Accompanying sermon by Bob Deffinbaugh: The End of an Era
The deaths and burials of Jacob and Joseph are both a testimony to their faith, as well as an encouragement to the faith of their offspring.
Jacob’s death occasioned a journey to Canaan where the Israelites once again beheld the land of promise to which they (in their offspring) would return at the exodus. The burial of Jacob reminded his descendants of their final home, and that Egypt was only a place of sojourn.
Joseph, on the other hand, was a continual reminder that some day the exodus would occur. Day after day in Egypt, that coffin spoke of Israel’s future and Joseph’s faith. And day after weary day, the Israelites trudged through the wilderness carrying the casket of Joseph.
Consider how the book of Genesis begins in a garden of perfection, but ends with two funerals.
1) The end of Genesis is not the end of the Bible. The Bible, in fact, ends looking forward to the ultimate perfection of heaven.
2) Death is not the end. It is the end of our physical lives, but it is only the beginning (or continuing would be correct) of our eternal lives.
This reminds me of the recent suicide of Robin Williams and all the many comments and articles that have flooded the internet in recent days. The thing I had thought of immediately is that most people who commit suicide likely do so because they feel that life can't get any worse and death would end their pain. Sadly, this is an incorrect conclusion. Suicide plunges its victim into irreversible judgment, and if they are not believers, death is no relief, but rather an escalation of pain that will truly be never-ending.
Here, Moses lets us know that death is not the end. Something Jacob finally comes to realize at the end of his life.
The expression, “to be gathered to his people” was no mere euphemism for death; it was an ancient expression of the patriarchs hope of life after death. These men found little comfort in having their bones in close proximity to those of other relatives. They viewed their death as the occasion to be rejoined with those whose death had separated the living from the dead.
When our Lord quoted the statement of God the Father, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Matthew 22:32), He did so to prove there is life after death. For, otherwise, He would have said “I was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”!
May I suggest to you that the way you view death makes all the difference in the world. If it is the end of everything, then there is not any need to seek heaven or to shun hell. Suicide is a tempting option whenever life doesn’t seem to be going our way. If there is no life after death, the world is right when it says that we should “… eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”
But if we view death as a beginning rather than the end, then what lies after death must surely compel us to face eternity squarely, before death. And, once we are rightly related to God by faith in His Son, we need not fear death. We need not avoid talking about it. And, in one sense, we can welcome it, for it promises us a time when we shall be intimately and eternally with God and with those in the faith who have been separated from us by death.....
Let us look at death as Jacob and Joseph. Let us see it not as the end, but the beginning. Let us, by faith, look forward to being reunited with those we love (I Thessalonians 4:13-18) and dwelling with our Savior (John 14:1-3), forever in His presence and experiencing the things he has prepared for us.
I can't believe we're done the Book of Genesis - I've really enjoyed studying more about the book of beginnings. Looking forward to spending a few days in the Psalms before moving on to Mark. Guess I better get on with finishing the schedule for the rest of the year!
Monday's scripture focus: Psalm 4
Sunday's passage: Job 15-16
Monday's passage: Job 17-18, Psalm 143, Galatians 2