Hebrews – Chapter Eleven XXXVIII

by Ed Urzi

“By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones” (Hebrews 11:22).

The Old Testament account of Joseph is fairly well-known, even to many who are unfamiliar with the Scriptures. For instance, some may know about the injustice that was inflicted upon Joseph when he was sold into slavery. Others may be acquainted with the account of Joseph’s ascendance to a prominent position within the Egyptian government. Perhaps some may be familiar with Joseph’s coat of many colors, or how he was determined to honor God despite the seductive advances of his employer’s wife, a decision that eventually sent him to prison on false charges.

Despite these well-known aspects of Joseph’s life, his final act of faith may be less familiar. That account is easy to find because it is the very last thing we read in the Biblical book of Genesis…

“‘Soon I will die,’ Joseph told his brothers, ‘but God will surely come and get you, and bring you out of this land of Egypt and take you back to the land he promised to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ Then Joseph made his brothers promise with an oath that they would take his body back with them when they returned to Canaan. So Joseph died at the age of 110, and they embalmed him, and his body was placed in a coffin in Egypt” (Genesis 50:24-26 TLB).

This portion of Scripture tells us that Joseph never received a final burial following his death in Egypt. Instead, his coffin remained there for approximately four hundred years until the nation of Israel carried it out with them when they departed from that area…

“Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the sons of Israel swear an oath. He had said, ‘God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place'” (Exodus 13:19 NIV).

So how did Joseph know this exodus would occur? Well, the answer is given to us here in Hebrews 11:22: Joseph believed the words God had spoken to his great grandfather Abraham by faith…

“Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions… In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here…” (Genesis 15:13-14, 16 NIV).