from Him? Are you so close to Him that there's that continual abiding and feast and joy so that that fruit is just natural? You don't have to work for it--it's just natural--it just grows. So he's a fruitful branch and he's a fruitful bough by a well.
Notice the next part of that poetic phrase: "His branches run over the wall." So here's the third characteristic. Joseph was bountiful while he was affluent. He was bountiful while he was affluent. He got rich. He became prime minister of Egypt. He had it made in the shade. And he could have consumed all of it upon himself--didn't do that. Number one, he thought how can I use the abundance of Egypt to bless others in the world? And then when his brothers and family came, how can I use my position to get them a good gig? And they gave them the best of the land--the land of Goshen. So that's what happens when you have a plant, a tree, planted by that kind of a water source so close to God it grows and grows and grows so large that the branches go over the wall. It speaks of a fast, prolific growth pattern. When I lived in Huntington Beach, California many moons ago when I was young and single, I lived four blocks from the ocean and my neighbor had, well, he grew, he had a lemon tree. Big, couple of them in his backyard. I had a little patch of artichokes I was growing. I didn't have much of a garden but I loved artichokes so I'd grow them. he had a lemon tree. His lemon tree got so big because he watered it so much, the branches went over my side of the fence, branches went over the wall. According to state law, anything that grows on your side of the fence belongs to you. So you got to know, I had, like, lemonade all the time. Just all and every time it produced, pull out a few lemons--thanks! Make lemonade. Your life, my life, is mature when we live close to God and we're bearing the kind of fruit that doesn't just bless ourselves, but blesses other people.
Our life becomes a blessing to people. I believe that's the meaning of what Jesus said in John chapter 7. He said if any man thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. For as the Scripture says, out of his heart will flow torrents of living water. Out of his heart. He will not be satisfied himself merely. He'll become a vessel to bless other people. I love this. his branches go over the wall. I did a series on the life of Joseph and I was particularly struck by that verse. So fruitful while he was away, faithful while he was alone, bountiful while he was affluent. Whatever you have in your life, it's been given to you by the Lord. Do you ever see yourself as a vessel to give it to others? The ancient rabbis used to say your life is either like the sea up north or the sea down south. The only two bodies of water inland in Israel are the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. And they would say your life is either like the Sea of Galilee or the Dead Sea. The Sea of Galilee is verdant, lush, crops grow all around it. The Dead Sea--nothing grows around it, nothing grows in it. There's a reason for that. The Sea of Galilee has an inlet and an outlet. Water comes in; water comes out. The Dead Sea has no outlet, only an inlet. It just takes, takes, takes, takes, takes--never gives anything. And because of that it's dead. That's what the rabbis meant. If you're only taking in and you're never blessing people with your growth, your spirituality, what you learn, your principles, your finances, your money--you're dead. Joseph was very much alive.
And then notice verse, that's just verse 22, verse 23, boy, I gotta scoot, I gotta scoot quickly. "The archers have bitterly grieved him, shot at him and hated him. But his bow remained in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the Mighty God. Here's the fourth characteristic: Joseph was steady while he was attacked. He had a lot of arrows shot at him, mostly by his brothers. When he said hey brothers, I had a cool dream! You know the story. They shot arrows of jealousy. I hate that kid. I hate that coat he's wearing. When he came to visit them when they were in the wilderness tending their sheep, and he was out there to check out on them, they shot arrows of treachery and said let's sell this kid to somebody else. Let's get rid of him. When he's down in Egypt, Potiphar's wife shot arrows of temptation at him. and arrows of accusation. And while he was in prison, the chief butler shot arrows of forgetfulness as he rotted in jail for two more years. And yet, he was steady while he was attacked. And the secret is that last part of the verse, I love this, "the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the Mighty God."
You dads, if you've ever taught one of your children to shoot a bow and arrow, you know what this is like. They grab the bow, they grab the arrow, and they go like this as they put tension on it... it sort of... it's all over the place. So you as a parent, having the greater strength, take your arms around and you grab the wrists or the hands of the child and you steady them and you help them. You don't do it for them--give me that bow! This is how you shoot it, kid. You don't do that. You lovingly place your hands and steady their wrist and then you say ok sweetie, now let it go. That's the picture here. He realizes, Joseph did, that God was in his life and around him and God steadied him because he'd live like that tree planted by the water and was fruitful even when he was attacked. And the last part, verse 25: "By the God of your father who will help you, and by the Almighty who will bless you with blessings of heaven above," that's rain that comes on the crops, "blessings of the deep that lies beneath," that's the streams and the wells that will be in his territories, "blessings of the breasts and of the womb," that's you're gonna have lots of offspring, "The blessings of your father have excelled the blessings of my ancestors."
There's a lot of blessings here, aren't there? You know why? One of the sub-themes of the book of Genesis is blessing. It's a key word in the entire book of Genesis: blessing. It appears 88 times in the book of Genesis alone. And look at all the times they're mentioned in that verse. So if you look at the book of Genesis as a fireworks display of blessing, this is the grand finale. Blessing here, blessing there, blessing here, blessing there, blessing, blessing, blessing, blessing, go have a nice blessing. "The blessings of your father have excelled the blessings of my ancestors, up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills. They shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers." Boy, he was. "Benjamin," last, last one on the list, "Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil."
I believe this speaks of the aggressive nature of the Benjamites. Example: there were some warriors that came out of the tribe of Benjamin. Ehud, e-h-u-d, ever heard of that name, in the book of Judges? Ehud the left-handed Benjamite--a skilled warrior. King Saul, a warrior from the tribe of Benjamin. His son Jonathan and Malchishua, the other sons all from this tribe. However, I think there's more here. When we get to Judges chapter 20, we find the worst part of the history of Benjamin in one chapter. Here's the story in a nutshell. A Levite is traveling through the area of Benjamin, stops at its principal city, the city of Gibea, to spend the night. The men of Gibea want to have sexual relations with the Levite--the man. And they almost rape him. Instead, they rape his concubine and the next day she's dead. In seeing what the Benjamites did to that woman, the Levite cut her up, she's dead, cut her up in twelve pieces and sent one piece to all the tribes of Israel, told them what happened. The Bible says in Judges 20, all of Israel came together as one man to destroy Benjamin--to destroy the tribe and they mourned today a tribe will be no more in Israel. 400,000 foot soldier army gathers down south to fight against Benjamin. And they completely wipe out Gibea, destroy most of the Benjamites. In fact, at the end they feel so sorry they go, you know what, like, there's no more left, how are they, how are gonna even have any kind of a tribe of Benjamin. So they bring in some of the women from Jabez Gilead up north so that those gals can marry the men and they can have more Benjamites in that tribe. So with that in mind, Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he will devour the prey, at night he will divide the spoil. It could speak of that incident that is yet to come.
So here's the summation: "All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father spoke to them. And he blessed them; he blessed each one according to his own blessing. Then he charged them and said to them: "I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite." The sons of Jacob were judged and/or blessed by their father. Whatever they had done years before, maybe covered it up for 40, 50, 60 years, it comes to light in this deathbed scene. now you know one day we're gonna stand before our Father. Every Christian will stand before judgment, not judgment for our sins--that's done. Period. Past. On the cross--over with. You and I will stand before the judgment seat of Christ, Paul calls it. The bema seat of Christ. And we will either be rewarded for what we did or the reward will be taken away. And our position and place in the future kingdom depends on what we have done with what God has given us here. we'll stand before. That's why Paul said don't you know that everyone, 1 Corinthians 9 verse 24, all those who run in a race, they all run but only one receives the prize. So run so that you may obtain the prize. Live your life in a way as if to get the prize because God's gonna reward you. He's gonna bless you at that judgment seat or refrain from the blessing. A lot of Christians don't even think about that or live that way, that there's a future judgment seat of Christ where God evaluates our work for Him on the earth or lack thereof and we get a blessing, a reward, or lack thereof.
That's why Jesus said, now listen carefully, store up for yourselves treasures in heaven. Is it possible to store up treasures in heaven because if it is, I want to know how to do that. I want to do a lot of that because I'd like to get there when it's all over and just, like, have a really cool place in heaven. How do I do that? By what we're suggesting. Heaven will be the time of enjoyment. I look forward to it. Earth is the time of employment. Let's get busy about His business. The famous C.T. Studd quote: Only one life twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last. An evaluation is coming like for these sons. "Then he charged them and said to them," verse 29, "I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite as a possession for a burial place." We already know about that. That's up in Hebron. "There they buried Abraham," he's saying to them. "There they buried Abraham [Gramps] and Sarah his wife, there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah."
Interesting. Bury me next to Leah. Why not Rachel? Rachel was the one he said he loved. He favored. He loved the two sons of Rachel, Joseph and Benjamin. Rachel was buried by Bethlehem. We covered that. She's buried at Machpelah--Leah. It's because he's tying himself into the covenant that God made with Abraham and Isaac, who's buried there, and now himself, Jacob. Bury me there. It's a statement of faith. That's the land God gave to us. "The field and the cave that is there were purchased from the sons of Heth." And when Jacob had finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people." Now you might just read that verse and leave it alone but to me it's very suggestive. First of all, he's 147 years old and he's drawing his feet up from the ground up into his bed. It means his feet were on the ground. When he's giving this, he's probably sitting up in bed or leaning on a staff presumably, and now he gathers and puts his feet back in the bed. Now he sorta lived that way, you know. He came out of the womb sorta running in all sorts of directions. Running away to Padan Aram, running away from his uncle, running away from his brother. He's on his feet, he's holding a staff. You say, or I'll ask you, why is he holding a staff? You could say well he's 147 years old! Give him a break! That's not why he's leaning on a staff. He had a wrestling match with an angel. And the angel dislocated his hip and he walked with a limp ever since and that's what that's all about. That constant reminder of the life change.
And then it says he was gathered to his people. That speaks of life after death. It's the hope and the belief of the afterlife--the future--the resurrection of the dead. Now this is exactly the point Jesus makes. I want to tie two thoughts together. In the New Testament, a group of Sadducees, remember the Sadducees? They didn't believe in the resurrection and they know Jesus believes in the resurrection so they said Lord, you know the Law of Moses says that if a man has a wife and he can't have any offspring or he doesn't have any and he dies, that his brother has to marry her and produce offspring for his dead brother, which is the Law of Moses. But there was this group of seven brothers and the oldest married a woman but the old guy died. Then his brother married the gal and he died. And they're all trying to have kids, you know, for the dead brother. And then the third married her and he died, and the fourth married her and he died, and number five died, and six died, and they all died. It's a really stupid analogy because what brother is gonna... I'm not gonna marry you. You're gonna kill me! What are you putting in your eggs? But it's a hypothetical. It's a hypothetical. So likewise, they all died. And then they give the question: so in the resurrection, Jesus, whose wife will she be? Because they didn't believe in the resurrection. They denied life after death. You know, here's how Jesus answered them: you're ignorant.
That's what He said. You're ignorant, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. He went on to talk a little bit, but He said but so you know that the dead do rise, have you never read where the Scripture says I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. It's a great argument. Closed case. He didn't say I was the God of Abraham. I am. Present tense. The only way God in heaven can be the God present tense of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is if they're alive with Him. If there's life after death. And a future resurrection to come. This is a beautiful argument and that ties into this. Ok. "Then Joseph fell on his [face or] father's face and wept over him, and kissed him. And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel. Forty days were required for him, for such are the days required for those who are embalmed; and the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days. Now when the days of his mourning were past, Joseph spoke to the household of Pharaoh, saying, "If now I have found favor in your eyes, please speak in the hearing of Pharaoh, saying, 'My father made me swear, saying, "Behold, I am dying; in my grave which I dug for myself in the land of Canaan, there you shall bury me." Now therefore, please let me go up and bury my father, and I will come back.'" And Pharaoh said, "Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear."
They mourned 70 days. Two-and-a-half months. That's a long funeral. That was an Egyptian custom. Did you know that when a pharaoh dies, a pharaoh dies; it was a 72-day mandatory period of mourning. So Jacob dies and because of Joseph's position, he gets the highest state funeral possible and they mourn him just two days less than they would a pharaoh. You think when Jacob was running around Padan Aram trying to find a wife and running from his brother-in-law he'd ever have this kind of a funeral? Do you ever think of your funeral--what it's gonna be like? Who's gonna miss you? What they'll say about you? Ok. They embalmed him because that's what the Egyptians do. They embalmed him. I'll do it quickly. Would you like to know how the Egyptians embalmed people? Yes or no? Because I don't wanna gross you out. I need your permission for this. Ok. Is that a yes? Ok, ok, so here's what they did--real quickly. First of all, they would extract the brain through the nasal cavity with a crooked wire. They'd go inside, dig out the brain piece by piece, yank it out through the nasal cavity. Pretty cool, huh? Then they'd make an incision in the left lower quadrant of the abdominal cavity, take all of the organs out, and either place them in vases separately or clean them and put them back in. once all the organs are out, they would clean the inside of the peritoneum, the peritoneal cavity, with antiseptic, with palm wine and with cedar oil, and then they would, they would pack it with cloth soaked in myrrh and cinnamon, because that smells good, and decaying bodies don't. so to take away that smell, to mitigate against that, it was stuffed with that. And then the body was sewn up and for 30 days it was steeped in an inepter compound. So we're already a month after death, a month has gone by, and they're still preparing the body. Then they would take a cloth that was soaked in a lime compound that formed an encasement and they would put this hard shell cloth encasement over the body and a wooden casket that would conform to the body. If you were a pharaoh, it would be a gold casket placed into a limestone sarcophagus or a pyramid and if you've ever seen the facemask of King Tut, the elaborate gold facemask, that's for royalty that was placed over the face.
Very, very elaborate. And it worked. If you ever go to the British museum. If you're ever tooling down the street in London and you've got a few hours, go into the British museum. There you will see what they say was the pharaoh from the time of Moses. The guy who looked into Moses' baby blues and said I'm not letting these people go. He's there, in England. He lives in London now--that pharaoh--as a mummy. His hair is still preserved. You can see his hair. He has his teeth. His skin is on him. I mean, he looks pretty bad but he has, he has teeth. I know people that are, that are in their later years that don't have their teeth, well they're... he's a couple thousand, a few thousand years old... he's got his teeth. Really well-preserved. So I think if you could ever go to Hebron where Jacob is buried in Israel, and dig up Jacob, you'd probably find him as preserved. You'd probably be able to see his skin and his hair and everything. That well-preserved. I asked for permission.
"So Joseph went up," verse 7, "and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt." Now it's been 39 years since Joseph has seen the land of Canaan. "As well as all the house of Joseph, his brothers, and his father's house. Only their little ones, their flocks, and their herds they left in the land of Goshen. And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen, and it was a very great gathering. Then they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, and they mourned there with a great and very solemn lamentation. He observed seven days of mourning for his father. And when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, "This is a deep mourning of the Egyptians." Therefore its name was called Abel Mizraim," or the mourning of Egypt. Mizraim is the ancient name for Egypt, "which is beyond the Jordan. So his sons did for him just as he had commanded them." I'll read a little further before I say anything. I'm looking at the time.
"For his sons carried him to the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, before Mamre, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite as property for a burial place. And after he had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, he and his brothers and all who went up with him to bury his father." Why did they take the body that far away? Why didn't they just bury him in Egypt? He's dead. I mean, he's dead. Why not bury him in Egypt? He's not gonna feel anything. Why did he make... take my body, I want to be buried... and they did it. Why not just bury me here? You could ask another question. It sort of ties into that. I'll just whet your appetite for it. Why not just burn his body? Why not just cremate the body? It's interesting the Egyptians never believed in that. The Hebrews never believed in it. In fact, you'll never read of that kind of body disposal in all of the Scriptures. For this reason and it ties together: the reason Jacob wanted to go back is because it was a statement of faith. Not this land--that land is the land of promise and I believe the future generations will inherit that land. Take me back to my land. It was a statement of faith. Plant me in that land.
When it comes to Christian burial, and I am not dogmatic about this, I'm just throwing out a thought to you. When it comes to Christian burial, the language of the Scripture is such that it speaks of burying the body. You are sown, the Bible says, in dishonor. You are raised in glory. The idea of sowing a body in the ground is the statement of faith that like I'm planting a seed, 1 Corinthians 15, it will be raised in glory. I believe in the future resurrection. And that is why ancient Hebrews, Old Testament, New Testament, you never find a record of them disposing of the body in cremation. You find it in pagan cultures. In fact, in early America there was never cremation in the early part of this country. It wasn't until the rationalists and the atheistic movements. It was sort of like a fist in the face toward belief in God that they just said it doesn't matter--just get rid of the body. Again, I am not dogmatic about this and somebody could say well God's God. I mean, He can find the molecules of somebody who has been cremated or He can find the molecules of somebody who has been thrown out in the ocean and sharks, a hundred sharks went a hundred different directions after eating him. He can find the remains of somebody who's been killed in a bomb blast. Can't God do that? That's not the issue. Of course God can do anything. But why would anyone place God in the position of having to do that? The statement of faith is I believe in the future of the resurrection. Sure, give it 30, 40 years and that body in the casket will look just like the molecules that remain from cremation. But the statement of faith is simply I'm sown in dishonor but I believe in the future resurrection. That's just a little historical perspective. Again, if you're into, if you've cremated your relatives or you want to be cremated, have at it.
"When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him." So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, "Before your father died he commanded, saying, 'Thus you shall say to Joseph: "I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you."' Now, please forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father." And Joseph wept," as they said this to him. And "his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, "Behold, we are your servants." Joseph said to them, "Do not be afraid, for am in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones." And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them."
In those verses, you have the personal, practical theology of Joseph. God is sovereign. God is providential. It doesn't matter what happens. No matter what happens in my life, I'm not gonna turn away from God. If that stuff happens to me, I still believe in the overruling providential and the sovereign will of God in my life. Period. I've lived that way. I'll always live that way. Don't be bummed out, you guys, I love you. He spoke kindly to them. "So Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he and his father's household. And Joseph lived one hundred and ten years." So, 54 years after Jacob dies, he dies. "Joseph saw Ephraim's children to the third generation. The children of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were also brought up on Joseph's knees. And Joseph said to his brethren, "I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob." Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, "God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here." So Joseph died, being one hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt."
The book closes with a promise. God will visit you. You're gonna leave this place. Someone is gonna come to deliver you--that will be Moses. But ultimately that will Jesus. God will visit you. He's Immanuel. God with Us. So we've read the book of Genesis. We finished the whole book. I want to congratulate you. We've seen the beginning of creation, the beginning of mankind, the beginning of marriage, the beginning of sin, the beginning of God's plan to rescue people from sin, the beginning of a nation. Notice how it begins and ends. Genesis begins with the blaze in the heavens. Genesis ends with bones in Egypt. Genesis begins with life. Genesis begins with, or ends in death. In the book of Hebrews, your homework is to read Hebrews chapter 11, we're not covering it next week but read it. These all died in faith not having received the promise but they looked for the place God had prepared for them. They knew, they believed, that God had prepared something for them that would even outlast this life. Do you believe that? Tonight do you have a relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ? Because God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Jesus is saying they're all still around. They're alive. There's an afterlife. They still exist. And here's my point finally. Every one of you will live forever. Every single human being will live forever. Where you will live forever is dependent upon what you do with Jesus Christ. God sent Jesus and that is the fulcrum. He made it easy. Trust in Him. Come to Him and you'll be saved. So that anybody anywhere can do that.