James O. Davis is the founder and president of Second Billion (TM). You are invited to learn more about Second Billion by visiting www.billion.tv.
BLESSINGS IN A BOX OF BONES
By James O. Davis
Gen. 15:13-14; 50:22-30; Heb. 11:22
During this holiday season we need to reflect on the blessings of God. The blessings of God come in different shapes and sizes and they are immeasurable and innumerable. This Christmas, we should consider the blessings that are found in a box of bones.
While Joseph was gathered with his children and grandchildren, he began speaking about the divine plan of God for him, his family and for his nation. He said to his family, “I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you, and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Joseph was a mighty man and a leader’s leader. However, when he spoke about his bones, he became qualified to join ranks of the leaders in the Hall of Fame of Faith (Hebrews 11).
What is amazing is that twenty-five percent of Genesis is devoted to the life of Joseph, but the Book of Hebrews records nothing of his pit, prison or palace experiences. Only Hebrews 11:22 mentions Joseph commenting about the Exodus and his command concerning his bones. By faith Joseph spoke concerning his bones.
In Hebrews 11:6, we read, “It is impossible to please God without faith.” If you please God, it does not really matter who you displease, but if you displease God, it does not really matter who you please. Do you want to please God? It is imperative that we spend and invest our lives in ministry that pleases God. Some of the greatest lessons regarding Spirit-filled leadership are found in the life and legacy of Joseph. First,
WE NEED TO REMEMBER THE UNBREAKABLE PROMISES OF GOD.
How do you view your life? Do you see it as having significance in the fulfillment
of the divine plan of God in the earth? Why do you want the Lord to bless your ministry? Do you have vision to the ends of the earth? If we have limited vision, we will have limited interest. If we have unlimited vision, we will have unlimited interest. Joseph saw himself in the fulfillment of God’s promises throughout the earth during his lifetime.
In Genesis 15:13-14, God spoke to Abraham regarding the future and told him that his descendants would be enslaved by another nation and then - after four hundred years - God would deliver them with great possessions.
This God-given promise was spoken to Abraham and then passed on Isaac and Jacob. When reading the Old Testament, one sees the phrase, “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” but not “Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.” Even though the promise was not directly given to Joseph, he had to possess the promise and realize that God was going to use him to help fulfill this promise on the earth. Faith is not getting our will done in heaven but getting God’s will done on the earth.
The vision and mission of God and His plan and promises have been passed on to us. We have to come to a spiritual place in our lives where we do not simply read the promises in the third person but apply them in the first person of our lives. We need to remember the unbreakable promises of God. God will not lie. God will fulfill his promises and plan upon the earth. Do you wish to have a role in the fulfillment of what is in the heart of God? In Revelation 13:8, we read, “Every tribe, every tongue and every nation will gather around the throne of God.” Have you ever seen yourself in helping to fulfill what is ultimately God’s plan for the ages past, present and future? We are not simply starting churches, preaching sermons and visiting the sick. We are moving the world closer to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Second, WE NEED TO RELY ON THE UNSHAKEABLE POWER OF GOD.
Regardless of what circumstances may dictate, God’s Word will come to pass. When Joseph said, “God will bring you out of this land,” the Israelites had no reason to want to leave Egypt. They were the most favored people in the nation. They were given the best food, the best land and the best living conditions. They were favored by Pharaoh and everyone loved the Jews. However, Joseph knew that times would change. He knew the time would come that his descendants would not be prosperous and free.
Faith sees life through the lens of Holy Scripture.
There is a tendency for Christians to sometimes view the Word through the paradigm of the World. However, we must view the world through the lens of what God has already said in his Word. Real faith is not that we name it and claim it; but God names it and we claim it. Faith is believing what God said would be so even though it is not so until it becomes so.
God’s power is unshakable regardless of the concerns around us. Worry will wear you out. Worry will shorten your life. A faith that cannot be tested is a faith that cannot be trusted. We need to remember the first word in “testimony” is “test.” We have to pass the test in order to have a testimony.
Questions arise for all great leaders with each new sunrise, but they soon realize that the King of the Universe has a divine destiny for their lives. The power of God is unshakable regardless of the chronology before or after us. Delay does not mean denial. When God spoke to Habakkuk, he said pertaining to his vision, “Though it tarry, wait for it. It will surely come to pass” (Hab. 2:3). God does not wear a wrist watch to work. He operates in the fullness of time. God is rarely earlier but He is never late. Joseph knew that God’s promises would come to pass whether he was alive to see it or not. When God places a vision in your heart, if you remain faithful, the day will come that you will hold it in your hands. Third, WE NEED TO RELY ON THE UNMISTAKLABLE PEACE OF GOD.
Even while Joseph speaks of his date with death, he is enjoying his children, grand children and great-grand children. Only God can give us peace that passes all mental comprehension. Even though it is hard to describe peace, we know when we have it and when we do not have it. The Bible states that Joseph died and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt. Genesis begins with creation and ends with a casket.
Why was Joseph not content to be buried in Egypt? Why was he so insistent on going with the Israelites when they did leave Egypt? I think I know the answer to these questions. Joseph was interested in being a part of what God was doing on the earth whether he was dead or alive. Can you say with integrity that you want to be apart of what God is doing today, whether or not you live to see all of if fulfilled in your lifetime? Joseph knew that God would keep his promises and wanted to go where He was taking his children in the future. He not only saw his life as helping to fulfill God’s will upon the earth but wanted to be a part of those blessings forever.
Joseph was not interested in having a pyramid named after him or becoming a famous mummy. What are you interested in? Are you more interested in the rich and famous than the godly and pure? Are you trying to make a lot of money so you can retire early? What motivates you? Instead of building a pyramid for man’s honor, he wanted to live in the house of faith.
One can go to famous museums where the historic Egyptian mummies are showcased, but there is not one mummy with Joseph’s name on it. He was not interested in monuments, mummies or money, but only in his Master.
Joseph knew that one day there was going to be a great resurrection, and he did not want to miss the greatest day of the future. He lived his life in the sunrise of eternity - not at the sunset of time. He viewed his life as having value to God not only in the nasty now-and-now but the happy by-and-by!
As the Israelites were exiting Egypt, Moses gave a commandment regarding the bones of Joseph (Exodus 13:18-19). He commanded nearly two million Israelites to stop - and then he asked, “Where are the bones of Joseph?” Can you imagine this scene with me? No doubt someone says, “Moses, I was not on the casket committee. I do not know where Joseph is today.”
Moses says, “We cannot leave without Joseph’s bones. We must find Joseph and bring him with us.” I do not know how long this took, but they find Joseph’s coffin and brought it out of Egypt. I do not believe the casket was carried at the end of the procession as they left Egypt, but at the head of the line. Do you know what the casket represented and what it was saying to the people? It said, “I told you so! I told you God would visit us and bring us out of Egypt. I told you that God would not lie and he will always keep His Word in the earth.”
They carried Joseph’s casket out of Egypt, through the Red Sea and throughout the wilderness wanderings. The Israelites carried this casket for more than forty years. There was more faith in the bones of Joseph than in the feet of the Israelites. Those bones did not rattle but laughed all the way into Canaan. The Israelites carried the coffin through the Jordan River, all the way to Shechem (Joshua 24:32). Even Joseph entered
Canaan when Moses was not permitted to do so. Moses would look at the Promised Land but Joseph would possess it even in his death. Joseph went to places Moses never did during his life or death.
May we always remember that when Joshua and Caleb entered into Canaan, they also brought Joseph with them. We need to remember the unbreakable promises of God; rely on the unshakable power of God and rest in the unmistakable peace of God. These are the blessings in a box of bones!