Well it’s been a few weeks since we’ve been in the book of Genesis. We left off in Genesis 47 where Joseph and all of his family have been fully reunited after 22 years of separation. Joseph, his brothers, his dad and all the extended family are together again as the family moves into Egypt to escape the famine.
[Read Genesis 47:11-12.]
But while all is good for Joseph’s family, the famine is still in all the land. So let’s look at:
I. The famine results in a flat tax
People are starting to talk more and more about having a flat tax in our country instead of the overly complicated and even convoluted tax system we have now. A flat tax means everyone pays the same percentage of their income as taxes. Sounds like a good idea. Well, Egypt had a kind-of flat tax system in their country some 4,000 years ago.
[Read Genesis 47:13-26.]
So through the famine the people had spent all of their money to buy grain from the government. They then turned to trading their livestock and their land for grain. In exchange for their land and their willingness to relocate to the cities, Joseph gave them seed to plant new crops once the famine was over. They simply had to give the government a fifth of all their yield. A system that seemed to work well and be highly popular with the people. So the Egyptians seem to be doing well during this time. What about Jacob and his family?
II. Israel prospers in the land of Egypt
[Read Genesis 47:27-28.]
Despite relocating their entire family and business to Egypt during the midst of a famine, the Israelites prospered. The family grew in numbers, they were able to acquire their own land, and their business was fruitful. For seventeen years this went on. But things were about to change. Jacob was getting old and close to the end of his life – and he knew it. So the next chapter and a half we see Jacob getting his family ready to be without him.
[“Bucket List” movie illustration.]
That movie was all about self-indulgence and living for temporary highs. But what does all that matter when we’re dead and gone? Our lives should be about what’s eternal and lasting. What we leave behind should make a difference for eternity.
Jacob understood this. So we see him getting family ready for his actual death and for life after his death. The practical and the eternal. First let’s look at the practical.
III. Jacob prepares his family for his actual death
[Read Genesis 47:29-31.]
Jacob wanted to be buried at the family’s burial cave at Machpela which was located on the land that Abraham had purchased when he needed a place to bury Sarah. (Genesis 23) Buried there were Sarah, Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah and Leah. Jacob made sure that his body would rest there as well and nor settle in the pagan land of Egypt.
This was a very practical and probably helpful thing for Joseph and the rest of the family. One less thing to worry about when a loved one dies. As many of you know, there’s a lot to do when burying someone. I think there’s more decisions to be made when you bury someone than when you birth someone. So it’s a good thing to make as many burial plans before you die as you can so your loved ones don’t have to deal with it. Their minds are full of grief and handling funeral plans is a tough thing. So we should do what we can ahead of time so they don’t have to during a highly emotional time.
[My funeral plans and life insurance story.]
So Jacob here prepares his family for his actual death. Very practical. But Jacob also makes sure the eternal aspect of his legacy and his family are taken care of.
IV. Jacob prepares his family for life after his death
Chapters 48 and 49 show how Jacob prepared his family for life after his death in two parts, (even though they both happened on the same day.) Chapter 48 shows Jacob addressing Joseph and his sons privately. Chapter 49 then shows Jacob addressing all of his sons together. When he was done he simply laid back down in his bed and died. Tonight we’ll just be looking at Jacobs talk with Joseph and his sons.
Now I’ve broken down what he’s said in two categories. On the one hand Jacob provides for Joseph and his son’s physical needs. On the other hand he provides for Joseph and his son’s spiritual needs.
1. Physical provisions – receiving the covenant blessings
[Read Genesis 48:1-6.]
By adopting Joseph’s two sons as his own Jacob was elevating them to an equal status with his other sons ensuring that the line of Joseph would receive a double portion of land when Jacob died. It also seems that Jacob was elevating Joseph to the first born status ahead of Reuben his true first born son.