A COFFIN IN EGYPT ( Joseph – Genesis 50:22-26 )
Genesis 50:22-26 (NKJV)
Death of Joseph
22 So Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he and his father’s household. And Joseph lived one hundred and ten years.
23 Joseph saw Ephraim’s children to the third generation. The children of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were also brought up on Joseph’s knees.
24 And Joseph said to his brethren, “I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”
25 Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.”
26 So Joseph died, being one hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.
The book of Genesis is known as “the book of beginnings”. In its pages, we find first mention of many of the things that we are familiar with in life. Things like sin, death, marriage, child birth, prayer, rain, etc. It is also a book that ends quite differently than it begins. It begins with creation and ends with a coffin. It begins with life and ends with death! That is a rather odd situation.
In our text this evening, we are confronted with the death of one of the Bible’s most spectacular characters, a man by the name of Joseph. Nowhere in the Bible is there a clearer portrait of the Lord Jesus Christ than the one painted by the life of this great man of God. In this passage, Joseph dies at the age of 110 years.
As he lays dying, he gives a commandment to his brothers that they are not to bury him in Egypt, but they are to carry his body to Canaan when the Lord visits them and brings them out of Egypt. He was not to be buried in a pyramid like many of the other great leaders of the land. He was to be placed in a humble coffin to await the day when he would be taken home!
After his death, all that remains of Joseph is a coffin in Egypt. It stood as a testimony to the faith of this great man, Heb. 11:22. For over 360 years that coffin, which contained the bones of the great Patriarch, served as a powerful preacher to the people of Israel.
Now, you would agree with me that the Lord has used some strange preachers over the years. For instance, he used a donkey to preach to Balaam. He used a rooster to preach to Peter. He used a dove to preach to Noah. Here, the Lord uses a coffin filled with a dead man’s bones to preach to Israel.
Tonight, I want you to know that Joseph’s coffin still has something to say to you and me. I want to take our readers to the important message from this coffin. I want to share with you some of the statements this coffin makes as it sits there in Egypt. It may have preached its message many hundreds of centuries ago, but it still speaks loudly today.
Let’s listen in to its message as we consider A Coffin In Egypt.
I. IT PREACHES A MESSAGE OF PASSING
A. Among the dying words of Joseph are words of his own mortality. He knows that he is going to die! After he does and his body is placed in that coffin, it preaches a loud message to all who see it that they too are mere mortals and will pass away into death.
B. That is a message that we need to hear today. Most likely, none of us will live to be 110. (Ill. Man in California has been certified (August, 2002) as oldest man in America. He is 112!) The fact of the matter is, we are all slated for death, Heb. 9:27.
Hebrews 9:27 (NKJV)
27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.
(Ill. The following epitaph was placed on a tombstone in California:
Pause, Stranger, when you pass me by,
As you are now, so once was I.
As I am now, so you will be,
So prepare for death and follow me
Someone passing by read those words and scratched this thought into the tombstone:
To follow you I’m not content,
Until I know which way you went.)
C. In light of that truth, two things must be remembered:
1. This life is a time of preparation to meet God in eternity!
2. If you are going to serve the Lord, today is the day to get about it!
The Bible makes it clear that it is foolish to bank on hope of tomorrow, Pro. 27:1. (Ill. This truth is illustrated by the parable of The Rich Fool – Luke 12:16-21.)
II. IT PREACHES A MESSAGE OF PROMISE
A. As Joseph lays dying, he impresses upon his hearers the truth that one day, God Himself will visit the people of Israel and He will deliver them from Egypt and take them to Canaan. That is their blessed hope! That coffin was a constant reminder that there is hope and promise for the future.
B. The sad truth of our own mortality bothers many people. They do not like to think about death and dying. But, have you ever though that a cemetery is merely a reminder of the promises of God? When we see the places where the bodies of the departed lie buried, we are reminded that death is not the end! There will come a day when the Lord will visit those graves and bring those bodies out, 1 Thes. 4:13-18.
C. For Israel, the coffin of Joseph stood as a constant reminder that Joseph had died in absolute certainty of hope. In fact, when all the great deeds of this man’s life are considered for mention by the Holy Spirit, the one fact of his life that is mentioned as his greatest act of faith is his command concerning his bones and his reminder to them that God would bring them out some day.
D. I would just like to remind you that we have something far better than a coffin full of bones! We see our own death grow closer with every single passing day, we have an empty tomb to give us hope and comfort. You see, Israel had the hope that they would one day carry Joseph’s bones to the promised land. We have the hope that our Savior Jesus Christ has already conquered death for us. He is preparing a place for us and one day, He will return again for us, John 14:1-3; 1 Cor. 15:20.
E. He may come for us before we face death, 1 Cor. 15:51-52. But, even if He doesn’t and death’s icy finger take hold of us some day, rest in His promise that, while this body may return to the ground, the soul goes to rest with Him, 2 Cor. 5:8. So, whether I go by means of the undertaker or the ” Uppertaker” , I am a winner either way!
III. IT PREACHES A MESSAGE OF PATIENCE
A. In Joseph’s dying words, there is no mention of the fact that the children of Israel will be forced into slavery. But, this was part of the truth that God had revealed to Abraham, Gen. 15:7-21. When Joseph died, Israel was in favor in Egypt, but Exodus chapter 1 relates the story of how Israel was forced into bondage. As the years piled up, the people of Israel became discouraged and defeated as a result of their bondage, but the coffin containing the bones of Joseph continued to preach. It preached them a message of patience. It said, “Wait on the Lord! He will come as He has promised. He will deliver you and take you to Canaan!”
B. As you and I live out our lives here in this world, we are also waiting for the promise of the Lord to be fulfilled. How many of us have entertained thoughts of being raptured and delivered from this world this week? Probably most of us have! But, we are still here!
C. Until He comes for us, let me encourage you to wait in patience! This was the mind set manifested by Job in the midst of his tribulation, Job 14:14. The word “wait” has the idea of “trust and hope”. You see, we do not know where our path may lead us before we get out of here. We know it’s going to get hard, John 16:33, but not how hard. Until He comes for us, let us patiently wait for Him and trust Him to guide our paths, Psa. 37:23, and to bring into our lives the things He knows are best for us, Rom. 8:28.
D. Be patient, Brothers and Sisters in CHRIST, the Lord is coming soon. That is His promise to you and me, Rev. 22:20!
Revelation 22:20 New King James Version (NKJV)
I Am Coming Quickly
20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.”
Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
IV. IT PREACHES A MESSAGE OF POSSESSION
A. Joseph’s dying words were a reminder of the Lord’s promise to give to Abraham and his descendants the land of Canaan, Gen. 15:16. This was a promise never realized during the life of Abraham, Isaac or Jacob. In fact, the only land they owned was the land Abraham purchased in order to bury Sarah, Gen. 23. Even though neither they nor Joseph had ever owned that land, it was their’s and they were going there some day! That coffin filled with bones was a constant reminder of that truth. It preached the message, “To Canaan’s land I’m on my way!”
B. As we wait in this world for our Lord Jesus to come, let us remember that we are headed to a blessed homeland! We are citizens of Heaven, Phil. 3:20 and one day, we will be there with our Lord!
C. I am looking forward to getting home! (Ill. Rev. 21:4; Rev. 21:27) (Ill. The glories of that eternal city!)
(Ill. A pastor was preaching on going to heaven. He said, “How many of you would like to go to heaven tonight?” And everybody raised their hands but a little boy in the balcony. He tried again, “How many of you would like to go to heaven?” Everybody but that one little fellow in the balcony. So he said to him, “Son, don’t you want to go to heaven?” The little boy said, “Yeah, someday, but I thought you were gettin’ up a load right now.”)
D. For nearly 400 years, that coffin preached a message to Israel that they were not home yet, but they were going. Tonight, the message has not changed. We are not home yet, but we are going soon!
(Story: Three friends die in a car accident and they go to an orientation in heaven. They are all asked, “When you are in your casket and friends and family are mourning you, what would you like to hear them say about you? The first guy says, ” I would like to hear them say that I was a great doctor of my time, and a great family man.” The second guy says, “I would like to hear that I was a wonderful husband and school teacher who made a huge difference in our children of tomorrow.” The last guy replies, “I would like to hear them say ‘Look, he’s moving!'”)
That old coffin down there in Egypt delivered a message that I can identify with this evening!
Is it a message that speaks to your heart and your situation? Is it a message that you need to deal with this evening? There is peace, power and promise in the message of that coffin down in Egypt.
It is the same message that our Savior Jesus Christ gives to us this evening. Let it encourage your hearts!
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Updated : June 2019
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