Monday, April 05, 2021

2021.04.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 49:29–50:14

Read Genesis 49:29–50:14

Questions from the Scripture text: What did Jacob do to his sons in Genesis 49:29? What did he say was about to happen to himself? What did he tell them to do with him? How does he describe the cave (Genesis 49:29-32)? Who else is buried there (Genesis 49:31)? What did Jacob do, when he finished commanding them (Genesis 49:33)? Who responds first (Genesis 50:1)? How? Whom does he command to do what in Genesis 50:2? How long did this take (Genesis 50:3)? How long did who mourn him? To whom did Joseph speak in Genesis 50:4? What did he ask them to do? What specifically were they to tell Pharaoh about (Genesis 50:5)? How does Pharaoh respond (Genesis 50:6)? Who are first to be named as going with Joseph (Genesis 50:7)? Who else goes with him (Genesis 50:8)? Whom else does Genesis 50:9 add? To where do they all come in Genesis 50:10? What do they do there? What is this mourning like? How long do they do it? Who sees this in Genesis 50:11? What do they say about it? How does Genesis 50:12 summarize what happened in Genesis 50:1-11? How does Genesis 50:13 summarize what they did in order to obey? Whom does Genesis 50:14 primarily name as doing this?

This passage is held together by Jacob’s charge at the beginning (Genesis 49:29Genesis 49:33 “Then he charged them […] when Jacob had finished commanding”) and the testimony at the end that the charge was kept (Genesis 50:12 “So his sons did for him just as he had commanded them”). 

Egyptian embalming is the kind of thing that impresses us in history documentaries. Special physicians who develop special chemicals to be used in a special process over the course of forty days (cf. Genesis 50:1-3)! 

And Egyptian mourning delegations are the kind of thing that impresses Canaanites in the region of Atad. All the servants of Pharaoh (Genesis 50:7) including the elders of his house (verse 7), the elders of the land of Egypt (verse 7), all the house of Joseph (Genesis 50:8), all the house of Israel (verse 8), chariots (Genesis 50:9), horsemen (verse 9), a very great gathering (verse 9) in a great and very solemn lamentation (Genesis 50:10), for seven days in Canaan (verse 10) after the seventy days in Egypt (Genesis 50:3)! The inhabitants of the land actually rename the location over this “deep morning of the Egyptians” (Genesis 50:11).

But what Jacob was impressed with was to whom he was going (Genesis 49:29, “I am to be gathered to my people”). Genesis has already presented us a few times with a formula that we also see later: dying, gathering to one’s people, and then burial (Genesis 49:29, cf. Genesis 15:15, Genesis 25:8, Genesis 35:29; Numbers 20:26; Deuteronomy 32:50). This is not the same thing as death (the separation of body and soul) or burial (the laying to rest of the body). When we die, we are to hope that our soul will be gathered with others. At the departure of one’s eternal soul, the godly hope that it will be unto fellowship with those godly who have gone before them.

Jacob was also impressed by with whom he would be buried (Genesis 49:29Genesis 49:31 “bury me with my fathers […] there they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife, there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah.” Upon death, believers are in two locations. Their souls and bodies have been separated, but their souls are still they, and their bodies are still they. It matters to them with whom their bodies are laid to rest. 

As Jacob has grown in faith, the importance of Abraham and Sarah has increased. The same is true of the importance of Isaac and Rebekah, the latter being that mother of whom he was a special favorite and reunion with whom has been an unfulfilled longing for more than a century. Even his esteem for Leah seems to have increased. In God’s providence, Rachel’s body now rests near Ephrath (cf. Genesis 48:7), and he has adopted Ephraim and Manasseh in her honor. So now, Leah is the one next to whom he hopes to lie down until the resurrection, the godlier wife he should have desired at first and with whom he should have been content—another lesson that the Lord has patiently taught this saint. There is something about God’s bringing us near our death, and the laying of our bodies to rest, that helps mature our thinking about those near whom we wish to be both now and in the grave.

Finally, Jacob was impressed by where he would be buried. “In the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite as a possession for a burial place” (Genesis 49:29-30). And again “in the cave of the field of Machpelah, before Mamre, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite as property for a burial place” (Genesis 50:13).

Abraham’s testimony has come down through the generations. The Lord’s promise of inheritance is true. Believers will possess what God has promised to them, even—and especially—possessing them in the resurrection, in a new heavens and a new earth. The only part of the promised land that he possessed in this life was a burial place. Now, it is important to Jacob that he be laid to rest in that burial place. 

The inheritance of believers is not restricted to a parcel of land in Palestine. The entire New Heavens and New Earth are the possession of Christ and His co-heirs. We may not care to be buried in what was once called Canaan, but we ought to care to be buried as those to whom final possession of a physical earth has been promised. God’s promises are true. They are true beyond death. And believers’ priorities at death ought to be shaped by God’s promises. 

To whom will you go when you die? With whom would you like to be laid to rest? What hope do you have about the place where you are laid to rest? How are you leaving legacy/testimony of a hope that goes to eternity? 

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

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