Joseph is called on to make a promise by his father. Jacob has spent his life, or the majority of it in Canaan. That is where he wants to be laid to rest.
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Jacob was an old man when he came to Egypt to live. He knew his family’s history of long lives. He knew there were still some good years left in him, but not too many. His grandfather Abraham lived to be 180 years old. His father Isaac lived to be 175 years old. His oldest relative living during his lifetime was Shem. He lived to be 600 years old. Compared to Shem, Jacob was just a baby! But he knew this wasn’t to be the truth. His health was failing.
Before drawing his last breath or even getting to the point where he didn’t know what was going on around him, Jacob called for Joseph. He had matters he wanted to set right before it was too late. He had lived in Egypt for over 16 years now but this was NOT his home! His home was with his fathers’ in Canaan. But he couldn’t physically travel there himself.
When God brought Jacob and his family to Egypt He addressed Jacob’s biggest fear. Jacob feared that the lure of Egypt would keep his family snared there and Gods’ promise of inheriting the Promised Land would go by the wayside. But God promised to bring his descendants back from Egypt. God also promised that Joseph would “close his eyes” for him, meaning Joseph would lay him to rest.
Jacob didn’t want to “rest” anywhere but with his family. He wanted to be buried in the family plot in Haran.
Jacob calls to Reuben one morning. “Please bring Joseph to me. I need to speak with him.”
Noticing the drawn look on Jacob’s face, Ruben asks, “Are you ill father? Shall I fetch the healer?”
“No son. I am past the hands of the healer. I’m getting old. I want to speak with Joseph before all my strength is gone.”
“He and his family will be visiting in 2 days. Can it wait that long?”
“I don’t know how many days I have left in me. Please have him come today; just in case.”
“Certainly father. I will ride to him today and bring him to you.”
Reuben heads off for Joseph’s home within the hour. He is concerned for is father spurs him on in his journey. He doesn’t see Jacob dying right away but he does know that his steps are weakening more every day. As Jacob said, who knows how many days he has left.
At Joseph’s door, Reuben straightens his robe and runs his fingers through his beard and hair. He always tries to look his best when approaching Joseph. He still makes sure to show Joseph all the respect he can. He saved the lives of their WHOLE family. He didn’t have to, but he did. Reuben will never forget that, nor the forgiveness Joseph has shown his brothers and him.
Reuben is announced by Joseph’s steward. Joseph moves to greet Reuben with a hug but stops short when he notices the strained look on his face. “What is it Reuben? Has something happened?”
“Nothing has happened, yet. But father is asking to see you. He asked me to send for you today because he is concerned with how much longer he has to live.”
Joseph smiles. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see him outlive Isaac and Abraham together.”
“I wish it would be so, but he grows slower each day. He really wants to see you right away.”
“Alright. Let me get my chariot and we will be on our way.”
Reuben and Joseph arrive back in the family camp before mid-day. Joseph goes directly to his father’s tent. Jacob is not sitting in the doorway like he usually does. Joseph shouts out a greeting and then enters the darkened tent. Jacob is sitting on the edge of his bed. “Reuben is right. Father does look weak and tired” thinks Joseph as he approaches.
“I’m here father, just as you asked.”
“Thank you my son! I’m glad you have come. I have an important request to make of you.”
“Anything father! If it is in my power to give, it is yours.”
“Let me tell you the matter first. Then I will accept your answer.”
“Of course father. Please share with me your request.”
“You have heard all your life of the promises the Lord God made to our fathers, Abraham and Isaac, and even to me. He promised us the land near the Jordan River, the land of Canaan. I don’t know how He intends to accomplish that task but I trust Him nonetheless.”
Joseph nods his head in agreement. He grew up with these stories and even his time in Egypt hasn’t wiped them from his mind.
Jacob continues with his request. “I want to be buried with my family in Canaan. In the cave Abraham bought to bury Sarah in. Swear to me on your life that you will bury me there after I die!”
“Oh father, you are not dying yet. You still have many years ahead of you. We can talk about this later, but of course I’ll take care of you after your death.”
“Swear to me NOW that you will bury me with my fathers in the land God has promised.”
Joseph sees the look of steel in his father’s eyes concerning this point. “Yes father. I swear it. When you die I will personally see to it that you are buried in the cave at Haran. You will lie with our fathers. You will be laid to rest in the land that God promised.”
Jacob relaxes after Joseph’s promise. He knows his son will keep his word. Jacob knows he will be with his fathers AND his future children.
With this burning need attended to Jacob turns to his bed and lies down. He is spent. He needs to rest. Joseph covers him with a blanket and quietly leaves the tent so his father can rest.
When Joseph steps out of the tent he encounters Reuben who has been standing nearby. “I see what you mean Reuben. He is getting weaker but there is still fight left in him.” Reuben says nothing in return; merely looks at the ground. Joseph continues, “We will be out in two days for a visit. I will look in on him. In the meantime, if anything changes, PLEASE come and get me, no matter what time it is.”
“I will, I promise. Hopefully that time will be far in the future. I’m hoping a little extra rest and some added attention will have him rallying soon.”
“I’m going to send one of the physicians to look in on him. Maybe he can come up with some answers for us.”
“I suggested that this morning but father said he was beyond their help. Maybe if they came at your bidding, he would accept it.”
“All we can do is try brother. I will have someone here by evening.”
“Thank you Joseph. I look forward to seeing what they can do to ease his mind and ours! I will keep you posted.”
Joseph hugs Reuben tightly. “Thank you for watching after him and coming to get me. I’ll see you in a couple of days, unless you need me sooner.”
Reuben nods and wipes a stray tear from his eye. “See you soon.”
Joseph takes one last look at his father who is sleeping quietly in the tent. Then he mounts his chariot and heads back into the city for his day full of the business of Egypt.
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Watching someone you love fading from this life is NEVER an easy thing to do. But Jacob and Joseph had something that not everyone has today. They had hope for the future. I don’t know if they truly grasped the eternalness of that hope or if they were simply looking towards what they knew would be better for their children because of their relationship with God. They were looking forward to an earthly place to call their own. Their family would one day be a nation that would fulfill the promise of God to hold the land of Canaan as their home. Jacob didn’t want his physical body to be left out of that promise.
But even Canaan, the Promised Land, wasn’t their true home. My home, in little Rogue River Oregon isn’t my true home either. Heaven is my true home. I personally don’t care what happens to my physical body once I’m finished with it. I have requested of my family that they cremate me and scatter my ashes in the wind off a mountain so I can finally fly like in my dreams. But truth be told, that won’t be me flying so whatever they choose to do with what is left on earth of me is their decision. I won’t be living in this home anymore. I will be in the TRUE Promised Land with my Father.
ALL of you are welcome to join me there. Jesus has PLENTY of room for us. All you need to do is ask Him to be your Lord. He will take you the rest of the way after that first step. That is the LAST step you will have to make on your own.
NO! Life won’t be a walk in the park or a rose garden from then on, but God will NEVER leave you or forsake you from that moment on. You see, He fights for His kids! When you are His, He will go to bat for you every time against the enemy. And you WILL come up against him MANY times in your life. But take comfort because He already won the ultimate battle. NOTHING Satan does to you transcends God’s love for you and His ability to keep you safe.
Yes, your body will die. Yes, it may even be through disease or even a criminal act. But once you are His child, this world is not your home. HIS HOME IS. When you leave here, you are on your way home.
He is ready RIGHT NOW to take your hand and start leading you home. Yes, you will sin and mess up during your walk here on earth. Yes, there may be consequences for that sin that won’t go away. But just bring those sins to Him and He will wash you clean again, EVERY TIME.
Father God, thank You that You took my hand in Yours as soon as I reached out towards You. Thank You that I didn’t have to clean up my life before hand to be worthy first. You took me just as I was at that moment in time. And You have NEVER let go! Even when I couldn’t feel Your hand around mine, it was ALWAYS there.
Thank You that this world is NOT my home. I am grateful for the little home you have given me but it can’t hold a candle to what is waiting in my real home. I’m on my way HOME! Not this moment, but step by step I’ll get there with You by my side.