Genesis 50:15-26 (Grace, Mercy, and Faith – the Final Words of Joseph)

Genesis 50:15-26
Grace, Mercy, and Faith – The Final Words of Joseph

Introduction: Today we will look over the final verses of Genesis. It is our 130th sermon in this book and I would hope and pray that God is not displeased with the poor attempt that I have made to analyze and share this amazing treasure of the book of foundations with you.

No matter how much study, how much reading, and how much presentation could be done on it, I don’t think we could ever plumb the depths of the mysteries hidden in this single book. And yet, we have 65 more ahead of us and we must move forward.

I know that I will never again look at Genesis the same way again. And in turn, I will never look at the Bible as a whole in the same way again either. The journey of these past few years has only solidified in me the thought that God’s word is to be handled carefully, researched diligently, and read continuously.

We will have no excuse when we stand before God and are evaluated for where we spent our time. If we neglect this precious treasure now, we will only have ourselves to blame. I would ask you to commit to never letting up in your pursuit of the treasures which are stored in the pages of the Bible.

Text Verse: “You are my portion, O Lord; I have said that I would keep Your words. 58 I entreated Your favor with my whole heart; Be merciful to me according to Your word. 59 I thought about my ways, And turned my feet to Your testimonies. 60 I made haste, and did not delay To keep Your commandments.” Psalm 119:57-60

For the redeemed, the Lord is our portion and so we should keep His words, think on our ways in relation to them, and turn our feet to His testimonies. In the verses ahead, we will see the close of the record of the lives of the immediate family of Jacob.

They are verses of reconciliation between once estranged brothers. It pictures the same story which we saw in expanded form in the previous chapters, but it is given to prepare us for pictures of the future which are coming in Exodus as well.

And we will also see the last words of Joseph and the record of his death. God used his life to point us to Jesus and now a new figure from history will arise to do the same. Joseph will enter his time of rest in anticipation of that glorious day when God will raise His people to everlasting life. The promises are true, and they will be fulfilled. Every one of them is contained in His superior word. So let’s go there now and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Please Forgive the Trespass of Your Servants (verses 15-17)

15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him.”

If we can remember from the previous sermon, the term “Israel” and “Jacob” are never mentioned after the first verse of the chapter in relation to Jacob the man. And now, these are called “Joseph’s brothers,” not “the sons of Israel.”

Further, it notes that “their father was dead” but it doesn’t mention him by name. Little clues like this make a big difference in discerning what is happening. In these verses think of Joseph as Jesus and the brothers as the Jewish people of today.

The wording here in the Hebrew is in the imperfect, or future tense. It could be rendered something like “If Joseph hated us, or pursued us hostilely, then what would become of us?” It is “setting forth a possible but undesirable contingency.” (Pulpit)

In Hebrew, it says, v’hashev yashiv lanu – “if returning he caused to return upon us.” They are worried about the evil they committed, and that at some future point, he might change his mind about the lost years and the lost time from his father and take it out on them. As the Geneva Bible says about this verse, “An evil conscience is never fully at rest.”

Despite the assurances of the past, they still felt the weight of their previous transgressions and they knew how they would respond if they were in the same situation. They couldn’t see that Joseph was more forgiving in himself than they would have been.

16 So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, “Before your father died he commanded, saying,

It’s interesting that, according to the scholar Charles Ellicott, “Many Jewish expositors consider that this was untrue, and that Jacob was never made aware of the fact that his brethren had sold Joseph into slavery.” Why do you think they would hold this view?

Considering what Joseph’s life has continuously pictured, it’s quite evident. He has been a perfect type of the coming Christ in all ways. The entire story drips with the wrongdoing of the brothers and their culpability in what happened.

If Jacob learned about it after the reunion, which he certainly did, then it implies that any who would keep on denying it would continue to be guilty of the transgression. In the same way, how many Jews of today are made aware of the story of Jesus and yet deny it. The story of Joseph is an obvious indictment on the disbelieving Jews who have rejected Christ.

There are Jewish websites which are rabid in their condemnation of Jesus, believing Jews, and even Christians in general. The conscience is a very heavy weight and one way to attempt to stifle it is to lash out against the truth we know but won’t acknowledge.

We see this in politics all the time. Something will be proven 100% false, like global warming. But instead of acknowledging guilt in the matter and moving on, those who were the perpetrators of the lie will often simply berate and degrade those who challenge their conscience.

It is a weakness of the mind and a type of overweening pride that causes some to simply refuse to acknowledge their guilt. And so, some scholars say that the brothers are now lying by making up words which Jacob never said. There is no hint that this is correct and it violates the premise that the Bible would acknowledge it as a lie if it were the case.

For example, in Genesis 34:13, when the brothers did in fact lie, the Bible notes it so that the reader is aware of it. Here is that verse – “But the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father, and spoke deceitfully, because he had defiled Dinah their sister.”

What is being said here is simply an unrecorded conversation between Jacob and the sons. They surely acknowledged their guilt to Jacob at some point, probably even back in Canaan. Then before his death, they reminded him of it and may have even asked Jacob to speak on their behalf, as they now are relaying to Joseph.

In this message to Joseph, they use the same word, tsavah, which was used by Jacob twice in Genesis 49 when he commanded his sons, including Joseph, where to bury him. In other words, the charge which will be relayed is as important as his burial request.

17 ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph: “I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you.”’

This half of the verse are the words of Jacob as relayed by the brothers to Joseph. It is, in essence, a call from beyond the grave petitioning his son to forgive the sin and the evil that the brothers committed against Joseph.

If Jacob was desirous of him forgiving the lost years and the many heartaches associated with what happened, then Joseph should be too. Especially considering that the same lost years and heartaches were felt by him. It is in essence a request to be merciful because he was merciful.

Jacob never made a reference to what they did to Joseph in any of his blessings upon the twelve sons. Unlike Reuben, Simeon, and Levi of whom he brought back to memory their wicked deeds, nothing of what happened to Joseph was stated.

Instead, Jacob saw what happened just as Joseph did. It was a way for God to effect His purposes for the family of Israel. Before he died, he blessed his sons when he could have cursed them. He is asking for the same attitude in his beloved Joseph. His words are sa na pesha akhekha – forgive now the trespass of your brothers.

17 (con’t) Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father.”

This half of the verse is from the brothers, repeating Jacob’s request in petition for themselves. Their words are v’attah sa na lepesha – “now forgive we pray you the trespass.” But instead of saying, “your brothers” they say abdi elohe abikha – “the servants of the God of your father.”

Instead of petitioning him as brothers, they do so as servants of the same God as that of Jacob, the hope of Israel. It is a stronger appeal than even the bonds of family. In essence, they together with Joseph serve the one true God.

In this is a deep sense of humility mixed with sincere repentance, and the surety that their words are earnest and truthful concerning their relationship to him and to their God. No other words could be added that would make any greater difference in Joseph. If he were to reject this petition, nothing further would do.

17 (con’t) And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.


What they failed to rlize is that Joseph had placed his fate and his life in the hands of the Lord from the earliest days. He accepted his lot at Potiphar’s house; he accepted it in the prison, and he accepted it when elevated to the highest position in Pharaoh’s land.

The naming of his children demonstrated faith in God’s provision as well. Everything in Joseph’s life accepted that God was directing him and that it wasn’t his position to buck against that. What his brothers intended for evil, God intended for good.

And because of this, when he received their words, he broke down and wept. First, that they still didn’t fully comprehend God’s hand in all of what occurred. Secondly, because of their fear concerning this matter and how it would affect them. And also because of their lack of trust in him, even after his many demonstrations of care for them over the past 17 years.

They desired forgiveness from a brother who had long ago forgiven them. They desired his embrace when they had forgotten that many years earlier he had embraced them. And they desired his fellowship when it was only their own insecurity which hindered what they desired.

Preserve our lives, though we have done you wrong
You are our brother, our souls are in your hand
Save your servants who trust in You!
Be merciful to us, O brother, here in this foreign land

For we petition you all day for our lives
Rejoice the souls of Your servants today
For to You, O brother, we lift up our souls
Extend to us your mercies, this to you we pray

For we know you are good, and ready to forgive
Please extend to us this mercy, that we may live

II. The Sovereignty of God (Verses 18- 21)

18 Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, “Behold, we are your servants.”

This verse seems to contradict what has happened in the preceding two verses. Verse 16 said, “So they sent messengers to Joseph.” Then verse 17 said, “And Joseph wept when they spoke to him…” And now it says they “also went and fell down before his face.”

This might agree with verse 16, where they sent a messenger and then they later went, but not with verse 17 where it says they spoke to him. How could they go to him and fall down before him if they already spoke to him?

This isn’t a problem. The word “messengers” is inserted by the translators.” Young’s literal translation of the Bible says, “And they gave a charge for Joseph” instead of “So they sent messengers.” In other words, they went to see Joseph and were probably standing right there all the time, maybe standing back from him in fear.

When they saw him weeping at the message they gave him, they drew near to him and fell at his feet. There is nothing contradictory at all. The only problem is the choice of words used in the translation. Reading different versions and studying the different possibilities of what a word means always helps at times like this.

Once a translator inserts a word, like “sent messengers” we tend to trust that this is what happened, but the same word is translated in other ways without ever using the inserted word “messenger.” So with understanding that, we can know that it was Joseph’s emotions, which they saw with their own eyes, that prompted them to fall before him.

Thus for a final time in their lives, they have fulfilled the dream which Joseph dreamed when he was a young boy. In Genesis 37, this is what was recorded –

“Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more. So he said to them, ‘Please hear this dream which I have dreamed: There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.'” Genesis 37:5-7

Before learning his identity, and again now when their father is dead, they have humbled themselves and offered themselves as his servants. And both times, the parallel to Jesus is evident. At first they thought they were bowing to the ruler of the Great House.

At that time, it pictured the Jews bowing in the temple without realizing that Jesus is the Lord. In the future, it will be when they realize his true identity. The two accounts contrast and yet they confirm. They contrast in that in the first case they were bowing to the unknown ruler, in the other, to their known brother.

This pictures Christ in His divine and in His human natures. He is Jehovah of the Temple worship, and He is the human Jesus who is of the stock of Israel. And this is certain because in verse 17, they called themselves “the servants of the God of your father.”

Now they say “Behold, we are your servants.” The picture will be exactly fulfilled in what will transpire in the future after they know who Jesus is. The pictures laid out here are precise and wonderful.

19 Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God?

Every single translation I reviewed, which is many, translates this verse in this same way – in the form of a question. And yet, the word “am” is inserted by the translators. And so it appears as if Joseph is asking if he has the right to judge them.

Taken in connection with his next words, that may seem to be a valid way of looking at it and scholars are almost universally in agreement with this. And yet, one brave scholar stepped forward and states the verse as a statement of fact, rather than a question.

Wordsworth translates it as, “I am in God’s stead” meaning he stands in the place of God for judgment. And of course this is exactly what Joseph is relaying to them and will relay to them in the next verses. This is certainly the correct translation.

Only translating it this way fulfills the picture of Jesus accurately. In other words, Joseph is relaying to them that “I am a minister to you on God’s behalf for good.”

20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day,

Once again, the sovereignty of God is written all over this verse, as it is throughout the entire Bible. The words literally read, “and you were thinking evil against me; Elohim was thinking for good.” The verb for both is the same and it sets in contrast the purposes of man with the purposes of God.

He took then, and He can take now, our evil actions and work through them for an ultimate good. If that thought isn’t one that reassures you, I can’t think of what else ever would.

20 (con’t) to save many people alive.

The term here is lehakhayot am rav – to save alive numerous people. This is exactly what occurred 2000 years ago when the Jewish people first crucified their King and then rejected Him after His resurrection. They intended evil against Him, but God intended that many people would survive because of Him.

It wasn’t just the Egyptians, but all the surrounding countries that were saved by Joseph. He was Lord to all the Gentiles. And so it is true with Jesus. In Him has been found the salvation of many. Paul explains this in detail in Romans, but it can be summed up in this –

“For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 2
For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.'” Romans 11:25-27

This picture in Genesis was given to show us exactly what would transpire in the ages following the first advent of Christ. We are coming to the end of that time now and we are certainly within a short time of His return for the church and the final fulfillment of these beautiful types and pictures written so very long ago.

21 Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.”

This entire narrative from verse 1 until now, has been an insert of the history of Israel as we saw last week. The bowing of the brothers to Joseph has brought us back to the time after their acknowledgment of Jesus which was recorded in Genesis 45.

We have now returned to the time of the tribulation period which was pictured by Jacob’s move to Egypt and their settling in Goshen. These words now then are a repeat of what he told them in that chapter which said –

“You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near to me, you and your children, your children’s children, your flocks and your herds, and all that you have. 11 There I will provide for you, lest you and your household, and all that you have, come to poverty; for there are still five years of famine.” Genesis 45:10, 11

The repetition in today’s verses is to show us that this is where we are in history as we set to close out the book of Genesis and to enter into Exodus with the great redemption of God’s people.

The symmetry of the Bible is more than astonishing. It shows wisdom far above what could have been planned by even the greatest of human minds. Instead, it shows preplanning and continued care throughout the entire 1600 or so years that it took to write.

21 (con’t) And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

The words here reflect reassurance and care. By his actions and by the words he spoke to the brothers, they knew that the past was forgotten. He speaks softly and with grace, letting them know that they were forgiven. As it says in Hebrew, v’dabber al livam – he spoke to their hearts.

It is a beautiful representation of Christ; pardoning sin, forgiving iniquity, and speaking to the hearts of the people He loves and whom He calls “brothers.” The life of Joseph is one which was chosen to reflect the longsuffering, forgiving, gracious, and yet exalted King who rules with mercy and wisdom – our Lord Jesus.

For I do not desire, brethren
That you should be ignorant of the mystery I now tell
Lest you should be wise in your own opinion
That blindness in part has happened to Israel

Until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in
And so all Israel will be saved, I profess
As it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion
And He will turn away from Jacob their ungodliness

For this is My covenant with them, I do apprise
When I take away their sins before their very eyes

III. The Death of Joseph (verses 22-26, and the completion of the book of Genesis)

22 So Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he and his father’s household.

Joseph lived 54 years after the death of Jacob. During the rest of his life, he remained in Egypt. As he was sold to there at the age of 17, it means that he was there 93 years. During all that time, only the trip to bury his father in Canaan is recorded. Other than that, all of his time was outside the Land of Promise.

22 (con’t) And Joseph lived one hundred and ten years.

Joseph was born right around the year 2260 Anno Mundi. He lived 110 years and so his death came at approximately 2370AM. Interestingly, it is noted by Egyptian records that the age of 110 was believed to be the ideal age to die.

And as an added bit of interest Joshua, a descendant of Joseph, and the one who took Joseph’s bones to their final resting place, also died at the age of 110. Both of their lives were used as types and figures of the coming Christ.

In all, Joseph was in his high and exalted position in Egypt for 80 full years, having ascended to the right hand of Pharaoh at the age of 30. During all of that time, even during the famine which ravaged the earth, Egypt grew in both prosperity and wealth. At the same time, the people of God who were in their infancy when they arrived in Egypt, also grew and flourished exceedingly.

23 Joseph saw Ephraim’s children to the third generation.

This means that Joseph saw his great-great grandchildren. In all then, there were five generations of Joseph’s family living at the same time. This is much more than some of the other records, such as Moses who was the fourth generation from Levi who entered Egypt. Moses, only four generations later, led Israel out of Egypt.

In other words, the family of Ephraim was extremely fruitful and was so at early ages. This then is an early fulfillment of Jacob’s blessing of Ephraim over Manasseh before his death as is seen in the continuation of verse 23…

23 (con’t) The children of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were also brought up on Joseph’s knees.

In the line of Manasseh, only his grandchildren are noted during his life. Being “brought up on” his knees might imply adoption as his own. In the Song of Deborah in Judges 5, Machir is listed as equal among the other tribes of Israel who went to war because he was the head of the tribe of Manasseh to the west of the Jordan.

24 And Joseph said to his brethren,

Which of his actual brothers were still alive at this time is unknown. This is probably a general statement to all of his kinsmen from all of the tribes. It is to the collective group of people who are Israel that he is certainly speaking to and to whom he is tying himself to, even in his final breaths.

24 (con’t) “I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”

With the sure knowledge of his coming departure, Joseph utters words of faith, v’elhoim pakowd yiphkowd etkhem – “..and God visiting you will surely visit you.” This repetition is given to show the absolute faith he has that the promise sworn to Abraham and which was passed on to both Isaac and Jacob will come about.

This verse then is an anticipatory statement which prepares us for the next book of the Bible, Exodus. After the death of Joseph, not another word will be uttered concerning the years in Egypt until the time of the birth of Moses, a period of about 64 years.

25 Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.”

Just like his father before him, Joseph now requires an oath from the sons of Israel. He believed that the promise would come about and he wanted to lay at rest among his people rather than in the noble state he would have enjoyed in Egypt.

Despite bearing an Egyptian name, having an Egyptian wife of the priestly class, and being the second ruler of the land, he remained always and forever an Israelite. His desires for his people and his land never faded and his devotion to his God never waivered. He is an exact picture of Christ in all ways.

And so once again, he repeats the surety of the matter concerning God’s presence among them as he says pakowd yiphkowd etkhem elhoim – “visiting you, will surely visit you, God.” When he does, he wants his bones carried up from there with them.

They are the last recorded words of Joseph. Of all of the honors and accolades of his long and fruitful life, they are the only words recorded about him in the hall of fame of faith noted in Hebrews 11. There we read this brief summary of his life –

“By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.” Hebrews 11:22

Despite all of the many things he did and the faithful patience he exhibited towards his circumstances and those around him who afflicted him, he is above all noted for his faith in the unseen future. It is, like Jacob, a testimony for us that God desires simple faith in His word. Above all else, this is what most pleases Him.

The request that he made was fulfilled by the Israelites as they marched out of Egypt. In Exodus 13, it specifically says that they carried Joseph’s bones out with them. And eventually another generation of Israelites carried them into the land of promise and buried him as is recorded in Joshua 24 –

“The bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel had brought up out of Egypt, they buried at Shechem, in the plot of ground which Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for one hundred pieces of silver, and which had become an inheritance of the children of Joseph.” Joshua 24:32

And so the narrative of the immediate family of Israel ends with the promise of redemption from Egypt which is based on the oath made first to Abraham. This oath had been carried and remembered for approximately 286 years – “We are God’s people and He has a plan for our future.”

This visitation of God is in accord with His promises, but it is also in accord with His nature. God visits man in two main ways in the Bible. The first is through grace and mercy. The second is in judgment due to a violation of His just, righteous, and holy nature.

The greatest demonstration of His visitation in and among the realm of mankind is in the person of Jesus Christ. After 4000 years of failings and backslidings by those He created, He stepped out of His eternal realm and united with the flesh He once breathed the breath of life into.

Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, spoke of this coming visitation in Luke chapter 1 –

“Blessed is the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited and redeemed His people,
69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us
In the house of His servant David,
70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets,
Who have been since the world began…” Luke 1:68-70

The many pictures and stories found in the Old Testament merely point to a greater fulfillment in the New Testament in the Person of Jesus Christ. Joseph is one of the individuals in human history who has been so greatly honored to picture Him. And he did it in numerous and remarkable ways.

Surely he will be astonished when he is raised to his eternal home and looks back on how God so carefully and meticulously guided the events of his life to show us something even more majestic. But now, he awaits that day as we see in our final verse of the book of Genesis…

*26 So Joseph died, being one hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

So Joseph died. It is now about 1635 years before the coming of Jesus Christ. Instead of his body being taken to Canaan and buried, his remains were kept in Egypt, probably among the Israelites. And so we have an interesting contrast to the saints of the Tribulation period of our future.

Joseph remained in Egypt in body, though his spirit had departed. Jesus will continue to remain with His saints in Spirit until He physically returns. Both however, are signs to the people that God’s promises will be kept.

At the Exodus, God will judge Egypt by plagues and the redeemed will come out carrying Joseph’s bones. During the tribulation, God will judge the world by plagues, and the redeemed will hail the return of the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Again, his age is noted at 110 years. But this time the Hebrew says ben meah v’easer shanim “a son of 110 years.” The years of his life are personified. Though years are inanimate objects, they are – as the Bible often does with inanimate things, brought to life.

They are made to represent birth, growth, understanding, speech, and all the other things that humans do. In this verse, the years are used as a summary of the life of Joseph, from his birth all the way until his death.

And upon his death, he becomes the second and last person noted in the Bible as being embalmed. After this, his remains were placed in a coffin. The word for “coffin” is the first use of the word arown in the Bible, a word which when next used will be to describe the Ark of the Covenant.

Joseph’s coffin would probably have been made of the same wood as the Ark, shittim wood. It is an incorruptible wood which was selected and used because of this. The book of Genesis began with the creation, including that of man; he became a living being.

No sooner is that recorded then the spiritual death promised for disobedience was highlighted. Since that time, the premise of the Bible is that man is born to die which in turn implies that man is born spiritually dead. Thus, physical death is inevitable.

The book of Genesis ends with this sad fact unresolved. Joseph has nothing recorded in his life which would otherwise indicate a sinful man, and yet he died. The death was inherited from Jacob, who inherited it from Isaac, who inherited it from Abraham… and this goes all the way back to Adam.

It is a sad commentary on humanity. But there at the beginning, right after the fall, came a promise. One would come to undo the curse and free us from the life of troubles, afflictions, and inevitable death that we all face. Joseph lived under the curse and he died under the curse, but he lived in faith through it.

His promised reward is coming and it can come for you too. The Bible is working slowly and methodically through an amazing plan, devised and implemented by God before the foundation of the world. And it is all centered on His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

If you would, please give me just another moment to explain to you the very simple message of how you can participate in the His finished work, to be reconciled to God, and to live out eternity in His presence in a world so richly wonderful that we cannot even contemplate it at this time…

Closing Verse: Remember me, O Lord, with the favor You have toward Your people. Oh, visit me with Your salvation, That I may see the benefit of Your chosen ones, That I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation, That I may glory with Your inheritance. Psalm 106:4, 5 Next Week: Paul Stoll will preach. After that, I’ll be back and we will begin a short series on the book of Ruth. That will be Ruth 1:1-5 (Famine and Heartache) (1st Ruth Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you and He has a good plan and purpose for you. Call on Him and let Him do marvelous things for you and through you.

Words of Grace, Mercy, and Faith

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead
“Perhaps Joseph will hate us, they said

And us he may actually repay
For all the evil which we did to him
We threw him in the pit and then sold him away

So they sent messengers to Joseph, as if praying
“Before your father died he commanded, saying

Thus you shall say to Joseph
I beg you, please forgive
The trespass of your brothers and their sin
Though they did evil to you, mercy to them give

Now, please, forgive the trespass
Of the servants of the God of your father
And Joseph wept when they spoke to him
Their words pained, his heart they did bother

Then his brothers also went
And fell down before his face
And they said, “Behold, we are your servants
We are yours here in this place

Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid
For am I in the place of God?
And so to them no wrath he displayed

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, you see
To save many people alive, surely you have understood

Now therefore, do not be afraid
I will provide for you and your little ones
And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them
To the other eleven of Israel’s sons

So Joseph dwelt in Egypt
He and his father’s household
And Joseph lived to one hundred and ten
The years of his life as we are told

Joseph saw Ephraim’s children to the third generation
The children of Machir, the son of Manasseh
Were also brought up on Joseph’s knees, bringing him elation

And Joseph said to his brethren
“I am dying; but God will surely visit you
And bring you out of this land
It shall come to pass, His promises are true

To the land of which He swore
To Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob
It will be our possession forevermore

Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel
Saying, “God will surely visit you
And you shall carry up my bones from here
This promise and the oath I request of you

So Joseph died being one hundred and ten years old
And they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt
Until the promise would come of which he foretold

And so closes out Joseph’s life story
And also closes out the book of Genesis too
Each page has progressed towards the glory
Of the coming of Christ who will all things renew

Lord God Almighty, thank you for this wondrous book
Thank you for the pictures that look ahead to our Lord Jesus
He is found in every passage if we will but just look
All of these wonders you have given to us

Praise You O God and may you rejoice in our praise
And may we never cease to pursue You all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…


Genesis 50:1-14 (The Burial of Jacob)

Genesis 50:1-14
The Burial of Jacob

Introduction: Death is an inevitable part of life. And the rituals that are conducted which surround death vary from culture to culture, but most of them are grounded in a hope which transcends the grave. In the Chinese provinces of Tibet, Qinghai, Sichuan, and Mongolia a ritual known as “sky burial” is practiced.

Being Buddhists, they believe in the trans-migration of the soul and that the body is just an empty vessel which needs to be disposed of. And so they leave it out for the large predatory birds to nibble on until it’s all gone. Some people within Christianity believe that one must bury the body and that cremation is a sin. Some even believe you can’t be saved if you are cremated.

We usually embalm bodies in the US. I volunteered at a morgue in Japan when I was in the service and it was interesting to see the process of embalming and it was mostly done to keep the body from getting gross before a burial could be performed. This was especially so because of the long travel time back to the US.

Today’s sermon will look at the most detailed record of care taken for a body in the entire book of Genesis. What is the importance of all the detail? Out of all of the other deaths recorded, nothing like this has yet been seen. Because of this, we can conclude that God is showing us a picture of something else, something in later redemptive history. And surely enough, this is the case.

Text Verse: “‘Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord God. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. 31 Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel?'” Ezekiel 18:30, 31

God spoke to the house of Israel and told them that they would be judged according to their ways. He also promised them a new heart and a new spirit if they would simply repent and turn to Him. However, if they didn’t, the House of Israel would surely die. Was He serious? Would this happen? Yes and Yes.

Israel went from life to death. But in Christ, there is the hope of new life and even the resurrection to life from the dead. We’ll see this pictured in today’s sermon in another carefully placed passage which is intended to get us to wake up and pay attention to our surroundings, the world we live in, and our relationship with God.

It is all to be found in His superior word, and so let’s go to that word now and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Worthless Physicians (verses 1-3)

We now arrive at the last chapter of Genesis. This amazing book has been divided into three principle sets of instruction for man –

1) From creation and the fall to the Flood of Noah.
2) From the time after the flood until the call of Abraham.
3) From the call of Abraham until the death of Jacob and Joseph which is the completion of the history of the chosen family.

After his blessings and final words to his sons about his burial, the last verse of the last chapter said, “And when Jacob had finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.” With that, we enter into chapter 50.

Then Joseph fell on his father’s face, and wept over him, and kissed him.

Back in chapter 46, as Jacob was preparing to leave the land of promise for the last time, God called to Jacob in a vision in the night. Here is what he was told at that time –

“So He said, ‘I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will put his hand on your eyes.'” Genesis 46:3, 4

As God promised, Joseph was there at his death to fall on him, weep over him, and to surely close his eyes. But it also notes that he kissed him. In all of the life of Joseph, he is only noted as kissing on two occasions. The first was when he revealed himself to his brothers in chapter 45 –

“Then he fell on his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. 15 Moreover he kissed all his brothers and wept over them, and after that his brothers talked with him.” Genesis 45:14, 15

And now, at the death of his father, he kisses Jacob’s remains. There is a reason for the two kisses which are recorded. As always, when things are noted twice, there is a contrast and yet a confirmation of something. The first was when there was a reunion after a long separation. The second is when there is a departure for a long separation.

The first was at the surety of life; the second is the surety of hope of life even in death.  The first was after a journey from the land of promise; the second is prior to a journey to the land of promise. The first resulted in a physical reunion and pictured a spiritual awakening in the brothers. The second resulted in a physical separation and yet in the hope of restored life to the father.

In the first, the brothers were given garments for covering. In the second, Jacob’s soul was made bare without his earthly garment, his body. In these two kisses, there is a contrast and yet there is a confirmation. There is the physical and there is the spiritual. And yet they confirm the whole state of man.

Nothing is random in the Bible and even the kisses of Joseph give us insights into the nature of man in his spiritual and physical makeup. Joseph now weeps over the loss of the physical and takes his farewell of his father as people do. Sending him on his journey until they meet again.

And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father.

The people being referred to here as “the physicians” are literally known as “the healers.” In Hebrew ha’rophim, or in the singular rapha. The word is used 67 times in the Old Testament and is translated as “heal,” “physician,” “purify,” etc. One memorable use of the word is in the Suffering Servant passage in Isaiah 53:5 –

“But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

To us, using this word doesn’t really make sense. Why would a healer be used on a dead body? But in considering the state of man, it begins to make sense. Almost nobody would dispute that there is a difference between the physical body and the soul.

There may be disagreement on what the soul is, but there is a physical body and there is something that animates that body. When that which animates departs, the body ceases to function; it dies. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5 that a soul without a body is naked. Here is how he describes it –

“For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked.” 2 Corinthians 5:1-3

But still why would a “healer” be used on a dead body? The answer is that to the Egyptians, the soul – the ka as they called it – would return to inhabit the body. Once the mummification was done, it would be ready for occupation once again. Otherwise, it would rot away, and thus it would leave the soul naked.

This word, rapha, for healer implies to “mend” or to “sew together” and hence to heal, like a physician would after an operation. This same word corresponds to the Greek work raphto “to sew” which is then tied to the word “needle” or raphis which is found in Jesus’ words in Matthew 19 –

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, ‘Who then can be saved?’
26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'” Matthew 19:23-26

There is the universal desire to live forever. As Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 3, eternity itself is written on our hearts –

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

Because of this, the Egyptians embalmed the bodies of their dead, hoping for eternal life when the soul would reunite with the body. Estimates are that as many as 420 million bodies were mummified in this way during the years in which Egypt followed this custom.

But the problem with mummification was that it only treated the physical body, not the spiritual person. The problem with man and the reason man dies is sin. Without healing this condition, the disconnect between God and man remains.

Job 13, although not speaking about embalmers, uses the same word and applies it to his friends during their discourse. It is a sentiment which still beautifully reflects the state of the embalmers who sew the dead body, but do nothing for the soul. He says –

“But you forgers of lies,
You are all worthless physicians.” Job 13:4

All of the work and cost involved in embalming did nothing to bring the person one step closer to true life. Instead of their worthless efforts is the glorious contrast in why Jesus came. That passage from Isaiah which used this word said that by His stripes we are healed. Peter explains what that means in his first letter –

“…who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

Although that verse is very often incorrectly used to imply physical healing, Peter explains that it is the healing from sin that is being referred to. And that then ties directly into Jesus’ words to His disciples about the “eye of the needle” or the raphis. With men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible. The healing is effected in Christ, and by His work we are restored to God.

This is what the embalmers of Egypt, the rophim, were hoping for, but it is that to which they could never attain. So, if embalming didn’t accomplish the purpose for which it was intended, then why do we have these words which follow as verse 2 continues?

2 (con’t) So the physicians embalmed Israel.

This is the only time that the name Israel or Jacob is used of him in the entire chapter. Later both names will be used in relation to the family, but not specifically about him.

There are a couple of reasons that Joseph gave an order for his servants to embalm his father. The first is because it was the standard custom of the land. People generally follow the customs of the land around them in such instances.

The second reason is that the body would have to be taken all the way back to Canaan according to the promise Joseph made. The trip would be rather displeasing as the body degraded in the heat of the middle east and so the embalming was very much necessary.

The process of embalming in Hebrew comes from the word khanat which means to “make spicy.” And this is exactly what occurred. The process was long and involved, but much of it concerned the use of spices. The word is only used five times in the Bible.

Three times it is speaking of Jacob and once it is speaking of Joseph and all four of these are in this chapter. The only other time it is used is in the Song of Solomon 2:13 –

“The fig tree puts forth her green figs,
And the vines with the tender grapes
Give a good smell.
Rise up, my love, my fair one,
And come away!” Song of Solomon 2:13

In the end, it is a testimony to the lowly state of our bodies that when the soul departs, it immediately begins to break down, smell, and become offensive to every sense of those left behind. It is from this world of corruption, not to this world of corruption, that the Christian looks.

The embalming of Jacob and Joseph were temporary measures in anticipation of their eternal state, not expected solutions to it. And the same is seen later in both testaments of Scripture. In 2 Chronicles we see that bodies were prepared for internment as a temporary measure for king Asa –

“So Asa rested with his fathers; he died in the forty-first year of his reign. 14 They buried him in his own tomb, which he had made for himself in the City of David; and they laid him in the bed which was filled with spices and various ingredients prepared in a mixture of ointments. They made a very great burning for him.” 2 Chronicles 16:14

In the New Testament, Israel’s greatest and true King was likewise buried in a mixture of spices according to the custom of the Jews.

“And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. 40 Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.” John 19

What the Jewish people did was not embalming, but preparation for burial. After the body degraded, the bones would be collected and placed in a stone box.

Forty days were required for him, for such are the days required for those who are embalmed; and the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.

Ancient writers such as Herodotus and Diodorus both closely agree with the timeframe that the Bible mentions here. The embalming process took forty full days to complete and in conjunction with this for a royal person, as Jacob would be considered, there was a period of seventy days of mourning.

This would be comparable to what we do in the US when a president or some other highly respected person dies. The flag will be lowered to half staff for a given period as a reminder of the loss to the nation.

Later in Israel’s history, there will be a period of 30 days of mourning for Aaron and Moses. After that, at the death of Saul, a period of seven days of fasting will be noted. From a biblical perspective, there is no set time of mourning for the Christian who loses a loved one. The duration will vary with the personal feelings and emotions of the ones left behind.

Assuredly, it is hard I do tell
To enter heaven’s kingdom, for a man who is rich
nd again I say to you it is easier for a camel
To go through the eye of a needle, used to make a stitch

For a rich man to so enter the kingdom of God
Is a most difficult path in the shoes which he is shod

Who then can be saved!
This message to our heart, sorrow it brings
Worry not, My friends, with men this is impossible
But it is possible with God who can do all things

II. To Fulfill a Vow (verses 4-6)

Now when the days of his mourning were past,

Only after the days of mourning were accomplished is any further action taken in regards to Jacob. To do what he intends to do in fulfilling the promise any earlier would be considered disrespectful to the people of Egypt, and thus to Pharaoh their ruler.

It would be comparable to one military base raising its flag back to full staff while all the other bases remained at half staff against the directive of congress or the president. In allowing the full time to pass, Joseph is ensuring that every protocol is met without causing anyone to later have a case against him.

4 (con’t) Joseph spoke to the household of Pharaoh, saying, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, please speak in the hearing of Pharaoh, saying,

Instead of speaking directly to Pharaoh, it says that he spoke to the “household of Pharaoh” in anticipation of them then going to speak directly to Pharaoh on his behalf. Many suggestions have been offered as to why he would do this.

Some say that it was because he was wearing mourning outfits and that no one in such garments would be allowed into the presence of the king. This was the case later at the time of Esther during the Persian Empire, but there is nothing here to even suggest that.

Further, the time of mourning had ended and so that seems unreasonable. The reason for going through the household is probably threefold. First, he was leaving his duties which would mean they would be unattended to while he was gone.

As a courtesy to them, he is passing it through them so that they know he isn’t trying to lay unnecessary work on anyone else. The second reason is that the priests would be included in Pharaoh’s inner circle.

As they were responsible for the religious beliefs of the people, especially the dead, to exclude them would be tantamount to saying that they were unsuited for the jobs they held. It would be a slap in their face. To avoid such a misunderstanding, he includes the household in the presenting of his desires to Pharaoh.

And thirdly, as we will see in a couple verses, most of these people will travel with him. Thus, by going through them, he is extending a courtesy that they know in advance of his desires and intentions. These seem all the more certain by his next words to them…

‘My father made me swear, saying, “Behold, I am dying; in my grave which I dug for myself in the land of Canaan, there you shall bury me.”

In this, Joseph states the threefold obligation that he is under. He has sworn to his father; he has made a promise to a dying man who is now dead, so it cannot be amended; and his father explicitly commanded him concerning the details.

Because this is his father’s will, and because it is in a spot that his father dug for himself out of the cave which was bought by Abraham, it would be unreasonable to think Pharaoh would say no. Pharaohs were known throughout their history for being more conscientious about their burial graves than they were about the palaces they lived in.

This would then be found reasonable to those who would have to stay behind and assume his duties while he was gone and also to the priests as well. He has meticulously worked to appease everyone involved in the matter in order for there to be no misunderstandings, jealousies, or complaints against him.

5 (con’t) Now therefore, please let me go up and bury my father, and I will come back.’”

Finally, to reassure those who will have to attend to his duties, he lets them know that he intends to conduct the burial and return. He isn’t planning on a site seeing tour afterwards, but to simply fulfill the request made by his now departed father.

And Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear.”

The approval is given. An oath was made and the oath must therefore be performed. This is a principle which is explicitly stated throughout the Bible. When a vow is made, it is to be performed.

When an oath is made, it is to be fulfilled. Pharaoh understood this and was ready to ensure that Joseph would not be found guilty of negligence in this matter.

I will go into Your house with burnt offerings
I will pay you my vows, my heart I will redouble
Those which my lips have uttered through my profferings
And my mouth has spoken when I was in trouble

I will offer You burnt fat of animal sacrifices
With the aroma of rams, ever so sweet
I will offer bulls with goats pleasing as spices
For all of my needs You faithfully did meet

You have tended to me when in my time of need
I will pay my vows to You, and do so with speed

III. The Funeral Procession (verses 7-9)

So Joseph went up to bury his father;

Seven times in this chapter, the term “up” is used to indicate travelling from Egypt to Canaan. This is not because Canaan is north of Egypt in the manner we use north today. It is also not because Canaan is at a higher elevation than Egypt.

It is because Canaan is God’s land. No matter what direction one travels to get to Canaan, it is always up. And the same is true with elevation. As one moves toward Canaan and toward Jerusalem, the term “up” is used. It is the Bible’s way of showing the preeminence of the land of Canaan, God’s land, over all other places.

7 (con’t) and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt,

The details leave no doubt that not only did Pharaoh approve the request, but that he honored it, allowing and probably directing his servants, house elders, and elders of the land to go too.

These people would be comparable to the chief of staff and administrators at the White House, the Secretary’s of the major departments, and the other Ambassador positions in our administration. In all, it showed the highest honor to Joseph, and the greatest respect for his loss.

as well as all the house of Joseph, his brothers, and his father’s house.

Everyone in the entourage who came to Egypt, plus any who had grown up in Egypt would have been included in this procession. The number, combined with the previous officials from Pharaoh’s people, would have reached into the thousands.

8 (con’t) Only their little ones, their flocks, and their herds they left in the land of Goshen.

The journey here is in excess of 300 miles and so the children and animals would be left behind in Goshen. This is the last time that the name Goshen will be used in Genesis. After this, it will only be used of this spot two more times in the book of Exodus.

The same place was previously called the “Land of Rameses” in Genesis 47:11. Again as always, God uses specific words and names to show details and pictures of later events in redemptive history. Goshen means “drawing near” or “approaching.”

And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen, and it was a very great gathering.

Along with the many mourners went a multitude of charioteers and horsemen to guard the procession. Because of the arrangement of those in procession, it would not be considered a military threat under normal circumstances, but because of the large number, there could have been a misunderstanding by the people in Canaan.

So sending along the chariots and horsemen was both a sign of military honor as well as a wise means of conducting the convoy.

IV. The Burial of Jacob (verses 10-14)

10 Then they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan,

Eventually, the procession arrived at the threshing floor of Atad, which is said to be “beyond the Jordan.” This is only the fourth time the Jordan has been mentioned in the Bible. Its name means “descender” or “to descend.” Atad means a “thornbush.”

The problem with the phrase “beyond the Jordan” is that it doesn’t explain from what reference point. So it could be on either side of the Jordan. However, the terminology suggests that it was on the east side of Jordan, outside of the land of Canaan. The journey would have been longer going this route, but it would probably have been safer and easier.

10 (con’t) and they mourned there with a great and very solemn lamentation. He observed seven days of mourning for his father.

There at the threshing floor, the procession stopped to collectively mourn the honored patriarch one last time. In all, another seven days of mourning were observed before his body was moved to its resting place.

11 And when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “This is a deep mourning of the Egyptians.” Therefore its name was called Abel Mizraim, which is beyond the Jordan.

There is in this verse a play on words. The Canaanites looked and saw the great mourning going on and they certainly heard it as well. The middle eastern funeral can be an exceptionally loud affair and with the number of people in attendance, it would sound like the noise heard in a large football game today.

The play on words then is the name given to the location. The word for “mourning” is the word ebel. But the word for “meadow” is abel. Both are spelled the same way, but carry different vowel points. And so as occurs often in the Bible and as we do in our own language with similar words, a pun is being made.

Ebel-mitzraim would mean the “mourning of the Egyptians” while Abel-mitzraim would mean the “meadow of the Egyptians.”

This name however, abel-mitzraim, or the Mourning of the Egyptians, along with goren ha’atad, or the Threshing Floor of Atad, are only used in this story and nowhere else in Scripture.

12 So his sons did for him just as he had commanded them.

This verse is given to show that what Jacob had commanded in the previous chapter was fulfilled exactly even though it is stated before the burial, not afterward. The same word for “command,” which in Hebrew is tsavah, is used both times. Here is what Jacob commanded from our sermon last week –

“Then he charged them and said to them: ‘I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 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. 31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife, there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah. 32 The field and the cave that is there were purchased from the sons of Heth.'” Genesis 49:29-32

In fulfillment of his command and in acknowledgment of its accomplishment, we are given the next verse…

13 For his sons carried him to the land of Canaan, and buried him 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.

We can assume that the Egyptians stayed on the other side of the Jordan and only the brothers bore the body of Jacob across to his resting place. Even if bodyguards or anyone else went along, they aren’t mentioned. The honor of the final leg of the journey is reserved in recorded history only for the sons of Israel.

The detail here is a modified repeat from Genesis 23 and then the previous chapter. All of it, as we saw in the previous sermon, points to the work of Christ as he secured from this fallen world a sure hope for believers. If the names are translated into their meaning, this verse would say as follows –

“His sons carried him to the land of the humbled, and buried him in the cave that is in the field of double, in the face of bitterness, which (the) Father of many nations bought with the field from the man of dust, the fallen man, as a property for a burial place.”

It is to this place that the sons carry their father to be buried. It is a resting spot awaiting the day when Messiah will come and raise him to eternal life. It is a sign of hope in the promises of God and the faithfulness He displays to His word.

*14 And after he had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, he and his brothers and all who went up with him to bury his father.

With the internment complete by Joseph – as he is the representative for all the brothers, they together returned to the land of Egypt along with the entire entourage who had accompanied him.

Like several other sections of Genesis, when I started typing this, I had no idea why it was here. After typing up the analysis of the words and verses, I still had no idea. And so, throughout the night and the next morning, I thought about it, talked to the Lord about it, and went back over the entire passage again and again.

There is so much detail that it must have some significance, but I couldn’t imagine what. More detail is given to this burial than almost every other burial in Genesis combined. Other than the purchase of the cave in chapter 23, nothing like this comes even close in detail.

And then I realized, unless it is connected with the previous chapter it lacks sense, but when tied to that, it clears up. Jacob had just finished blessing all his sons, a set of blessings which looks forward to the entire scope of Israel’s history. This story about Jacob’s burial then isn’t a chronological picture like most of Joseph’s life has been. Instead, it is an insert of Israel’s history, like Chapter 34 and chapter 38 were.

Jacob here pictures corporate Israel which has died. This occurred in 586BC when they were exiled to Babylon. Although they were brought back after 70 years, they remained under external control until their next dispersion in AD70. The entire time is considered under the time of punishment detailed in Ezekiel 4.

But great detail is given concerning his embalming. He is the only person embalmed in the Bible other than Joseph, and only he is given this detail. This is showing us the care that God has taken for the corporate body of Israel, whom he pictures. Even though the spirit has left them, just like the spirit left Jacob, the body has been maintained in order to restore it to life. This is pictured in the Valley of Dry Bones passage in Ezekiel 37.

The care concerning the details of his burial place also look forward to the restoration and resurrection promised by God. This is why the term “Israel” is never used again in these verses when speaking of either Jacob or the people who descend from him.

They are living in gentile land and are still under the 400 years of servitude that was spoken by God to Abraham back in Genesis 15. Those 400 years picture the entire time of Israel’s exile and affliction seen in Ezekiel 4; they are the “times of the Gentiles” spoken about in both testaments. Joseph and the other sons, listed individually, not as a whole, go to bury Jacob.

Along with them though “go all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt.” The servants and elders of Pharaoh would be the whole heavenly host and the elders of Egypt would be the kings of the nations. Only the little ones and the flocks remain in Goshen, the land of “drawing near.”

In other words, there is a spectacle that all creation should see. The spirit is supposed to return to the embalmed body according to Egyptian thinking, but only Christ can truly make that happen. When He was born the great heavenly host witnessed it. After His resurrection, all the nations heard of it.

And so they come to the threshing floor of Atad, “the thorn,” across the Jordan, which means “descend.” This is the time of Christ’s visitation which is spoken of in Ephesians 4:7-10 –

 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says:
“When He ascended on high,
He led captivity captive,
And gave gifts to men.”
(Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

There the Canaanites note “This is a deep mourning of the Egyptians.” It is the gentile world who mourned over Christ and His crown of thorns, pictured by the threshing floor of Atad. Therefore, the place was called Abel Mizraim – the meadow of Egypt, which is beyond the Jordan. It is in gentile land; the land of double distress.

After this, it says his sons carried him to Canaan and buried him in the special cave which looks forward to the resurrection. It doesn’t call them the sons of Israel though, just “his sons.” And then it notes that Joseph and “his brothers” returned to Egypt. The significance of this is seen in Jesus’ words to his disciples –

“Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.” Luke 9:23-26

Those who are His brothers are those who have trusted him individually from Jew and Gentile. It is these who have stayed faithful to Christ even in the gentile lands and even after corporate Israel, pictured by Jacob, has died.

This is why the two kisses of Jacob were noted at the beginning. The first was when there was a reunion after a long separation. The second is when there is a departure for a long separation. The first was at the surety of life; the second is the surety of hope of life even in death.

The first was after a journey from the land of promise; the second is prior to a journey to the land of promise. The first resulted in a physical reunion and pictured a spiritual awakening in the brothers. The second resulted in a physical separation and yet in the hope of restored life to the father, who pictures corporate Israel.

It is looking to the long separation of Israel from God during the time of the Gentiles and yet in the hope of restored life to them in the future. This will continue to be seen in the next section of chapter 50, but it is exactingly written about by Paul in Romans –

“For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. 15 For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” Romans 11:13-15

The story of Jacob’s death and embalming, the mourning over him before his burial, his choice of burial place – all of it is a picture of the history of Israel during their time of rejection of the Lord who called them. And yet we see His meticulous care of them, even then, as He prepares to bring them back to life once again.

The hope of Jacob in his choice of resting place is the same hope that we believers have in Christ today, and the same hope that we have for Israel when they as a nation call on their Messiah. It is all about Jesus and what He is doing at different times in redemptive history. There is a time when all of the faithful will be raised to eternal life – both from Israel and from the gentile peoples. We are given this as an offer and as a choice.

We can accept it by calling out to Jesus Christ, the Messiah, in faith, or we can reject His offer. The choice is up to each of us. If you have never called on Jesus Christ as Lord, please give me just another minute to explain to you how you can have the same sure hope which Jacob possessed…

Closing Verse: I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,” says the Lord.’” Ezekiel 37:14 Next Week: Genesis 50:15-26 (Grace, Mercy, and Faith – The Final Words of Joseph) (130th and last Genesis Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you and He has a good plan and purpose for you. Call on Him and let Him do marvelous things for you and through you.

The Burial of Jacob

Then Joseph fell on his father’s face
And wept over him, and kissed him there in that place

And Joseph commanded his servants, he did tell
The physicians to embalm his father
So the physicians embalmed Israel

Forty days were required for him
For such are the required days
For those who are embalmed
Lest the body decays

And the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days
This is the time frame according to their ways

Now when the days of his mourning were past
Joseph spoke, he did apprise
To the household of Pharaoh, saying,
If now I have found favor in your eyes

Please speak in Pharaoh’s hearing
The message I am now relaying
Words without any fearing
Are what my father made me swear, saying

Behold, I am dying you understand
In my grave which I dug, this is my plea
For myself in Canaan the land
There… you shall bury me

Now therefore, please up let me go
And bury my father, and I will come back, as you know

And Pharaoh said, “Go up to there
And bury your father, as he made you swear

So Joseph went up to bury his father
And with him went up all of Pharaoh’s servants at hand
The elders of his house
And all the elders of Egypt the land

As well as all the house of Joseph
His brothers, and his father’s house, all went along too
Only their little ones, their flocks, and their herds
They left in the land of Goshen, and were not part of the retinue

And there went up with him as well
Both chariots and horsemen
It was a very great gathering, as you can tell

Then they came to the threshing floor of Atad
Which is beyond the Jordan’s demarcation
And they mourned there
With a great and very solemn lamentation

Seven days of mourning for his father he observed
For this mourning these seven days were reserved

And when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites
Saw the mourning at Atad’s threshing floor
They said “This is a deep mourning of the Egyptians
A mourning grievously sore

Therefore its name was called Abel Mizraim
Which is beyond the Jordan, east it would seem

So his sons did for him
Just as he had commanded them

For his sons carried him to the land of Canaan
And buried him in the cave
Of the field of Machpelah, before Mamre
This place became his grave

This Abraham bought with the field, all the space
From Ephron the Hittite as property for a burial place

And after he had buried his father
Joseph returned to Egypt the land
He and his brothers and all who went
Up with him to bury his father, in a procession so grand

The hope of God in Christ is eternal life
From the moment we call on him, this we receive
And from that moment ends our enmity and strife
God forgives our sins and our burdens He does relieve

Some day, Israel will call on Jesus as a nation
And at that time will come life from the dead
There will be in heaven and on earth joyous celebration
When Israel receives Christ as their Head

Until then the gentiles will continue to proclaim
The wondrous gospel message of life in Jesus
It is in this exalted and glorious name
That salvation and eternal life is granted to us

Hallelujah and Amen…







Genesis 49:28-33 (Jacob Breathed His Last)

Genesis 49:28-33
Jacob Breathed His Last

Introduction: When we talk about being “in” something, we mean that we are a part of it in an intimate way. If we are “in” the military, we are a part of the military. We are entitled to all of the benefits and the responsibilities that being in the military entails.

We are accountable to the line of authority in the military, and we are responsible for our conduct which is laid out in specific manuals which detail exactly what we should do, how we should act, even how we should cut our hair.

If one of us were in a rock band, everyone would identify us by that band. Our every action would be associated with the band collectively. And all of the fun things that go along with being in the band would fall on us individually, just as with every member.

This is what it means to be “in” something. It is as if we are fully immersed in it – as if we were to dive into the ocean and be completely covered by it. Today we’ll look at how being “in” something, or someone, from a biblical perspective is more important than any other thing we could ever participate in.

Text Verse: “Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His saints.
16 O Lord, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant; You have loosed my bonds. 17 I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, And will call upon the name of the Lord.” Psalm 116:15-17

In our verses today, we will see the final moments of the life of Jacob. They are moments of a man who is living and dying in faith and in anticipation of great things to come in his future, even after his death. In other words, his hopes transcend this earthly existence and are rooted in a great reality, one which is eternal in nature.

The hope of Jacob is the hope of Messiah and the hope of Messiah is realized in the person of Jesus Christ. No other person can give us this hope, and to not be found in Him means a sad eternity awaits. But in Christ, there is hope which has its basis in God’s sure word. And so let’s turn to that precious and superior word again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. The Twelve Tribes of Israel (verse 28)

28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel,

At the beginning of chapter 49, these words were recorded –

“And Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days:” Genesis 49:1

Since that verse, the blessings have been pronounced. Our first verse of today then shows the completion of the thought from verse 1. And here we see the first use of the term “the twelve tribes of Israel.” In this case, it is what is known as a metonym.

A metonym is a word, name, or expression which is used as a substitute for something else with which it is closely associated. We use the term “Hollywood” when speaking of the film industry. We use the term “Washington” when speaking of the government.

In this case, the term, “the twelve tribes of Israel” is speaking of the tribes which will descend from these twelve sons who were just blessed. This wasn’t a mistake, nor is it something that we should quickly pass over as if it were unimportant.

Instead it is a prophetic announcement that the son’s descendants belong to the sons. They are “in” their fathers before them and those fathers in turn are “in” Jacob. And therefore we can see that the prophecy upon the sons is to be applied to the descendants. The two are inseparably linked.

From a biblical standpoint, we should ask, “Why is this important?” The answer is that the concept of being “in” someone in the Bible indicates being represented by them. In Hebrews 7, we read this about Levi being “in” Abraham who gave a tithe to someone named Melchizedek –

“Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils. And indeed those who are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to receive tithes from the people according to the law, that is, from their brethren, though they have come from the loins of Abraham; but he whose genealogy is not derived from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. Now beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better. Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives. Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, 10 for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.” Hebrews 7:4-10

Time and again, the Bible uses this concept of being “in” someone to remind us that we are all descendants of Adam by blood and thus we are “in” Adam. This is why there are such meticulous genealogies recorded in both Testaments of the Bible.

It is to show the connection which goes all the way back to Adam who was created by God. When Adam sinned, we therefore sinned “in” Adam. Paul explains this in Romans 5:12 –

“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” Romans 5:12

This is also one of the reasons why Jesus’ two genealogies are listed, one in Matthew and one in Luke. It is proof that He is truly and fully human and thus qualified to be our representative for human matters. But He is also truly and fully God and therefore He can mediate our human matters with His infinite Father.

Such metonyms as “Adam” which represents all of mankind, and “the twelve tribes” which are represented by the twelve sons of Israel are constant reminders of the importance of Jesus Christ. The reason is that if we are “in” Adam, we are dead; we are spiritually disconnected from God. A transfer has to take place to reconcile this or we will be forever “in Adam.”

The wonder of God’s plan is that if we are found “in” Christ, then the spiritual connection is restored and thus life, eternal life, is also restored. Reading the words “the twelve tribes of Israel” here asks us to think on a completely different level than what the mere words sound like when they come off our lips.

Instead, the Bible is calling our attention to the grandeur of God’s plans for the people of the world in these five simple words – “the twelve tribes of Israel.” A beautiful example of this, right from Hosea will show us how God looks at us as being “in” someone.

At the beginning of Hosea 11, the Lord uses the singular when speaking of the people of Israel being called out of Egypt. Though singular, it is speaking of the whole. Here is how it is recorded –

“When Israel was a child, I loved him,
And out of Egypt I called My son.” Hosea 11:1

However, just a few verses later, speaking of Ephraim, the younger son of Joseph and a single individual, look at how God views his descendents –

“I taught Ephraim to walk,
Taking them by their arms;
But they did not know that I healed them.
I drew them with gentle cords,
With bands of love,
And I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck.
I stooped and fed them.” Hosea 11:3, 4

Such terminology is everywhere in the Bible and it reminds us that we cannot change who we are. We are in our father, who is a son of Adam and thus we are in Adam. There is nothing we can do about it… but God can. And so the admonition for us is, “O fallen son of Adam, come to Christ Jesus. He will make all things new.”

28 (con’t) and this is what their father spoke to them.

It is to these twelve sons that Jacob spoke his blessing, and he did so under the influence of the Spirit of God. The blessings were fulfilled in the descendants and they are also fulfilled in both the witness of the stars as well as in the precious pages of the Bible which testify to the work of God in Christ.

Only God who knows the future could have laid out the prophecies so exactly and specifically, and yet Moses records the words which say, “and this is what their father spoke to them.” God’s gracious hand was upon Jacob, directing him, and speaking through him as the two harmoniously blended into the sounds and words of prophecy.

As we saw during those twelve individual blessings, every line pointed to the work of God in Christ. It is amazing how carefully and meticulously everything has been laid out for this purpose.

28 (con’t) And he blessed them; he blessed each one according to his own blessing.

The twelve sons were blessed at this time, but prior to this, Jacob’s two grandson’s were adopted into the family and thus became independent tribes. Therefore, depending on how the tribes are listed, there often seems confusion in who the twelve tribes are. But there is none. Specific names are used at various times for specific reasons.

These twelve sons were blessed independently of Joseph’s sons because they are those who are witnesses in the constellations which reveal God’s plan. Later in Deuteronomy 33 during Moses’ blessing, Simeon will be omitted and Ephraim and Manasseh will take place of Joseph.

In Numbers 2 when counting the tribes, Simeon will be retained, Levi will be omitted and Ephraim and Manasseh will again replace Joseph. And in Revelation, a different order will be used. Each time there are reasons for these changes, not errors or blunders, but wisdom and harmony as God unfolds His plan of the ages before our eyes.

Wisdom is displayed in the pages of God’s word
Every detail carefully selected to show us about Jesus
It is all about Him and He is our Lord
Surely God has so revealed these wondrous treasures to us

Search the pages! Look carefully through each line
There we see God’s beautiful redemption plan
As if it were a feast, on every precious word we can dine
And see the splendor of how God became a Man

Redemption is found in Him, to Him let us look
Fixing upon Him our eyes, and thoughts, and heart
And searching diligently for Him in this precious book
To the Bible! To its message! To the wisdom it does impart

II. The Cave of Machpelah (verses 29-32)

29 Then he charged them

The word “charged” here in Hebrew is tsavah. It is a command or an order. It’s the same word seen back in Genesis 2:16, 17 which records these ominous words, the first words ever spoken to man by God –

“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.'”

Mi kol ets ha-gan a-kol tochel, uh-me-ets ha-da-at tov va-ra, lo tochal mimenu ki beyom akholkha mimenu mowt tamut  (2:44)

Like the commandment of God to Adam, Jacob is not asking, but is rather instructing. “This is what you are to do.” It is of such importance to him, that they are spoken with the last breaths of his life. They must follow through with his words.

29 (con’t) and said to them: “I am to be gathered to my people;

His words are words of faith. To die is one thing. To say “I am returning to the dust” merely implies that we are a product of the ground under our feet and that we will again be a part of that same ground. But to say, “I am to be gathered to my people” implies that his people have not merely returned to the dust.

Instead, it is a form of anticipation that where his people are, there he will be as well. Whether you believe in evolution or creation, you are still acknowledging that your existence is a part of something more than just the dust. If evolution, then your people, like you are random chance – a god all its own. But if you, like Jacob, believe in creation, then you are in essence returning to your God when you are gathered to your people. This is exactly what Solomon speaks of in the book of Ecclesiastes –

“Then the dust will return to the earth as it was,
And the spirit will return to God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7

Jacob is voicing faith in his Creator by saying that he will be gathered to his people. He is from Isaac, who is from Abraham, who… well, you can go right back to Adam and then to God who breathed the breath of life into him. Jacob is dying in faith.

29 (con’t) bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite,

For this and the next three verses, Jacob is going to give exceedingly specific detail about the cave where he wishes to be buried. All he really needed to do was to say, “Bury me in the cave with my fathers, Abraham and Isaac, and the rest of the family who are there.” That would have been sufficient, wouldn’t it? But instead, he gives names, places, and specific details. Because he does, it is asking us to evaluate his words in the same detail. The Spirit of prophecy is speaking and He asks us to think. And we will. Before we finish this thought, we will understand why he spoke so exactingly.

There are two parts to a man, not three. People speak of the body, soul, and spirit, but man is a soul-body unity. The soul is eternal and the body is temporal. If the soul is reconnected to God before death, then their final destination will be a happy one. If it isn’t, then it will be a sad one.

Jacob’s soul was to be gathered to his fathers, his body was to be buried with them as well. He has firmly noted a distinction between the two and this distinction is confirmed throughout Scripture. Paul’s words to the Corinthians show us this explicitly –

“For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked.” 2 Corinthians 5:1-3

Jacob’s soul will now be naked, without a body. But his request to his sons demonstrates that he is certain it will not always be this way. He is a man looking forward to the wonderful promise of God which came just moments after the fall of man. He is looking to the promise made to Abraham, and to Isaac, and to him. He is looking forward to the Messiah.

30 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.

The record of this purchase is found in Genesis 23 and is recorded at the time of the death of Abraham’s beloved wife Sarah. Jacob has already said the cave is in the field of Ephron the Hittite. And yet, Abraham bought that field when he bought the cave.

He then says that it is in the field of Machpelah, and that it is before Mamre, and in Canaan. The term for “before” is al pene or “in the face of.” Literally, it is “in the face of Mamre.” He then notes that the field was bought from Ephron the Hittite as a possession. The detail is exacting and it shouts out for us to look, research, and determine why.

One commentator said that the particular details were given “because they had been some years absent thence; and to express how much his heart was set upon this matter; and thereby to oblige them to the more careful performance of his command.” Poole

Another said all the detail was given because someone may have laid claim to the cave and they would need the details to prove otherwise (Gill), but details don’t prove anything without proof. Neither of these explanations are credible. The words are too exact and are intended for us to contemplate in detail.

31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife, there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah.

The importance of every word recorded in the Bible can be seen in this verse. The death of Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac are each recorded in varying detail, however, there is no record of the death or burial of Rebekah or Leah until this verse.

This shows us that God selects details for specific reasons. Those things which are unimportant in regards to His plans are simply ignored. People, places, times, and events are only recorded to lead us to understanding the work of Christ. No word is missing and no word which is recorded is superfluous.

32 The field and the cave that is there were purchased from the sons of Heth.”

Unexpectedly, Jacob refers to the purchase as being from “the sons of Heth.” Ephron is a Hittite, or a son of Heth, and so this seems to be unnecessary. But it isn’t, just like everything else he has said, it is there for a reason.

To fully understand the detail surrounding Jacob’s words, you really need to go back and watch the sermon on Genesis 23, there the same detail that Jacob relays concerning his burial spot is given, along with much more.

The entire chapter pointed to the work of Christ. Abraham at that time pictured Christ who made a purchase on behalf of humanity. Jacob relays enough of the details today for us to be reminded of this. It is the hope that all true believers should have and should carry with them. Here then are the names and their meanings –

Ephron means “of the dust.” He is a picture of Adam, who was created from the dust as is recorded right at the beginning, in Chapter 2 of the Bible. Therefore, he represents all of us. He is identified as a Hittite which means “terror” or “fear.”

The verb which “Heth” is derived from is usually used to indicate a depletion of strength or to take away an essential support or support structure. Thus Jacob calling him Ephron the Hittite is showing us a picture of Adam who has lost his essential support. In other words, the fall of man which brought us to a state of terror.

From this fallen man, Abraham bought the cave of Machpelah. The meaning of Machpelah is “double.” It signifies the double delivery from death which Jesus procured for His people. He didn’t come to just purchase the title deed to the world for Jews, but He did it for gentiles as well. His death filled this double role. Ephesians 2 explains this –

“Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— 12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.” Ephesians 2:11-18

The next word mentioned is Mamre which means “bitter” or “strong.” The idea of bitterness is one of being a strong taste or experience. Mamre represents the bitter, fallen world which Jesus comes to reclaim.

After this, Canaan is named. This comes from the verb qana which means “humbled,” “subdued,” or “lowly.” The HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says, “It denoted bringing a proud and recalcitrant people or spirit into subjection.” It therefore pictures those who are humbled.

After this, it again mentioned that the cave was brought from Ephron the Hittite, repeating what had already been said. Then after that, the names of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, and Leah were all mentioned as being buried there. Each is found to be in this cave, a cave which looks forward to the resurrection.

With the inclusion of Jacob in the tomb, there will be the three great patriarchs and their wives, each of which is an ancestor of Jesus. That is six people, male and female, who then represent all humans, six being the biblical number of man.

And then, as a final follow up, he mentions one more time that the field and cave were purchased. They have a new owner. The old owners were “the sons of Heth.” This name Heth is where the term Hittite comes from.

It means “terror” and is a picture of all the people of the world who are in Adam and who live in fear of death because they cannot meet God’s standard of  the law. When it was given at Mount Sinai, the people trembled in terror and asked not to hear God speak to them directly again.

Since the law was given, men have lived in terror because there is no way we can live up to its standards. Paul explains this in Galatians 3. It condemns all to death. It is from these sons of Heth, or “sons of terror” that the purchase was made. Hebrews 2 explains the terror of death which permeates mankind –

“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Hebrews 2:14, 15

This cave then is symbolic of the earth, the repository for the dead. This is seen time and time again in the Bible. Jacob knows his body is going to that repository now to be buried with his people. And so he begins by asking to be buried in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite.

Instead of saying the cave bought by Abraham, he first says it this way. It is a picture of the world as it is now. Next, he calls it “the cave that is in the field of Machpelah” which shows that it is a double cave. It contains Jew and Gentile, male and female, all who are redeemed by the Lord.

This cave is before, or literally, “in the face of” Mamre, meaning bitterness. It is the state of the world. There is bitterness in death and there is bitterness on the way there as well. But it is in the land of Canaan. It is in the land of those who are humbled and brought into subjection before the Lord.

Because of this, he again notes that the field was bought by Abraham from Ephron the Hittite, from the man filled with terror, who is from the dust, in the land of the humbled, the cave was bought. There in that cave six were buried, and there the field and the cave were bought from the sons of Heth – the sons of terror.

So taking all of this terminology and combining it into what I believe Jacob is saying under the influence of the Spirit, this is what we come up with:

“I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of the man of dust, the fallen man who is filled with terror, in the cave that is in the field of double – Jew and Gentile, which is in the face of bitterness in the land of the humbled, which (the) Father of many nations bought with the field of the fallen man of the dust, the one filled with terror, as a possession for a burial place. There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife, there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah. The field and the cave that is there were purchased from the sons of terror.” Charlie Garrett’s interpretation of Genesis 49:29-32

Everything that has been said here is a recalling of what was given in Genesis 23. It is Jacob’s hope in the future while being planted in the ground in the present. Through the Spirit, he tells his sons and thus us that he is a seed waiting to sprout forth from this spot to eternal life someday, all because of the work of Messiah.

This is the hope of the redeemed, that though our body will someday be laid in the dust, we are promised and assured of a new one, an everlasting one that will never perish. This is what Paul speaks of in 2 Corinthians 5.

For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed
We have a building from God, a house not made with hands
This one will last eternally, one forever to be enjoyed
A body which through the endless ages withstands

For in this we groan, earnestly desiring
To be clothed with our heavenly habitation
If indeed, for to this we have been aspiring
To be clothed through a glorious transformation

Then we shall not be found naked nor bare
For us glorious garments Christ does now prepare

III. The Death of Jacob, Who is Israel (verse 33)

33 And when Jacob had finished commanding his sons,

Again it notes that Jacob had commanded his sons. What was spoken was expected to be with all of their participation. He had already secured a guarantee on oath that Joseph would ensure his burial there in Canaan, but now we see that all of the sons are expected to be a part of it.

The meticulous wording concerning his burial is especially important to note because Jacob didn’t say all these things when he previously charged Joseph. In chapter 47, when that charge was given, the only words used were these –

“Now if I have found favor in your sight, please put your hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me. Please do not bury me in Egypt, 30 but let me lie with my fathers; you shall carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.” Genesis 47:29, 30

Instead, he waited until all the covenant sons were present to say what he said. Such seemingly unimportant things are actually of the highest importance as we look into the mind of God as the Spirit has revealed it in His word.

The purchase of the cave and field were in anticipation of the resurrection which would be realized in Messiah. All of the sons of Israel were to participate in ushering Him into the world as the sons of the covenant, as the people of Israel. This is why Jacob waited to speak these words in front of all the sons.

Their hope was to be that great hope which will be seen throughout all of the rest of the prophetic writings, right up until the time that John the Baptist cries out the words, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29

It is Israel who would carry the blessing and also the bear the burden of the law which only He could fulfill. Jacob’s words were a command which looked forward to the wondrous day when the world of terrified, fallen man would be bought back by the Lord whom he had so intimately fellowshipped with.

And now, at the end of a long life filled with blessings and trials, joys and sorrows, he was ready to receive his final reward…

33 (con’t) he drew his feet up into the bed and breathed his last,

Jacob was born in the year 2169AM to Isaac and Rebekah. He was the younger of twins, and his life was used in the most astonishing way to show us pictures of all of redemptive history. The seven dispensations of time were seen in his movements in and out and throughout the land of Canaan.

The two exiles of the people who would come from him were pictured in events from his life. And the majestic work of Jesus Christ was seen again and again in his actions and movements. God directed his each and every step for us to behold the marvelous work of Christ.

Jacob lived 147 full years and finally expired in the year 2316AM. The most recorded and detailed life in the book of Genesis finally came to an end in a most peaceful way. It says that “he drew his feet up into the bed and breathed his last.”

Having blessed his sons from a sitting position, certainly being sustained by the anointing of the Spirit upon him, he now felt content to lie back down and enter into the splendor of eternity.

*33 (fin) and was gathered to his people.

Just a few short minutes earlier, he knew that his time was ending. Now it is realized. The soul left the body, thus demonstrating once again that man is more than just a physical being. His request to be buried in Canaan implies that the body is separate from the soul and that the souls of his ancestors were in a separate place than where their bodies lay.

For him to be gathered to his people now, and for his body to be buried more than 70 days later, shows two distinct occurrences; one spiritual, and one physical. There is Jacob the man who walked in this fallen world and who was destined to die.

And there is Israel who fellowships with His God and who continues on through his people after him. It is to and through this group of people that the Messiah eventually came. The hope of fallen man was realized in the Person of Jesus Christ, Jacob’s greatest descendant.

And that hope still rings true today. If you are found in Adam when you die, you will never receive the glorious promises of heaven and eternal life. But if you are found in Christ, they are yours by a covenant settled in His own blood. If you would, please give me another moment to tell you how you too can have the assurance of eternal life and be reconciled to God through Jesus…

Closing Verse: “Remember these, O Jacob,
And Israel, for you are My servant;
I have formed you, you are My servant;
O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me!” Isaiah 44:21

Next Week: Genesis 50:1-14 (The Burial of Jacob) (129th Genesis Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you and He has a good plan and purpose for you. Call on Him and let Him do marvelous things for you and through you.

The Death of Jacob

All these are the twelve tribes of Israel
And this is what their father to them addressed
And he blessed them as the Bible does tell
Each one according to his own blessing he blessed

Then he charged them and to them said
“I am to be gathered to my people, but it’s alright
Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the days ahead
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 for a burial place as a possession

There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife
There they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife too
And there I buried Leah when her days were through

The field and the cave that is there
Were purchased from the sons of Heth
As each of you is now aware

And when Jacob had finished, his sons commanding
He drew up into the bed his feet
And breathed his last as his life was ending
And was gathered to his people in sleep so sweet

Jacob’s death though sad is not the end of his story
He continues on through those who are his seed
And he will someday be raised to eternal glory
Because of his faith in Christ, his greatest deed

And we like Jacob can take hold of the same promise
Eternal life for us can also be our own guarantee
By simple faith in the work of our Lord Jesus
In that one act we can hold on to such a wondrous surety

Thank You O God, for You have done marvelous things for us
Thank You O God, for our sure hope because of Jesus

Hallelujah and Amen…

Genesis 49:22-27 (The Blessing Upon Joseph and Benjamin)

Genesis 49:22-27
The Blessing Upon Joseph and Benjamin

Introduction: So far we’ve looked at the blessing of Jacob upon 10 of his sons. Today we’ll look into the last two blessings – those of Joseph and Benjamin, the sons of his beloved wife Rachel. In these blessings, like all of the others thus far, we will see the future of the sons’ tribes revealed.

But more than that, we will again see that every word pronounced points to the work of Jesus Christ. The 19th century Bible commentator, Charles Ellicot, wrote these words about the blessing upon Joseph, a blessing we will look at in just a moment –

“And thus Jacob magnifies again and again, but in obscure terms, his blessing upon Joseph, which, when analyzed, amounts simply to excessive fruitfulness, with no Messianic or spiritual prerogative.” C.J. Ellicott

Ellicot looked at the blessing as a mere earthly pronouncement with nothing more in it. In it he found no Messianic or spiritual hints. If this were true, then what would be the purpose of even including it? In fact, what would be the point of the majority of the stories we’ve looked at in the past 127 sermons?

Without Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of every type, picture, story, and sacrifice that we see, the entire Bible truly makes no sense. It appears disjointed, hard to follow, and without any ultimate purpose. It appears to be a convoluted book of meandering stories that often seem bizarre or irrelevant to the world in which we live.

But when viewed in the greater perspective of God revealing Himself through Jesus Christ, the entire book not only begins to make sense, it becomes a cohesive whole that makes absolute sense. Let us never fail to look for Christ in every story, on every page, and in every detail. He is there and He is telling us that He has a plan and that we can trust in Him.

Text Verse: “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” John 5:39

The Scriptures have their purpose and that is to point us to Jesus Christ. When Jesus spoke these words to those around Him, only the Old Testament existed. What this means is that He is to be found in the Old Testament. If one can search the Scriptures to find a testimony of Jesus, then the implication is that all of those Scriptures are a testimony of Him.

When we open the pages of the Bible, we are looking at words written about Him. We will see this yet again today, numerous times. In the end, it is all about Jesus Christ and how he deals with us – Jew and Gentile, Israel and the church. So let’s go to this superior word now and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. The Blessing Upon Joseph (verses 22-26)

Today, we will see Jacob bless his final two sons, both the sons of his beloved wife Rachel. He first blesses Joseph, the elder of the two. The record of Joseph’s birth is found in Genesis 30:22-24 –

“Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb.
And she conceived and bore a son, and said, ‘God has taken away my reproach.’ 24 So she called his name Joseph, and said, ‘The Lord shall add to me another son.'”

Unlike all his older brothers, the name Joseph then is based on two words, not one. The duality in his name looked not only backward, but also forward. The word for “has taken” used by Rachel is asaph. The word for “add” is yosef. Both point to his name.

In taking away the reproach, Rachel looked for the Lord to give her another son and so she named him Yosef – he shall add, increase, repeat, or double. The name he received was literally fulfilled in two ways. First, he had a brother, Benjamin.

But Joseph himself also had two children – Ephraim and Manasseh. In taking away her reproach, God showered Rachel with His grace. The name Joseph, as we have seen through many sermons, has been fulfilled not only literally in a brother and in sons, but in many, many other ways as well.

He has continuously pictured Christ throughout the stories God has given. This blessing upon him will be no different. It is comprised of four divisions. 1) His prosperity which is likened to a vine; 2) A trial between him and his foes; 3) His prevailing over his foes; 4) His receiving the blessing of heaven, sea, earth, and his paternal family. It is an exact comparison to the Person and work of Jesus.

22 “Joseph is a fruitful bough,

Ben porat yoseph – literally “son fruitful (is) Joseph.” In this, by using the word porat, there is a play on the name of Ephraim, a  name which we have seen the immense importance of in previous sermons. Without the need for too much detail, we have seen Joseph’s entire life pointing to the work of Christ.

The fruitfulness of Joseph in the sons which descend from him is reflective of the fruitfulness of Christ in bringing many sons to glory. Jesus Himself used this same metaphor in John 15:1, 2 –

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

22 (con’t)A fruitful bough by a well;

Ben porat ale ayin – “son fruitful by the well.” A vine can only live if watered. If by a well, it will not only live, but flourish. The symbolism of a fruitful tree or vine is given many times in the Bible. Psalm 1 is a perfect example of the spiritual application of this temporal truth –

“Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.” Psalm 1

Joseph shot forth two luxuriant branches who were noted as sons of Israel, Ephraim and Manasseh. Christ, the embodiment of the law, is like a Vine who has also put forth branches, from Jew and Gentile – both of which are most fruitful.

22 (con’t) His branches run over the wall.

banowt saadah ale surdaughters run over the wall. The symbolism is beautiful. The last sections spoke of a son, this one speaks of daughters. It is a family affair! When a vine is by a wall, it absorbs the heat of the wall. As long as it has a continuous source of water, the heat will do as much to make the vine fruitful as the water itself.

Eventually, it will shoot its branches completely over the wall and take advantage of even more space, support, and heat. It is a beautiful metaphor from nature which looks to the work of Christ throughout all of history, past, present, and future.

Like the giving of his name which looked both backward and forward, this blessing does the same. In the past, Joseph prudently gathered the fruit of Egypt for the famine and preserved both Egypt and his family, allowing them to flourish.

But in the future, his son’s tribes would spread and flourish throughout the land of Israel, covering territory on both sides of the Jordan. And they would be fruitful at all times of redemptive history as well.

During the time of punishment upon the Jews, the people of Ephraim would in essence run over the wall to become the fullness of the Gentiles. The imagery given by Jacob concerning Joseph is exactingly fulfilled in Christ in every way.

Blessed is the man, one of the winners
Who walks not in the ungodly’s counsel
Nor stands in the path of sinners
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful

But in the law of the Lord is his delight
And in His law he meditates day and night

He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water
That in its season brings forth its fruit
Whose leaf also shall not wither
And whatever he does shall prosper, for deep is his root

23 The archers have bitterly grieved him,
Shot at him and hated him.

A literal rendering of this verse would be “provoked him, and shot at, and laid snares for him, masters of arrows” (Pulpit Commentary). This, like the previous verse, looks both backward to Joseph’s life and forward to Christ.

Using harsh words and actions against someone is often likened to the shooting of arrows in the Bible. A great example of this is found in the 64th Psalm –

“Hear my voice, O God, in my meditation;
Preserve my life from fear of the enemy.
Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,
From the rebellion of the workers of iniquity,
Who sharpen their tongue like a sword,
And bend their bows to shoot their arrows—bitter words,
That they may shoot in secret at the blameless;
Suddenly they shoot at him and do not fear.” Psalm 64:1-4

The actions of Joseph’s brothers are described here by Jacob. His brothers reviled him, and acted against him by throwing him into the pit and then selling him off to the Egyptians. Those sermons showed how the events perfectly mirrored the events of the life of Jesus.

Even while on the cross, the symbolism he uses now of archers and arrows comes to mind. From the 22nd Psalm which speaks of the cross, we read this –

“But I am a worm, and no man;
A reproach of men, and despised by the people.
All those who see Me ridicule Me;
They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
‘He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him;
Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!'” Psalm 22:6-8

Matthew cites this very verse when describing what occurred when Christ was crucified –

“Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, 42 ‘He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. 43 He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ‘” Matthew 27:41-43

Again, the Spirit of God is calling to mind the work of Jesus Christ as it will unfold in the future of redemptive history.

24 But his bow remained in strength,

Despite the attacks by the archers, meaning his brothers of the past and those who come against Christ in the future, the bow of each remained in strength. The word for strength here shows that this is a prophecy of the future and not just what occurred in the past.

It is the word ethan which indicates going on forever without cessation, such as flowing streams or the constancy of the eternal hills. And it is the word from where we derive our modern name Ethan. So if you ever meet an Ethan, you can tell him that his name means perennial, ever-flowing, or permanence.

This enduring bow of God is referred to elsewhere in Scripture, such as in the 7th Psalm –

“God is a just judge,
And God is angry with the wicked every day.
12 If he does not turn back,
He will sharpen His sword;
He bends His bow and makes it ready.
13 He also prepares for Himself instruments of death;
He makes His arrows into fiery shafts.” Psalm 7:11-13

Despite being crucified, being vexed, and being shot at, the attacks of the enemies could not prevail against Christ. His bow truly did and does remain in strength as He prepares for battle.

24 (con’t) And the arms of his hands were made strong

The Hebrew for the words “were made strong” is pazaz and is difficult to translate. It probably means more like pliant, or nimble. The only other time the word is used is in 2 Samuel 6:16 where is speaks of King David leaping.

“Now as the ark of the Lord came into the City of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.”

The idea is that despite being attacked, Joseph was able to overcome the attacks and he remained nimble and able to continue with his affairs without interruption. It is a beautiful picture of Christ who was nailed to the tree and yet walked out of the tomb on the third day under his own power, ready to walk all the way to Emmaus that same day without any difficulty at all.

24 (con’t) By the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob

This term, the Mighty God of Jacob, will be used 5 more times in the Bible, both in the Psalms and in Isaiah. Isaiah 49 says this –

“I will feed those who oppress you with their own flesh,
And they shall be drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine.
All flesh shall know That I, the Lord, am your Savior,
And your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.” Isaiah 49:26

Joseph’s hands were strengthened by the Lord and such is the same with Christ. The dual fulfillment of these words is a glorious testament to the Spirit of prophecy being uttered by Jacob.

24 (con’t) (From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel),

This portion of verse 24 is very complicated and debated over. It is either speaking of the time of Joseph’s exaltation to being the leader of Egypt and thus he is the shepherd and the stone of Israel, or it is speaking of the fact that Joseph’s strength was derived from the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel, meaning the Lord.

Because of the difficulty, it is certainly referring to both. As Joseph pictured Christ, he was the shepherd of his people and the stone which upheld and supported them, just as Christ is the Shepherd of His people and the Stone of their foundation as a people.

As the same time, it is from God that Joseph received his abilities and authority, as he himself said. And likewise, Jesus came from God. His humanity and His deity are united in such a way that both are true of Him. He is the Good Shepherd of John 10 and He is the Stone which the builders rejected who has become the Chief Cornerstone which is mentioned in both testaments of the Bible.

The entire passage is spoken as a blessing upon Joseph and his sons after Him and yet it is a prophecy of the greater work of Christ Jesus as presented throughout the entire body of Scripture.

25 By the God of your father who will help you,

These words follow on in a continuous thought from the previous verse. In other words, the God who made his arms strong is the God who will help you. Jacob calls Him “the God of your father” showing his eternality and so He is the Source of all help.

This is perfectly reflected in the 118th Psalm when referring to Christ who is helped by the Lord. These words are found in the same psalm that refers to Jesus as the Stone –

“You pushed me violently, that I might fall,
But the Lord helped me.
14 The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation.” Psalm 118:13, 14

25 (con’t) And by the Almighty who will bless you

Shaddai, or the Almighty is the one who provides fruitfulness, ensures the protection of the people, and gives them an inheritance in the land in which to dwell. The Lord is the Almighty, and it is the Lord in whose name Jesus came and in whose name Jesus was blessed. Again, from that key 118th Psalm, we read this –

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.” Psalm 118:26

Every word finds its fulfillment in Jesus.

25 (con’t) With blessings of heaven above,

The blessings of the heaven above in the earthly sense are the dews and rains upon the land, the sunshine, the favorable winds, and the clouds which give relief from the heat. The blessings of heaven above in the spiritual sense are the positions of power, authority, and honor.

25 (con’t) Blessings of the deep that lies beneath,

The blessings of the deep in the physical world are those things which fill life with abundance and wealth – minerals, metals, oil and gas, fish life in the waters, cisterns of water hidden in the ground, and so on.

In the spiritual world, they are the keys to death and Hades, and the precious souls of men who have been locked up captive in those places.

25 (con’t) Blessings of the breasts and of the womb.

The blessings of the breasts and of the womb in the earthly sense are how men and beasts are multiplied and nourished. It is a blessing upon Joseph for many descendents as well as large herds of cattle, sheep, and other animals.

In the spiritual realm, these blessings are the increase of the redeemed and the pure spiritual milk of the word by which they are nourished. In the earthly sense, all of these were pronounced upon Joseph. In the spiritual sense, these words are all spoken of Jesus. The blessings of heaven, earth, and fruitfulness all point to Christ.

Again here, as with every word of this chapter so far, all of Jacob’s pronouncements have been directed by the Spirit to show the future of Joseph’s tribe and at the same time to reveal Christ Jesus.

26 The blessings of your father
Have excelled the blessings of my ancestors,
Up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills.

The NIV translates this verse differently by saying, “Your father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains.” This is based on the several different manuscripts of the Old Testament, including the Greek translation of it.

It also would then match the blessing of Moses upon Joseph’s tribe which is recorded in Deuteronomy 33, and it would match the continuous thought that Jacob is presenting. Whichever is actually correct, the idea is that Joseph has received an immense blessing.

And, in fact, it is a greater blessing than those received by his ancestors because it includes the double blessing of his two sons. The blessings are so great that they reach “to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills.” This is a way of saying that they shall never end. They are eternal in nature.

Because of this, it is ultimately pointing to Christ, whose throne is forever. And in Him is the greatest blessing of all. The book of Hebrews speaks of the supremacy of Christ and attributes many blessings from elsewhere in the Bible to Him, such as this one –

“But to the Son He says:
‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.'” Hebrews 1:8, 9

26 (con’t) They shall be on the head of Joseph,

The head is the highest point of the man and it is the place which more distinguishes a person from another than any other feature. When a person is anointed with oil as a blessing or conferment of authority, it is upon their head.

When a person is filled with joy, it is said to be upon their head. This is seen in Isaiah when speaking of the ransomed of the Lord –

“And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
And come to Zion with singing,
With everlasting joy on their heads.
They shall obtain joy and gladness,
And sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” Isaiah 35:10

The blessings conferred upon Joseph then are said to be upon his head as a mark of distinction to be seen and enjoyed by all.

26 (con’t) And on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers.

The crown of the head isn’t talking about a crown on the head.  Instead it is speaking of the crown of the head – the very top part of the head. The words are parallel to what he just said, but they intensify the words he spoke. Not only is there a blessing upon his head, but upon even the very crown of it. Again, this is reflective of the words of Hebrews 1:9 when speaking of Christ –

“Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.”

And Jacob finishes with the words, “of him who was separate from his brothers.” The word for separate is the word nazir. It is the source of where the word Nazirite comes from.

This certainly has a two-fold meaning of not only having been separated from his brothers by a long period when he was persecuted and humiliated, but also the elevation of him to extraordinary dignity and even preeminence.

And this is an exact picture of Christ Jesus in both ways. He was persecuted, humiliated, and separated from His brothers while at the same time being exalted and given preeminence over them. As an interesting connection to the New Testament, Jesus is called a Nazarene in Matthew 2:23 where it says this –

“And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, ‘He shall be called a Nazarene.'”

However, nowhere in the Old Testament is the coming Messiah specifically called a Nazarene. This then leaves only a couple possibilities for what Matthew was referring to. One is the word netser, which means branch and which is referred to in Isaiah 11:1, or he was speaking of this word nazir which Jacob uses. Or, he was referring to both.

The word nazir here, and the word Nazarene in the New Testament both mean “consecrated one.” As Joseph has consistently pictured Christ, and because Jacob is prophesying by the Spirit of God, it is likely that the words of Matthew are the fulfillment of this ancient prophecy by Jacob over his beloved son Joseph.

In the witness of the stars, Joseph is represented by the constellation Sagittarius, the Archer or Bowman. This is certain because of the words “his bow remained in strength.” Sagittarius is commonly represented with bow bent and an arrow drawn up to the head in full strength.

As represented in the constellation, we see this exacting description of Christ given in the 45th Psalm –

“You are fairer than the sons of men;
Grace is poured upon Your lips;
Therefore God has blessed You forever.
Gird Your sword upon Your thigh, O Mighty One,
With Your glory and Your majesty.
And in Your majesty ride prosperously because of truth, humility, and righteousness;
And Your right hand shall teach You awesome things.
Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the King’s enemies;
The peoples fall under You.” Psalm 45:2-5

The connecting constellations to Sagittarius are Lyra, the Harp, which symbolized praise prepared for the Conqueror; Ara, the Altar, which indicates God’s fire of judgment on His enemies; and Draco, the Dragon, who is that old serpent the Devil who is cast down from heaven to earth.

The symbolism is clear in the prophecies over Joseph and in the work of Christ presented in the Bible. The heavens declare the message of the Redeemer, our Lord Jesus, prefigured by this blessing upon Joseph.

God is a just judge, One who is not slack
And God is angry with the wicked every day
Certainly, if he does not turn back
He will sharpen His sword with which to slay

He bends His bow and makes it ready
He also prepares for Himself instruments of death
He makes His arrows into fiery shafts
By which man will breathe his last breath

I will praise the Lord according to His righteousness all my days
And to the name of the Lord Most High I will sing songs of praise

II. The Blessing upon Benjamin (verse 27)

*27 “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
In the morning he shall devour the prey,
And at night he shall divide the spoil.”

Benjamin’s blessing seems at first contrary to what one might expect of a beloved son of Rachel, but it exactingly reflects the future of his people and even the work of Christ himself.  A ravenous wolf is bent on its mission and is completely determined in its purposes.

The word for “ravenous” here is yitraph, which indicates to tear. Hence a wolf that tears. The idea of him devouring in the morning and dividing the spoil at night indicates a ceaseless effort. The history of Benjamin in the time of the judges is perfectly reflected in this several times.

In one instance, they came against all of the other tribes of Israel in battle. At that time 26,000 men fought against and prevailed over 400,000. Eventually, they were beaten down to only 600 men, but they came back as a tribe, dividing the spoils of women who became their wives in order to repopulate their numbers.

In the early history of Israel, the first king, Saul, was a Benjamite who devoured his prey on all sides as 1 Samuel 14 records –

“So Saul established his sovereignty over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, against the people of Ammon, against Edom, against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines. Wherever he turned, he harassed them. 48 And he gathered an army and attacked the Amalekites, and delivered Israel from the hands of those who plundered them.” 1 Samuel 14:47, 48

At the other end of the Old Testament times, Mordecai and Esther, of the tribe of Benjamin prevailed over the wicked Haman and divided his spoils. Thus Saul tore in the morning and Mordecai and Esther divided the spoils in the evening.

In the morning of the church age, there is Paul of the tribe of Benjamin who started as a ravenous wolf, persecuting the church, but eventually came to Christ. Since then his letters have been and are now church doctrine until this day, even at the end of the age.

When the tribulation comes, the 144,000 sealed of Revelation, pictured by Benjamin in our previous sermons, will complete the work of dividing the spoils before Christ returns to reign on earth. These are the constant patterns seen in the people of Benjamin, all prophesied by Jacob over his youngest son.

Ultimately though, even Benjamin’s blessing points to the work of Christ. It is the Lord who tears and the Lord who heals, as we see in Hosea 6 which uses the same word for torn as is used in Benjamin’s blessing –

“Come, and let us return to the Lord;
For He has torn, but He will heal us;
He has stricken, but He will bind us up.
After two days He will revive us;
On the third day He will raise us up,
That we may live in His sight.
Let us know,
Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord.
His going forth is established as the morning;
He will come to us like the rain,
Like the latter and former rain to the earth.” Hosea 6:1-3

It is also the Lord who divides the spoil of his labors. The great suffering Servant passage of Isaiah uses the same Hebrew terms to speak of Him that is used of Benjamin by Jacob –

“Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:12

There are numerous other patterns and pictures of both Joseph and Benjamin which are fulfilled in Christ, but time doesn’t allow more than what we’ve seen. And what we have seen demonstrates that every word spoken by Jacob over his twelve sons points directly to the work of Jesus Christ. And all of it has not only been recorded in the Bible, but it has been placed in the heavens above us to see.

In the witness of the stars, the final constellation represented by Benjamin is Capricorn. On the Egyptian sphere, according to Dr. Hales, it was represented by a goat led by pan, with a wolf’s head.

The three accompanying constellations are Sagitta, The Arrow; representing the arrow of God sent forth; Aquila, The Eagle, which is the smitten One falling; and Delphinus, the Dolphin, who is the dead One rising again.

With a few variations in what I have presented over these past five sermons, the book The Witness of the Stars written by EW Bullinger in 1893 gives a snapshot of the redemptive plans of God which are placed in the stars as a heavenly view for us to see.

It would be good to be reminded now as we close that using the stars for divining the future, or as guides for our daily life, is forbidden in Scripture. This is no different than misusing the Bible for these same purposes.

What God has given us in these things is for the purpose of seeing His plan of redemption, centered on Christ. Not a plan for our prosperity which is centered on us. And the reason why is obvious, it is all about Jesus Christ. From Him and for Him and to Him are all things.

We are merely the recipients of His love and grace; a love which is meticulously recorded in the Bible for us to read, believe, and cherish. If you have never called out to Christ to save you, this is the most important thing you could ever do. And so I’d like for just another moment to explain to you how you can be saved by His work and be reconciled to God through His shed blood.

Closing Verse: “He teaches my hands to make war,
So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

35 You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right hand has held me up, Your gentleness has made me great.” Psalm 18:34, 35

Next Week: Genesis 49:28-33 (Jacob Breathed His Last) (128th Genesis Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you and He has a good plan and purpose for you. Call on Him and let Him do marvelous things for you and through you.

A Fruitful Bough and A Ravenous Wolf

The blessings of the sons of Israel
Are finished in Joseph and Benjamin
Marvelous things of their future, the blessings do tell
And of Christ the Lord too, words which point to Him

And so upon these two sons, these words he did proclaim
Prophecies of things to come given to each by name:

“Joseph is a fruitful bough,
A fruitful bough by a well;
His branches run over the wall.
The archers have bitterly grieved him,
Shot at him and hated him.
But his bow remained in strength,
And the arms of his hands were made strong
By the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob
(From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel),
By the God of your father who will help you,
And by the Almighty who will bless you
With blessings of heaven above,
Blessings of the deep that lies beneath,
Blessings of the breasts and of the womb.
The blessings of your father
Have excelled the blessings of my ancestors,
Up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills.
They shall be on the head of Joseph,
And on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers.
“Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
In the morning he shall devour the prey,
And at night he shall divide the spoil.”

With these words the blessings upon his sons are complete
The prophecies have been uttered by the Spirit to each
Some were harsh while others were sweet
But in the end, into our souls they do reach

They ask us to look inside and believe what we have heard
The words were fulfilled in the tribes of each son
But they also speak of more, they tell about our Lord
Pointing to Him and the many great things He has done

And in the skies the story has been shown
With signs pointing to God’s beautiful plan for us
To us these wondrous things are made known
Which tell of our Savior, our Lord, our Redeemer – Jesus

Who could hold back from giving Him their praise!
May it never be so, but let us exalt Him all of our days

Great is the Lord, great, majestic, and wondrous
He is worthy of all honor. He is our Lord Jesus

Hallelujah and Amen…

Genesis 49:19-21 (The Blessing Upon Gad, Asher, and Naphtali)

Genesis 49:19-21
The Blessing Upon Gad, Asher, and Naphtali

Introduction: In the Bible, God records events especially from the central point of Israel and in particular Jerusalem. When directions are noted, they are normally from that vantage point. In the same way, when a celestial occurrence is noted, such as the rising of the sun, it is given from man’s perspective on earth.

The sun doesn’t really rise. The earth is spinning on its axis and as the earth turns, the perception for us though is that the sun is rising. This, along with many other examples of heavenly occurrences in the Bible, are noted from our perspective on earth. A constellation from any other angle wouldn’t be the constellation as we know it. And yet, God has included constellations in His word, clearly showing us that they have relevance to us from how He placed them, which is from our vantage point, directed from earth looking upward. The same is true with other signs in the heavens which are spoken of in both testaments of the Bible.

These are never to be used for divination, and yet, God shows us what they are to be used for, which is understanding His working on our behalf. Again, as we have seen for the last three sermons, we will witness Jacob speaking under the Spirit of prophecy words which point to the heavenly signs God has placed in the sky – all of which reveal His plan of redemption, centering on the work of Christ.

Text Verse: He counts the number of the stars;
He calls them all by name.
Great is our Lord, and mighty in power;
His understanding is infinite. Psalm 147:4, 5

God spoke the universe into existence and by the power of His word, it stood firm. From nothing came all things. In a mere six days he fashioned everything suitable for His highest creation, man – a temporal/spiritual being; one intended to fellowship with Him in a unique way.

But before He made the man, He knew the man would fall. The spiritual would be lost and man would be separated from Him. And so, to show that He has complete control over that state of affairs and that the spiritual side of man would be healed, He placed the stars in heaven in a way which would show the entire healing process.

Along with that plan, He slowly revealed Himself through His word. As the heaven’s testified, so His word confirmed. There is a plan, there is hope, and there is redemption. And it is all to be found in the giving of His son, Jesus Christ.

Not a story, paragraph, or even a word in the Bible is without relevance. And all of it, even the smallest letter is there because God placed it with infinite wisdom and care. And the care is because it reveals to us His entrance into His own creation in the Person of Jesus Christ.

The key to understanding where all of human history is heading is found in His superior word, so let’s turn to that wondrous book once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. The Blessing Upon Gad (verse 19)

19 “Gad, a troop shall tramp upon him,

In these three sons today, Jacob will continue to bless the sons of his concubines. Dan was the first and he has received his blessing. Jacob now turns his attention to his seventh-born son, Gad. He is the third son born to a concubine and the first born to Leah’s maidservant Zilpah. The record of Gad’s birth is found in Genesis 30:9-11 –

“When Leah saw that she had stopped bearing, she took Zilpah her maid and gave her to Jacob as wife. 10 And Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11 Then Leah said, “A troop comes!” So she called his name Gad.”

The name Gad is an interesting study and it’s difficult to pin down its exact meaning or what Leah was thinking when she named him. It could be, as some speculate, that Leah stopped bearing children because Jacob stopped going in to her.

If this is the case, then her giving Zilpah to Jacob seemed as much of a necessity as what Rachel did because she was barren. She may have been desperate to find the love that had eluded her by having more children through the maidservant.

Gad could mean either “troop,” as in a large group, or “fortune.” If it’s a troop, then she was excited about the large family which had come from her – a whole troop. Or if fortune, her exclamation would be that she had good luck in her struggle to find that love and affection she desired.

It seems that either way, the name Gad is a reflection of Leah’s sad state. Unlike her other children, she never invoked the name of the Lord when he was born. Instead, He was completely left out of the struggle that existed between herself and her sister in either thanks or praise.

And now, at the end of Jacob’s life, regardless of what Leah was thinking when Gad was born, either troop or fortune, Jacob ties his name in with the word “troop” by using the Hebrew word gedud which is a marauding band.

In these words of blessing are found a beautiful three-fold alliteration known as a paronomasia which will provide a double-play on the name of the tribe of Gad. Jacob exclaims, gad gedud yegudennu (2:59).

Unfortunately, it is lost in translation, but several translators have done their best to keep this amazingly alluring alliteration alive. One translation from Keil says “Gad – a press presses him, but he presses the heel” Another, The Speaker’s Commentary translates it as “troops shall troop on him, but he shall troop on their retreat.”

Jacob’s prophecy is looking forward to the character of the tribe that will come from him. They will be warlike as 1 Chronicles 12:8 later describes them –

Some Gadites joined David at the stronghold in the wilderness, mighty men of valor, men trained for battle, who could handle shield and spear, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as gazelles on the mountains:” 1 Chronicles 12:8

The reason for Gad being warlike was because of necessity. As a tribe, they settled to the east of the Jordan instead of the land of Canaan. Because of this, they were exposed to sudden incursions of plunderers without the protection of the greater body of Israel around them.

In their many conflicts and difficulties recorded in the Bible, they made war alongside the other tribes who settled to the east of the Jordan. In 1 Chronicles 5:18-22, we read this about them –

“The sons of Reuben, the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh had forty-four thousand seven hundred and sixty valiant men, men able to bear shield and sword, to shoot with the bow, and skillful in war, who went to war. 19 They made war with the Hagrites, Jetur, Naphish, and Nodab. 20 And they were helped against them, and the Hagrites were delivered into their hand, and all who were with them, for they cried out to God in the battle. He heeded their prayer, because they put their trust in Him. 21 Then they took away their livestock—fifty thousand of their camels, two hundred and fifty thousand of their sheep, and two thousand of their donkeys—also one hundred thousand of their men; 22 for many fell dead, because the war was God’s. And they dwelt in their place until the captivity.”

Along with these groups, they are noted as fighting against the Ammonites, Moabites, and Arameans. Jacob’s prophecy perfectly suites what occurred in the history of Gad. But finally, there was a point where the land of Gad was overrun and occupied by outsiders. This is recorded in Jeremiah 49 –


“Thus says the Lord:
‘Has Israel no sons?
Has he no heir?
Why then does Milcom inherit Gad,
And his people dwell in its cities?'” Jeremiah 49:1

Despite this exile, Jacob assures them that they would finally overcome as we continue with verse 19…

19 (con’t) But he shall triumph at last.

The Hebrew words are v’hu ygud aqev. Literally, “and he presses the heel.” It is a symbol of victory similar to what is seen in Joshua 10 where Israel stood in victory over the kings they defeated by placing their feet on their necks. Here is how that is recorded –

“So it was, when they brought out those kings to Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said to the captains of the men of war who went with him, ‘Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings.’ And they drew near and put their feet on their necks.” Joshua 10:24

Some scholars see this as prophecy to Gad fulfilled at the time of David when the Moabites and Ammonites were finally subdued. But this isn’t correct. Just a minute ago we saw in Jeremiah that their land was overtaken by the enemy which was after the time of David.

However,  just one verse later, the Lord, through Jeremiah, promised that Israel would again assume control of the land. This is recorded in the later chapters of Ezekiel which speaks of the future, where the tribe of Gad is given an inheritance in the land. And Gad is also one of the sealed tribes recorded in Revelation 7.

Matthew Henry likens this to the cause of God and all his people. In his poetic way of describing things, here is what he says about Gad triumphing at last –

“The cause of God and his people, though for a time it may seem to be baffled and run down, will be victorious at last. It represents the Christian’s conflict. Grace in the soul is often foiled in its conflicts; troops of corruption overcome it, but the cause is God’s, and grace will in the end come off conqueror, yea, more than conqueror.” Henry

This may be true in a certain sense, but the words of Jacob, like all of them thus far, point to the work of Christ. In Micah 5, the word used for “troop” here is used again. It concerns the gathering of the Babylonians against Israel.

But there in the same passage is also the promise of the coming Messiah. This gathering of troops beautifully reflects Jacob’s word to Gad –

“Now gather yourself in troops,
O daughter of troops;
He has laid siege against us;
They will strike the judge of Israel with a rod on the cheek.
2 ‘But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
From everlasting.’
Therefore He shall give them up,
Until the time that she who is in labor has given birth;
Then the remnant of His brethren
Shall return to the children of Israel.
And He shall stand and feed His flock
In the strength of the Lord,
In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God;
And they shall abide,
For now He shall be great
To the ends of the earth;
And this One shall be peace.” Micah 5:1-5

In the second half of the prophecy, the Hebrew indicates that He will press them with his heel. The word for “heel” in this verse is used several times in this same construct. Of them, one is in Genesis 3:15 when the Lord spoke to the serpent –

“And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:15

Another use is in the 41st Psalm when referring to Judas who would betray Jesus. There it says –

“All who hate me whisper together against me;
Against me they devise my hurt.
8 ‘An evil disease,’ they say, ‘clings to him.
And now that he lies down, he will rise up no more.’
Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted,
Who ate my bread,
Has lifted up his heel against me.” Psalm 41:7-8

The symbolism is perfectly clear. Though the devil struck the heel of the Messiah by having one of His own disciples lift up his heel against Him, He prevailed by pressing His own heel to crush the serpent’s head. The entire prophecy, though proclaimed over Gad, and also fulfilled in him, is ultimately a prophecy of Christ to come.

In the witness of the stars, Gad is represented by the sign Pisces, the fish. In Hebrew, there is an anagram on his name. Gad is spelled gimel, dalet. Reversing these to dalet, gimel produces the word dag, or fish.

The connecting constellations to Pisces are the Band which unites the fish, Andromeda – the Chained Woman, and Cepheus – the Crowned King. The Egyptians called Pisces “the fishes of Him that cometh.” The Band specifically means “He cometh.” And Andromeda is named Set, meaning, set up as a queen.

EW Bullinger notes that this constellation, Pisces the fish, has always been interpreted as Israel. However, there are two fish in the constellation. These two fish of Pisces refer, with certainty, to all the redeemed, both Jew and Gentile.

The picture is clear and easily understood from the prophecy given by Jacob. And how interesting it is that the symbol of the fish, even from the earliest days, has been a symbol of Christianity. The stars witness to the plan of redemption formulated by God from the time of creation.

Out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel
Whose goings forth are from of old, from eternity
Even from everlasting, as My word does tell

Therefore He shall give them up then
Until she who labors has given birth as My word does foretell
Then the remnant of His brethren
Shall return to the children of Israel

And He shall stand and feed His flock
In the strength of the Lord
In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God
And they shall abide, this My spoken word

For now He shall be great
Even to the ends of the earth
And this One shall be peace
The end of sadness, pain, and dearth

II. The Blessing Upon Asher (verse 20)

20 “Bread from Asher shall be rich,

The next blessing falls to Jacob’s eighth-born son, Asher. He is the forth son born to a concubine and the second born to Leah’s maidservant Zilpah. Genesis 30:12, 13 records Asher’s birth –

“And Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. 13 Then Leah said, ‘I am happy, for the daughters will call me blessed.’ So she called his name Asher.”

There is no dispute on the meaning of Asher – it means happy. It comes from a verb, ashar, which means “to be straight” or “to go straight.” For most of us, we tend to like the straight and quick path to where we are going, whether literally or in a project. This is what makes us happy.

When an arrow flies straight, it hits its mark. When we put up a wall, we want it to be straight, not crooked. In each of these things, being straight gives us the sense of what is correct and what leads to happiness.

Leah was happy at his birth and gave the reason by saying, “the daughters will call me blessed.” As before, she didn’t mention her husband, nor did she include the Lord in her statement.

Not much is seen or heard of from Asher in the rest of the Bible, other than standard genealogies and the like. But there is one calling of them, along with other tribes, to go to war in Judges 6 and 7.

Also, after Israel divided into two nations, 2 Chronicles 30 says that some of the people from Asher came to Jerusalem at King Hezekiah’s request to celebrate the Passover and humble themselves before the Lord.

But of the times that Asher is noted, the most famous is actually found in the New Testament where a woman of great faith from the tribe of Asher was granted the honor of beholding the Messiah before her death. Something that surely made her happy. She is noted in Luke 2 –

“Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; 37 and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” Luke 2:36-38

Jacob’s prophecy of Asher was fulfilled literally in the land allotment to the tribe when it was granted. It is in the lowlands along the seacoast between Mt. Carmel and Tyre and is an area fertile and abundant in both grain and oil.

20 (con’t) And he shall yield royal dainties.

Because of the rich soil of the area, Asher was certainly fit to provide, as the Hebrew reads, maadaneh melekh, or “delicacies of a king.” In 1 Kings 4, one of the governors appointed under Solomon was from Asher and it was his responsibility to provide “food for the king and his household… for one month of the year.”

Again, the blessing points to Christ, as each has thus far. Asher’s bread shall be rich. This is certainly an illusion to the body of Christ. His words indicate that His body is the richest of all breads. In John 6:35, He said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”

In John 6:41, He then spoke saying, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” And then repeating Himself and expanding on that, He said in John 6:51, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”

In the second half of the verse, it says “he shall yield royal dainties.” The word “dainties” is from the same root as the word eden which is used in Psalm 36 which speaks of the river of pleasures, a picture of the water flowing from the royal throne of God in the New Jerusalem –

“How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.
They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house,
And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.
For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light.” Psalm 36:7-9

Though the blessing is upon Asher and his tribe, it ultimately looks forward to what is realized in the coming Messiah. Even the name of Asher which comes from that verb, ashar, which I mentioned earlier is used when speaking of the God of Israel, where in Psalm 72 this is recorded –

“His name shall endure forever; His name shall continue as long as the sun. And men shall be blessed in Him; All nations shall call Him blessed.

18 Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel,
Who only does wondrous things!
19 And blessed be His glorious name forever!
And let the whole earth be filled with His glory.
Amen and Amen.” Psalm 72:17-19

In the witness of the stars, Asher, whose bread is rich, is represented by Virgo who is seen holding a full ear of wheat, from which bread is derived.

The three accompanying constellations are Coma – the desired; Centaurus, the Centaur with two natures, holding a spear and piercing a victim; and Bootes, a man walking bearing a branch called Arcturus. Each of these specifically points to the work of Christ in the history of redemption. And each are well detailed by EW Bullinger in his book, The Witness of the Stars.

How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
Therefore the children of men put their trust in You
Under the shadow of Your wings and guided by your rod
To You alone are all our praises due

We are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house
And You give drink from the river of Your pleasures
For with You is the fountain of life
In Your light we see light eternal without borders or measures

To You we look and our hope is in Your gospel story
Only to You who does such wondrous things
And let the whole earth be filled with Your glory
As we behold the unfolding of your counselings

III. The Blessing Upon Naphtali (verse 21)

21 “Naphtali is a deer let loose;

The final blessing upon the son of a maidservant falls to Jacob’s sixth-born son, Naphtali. He is the second son born to a concubine and the second born to Rachel’s maidservant Bilhah. The record of Naphtali’s birth is found in Genesis 30:7, 8 –

“And Rachel’s maid Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. Then Rachel said, “With great wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and indeed I have prevailed.” So she called his name Naphtali.”

The meaning of Naphtali isn’t as easy to determine as some of the others. Naphtali means either “my wrestling” or “my twisting.” If it is wrestling, then it is referring to the struggle Rachel felt she was in with Leah – one of being the preeminent wife of Jacob.

If so, her exclamation at his birth is, “With great wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed.” They were in a battle and she is now on top.

But the name Naphtali comes from the word patal which means to “twist.” And so one translator says, “By the twistings of God, I am entwisted with my sister.”

The difference in the translation is important because in the first, it is her struggle against her sister and she has prevailed. But in the second it is God’s designs that have allowed her to participate in building the family which previously was only by her sister.

If it is the first translation, she was showing an arrogance in condemning her sister even after God had been gracious to her through children. If it is the second, then she was showing gratitude to God for allowing her to be included in His plans as He built up Jacob’s home. As you can see, differences in translation really do matter.

But whichever is correct for the naming of him at birth, Jacob’s blessing upon him sets him free. Instead of being caught in a wrestling or a twisting, Jacob says that Naphtali is a deer let loose.

In other words, he isn’t pursued by hunters, and he also isn’t caged up in a pen. Naphtali is free to roam and feed upon any pastures he desires. Again, there isn’t much concerning Naphtali in the Bible. In Judges 5, they are noted along with Zebulun for jeopardizing their lives to help in a time of need during a great battle.

They did the same during another battle in Judges 6 and 7. And later in 1 Kings 7, a craftsman named Huram whose mother was from Naphtali was hired by Solomon to cast the main implements used in the temple in Jerusalem.

21 (fin) He uses beautiful words.

Whatever the connection to the future of Naphtali that this verse is pointing to, the Bible doesn’t make any direct reference to it. Because of this, it is more than likely a prophecy specifically speaking about the ministry of the Lord, and only generally to the people of Naphtali.

Again as before, the words were given by the Spirit through Jacob and ultimately point to Christ. The work of God in Christ is what sets a man free. Using the same symbolism of the deer, we read this about the Lord in the 18th Psalm –

“He makes my feet like the feet of deer,
And sets me on my high places.” Psalm 18:33

It is the Lord who sets the deer free and allows him to run in the open places. And in Jacob saying that Naphtali uses beautiful words, nothing could be more appropriately said about Jesus.

The power of the gospel, unlike any other power in history, has been displayed more through words of beauty than by any display of force. The land of Naphtali ran all along the shores of Galilee and it is from there that sweet voice of the Lord most strikingly went out. As John Gill notes concerning this verse –

“Galileans, were swift to obey his call, and left all and followed him, and were sent out by him to preach his Gospel; and both he and they may be said to “give goodly words”, as the doctrines of the Gospel are, words of grace, truth, and life; wholesome, comfortable, pleasant and delightful; good tidings of good things, of peace, pardon, righteousness, salvation and eternal life by Christ: and the inhabitants of this country in Christ’s time were swift to run after him, and hear him; panted after him as the hart after the water brooks, and both received and gave out the goodly words of the Gospel, and were made free thereby, and so like an hind let loose.” John Gill

It is to this group of people, along with Zebulun, that Isaiah made his prophecy of the great Light which would fill the land –

“Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed,
As when at first He lightly esteemed
The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
And afterward more heavily oppressed her,
By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,
In Galilee of the Gentiles.
The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.” Isaiah 9:1, 2

Matthew used this very verse from Isaiah to show that it was fulfilled, in its entirety in the Lord Jesus. Certainly every word of the prophecy points to the One who spoke it through the breath of his dying servant Jacob.

In the witness of the stars, Naphtali is revealed by a play on his name Naphtali. It is used to form the word taleh, which is a ram or a lamb – the sign of Aries. The three conjoining constellations of Aries are Cassiopeia, the Enthroned Woman; Cetus, the Sea Monster; and Perseus, the Breaker.

For those familiar with the rest of the Bible, the imagery, especially of the Lamb is everywhere, pointing to Christ. The other conjoining constellations are very well described by Bullinger in his book and point to the work of the Messiah in defeating the devil and leading His people in a glorious procession.

Particularly exceptional is the connection to Perseus, the Breaker. This work of Christ is wonderfully seen in the words of Micah which say this –

“The one who breaks open will come up before them;
They will break out,
Pass through the gate,
And go out by it;
Their king will pass before them,
With the Lord at their head.” Micah 2:13

The Hebrew name of Perseus is Perez and its where the Greek name we use is derived from. This is the same word used to describe the one who breaks forth in this passage from Micah.

As you can see again, as we have seen in every blessing so far, Jesus is perfectly and exactingly revealed in these words of Jacob to his sons.

And likewise, the stars themselves witness to the splendor of what God has done, is doing, and will complete in and through His Son, our Lord Jesus. As David says in the 19th Psalm –

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.” Psalm 19:1, 2

Everything that God has revealed is to us shows us His great love for us. Were it not so, He wouldn’t have taken the time to give us His plan in the heavens, His word for our guide, and His Son for our redemption. This is how much God loves us and how certain it is that He desires us to know Him personally.

And the only way we can do that is to call on Jesus and come to know Him through His word. If you have never received this greatest Gift of all, please give me another minute to tell you how you too can share in the love of God revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ His Son…

Closing Verse: Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. 106 I have sworn and confirmed That I will keep Your righteous judgments. Psalm 119:105, 106

Next Week: Genesis 49:22-26 (The Blessing Upon Joseph) (127th Genesis Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you and He has a good plan and purpose for you. Call on Him and let Him do marvelous things for you and through you.

Triumph, Royal Bread, and Beautiful Words

Jacob blessed his sons before he died
Three of them were Gad, Asher, and Naphtali
By these precious words we are notified
Of a portion of God’s plan of redemption in history

Upon these three, these words he did pronounce
Prophecies of things to come which God’s Spirit did announce:

“Gad, a troop shall tramp upon him,
But he shall triumph at last.
“Bread from Asher shall be rich,
And he shall yield royal dainties.
“Naphtali is a deer let loose;
He uses beautiful words.

Just three verses, so short and to the point
And yet filled with treasures immeasurable
Upon the dying lips of Jacob he did anoint
Pictures of Christ which are ascertainable

Such wisdom and splendor revealed in God’s word
Hints of the future not discernable in nature alone
Words which tell us of our precious Lord
Of His life and of His death which for our sins do atone

The glory of God is written in the stars above
And it is explained so carefully in His precious book
There we see of the plan, the Life, the love
And so let our eyes to it every day take a look

Be not weary and skip over this pleasure
In it you will find the greatest of treasure

Hallelujah and Amen…