The Inevitability of Death

by Bethany

Today’s Readings: Genesis 47:28-48:22

Death

If Jesus continues to delay His return, all of us will eventually die. To avoid thinking about what it will be like to leave this life and meet God is foolish: “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart” [1]. Thus, Moses prayed, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” [2].

Burial

After seventeen years in Egypt, as Jacob was dying, he asked Joseph: “If I have found favor in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh [3] and promise that you will show me kindness and faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt, but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried” [4]. Jacob was not being superstitious [5]; he was reminding Joseph to remember God’s covenant.

Covenant

Thus, Jacob told Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me … in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give you this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you’” [6]. His burial in Canaan, therefore, was a testimony to his descendants that their hope was in God’s promises regarding Canaan, not Egypt.

Descendants

Amazingly, Jacob’s dying concern was not about himself, but about the future of God’s people and their faith in His promises. Thus, he called Joseph’s two sons – Manasseh and Ephraim – and blessed them as his own [7]: “May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the Angel who has delivered me from all harm – may he bless these boys. May they be called by my name and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and may they increase greatly on the earth” [8].

Prayer

Lord, You have made us eternal beings. Yet, we confess that we get captivated by the affairs of this life and forsake thinking about death and the life to come. Teach us to number our days that we may be wise, as we become more concerned about the posterity of Your great name than ours. Amen.

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[1] Ecclesiastes 7:2 NIV  |  [2] Psalm 90:12 NIV  |  [3] See also Genesis 24 (noting that Abraham asked his servant to place his hand under his thigh as a reminder of the covenant to His people).  |  [4] Genesis 47:29-30 NIV  |  [5] Jacob was not being superstitious because he knew that his soul would immediately be with his fathers at death. We know this because of the way that he worded his request. He first said, “ … when I rest with my fathers” and then he made his request. Thus, he knew that he would already be resting with his fathers when his body would be moved from Egypt to Canaan. He did not believe that his soul would be stuck in Egypt merely because he would die in Egypt.  |  [6] Genesis 48:3-4 NIV  |  [7] Genesis 48:5 NIV  |  [8] Genesis 48:15-16 NIV.

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One Comment to “The Inevitability of Death”

  1. God’s ways are always different to ours – the second born Ephraim is first blessed – We often don’t understand that like Joseph didn’t like that (“he was displeased”) – without trusting in God’s sovreignity and that he ALWAYS knows it better and works for HIS GLORY we will always stumble and be irritated – Why is it sometimes so difficult for us to allow God to embrace us and let go our expectations? Only in HIS ARMS we can see things differently and don’t resist HIS LOVE any more -

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