The last time we were in the book of genesis we were listening to the last words of the great patriarch Jacob as he told his 12 sons what would become of them.
[Read Genesis 49:28-33.]
In a moment Jacob was gone. He had passed from this life to the next. For him it meant eternity with God and with those who had passed before him. For his family it meant the grieving process would begin.
Probably everyone here has grieved the loss of a loved one at one time or another. It’s the process that our hearts and our minds go through to adapt ourselves to life without that special someone. The process is a little different for everyone, but it usually goes through the five stages of grief:
For some the process is long, for some the process is quick. There’s no rule of thumb since everyone and every situation is different. But when we loose a loved one we all mourn and grieve their loss in one way or another.
So as we look at the way Joseph, his family and the Egyptians grieved the loss of Jacob, we’re going to be able to see some healthy grief and some unhealthy grief.
[Read Genesis 50:1-13.]
Now these are some incredible events surrounding Jacob’s death. He’s treated like royalty by his family and by the Egyptians. So before we get to the way they grieved, let’s look at the:
I. Love and respect for Jacob
1. Joseph’s emotions, 50:1
2. Physicians over priests, 50:2, (faith, long journey)
3. Egyptian’s 70 days of mourning, 50:3, (72 for a Pharaoh)
4. Permission from Pharaoh to go bury Jacob in Canaan, 50:4-6, (risk)
5. Procession of hundreds, 50:7-9
All Jacob’s adult family, elders of Joseph’s household, elders of Egypt, Pharaoh’s servants, chariots, horsemen, (royal burial)
6. Joseph’s 7 days of mourning, 50:10
7. Buried as promised, 50:12-13
Jacob was obviously loved and respected by everyone. (Even the pagan Egyptians who
had only known him for 17 years.) Out of this esteem they gave him a burial fit for a king. But through all the pomp and circumstance, their hearts were breaking. Let’s first look at some:
II. Healthy grief
1. Joseph’s emotions, 50:1
Now that’s some healthy grief. Emotions help us express what we’re feeling inside.
Emotions are actually God’s gift to us to help us in that way. Now some people are obviously more emotional than others. When my grandfather died my grandma didn’t shed a tear for two solid weeks. But once reality sank in the tears came and helped in the grieving process.
Expressing ourselves emotionally are a healthy part of the grieving process.
2. Joseph’s 7 days of mourning, 50:10, I Samuel 31:13
This seemed to be a more formal time of grieving probably shared by the family
together. The times we gather for a memorial service for our loved ones are important times to help us in the grieving process. You know we go to a funeral to honor the departed, but often times the service helps us in the grieving process.
III. Unhealthy grief
1. Egyptian’s 70 days of mourning, 50:3, (preparing body and soul for eternity)
2. “Mourning of Egypt”, 50:11
When Joseph and the family stopped to have their formal, week-long memorial service,
the Egyptians joined right in with them. Their outward expressions of mourning by the was so extreme that the Canaanites named the place Abel-mizraim, (“mourning of Egypt”). It just seems to be a little out of balance. It reminds me of going to a funeral where the people there had no hope that the deceased would have eternal life.
[Nick’s memorial services.]
You know I’ve been to all kinds of funerals. I went to 2 funerals in the same year that were for teenagers who committed suicide. Very sad and mostly without hope.
But I’ve also been to many funerals where the entire atmosphere of the service was about hope. And that hope that we have in Jesus Christ is what helps us through a healthy grieving process. Are we sad – yes. Do we grieve – yes. Do we cry until our tear ducts run dry – absolutely. But we grieve because we miss our loved one – not because we have no hope.
Remember the stages of grief? (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.) God wants to and will help us through every stage of grieving a lost loved one. Especially when we keep a biblical perspective on life, death and eternity. Listen as I read some Scriptures that can help us through the grieving process.
Hebrews 9:27 - “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.”
Job 1:20-22 - “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said, "Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD." Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.”