22 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 (ESV)
Hebrews 11:22 provides a concise statement concerning the Patriarch Joseph’s life and death. Throughout his life, he remained a man of faith in the LORD. This means that he trusted in, depended upon, was committed to and a worshiper of Yahweh. Joseph’s faith was resilient regardless of the circumstances of his life. This is because he knew that God was in control of those circumstances in his life (Genesis 50:20).
Even in death, Joseph made mention of the Exodus of the Israelites. This was a reiteration of the covenant given by the LORD to Joseph’s great-grandfather Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3), his grandfather Isaac (Genesis 26:2-4), and his father Jacob (Genesis 28:14).
The life of Abraham is one characterized by Yahweh’ supernatural call. For Isaac, it was his supernatural birth. For Jacob, it was Yahweh’s supernatural control. Finally, for Joseph it was the LORD’s supernatural care. It is the LORD’s carefulness and watchfulness in Joseph’s journeys that will concern us as we study and contemplate the life of this noble patriarch.
Joseph is a familiar Old Testament character of which books have been written and films have been made. We will seek to examine his life from the pages of Scripture. What better place is there to begin our quest in studying the journey of Joseph than from the inerrant Word of God.
The first mention in Scripture of Joseph is in Genesis 30:24. He was Jacob’s 11th son and the firstborn son of Rachel. Rachel named the boy Joseph, meaning “may he add,” expressing her desire that God would give her another son (Gen. 30:24). Nothing more is said about Joseph until, at the age of 17, he is seen tending his father’s flocks with his brothers (Gen. 37:2). Joseph was a shepherd. He would prefigure none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd (Psalm 23; John 10:11-18; I Peter 2:25; 5:1-4).
The final mention of Joseph is from today’s text regarding his burial. Why?
Dr. Warren Gage, professor emeritus of Old Testament at Knox Theological Seminary in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. explains, “The author of the epistle to the Hebrews justly includes Joseph in the company of the great men and women of faith among the Old Testament saints. But the event that chiefly exemplified Joseph’s faith to this sacred writer was the instruction Joseph gave regarding his own burial (Heb. 11:22). Of all the acts of faith in the life of Joseph, what a remarkable choice this is! It appears that the way we direct arrangements for our own death can especially please God by showing our faith in Him. In fact, the instructions we make when facing death can be the greatest testimony of our faith while living.”
How can the faith of Joseph instruct us as we, too, prepare for death? That is what we will consider when next we meet as we begin our study of the Journey of Joseph. May Joseph’s journey of faith be an example to each of us in our own journey of trust, commitment, dependence and worship of the LORD; not only in life but also in death.
Until next time, Soli deo Gloria!