SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- We see not only Joseph, but even the Egyptians, mourn the death of Jacob. The fact that Egypt mourned for 70 days tells us how loved and respected Joseph was among the Egyptian people.
- Joseph goes to bury his father in his homeland. Pharaoh sends the royal court with Joseph to help him and mourn with him.
- Joseph's brothers, now that Jacob is dead, fear that Joseph will seek revenge for their mistreatment of him so many years ago. Joseph reassures them of his forgiveness and that God actually used their mistreatment to bring about something good.
- We see Joseph come to the end of his life but not before reminding his family of the promise God had made to them.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- The Bible says (in Ecclesiastes 3:4) that there is a time to laugh and a time to weep. A funeral provides an opportunity to express grief, to receive comfort, to give thanks and to testify to our hope in Jesus.
- Sometimes it's more difficult to receive forgiveness than it is to give forgiveness. After Joseph forgave his brothers, they evidently continued to feel like he would one day get even. They figured that day would be when Jacob died. But their fear was unfounded as Joseph reassured them of his grace.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- When you experience the death of a friend or a family member, take time to grieve. When God's people died in the Bible, the survivors were not instructed to bury them and go on the next day as though nothing had happened. On the contrary, the deceased were honored and their families given plenty of opportunity to express love. Only after a period of mourning did the families and friends return to normal activities as people of hope. So take time to grieve, but do not grieve as one who has no hope (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13).
- Have you ever struggled with believing that God has truly forgiven you? Perhaps there is some horrific sin in your past and though you've confessed it to God, you still carry that guilt around along with doubt regarding God's forgiveness. But scripture says in 1 John 1:9 that "If we confess our sins, he [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." That's a promise! Just as Joseph grieved when he learned that his brothers doubted his forgiveness, I think it grieves God that we hold ourselves hostage to past sins that He has already forgiven. God forgives and forgets, and He longs for you to be free of past wrongdoings. So take some time to celebrate your freedom today! As author Max Lucado writes, "God has a graciously terrible memory."