by Charles Spurgeon
“And Joseph said to his brethren, I am dying; BUT GOD WILL SURELY VISIT YOU…and you shall carry up my bones from here…” Gen 50: 24,25
“By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones…” Heb 11:22
We cannot readily tell which action in a gracious life God may set the most store by. The Holy Spirit in this Chapter selects out of good men’s lives the most brilliant instances of their Faith. I should hardly have expected that He would have mentioned the dying scene of Joseph’s life as the most illustrious proof of his Faith in God. That eventful life— perhaps the most interesting in all Sacred Scripture, with the exception of One, abounds with incidents of which the Holy Spirit might have said by His servant Paul, “By Faith Joseph did this and that,” but none is mentioned save the closing scene. The triumph especially of his chastity under well-known and exceedingly severe temptation might have been very properly traced to the power of his Faith, but it is passed over, and the fact that he gave commandment concerning his bones is singled out as being the most illustrious proof of his Faith.
Joseph not only wished to be buried in Machpelah, which was natural, but he would not be buried there till the land was taken possession of… he was so certain that they would come out of the captivity that he postpones his burial till that glad event, and so makes what would have been but a natural wish, a means of expressing a Holy and gracious confidence in the Divine Promise.
He says, if you turn to the last Chapter of Genesis, “I die, and God will surely visit you”; or, as the text puts it, he “made mention concerning the departing of the children of Israel.”…he bears his last witness to his brothers, who gather about his bed, concerning the Faithfulness of God and the Infallibility of His Promise.
Once more, here is a proof of the power of Faith in laughing at improbabilities. If you will think of it, it seemed a very unlikely thing that the children of Israel should go up out of Egypt; perhaps at the time when Joseph died, there appeared to be no reason why they should do so…
But Joseph’s eye was fixed upon the mighty Promise, “In the fourth generation, they shall come here again”; he knew that when the 400 years were passed, Abram’s vision of the smoking furnace and the burning lamp would be fulfilled, and the Word would be established—“And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.”
Though as yet he could not know that Moses would say, “Thus says Jehovah, Let My people go”; though he might not have foreseen the wonders at the Red Sea, and how Pharaoh and his chariots would be swallowed up there; and though he did not predict the wilderness, and the fiery cloudy pillar, and the heavens dropping manna, yet his Faith was firm that by some means the Covenant would be fulfilled!
Improbabilities were nothing to him, nor impossibilities either; God has said it, and Joseph believes it! On his dying bed, when fancy fades and strong delusion relaxes its iron grip, the true sure Faith of the man of God rose to its highest altitude, and like the evening star shed a sweet glory over the scene.
May we, my Beloved, possess the Faith which will triumph over all circumstances, and over every improbability that may apparently be connected with the Word of God!
In the case of Joseph, his Faith led to an open avowal of his confidence in God’s Promise. On his deathbed he said, “I die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land.” He also said, “He will bring you to the land which He promised to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”
Joseph, having thus declared his Faith, practically showed that he meant it, that it was not a matter of form, but a matter of heart! I do not know in what better way he could have shown his practical belief in the fact that God would bring the people out of Egypt than by saying, “Keep my bones here; never bury them till you go yourselves to Canaan, having left Egypt forever, and taken possession of your Covenant country.”
He who believes in God will find practical ways of proving his Faith; he will avow it by an open confession….or if affliction is allotted to him by God, he will take it cheerfully, expecting that God will give him strength equal to the emergency, and so his Faith, by God’s Grace, will triumph under the trial!
Moreover, notice that Joseph having Faith himself, he would encourage the Faith of others. No man may be said to have real Faith who is not concerned that Faith may be found in the hearts of his fellow men. “But,” you ask,“What did Joseph do to encourage the Faith of others?” Why, he left his bones to be a standing sermon to the children of Israel! Every time an Israelite thought of the bones of Joseph, he thought, “We are to go out of this country one day.” He has left us the assurance of his confidence that God would in due time bring up His people out of this house of bondage.”
Once more, it seems to me that Joseph’s Faith in connection with his unburied bones showed itself in his willingness to wait God’s time for the Promised Blessing. Says he, “I believe I shall be buried in Machpelah, and I believe that my people will come up out of Egypt; I believe, and I am willing to wait…however weary may be the time of Israel’s captivity! It is a great thing to have waiting Faith. “Stand still and see the salvation of God,” is easier said than done….
Wait the Lord’s appointment, O impatient Grumbler! Be quiet of spirit and calm of heart—the vision will not tarry! Be willing to wait; be willing to let your bones sleep in the dust till the trumpet of the Resurrection sounds, and if you could have a choice about it, refer your choice back again to your Lord in Heaven, for He knows what is best and right ….
You will notice that Joseph had his wish, for when Israel went up out of Egypt you will find, in the 15th of Exodus, that Moses took care to carry with them the bones of Joseph; and what is rather singular, those bones were not buried as soon as they came into Canaan; nor were they buried during the long wars of Joshua with the various tribes! But in the last verses of the book of Joshua, when nearly all the land had been conquered, and the country had been divided to the different tribes, and they had taken possession, then we read that they buried the bones of Joseph in the field of Shechem, in the place which Abraham had bought for a sepulcher. As if Joseph’s remains might not be buried till they had won the country, until it was settled, and the Covenant was fulfilled. Then he must be buried, but not till then! How blessed is waiting Faith which can let God take His time, and wait, believe in Him, let Him wait as long as He wills!
Though one after another we shall pass away, there are not dark days for our descendants, but days of brightness are on the way. “Let Your work appear unto Your servants, and Your Glory unto their children.”
“He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.” The kings of the isles shall yet acknowledge Him, and the wanderers of the desert shall bow down before Him! Jesus, the Christ of God, must be King over all the Earth, for God has sworn it, saying, “Surely all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” “The Glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.”
As Joseph said “God will surely visit you”
“Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” Galatians 6:9
(Excerpts from Charles Spurgeon sermon “Joseph’s Bones”)