To: 9 readers
From: Su Min (Lim Su Min)
Subject: The End
To all in cyberspace who are loved by God and called to be His saints: grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Genesis 49:1 clearly describes how Jacob called for his sons to gather round him so he could tell them of what would happen in days to come. Jacob proceeds to bless each of his sons, giving each the blessing appropriate to him, Judah and Joseph getting the longer blessings (Gen 49:28). Jacob issues his instruction detailing where he is to be buried (Gen 49:29-32): this was the family plot that Abraham had purchased, the field of Machpelah near Mamre (which is Hebron) in Canaan (Gen 23:3-20):then draws his last breath.
Joseph manifests appropriate grief (Gen 50:1), directs the Egyptians to embalm the body (Gen 50:2), the Egyptians mourn mightily (Gen 50:3), primarily out of respect for Joseph: a great procession follows Joseph as he returns to Canaan to bury his father (Gen 50:4-11). Jacob is interred as he has commanded (Gen 50:12) in the family plot that Abraham had purchased from Ephron the Hittite, where Abraham and Sarah were buried, where Isaac and Rebekah were buried, and where Leah was buried.
Joseph's brothers worry about the loss of protection from Jacob. They fear that Joseph will now seek vengeance for the enslavement to the Egyptians so many years ago. They send a petition to Joseph claiming that Jacob had left instructions to tell Joseph to forgive his brothers (Gen 50:16-17): Sounds like pure fabrication to me!
But fabrication or not, Joseph is moved to tears (Gen 50:19). He loves and forgives his brothers and weeps perhaps because they are still afraid of him, too guilt ridden to fully accept reconciliation.
His brothers throw themselves down at his feet, declaring that they are slaves to Him, so much do they owe him for the evil that they have done to him (Gen 50:18). (If we look at Gen 43:28 and Gen 44:14 we will see the thrice fulfilled dream of the dreamer (Gen 37:6), again showing how true are the predictions made in the Word of God).
And Joseph said to them Fear not; for am I in the place of God? Vengeance is His, not mine. (Gen 50:19 AMP) He has already forgiven them. He does not seek vengeance nor judgement. He declared that the whole episode of his passage to Egypt was part of God's plan. You intended to harm me but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives (Gen 50:20) (He had said so before: Gen 45:5-8.) So then, do not be afraid. I will provide for you and your children. Joseph spoke kindly and reassured them (Gen 50:21). So reconciliation between the brothers was made complete.
The last 4 verses show the terminal events of Joseph's sojourn on earth. He lived to a ripe age to 110 years. He lived to see 3 generations of descendants. As he was about to die he summoned his brothers and repeated God's promise to bring them back to the promised land. He asked for his body to be brought back to Canaan, and so his body was embalmed, to be brought back to Canaan some centuries later (Joshua 24:32), to be buried in the plot in Shechem that Jacob had purchased for a hundred pieces of silver from the sons of Hamor, the father of Sechem (Gen 33:19).
The lessons can we learn from this are many:
I believe that as we learn to walk with God, we will learn to perceive His intentions, and we will learn to participate in His plans to accomplish the saving of many lives. Indeed Jesus says Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always, to the end of the earth (Matt 28:19-20). Jesus clearly instructs us to make disciples by telling others of the good news of His saving Grace, and baptising those who accept in the name of the triune God..
- Firstly, as we prepare to take our leave of our family, we can prepare for them not only a physical legacy, house, land, jewels, money, stocks, shares, country club membership, but also a spiritual legacy, comprising rich lessons of Godly living that we have taught by word and deed, that, God willing, they too would walk with God, read His word and submit to do His will.
- Next: mourning and grief for the dearly departed is not something to be ashamed of. Some Christians mistakenly feel that the gift of eternal life means we should not mourn at all. But this is an exaggeration. Jesus mourned at the death of his friend Lazarus, as recorded in the shortest verse in the whole bible: John 11:35. So to, we weep at the passing away of our dearly beloved, and we make what preparations necessary for the funeral rites. Mourning and grieving are psychologically necessary to help accept the loss. Then when mourning is over there is healing. And with the healing we pick up the pieces and continue to serve God and work out His purpose.
- Next: we can learn much about forgiveness from Joseph's example. He remembers what his brothers have done, but does not hold them accountable. He will not blame them. He will not take revenge upon them. Instead he forgives them and blesses them. He recognises that even though their intent was evil, God had good plans to accomplish, and God was able to use Joseph's brothers to accomplish the saving of many lives. Surely, as we struggle to forgive those who trespass against us, Joseph's example will impact our behaviour. A full 13 out of 50 chapters of Genesis are dedicated to telling us about Joseph. Surely God must have purpose for that.
As we draw to the end of our review of the Book of Genesis, I take a cue from the patriarchs and build a little markerpoint at this significant point in our life, to pause and bless God for His faithfulness: Thank you Father! He has provided His Word for us, and He has given us many tiny lessons, like tiny packets of vitamins, an analogy all the more apt as this message has been transmitted through cyberspace in the various packets of bits and bytes that the Internet uses! Praise God for the developers and supporters of Internet. Like the Pharaoh's household who were the background to the ups and downs of Joseph in Egypt, like Joseph's brothers who had not so Godly intent, so to the Internet providers have been drawn into His service, working willy nilly to His purpose, to spread His Word. Hallelujah.
I will end this study with a much loved quote from Isaiah 55:10-11
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min
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