Our text today is Genesis, Chapter 50, verse 26. The last half of this 50th
chapter in the Book of Genesis is a fitting tribute to the good and noble man, Joseph, and in particular, this last verse can be termed his epitaph. Generally speaking, it is also an epitaph of mankind, which began with Adam in the Garden of Eden, and now ends in the grave, as with Joseph. But before Joseph died, he left a promise: GOD will surely visit you. And this is true of all who trust in GOD, so that the grave is not without hope. Let us look at two main points in this narrative: the coffin and the promise.
First of all, 1) A coffin in Egypt: Who is this who lies so still and so cold in the coffin? What manner of man was he? Joseph, the firstborn of his father's beloved wife, Rachel, Genesis 30, verse 23:
'And she conceived and bore a son, and called his name Joseph.' He was so beloved of his father that his brothers envied him. Genesis 37:4:
'But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.' That hatred finally expressed itself openly when they sold him as a slave to the Ishmaelites. Genesis 37, verse 28:
'Then Midianite traders passed by, so the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver, and they took Joseph to Egypt.'
But it was in Egypt that GOD blessed and prospered Joseph, so that at length he became second only to the Pharaoh. He became a great ruler and provider for the Egyptians in a prolonged famine that brought his brothers to Egypt to buy food. Joseph tested them to see if their attitude had improved since they sold him, before making himself known to them. The acid test was whether they were loyal to Benjamin, his blood brother.
They were indeed, so he forgave them on this evidence of a repentant heart. Genesis 50, verse 20:
'But as for you, you meant evil against me, but GOD meant it for good in order to bring about, as it is this day, so save many people alive.'
Joseph lived to a ripe old age, and before he died, he left 2): a promise.
'GOD will surely visit you.' The promise was one of redemption and deliverance based on GOD's promise to Abraham in Genesis 15, verses 13 and 14:
'And He said, 'Your descendants will be strangers in a land which is not theirs; and they will afflict them, and also the nation whom they serve, I will judge. Afterward they shall come out with great possessions.'
Hundreds of years later, this promise was fulfilled at the Exodus when GOD led them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. In the interval between the promise and its fulfilment, the very coffin of Joseph was a constant reminder of what He had said. This leads on to the fact that throughout the Tanakh GOD used His promises of earthly deliverance to foreshadow His purposes of spiritual deliverance and salvation.
Joseph was a type of the Messiah to come who would deliver us all from our spiritual enemies. Messiah was the beloved One of GOD. Isaiah 42, verse 1:
'Behold! My Servant Whom I uphold; My elect One in Whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him. He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.'
But just as Joseph was hated by his brothers, so our own people hated our own Messiah. Isaiah 53, verse 3:
'He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him. He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.' Furthermore, just as Joseph was sold for the price of a slave, so our forefathers sold off our Shepherd Messiah. Zechariah, Chapter 11, verse 12:
'Then I said to them, 'If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain.' So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver.'
However, just as Joseph rose to prominence in Egypt, so our rejected and disowned Messiah is honoured today by countless Gentiles. The LORD GOD of Israel foretold this in Isaiah, Chapter 11, verse 10:
'And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him and His resting place shall be glorious.' When will Messiah reveal Himself again to His brothers? By that I mean, His fellow Israelites. The answer is, He will do so at a time of crisis in Israel, when Jerusalem is being besieged by the nations of the world. Zechariah, Chapter 12, verses 9 to 10:
'It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour on the house of David, and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and supplication. Then they will look on Me, whom they have pierced; they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him, as one grieves for a first born.'
Joseph's brothers were terrified and speechless when he made himself known to them. It was only when he kissed them, and wept upon them that they realized he had forgiven them. So will it be with our people and Messiah! The fear and the consternation; the mourning when we realize Whom we have rejected for so many centuries. But there is forgiveness with Him, as we read in Zechariah, Chapter 13, verse 1:
'In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.' Need I tell you Who He is? When He returns, the promise will have been realized in its fullest measure:
'GOD will surely visit you.'
But why wait until then? Can you be sure you will outlive that day? Make your peace with Him now, and be blessed.