And Joseph died, being one hundred ten years old; he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.
Today we finish our devotional study of Genesis. Ironically, this is also the final day of the first year of the Life for Leaders devotions. The De Pree Center began publishing Life for Leaders on April 1, 2015. After a few devotions related to Easter, we dove into Genesis on April 6 with “First Impressions.” Since then, we’ve seen over and over again how God speaks to us through Genesis, not just about our personal lives, but also about our work, our leadership, and our participation in the world.
Before we examine Genesis 50:26, I want to take a moment to share a couple of personal thoughts with you. I am deeply grateful for the chance to write the Life for Leaders devotions and share them with you. I have learned so much through this study of Genesis. I hope you have too. Because of Genesis, I am convinced more than ever that God cares about every facet of our lives, including, of course, our daily work. The Bible will help us live whole, integrated, meaningful lives if we allow the Lord to teach us through his Word and Spirit.
Because of Genesis, I am convinced more than ever that God cares about every facet of our lives, including, of course, our daily work.
Thank you for subscribing to Life for Leaders. (We have over 1600 subscribers by the way, with more joining each day.) Thank you for sharing this devotional resource with others. (Word of mouth is our #1 means of getting new subscribers.) Thank you for your comments and emails, whether you are helping us correct a typo or sharing vulnerably how Life for Leaders has made a difference in your life. One of the challenges for me as the primary writer of Life for Leaders is the fact that I don’t know most of you personally. So, I appreciate it when you take time to write.
Now, back to Genesis.
The last verse in Genesis reads, “And Joseph died, being one hundred ten years old; he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.” Though this verse appears to be a straightforward description of Joseph’s death and burial, I want to highlight three significant elements.
First, “Joseph died.” By now we’re familiar with people dying in Genesis, but it’s important to remember that this was not what God had intended for humankind. Death came as a result of sin. Death is a persistent reminder of the fact that the world is not as God had intended it to be. The last verse of Genesis underscores the brokenness of the world as well as our mortality.
Second, “Joseph . . . was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.” Joseph was buried, not with his ancestors in Canaan, but in Egypt. He was embalmed and placed in a coffin according to Egyptian tradition, not the ways of the Israelites. Thus, this apparently simple statement reminds us that God’s people are not where God had originally intended them to be, even as God’s world is not as God had originally intended it to be.
Third, “Egypt.” On the surface, this is merely a description of the place where Joseph was buried. But, when we remember the place of Genesis in the canon of Scripture, we realize that the next act of the biblical drama has everything to do with Egypt: slavery in Egypt, plagues in Egypt, and the exodus from Egypt. Thus, the last word of Genesis (in Hebrew as well as English) sets up what is to come. It prepares us for the continuation of the biblical story, in which God will ultimately make right what went wrong when the man and the woman sinned (Genesis 3).
In case you’re wondering, Life for Leaders will not jump into Exodus tomorrow. Rather, I want to turn our attention to a very different chapter of the biblical story. Yet, in spite of its differentness, both in genre and in perspective, the biblical text we are about to examine reiterates in a profound way much of what we have learned from Genesis. If you’re curious about what comes next, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
As you read the last verse of Genesis, what thoughts and feelings occur to you?
How has our devotional study of Genesis made a difference in your thinking? In your behavior? In your work? In your leadership?
Gracious God, as we come to the end of Genesis, we thank you for this astounding book. It opens with a glorious vision of life as you meant it to be. But then it takes a familiar turn, as sin enters and corrupts the purity of your creation. We who were meant to model our lives on you through doing good work will now experience pain in our work. In the end, like Joseph, we will die.
Thank you for how Genesis begins to reveal your saving purposes. Thank you for entering into a covenant relationship with Abraham and Sarah, for engaging with human beings in the work of salvation, in spite of our foibles and failures. Thank you, Lord, for your ability and choice to make good out of what we intend for evil.
Thank you, dear Lord, for the honesty of your Word, for showing us the biblical characters “warts and all.” The fact that you work in and through them reminds us of your work in and through us. Indeed, may you be at work in and through me this day, in all I do.
To you be all the glory. Amen.