As we continued our studies in Genesis last week we saw how Joseph convinced the brothers once and for all that they were completely forgiven for their sins against him.
Once that was all settled, life must have cruised along for Joseph and his family because the story picks back up some 50 plus years later when Joseph’s on his deathbed.
[Read Genesis 50:22-26.]
Now this passage really has three major themes: transition, God’s faithfulness and Joseph’s life ending well.
Remember, Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible. So he knew the whole story before he started to write. This is the place in his writings where he needed to transition the story from the Patriarchs leadership of Israel to His leadership of Israel. Also, things were changing in Egypt around this time for Israel. So with the death of Joseph he transitions the reader to the next stage of Israel’s history being the Exodus!
Another major theme in this passage is the faithfulness of God. As we look at how Joseph ended his life well, we’re going to see God’s love and faithfulness to His people over and over again.
The two themes of transition and God’s faithfulness are encapsulated in how Joseph’s life ended well. It didn’t start out too good – but it sure ended well. (Isn’t that what really matters?)
[Giants winning the Superbowl two years ago.]
No matter how we started out in life, we want to end well for the Lord. So as we look at how Joseph’s life ended, we can get some principles to help us make sure that we end well too. We’re also going to parallel the principles found in Joseph’s ending with the Apostle Paul’s ending. (Another man who had quite a bad start in life.)
I. We end well by living selflessly
[Read Genesis 50:21-23.]
Here we get a picture of Joseph going out of his way to provide for his family. First he promises the brothers that he’ll always take care of them. And years later we see him in close contact with his great, great grandchildren. (When it says that “the sons of Machir were born on Joseph’s knees” this was a symbolic gesture of placing the new born on someone’s knees signifying that the child belonged to him.) Joseph did this to show how he would continue to take care of his family and that all he had would one day be theirs through inheritance.
Joseph ended his life as a selfless man. He didn’t seem to care much about his legacy. He didn’t seem to care much about his possessions. He didn’t seem to care much about his achievements. (All of which would be great!) He cared about his family and selflessly cared for them. That helped him end his life well.
The Apostle Paul also ended his life as a selfless man.
[Read Acts 20:22-24.]
Paul knew that when he went to Jerusalem with the message of Jesus persecution awaited him. He knew he’d be locked up, beaten or even killed. But here he shows us that his life’s purpose wasn’t wrapped up in himself – it was wrapped up in getting the gospel out to people who were dying and on their way to Hell. Paul didn’t care about his comfort, his freedom or even his health when it came to doing what God had called him to do. And as we know, eventually Paul was killed for the faith. But he was a selfless man who ended life well.
Being selfless enables us to end well. Trusting God also helps a man end life well.
II. We end well by trusting God
[Read Genesis 50:24.]
If there’s something that Joseph had learned to do over the years was to fully trust in God. Something that no doubt his father Jacob had taught him to do, but probably didn’t have to put into practice much in his youth.
But when he was sold by his brothers as a slave to Egypt I’ll bet he started to really trust God while on that awful journey away from home to a foreign land.
When Potiphar’s wife continually tried to seduce him and eventually made those false accusations against him I’m sure Joseph was learning more about trusting God.
When sitting in prison all those years for a crime he didn’t commit Joseph continued to trust God.
Even when given all the responsibility of governing the land of Egypt, Joseph had to trust that God would enable him to govern well.
Joseph never got away from trusting God and here in his death bed he continues to show that faith that’s gotten him through all those years of trials and triumph. He knows God will take care of his brothers, (nation of Israel), and he knows that God will fulfill his promise that he gave centuries earlier to Abraham. Joseph trusted God and it helped him to end well.