We have seen the Patriarchs as they were faithful even to death. Perseverance is an important theme throughout Scripture. These men of faith did not fold once they came near to death. In fact, knowing that they were about to die only served to strengthen their faith.
We do not need to fear death if we are trusting Christ. We have His promises, His Word, and the testimony of those who have gone before us and were faithful to the end. They persevered. Their faith did not weaken or fail them, because they were trusting God, whose every Word is true.
In our study of Hebrews 11 now we come to Joseph’s faith. He had seen God do wonderful things, taking what others meant for evil and using it for good. He was able to save the land of Egypt, the region around it, and even his own family during the course of the seven year famine. He was reunited with his father and his whole family moved to Goshen where he could provide and care for them.
He saw his father’s faith in the face of death. He witnessed the blessing given to his sons. Joseph never strayed from his own faith in God. From being a young man sold into slavery by his own brothers, falsely accused and imprisoned, to being elevated to the second highest seat in the land – through it all he humbly walked with God.
As Joseph was dying then, after living a faithful life to the age of 110, he spoke by faith about the fulfillment of the promises and the covenant when the nation of Israel, his family, would inherit the land promised to their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He made reference to the fact that they would one day leave Egypt. He prophesied a visit from God where He Himself would lead them out of the Land of Egypt.
He was so sure of this, by faith in God’s promises and covenant, that he asked the children of Israel to swear an oath. He made them promise that when the time came and they went to inherit the land promised to their fathers, then they would carry up his bones from Egypt. When the time came, he wanted his body to be buried in the Promised Land.
That is assurance. To know what God was going to do and to be so sure that he requested to be buried there when they went to inherit the promises. He was so sure that he had given instructions for his body to be embalmed as the Egyptians did with their dead, so that his body could then be taken on the journey to the Land and he could be buried there, however long it might be before God visited them. The promise of course given to Abraham in Genesis 15:13 was that Israel would sojourn and be afflicted in Egypt for over 400 years, and God was true to His Word.
After the years of enslavement God sent Moses to lead the people out, and when they left, guess what they took with them? Let’s read Exodus 13 to find out:
Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, “Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. And the children of Israel went up in orderly ranks out of the land of Egypt. And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had placed the children of Israel under solemn oath, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here with you.” So they took their journey from Succoth and camped in Etham at the edge of the wilderness. And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people.
Just as God had promised and Joseph had believed, the nation of Israel was leaving Egypt to go inherit the Promised Land. They took Joseph’s coffin with them so that he might be buried in the Land of Promise. After the journey and the wilderness wandering, once the nation began to inhabit the Land, Joshua led the people in a renewal of the Covenant from Mt. Sinai. It was here, at Shechem, where the Covenant was renewed. It was also in Shechem that Jacob had purchased a plot of ground.
Then Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan Aram; and he pitched his tent before the city. And he bought the parcel of land, where he had pitched his tent, from the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for one hundred pieces of money. Then he erected an altar there and called it El Elohe Israel (God, the God of Israel). Genesis 33:18-20
On that ground, which Jacob owned and which had been passed by inheritance down to Jospeh and his descendents, Joseph’s bones were laid to rest.
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
These Patriarchs persevered because they knew God was faithful. This is but one example. Jacob purchased this plot of ground and 500 years later it is where Joseph was buried as part of what he and his children had inherited from Jacob as members of the Covenant with Abraham. And while many people put a great deal of importance on the literal land that was promised what we often miss is that this Promised Land was just a shadow. It points to the work of Christ in saving His people. It points to the promise of heaven. It points to the fulfillment of the New Covenant wherein we inherit all that is Christ’s.
We can look to these men and their faith and see the faithfulness of God to keep His Word. We know that He has made promises to us, sealed by the Holy Spirit, that we might inherit something more than a Promised Land. We are co-heirs with Jesus Christ and have been given eternal life and the hope of a New Heaven and New Earth, untainted by sin, sorrow, and death.
Do you take God at His Word? Are you a man or woman of faith? Does your faith persevere and stick it out during tough times? God is always faithful and absolutely trustworthy. Do not let anyone convince you that His Word cannot be trusted. He has proved Himself faithful time and time again.