Summary: God commended Joseph's faith for the strangest reason - because Joseph "gave directions concerning his bones." Seriously? Joseph's faith was praised because of his funeral arrangements? What's that all about, and what can it mean to us?
CHILDREN'S STORY: When we get done here I PROMISE you I’ll give you a sucker. Do you know what a promise is? A promise is when someone tells you they’re going to do something… and then they do it. Now a promise is about something that will happen LATER. You parents will say “I promise we’ll go outside… but not right now) (they’ve got to get your clothes on); or “I promise we’ll go to the store… but not right now” (you have to take a nap first); or “I promise we’ll go to the playground… but not right now” (they’ve got to get some chores done first). They want you to know that when they’re ready… they WILL take you outside. It’s a promise! Well, God gives US promises too. The Bible is filled with promises God makes for us. He promises He’ll never leave you or forsake you. He promises that He’ll take you to cool places where you’ll enjoy yourself; He promises He’ll protect you (especially when you’re afraid); and He promises He’ll always listen to you. The difference between God’s promises and mine or your parents is that I might make you a promise, and then not be able to do it. Or I might make you a promise… and then FORGET! Do you think God would ever forget a promise? Of course not! God always keeps His promises.
SERMON: The boy’s name was Nadin Khoury and he was 13 yrs old, 5 foot 2, and weighed, about 100 lbs. His attackers were teenagers, larger than he was, and outnumbered him seven to one. They dragged him through the snow and for 30 minutes and they hit, kicked, and beat him, stuffed him into a tree, and finally suspended him on a seven-foot wrought-iron fence. He never stood a chance. Nadin survived the attack and probably would have faced more beatings except that one of the bullies filmed it… and posted it on YouTube. The police saw the video, and the bullies were thrown in jail. Then the story reached the papers.
A staffer at a nationwide morning show read the account and invited Nadin to appear on the broadcast. They told his story and showed the YouTube video, but unbeknownst to him, the producer had also invited some other citizens of Philadelphia to appear on the show. When the video ended, the curtain opened, and in walked 3 huge men… they were members of Nadin’s favorite football team, the Philadelphia Eagles. DeSean Jackson - All-Pro receiver sat down beside the boy and not only signed a football jersey for him - but also gave him his cell phone number, and promised him “Anytime you need us, I got two linemen right here.” From that day on this young boy was only a call away from his personal bodyguards. Thugs would think twice before harassing a kid who had an NFL player’s number on speed dial. Nadin had a PROMISE that he could count on. (Max Lucado)
Today we’re going to talk about promises. Our passage tells us that “By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.” Hebrews 11:22
When I first read that verse, I thought – You’ve got to be kidding me! I could think of at least 3 stories about Joseph that spoke of his faith that were far more exciting than Joseph making “funeral arrangements.” I could have talked about HOW Joseph’s faith helped him endure yrs of slavery; or how he survived unjust imprisonment for something he hadn’t done; or how he became a trusted advisor to the Pharaoh of Egypt and saved his own family from starvation. Those would have been impressive stories.
But God didn’t mention any of that here in Hebrews. Instead, He commended Joseph for his faith because he gave directions about how his bones were to be handled? What’s that all about?
(Pause) Whenever I work on a sermon, I ask questions of the text. And the 1st question that came to mind was - why would Joseph even bother? Why bother giving instructions about where his bones were buried. I mean – when I die - you can bury me anyplace you want to and I WON’T CARE!!! And do you know WHY I won’t care??? Because I’ll be dead! It won’t matter at all to me!
But it apparently it mattered to Joseph. And it appears to have mattered not only to him... but to the Israelites. Exodus 13:19 tells us that when Israel left Egypt “Moses took the bones of Joseph with him…." Then in Joshua 24:32 we’re told that “As for the bones of Joseph, which the people of Israel brought up from Egypt - they buried them at Shechem, in the piece of land that Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of money. It became an inheritance of the descendants of Joseph.” And in the book of Acts, Stephen preaches a sermon where he specifically mentions this story. He said “Joseph sent and summoned Jacob his father and all his kindred, seventy-five persons in all. And Jacob went down into Egypt, and he died, he and our fathers, and they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.” Acts 7:14-16