Jump Start # 2810
Joshua 24:32 “Now they buried the bones of Joseph which the sons of Israel brought up from Egypt, at Shechem, in the piece of ground which Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for one hundred pieces of money; and they became the inheritance of Joseph’s sons.”
Recently, one of our class studies took us through the life of Joseph. It wasn’t a detailed look, but more of a 32,000 foot view. Remarkable times and more, a remarkable man of faith is what we find in this Genesis story. Hated. Accused. Character attacked. Forgotten. Terrible home life. All the right ingredients for someone to pour a lifetime into a bottle, find hope in a handful of pills or as most do, just turn mean, nasty and selfish the rest of your life. And, as luck or fate would have it, but believers know it’s the providence of God, Joseph encounters his brothers late in life. They are in need and he is in the position. He could crush them, make them suffer, and get even for all those years. Instead, he offers them forgiveness, hope and grace. He promises to take care of them. He is good to his word and does just that. At the end, as he is dying, Joseph, having lived in Egypt for the past 90 years, longs to be buried in the land that God promised to his father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Joseph wants to be buried in Canaan. That’s how Genesis ends. The book begins with God creating life. It ends with these words, “a coffin in Egypt.”
Our verse today is at the end of Joshua. After Joseph died, other Pharaoh’s came on the scene. The people of God were oppressed for four hundred years, according to Stephen’s Acts 7 sermon. Then Moses, parting the Red Sea and forty years of wilderness. That coffin carrying those bones went with them. Through the Red Sea and for forty years it moved about as the nation did. Finally, as the nation comes to the land, drives out the inhabitants and settles down, Joseph is buried. It’s been over 450 years! They have carried those bones for decades.
And, all the time they were carrying those bones, they never realized that they were carrying an example of faith. Through that wilderness period, Israel grumbled, complained and wanted to return to Egypt. They never looked to that coffin and thought about how Joseph did things.
They carried the bones, but not the attitude of Joseph. The nation was not thankful but instead, ugly. They turned on Moses. They were not happy even though God was taking care of them.
They carried the bones, but not the hope of Joseph. Even as he was dying, he was certain that God would bring them to the land of promise. He knew. Faith told him that. But the nation never got that. The nation never understood the awareness of God as Joseph did. Joseph understood that it was God that brought him to Egypt. It was God who had cared for him. Israel forgot God.
They carried the bones, but never realized that they were carrying a resident of Heaven. Hebrews 11 includes Joseph. All of those in that chapter, we are told, gained approval. They made it. And, every day Israel had those reminders.
God would have Joshua to collect stones from the bottom of the Jordan as reminders. Within the ark of the covenant were reminders of God’s law, God’s protection and God’s promises. Even today, our Lord’s Supper is a reminder. A reminder of a great sacrifice and a reminder that the Lord is coming back.
It’s hard to miss the obvious point of carrying bones. Right among them was an example. The nation saw bones, but not life. They saw the remains of a dead man, but not the hope of God. They saw a burden to be carried, not hope to remind them. And, we must be careful that we too do not follow the steps of Israel.
Every Sunday, right among us, are living examples of faith. Men and women who have made difficult choices to walk with the Lord. Some have had to deal with family that turned against them. Some have had to end friendships that we not wholesome and healthy. Some have fought addictions and won. And, each week, right among us, are these examples. Dedicated for decades and unmoving in their faith, these living legends remind us of a home that we are headed to. But do we notice? Do we see? Or, like Israel, do we complain and miss the obvious?
Every Sunday, the ancient word of God is opened, read and preached from. Week after week that ole’ Bible message is proclaimed. We are accustomed to it. We expect it. We are used to it. But do we see those eager eyes of the Ethiopian as he was reading Isaiah and trying to figure out the message? Do we see those early disciples gathered together listening? Do we see those Bereans huddled together, looking through the pages of the word of God to see if what they heard was true? Do we see the eyes of a dying Stephen looking Heavenward as his soul departed from him? Sure, it’s just the Bible, but it’s so much more.
Every Sunday, hymns of praise are sung to our Lord. Songs written years ago, often during trying times, that have lifted spirits and hearts for years. Hymns that we know so well that we could close our eyes and sing them. Hymns that remind us that God is good to us. Hymns that teach us the wonderful blessing of fellowship. Hymns that warn. Hymns that invite. Hymns that dry our eyes and keep us going. Yes, it’s singing, but it’s so much more.
Every Sunday, heads are bowed as words are spoken to Heaven. Words that could not be heard outside in the parking lot somehow reach God’s hears. Words that thank. Words that cry for help. Words that beg for forgiveness. Words that praise. And, as those words end, we say, “Amen.” Sure it’s just another prayer. So many prayers. But are we listening?
For more than 450 years the bones of Joseph were carried about. Maybe, had the nation taken an insightful look at what they were carrying, some lessons would have been learned. We must be sure that we are not carrying bones, but rather that we carry life. Every Sunday, we call it worship. It’s so much more. All around us are lessons. Open your eyes and see…