Genesis 50:1-20

All the sons of Jacob appear to have been present at his deathbed, according
to the first verse of Genesis 49, yet no mention is made of them in the closing
scenes. Joseph alone remains before us as we open Genesis 50, and again we
see him as a man of deep affection, moved to tears. These patriarchs died in
faith, as we are told in Hebrews 11, yet their faith did not lessen the love
proper to natural relationships, nor does it do so for us today. The breaking
of the link is a very real sorrow.

Being in Egypt, the burial customs of that land were observed up to a certain
point, but Jacob's body was not to lie embalmed in an Egyptian tomb. By Jacob's
desire, as well as Joseph's, it was to lie in the land of promise. The promise
of God was a reality to their faith, since "Faith is the substantiating
of things hoped for" (Heb. 11: 1, New Trans.). The things hoped for are
real, and faith substantiates them, or, makes them real, to us.

Jacob's funeral bore witness to the extraordinary position of power and influence
to which Joseph had attained. Pharaoh's permission was readily given. All Jacob's
sons were associated with Joseph in it, and also many important personages
of Egypt. It was recognized in Canaan as a great mourning of the Egyptians.
Nevertheless his body was laid in the grave that witnessed to the fact that
these men of faith were still strangers and pilgrims.

Back in Egypt, one last test confronted Joseph. His brethren sent him a message
which revealed that they had never quite trusted his magnanimous attitude towards
them. They felt it was too good to be really true, and suspected that it was
a kindness assumed for the sake of his old father, Jacob. If that had been
so, now was the time for the true Joseph to reveal himself in paying off the
old score. Their message revealed that they did not altogether trust him.

Their message was very diplomatic. They invoked the memory of their dead
father to shelter themselves. They acknowledged their trespass of many years
before, which was good, and they professed themselves to be the servants of
the God of Jacob. But still they revealed all too clearly that they regarded
all his former goodness as not expressive of his real self.

This was a sorrowful stab to the heart of Joseph, and for the seventh and
last time we read that he wept. This last test reveals him to us in a peculiarly
excellent light. Any ordinary man might have been annoyed and antagonized by
such a spirit of distrust, but Joseph's reaction was very different. He was
moved to tears, expressive of wounded love, but his attitude toward them remained
just as it had been, for it was the expression of his genuine nature.

In this again he is a striking type of the Lord Jesus. How many times have
we, who have received of His eternal bounty, displayed either in word or deed,
or in both, that we do not trust Him unreservedly; but His attitude toward
us never alters, His love never wanes, His care never abates. Many years ago
a servant of the Lord quoted the lines of the hymn,

"They, that trust Him wholly,

Find Him wholly true,"

and then surprised everybody by adding, "But I know something more wonderful
than that." All had, however, to acknowledge that he spoke truly when
he added, "It is more wonderful still that they, who do not trust Him
wholly, still find Him wholly true!" This is illustrated here. Joseph's
brethren did by no means trust him wholly, yet they found him wholly true to
that which was his real nature and character.

Having wept, Joseph replied and his words show afresh how consistently God
was before him. He was not in the place of God, and therefore not free to act
without reference to Him. God had acted in the whole matter, and meant it unto
good. That being God's intention, he would not for a moment swerve from it.
His acts toward them would also be consistently for their good. His exaltation
in Egypt was such that they were indeed his servants, as they confessed, but
he would use his power for their nourishment and protection. He comforted them
by kindly speech.

Verse 20 is a fine summing up of the whole story. They had committed a grievous
wrong but God had overruled it for salvation. This at once directs our thoughts
to the Lord Jesus Christ. The evil thought, which was wrought out against Joseph
by his brethren, was as nothing compared with that perpetrated by the Jews
when they rejected and crucified their Messiah. God permitted it because He
meant it unto good in the accomplishment of an eternal redemption; for the
laying of the foundation, whereon rests securely the superstructure of blessing,
in a new creation according to His eternal purpose. Thus has God made the wrath
of man to praise Him.

Joseph, as we have said, saw God in the whole matter, and it preserved him
from pettiness and an unbecoming spirit. With this beautiful episode the story
concerning him comes to its end. He lived to be 110 years old, and may have
done many other notable things before his death, but as a type of Christ his
history is completed as far as Scripture is concerned, save that we are permitted
to know that he too died in faith, and in expectancy that a day would come
when God would redeem His promise as to the land, and the Exodus would take
place. It is this closing episode that is seized upon in Hebrews 11, to establish
that he was a man of faith.

One cannot close the book of Genesis without being struck by the last four
words. It opens with a couple created in innocence and placed in a garden of
delights. It closes with a coffin in Egypt, and in that cofffin a dead man,
in spite of the fact that he was an eminent saint. Sin had come in, and death
by sin.