April 2, the Twenty-Second Day of Lent

April 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

It was by faith that Joseph, when he was about to die, said confidently that the people of Israel would leave Egypt. He even commanded them to take his bones with them when they left.

-Hebrews 11.22-

In the past couple of days, we have looked at how God involves unlikely people in his story. Through the stories of Isaac and Jacob, we see how God involves people who we did not expect to be involved in his plan.Today we look at Joseph in Egypt and how he lived by faith. If you would like, you can read the story that the author of Hebrews references; it can be found in Genesis 50.22-26.

After Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, he ascended to a position of great power within the nation of Egypt. He became assimilated into the Egyptian culture and retained a position of favor among the nation’s officials. He invited his family to Egypt in order to escape the famine and provided them with a plot of land.

However, Joseph remembered two things: he remembered the promise and his place within it. Despite the fact that he had gained a powerful position within Egypt, he remembered that this was not him and his family’s “final destination.” He clung to the promise as part of his identity and firmly believed that his people would come into a land that they could call their own. He believed so strongly in this that when he was on his deathbed, he told his brothers to carry his bones with them when they left.

Exodus 13.19 tells us that Joseph’s bones did leave Egypt in the Exodus. Such was his faith and his foresight. Despite the success of his position, he knew that Egypt was not who he was. Though his location changed, he kept his identity as a Hebrew and a child of the promise.

It would have been easy for Joseph to adopt Egypt as his true home. Life was better there; he had power, security, and status, none of which he had in Canaan. Yet, he viewed the promise as being worth more than any of these things.

This thought is somewhat reminiscent of when we spoke of the idea of “homeland” several days ago. Joseph, however, takes the concept one step further. For him, homeland is something more than a place or a destination that we aspire to and look forward to; rather, it is a belief in the fulfillment of the promise that has practical, realistic application. This speaks to us by challenging us. If we live as people who are anticipating God’s redemption of Creation, the question naturally follows: how is that anticipation being lived in our daily lives?

As we journey through Lent together, may our anticipation be lived in the present.

“Dear Lord, thank you for the story of Joseph. His story challenges me to maintain my identity as a participant in your story and a believer in your promise. I confess that I have at times compromised who I am as your child because of the comfort of my present condition. Please do not let me forget who I am, what I look forward to, and how I can live those things out. Amen.”

 

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