Saturday, March 13, 2021

2021.03.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 47:28–31

Read Genesis 47:28–31

Questions from the Scripture text: How long did Jacob live where (Genesis 47:28)? How long was his life? What time drew near (Genesis 47:29)? Whom did Jacob call? What did he tell Joseph to do? What did he want Joseph to promise? What does he call his prospectively dead body in Genesis 47:30? With whom does he wish to lie? What does he want Joseph to do with him? Where does he want Joseph to bury him? What does Joseph promise? But what does Jacob ask him to do in Genesis 47:31? And what does Joseph do? How does Israel conclude the conversation? 

Compared to that to which Jacob was looking forward, even 147 years were few. Even those 17 years dwelling comfortably (Genesis 47:27) in proximity to those precious hands that would close his eyes (cf. Genesis 46:4, Genesis 46:30) was far less pleasant. They were, after all, the days of the years of a pilgrimage (Genesis 47:9)—a passing-through, not his permanent home.

Think from an eternal, resurrection perspective led Jacob to care very much what happened with his body at death. It’s an important thing for all believers to think about, as we wish for Christ to be magnified in our bodies both in our lives and in our deaths (cf. Philippians 1:20). 

So when Jacob can tell that the time is actually drawing near (Genesis 47:29a), he summons Joseph. He asks him to deal with him kindly and truly (verse 29b, literally according to ḳessed and emmet—that steadfast love and faithfulness that are the favorite-ly displayed attributes of his covenant God). A promise (end of Genesis 47:30) isn’t good enough; he demands a swearing (Genesis 47:31a) and concludes the whole with solemn worship (verse 31b).

What is Jacob so serious about? His body. God had kept His promise to go down with Jacob to Egypt (Genesis 46:4a), and God would keep His promise to surely bring him up again (verse 46:4b). God had promised that Joseph would be there at his death (verse 46:4c), which meant both that Joseph’s presence had freed Jacob to go (cf. Genesis 46:30) and that when the time came, it was Joseph whom he personally called apart from the rest of his sons to make this promise (Genesis 47:29), even though he would later charge them all about his burial (cf. Genesis 49:29–33).

Notice that Jacob prospectively refers to his corpse as “me” in Genesis 47:29 (“do not bury me” in Egypt) and Genesis 47:30a (“let me lie with my fathers) and verse 30b (“carry me out of Egypt”) and verse 30c (“bury me in their burial place”). It was Jacob who would be buried. It was Jacob who would lie down (and it was his fathers with whom he would lie!). It was Jacob who would be carried out of Egypt.

Jesus also makes much of this point when rebuking the Sadducees for their failure to believe in the resurrection (cf. Mark 12:26–27). At the bush with Moses, God would identify Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and, He is not God of the dead but of the living. God was still their God, body and soul, and that meant that those bodies lying in that cave of Machpelah were not done yet: they would rise again and were to be treated as still especially set apart to God.

Jacob knew this about his body, which was soon to be dead. And would one day be resurrected. And it mattered to him not only that it would be treated rightly (buried), but that in the intervening time until the resurrection that he would lie with his fathers. And on the day of resurrection, he will come up with Abraham and Isaac, in a glorious body that has been conformed unto Christ’s (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:35–58).

Dear believer, what would Jesus say your thoughts about your forthcoming corpse reveal about your priorities for it?

To whom is your body currently set apart? To whom will it be set apart when you die? What would you like done with it? Where would you like that done? With whom would you like to lie down until the resurrection?

Suggested songs: ARP116AB “How Fervently I Love the LORD” or TPH116A “I Love the LORD, for He Has Heard My Voice”

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