Summary: how Joseph and Jacob prepared for their funerals and dealt with their deaths
August 18, 2002 Genesis 48:15-16, 49:33, 50:24-26
Then he blessed Joseph and said, “May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, 16 the Angel who has delivered me from all harm —may he bless these boys. May they be called by my name and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and may they increase greatly upon the earth.”. . . 33 When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people. . .
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” 25 And Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.” 26 So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.
Today we are concluding the sermon series and Bible classes on the life of Joseph. I hope that you’ve enjoyed listening to it as much as I’ve enjoyed preparing it. Like a roller coaster we’ve gone up and then down in Joseph’s life. Today we almost stagger off the ride of Genesis and proclaim, “Wow! That was an amazing trip!”
However, we can’t get off the ride just quite yet. Today we face the saddest and most terrifying trip in most peoples’ lives - the final stretch - called death. In keeping with tradition then, today we are going to have a funeral - not just one - but two - as we look at the deaths of Jacob and Joseph. Usually at a funeral - people like to have what they call “eulogies.” I believe the word “eulogy” comes from the Greek words eu - which means “well,” and logia, which means “words.” In other words, eulogies, then, are meant to be well words spoken about the deceased. There are plenty of good things to say about Jacob and Joseph. But today, at the funerals of Jacob and Joseph, we are going to offer -
A Different Kind of Eulogy
I. It talks about someone else’s past
Some people put a lot of time into planning their own funerals. They want people to say good things about them. Legend has it that when King Herod died he ordered that certain children also be murdered to make sure there would be mourning on that day. Sometimes people put a lot of planning into their own funerals - even their own eulogies. The story is told of a rich man whose brother James had just died. He came to the pastor and offered him a million dollars to tell the congregation that his brother James was a saint. The problem was that his brother was a cheat, a crook, an adulterer, and a perverse man. The pastor agreed. When the funeral came he said, “James was a cheat, a crook, an adulterer, and a perverse man. But compared to his brother, he was a saint”. A eulogy used to be a short part of a funeral sermon, usually reserved for the part right after the sermon - where the pastor would read a short paragraph describing the life of the departed one. Lately, however, the whole funeral has evolved into a “celebration of life.” At these “celebrations,” as far as I’ve experienced them, they will have videos of the departed put to music, multiple people get up to the mic and give testimonies about what they remember about the departed. They focus on the one who has died.
The sad fact is that these “celebrations” do not comfort anybody - not in the end. They only make them miss their loved ones all the more. As much as they try to cheat death, death still roars at them when they return home to find only pictures and mementos of days gone by - not the real thing. And so many people end up more sad after the funeral than they did in the beginning. What a sad thing it would be to only look back at the PAST and remember the life that is NO MORE.
How did Jacob prepare for his death? What kind of a eulogy did he prepare for? On his death bed, did he just talk about what a great life he had lived? Did he just spend his final days crying and talking about HIS past? Not at all. Notice that in these chapters Jacob doesn’t do any eulogizing about himself. Instead of being depressed about himself, what does he do?