Hebrews – Chapter Eleven XXXIX

by Ed Urzi

“By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones” (Hebrews 11:22 ESV).

Even though God enabled Joseph to save his family from starvation by relocating them to the nation of Egypt, Joseph also knew that Egypt was not their permanent home. You see, Joseph was aware of the promises God made to his father Jacob, his grandfather Isaac, and his great-grandfather Abraham regarding a homeland for their descendants. Because of this, Joseph knew they would eventually return to the place where he was born- the land his father left to join him in Egypt.

When the time arrived for that future generation to return to their ancestral homeland, Joseph wanted to ensure that he was a part of that journey. This explains why “…Joseph made his brothers promise with an oath that they would take his body back with them when they returned to Canaan” (Genesis 50:25 TLB).

Thus, Joseph’s example provides us with some important considerations today. Even though Joseph lived for decades among the highest ranking members of Egyptian society, he never lost sight of where he began. And even though Joseph’s travels had taken him far away to a foreign land, he always knew where he really belonged.

What does this example mean for contemporary readers of Hebrews 11:22? Well, let’s consider that question in light of the problems and difficulties we often encounter. For instance, there are some who struggle to trust God and patiently endure through the challenges of life as Joseph did. Some may be reluctant to stand against the mockery of professors, co-workers, business associates, authority figures, or others who learn of their belief in the God of the Scriptures.

Then there are those who seek the comfort of conformity to a culture that finds Jesus irrelevant. Others may be negatively influenced through relationships with men and women who don’t have a spiritual foundation in Christ. Finally, there are those who may be pressured to leave their convictions and abandon the supposedly primitive idea of faith in God.

A person who succumbs to these various influences may eventually move so far away from genuine Christianity that there is little or nothing left to distinguish him or her from anyone else. Should that time arrive in our lives, the message behind Joseph’s final act of faith will point the way back home for those who have wandered away. We’ll consider that “message behind the message” next.