Summary: How do you want to be remembered when you die?
Earlier this morning, I took a walk down to the graveyard and took some pictures of some of the gravestones there. I’d like to look at them together right now, thinking of one question. How are these people remembered?
***Go through images***
This week, as I thought about and studied the passage that we are going to look at today I have been struck with this same question. How do I want to be remembered? This is a question that I think most of the people in this room rarely think about. For starters, thinking about how you want to be remembered usually means thinking about your death and who really wants to sit and contemplate that. Second, most of us are young; we have a long way to go before we need to start worrying about the epitaph on our grave stone. Tonight, putting those excuses aside, I want to think about the question of how we are going to be remembered. To help us, I want to look at how Abraham’s grandson, Joseph, was remembered.
For those of you who know who Joseph was, you should remember that his life was anything but normal. Joseph was one of twelve brothers and he was also his father’s favorite. This made his brothers very jealous, so one day when the brothers were out tending the flocks they decided to beat Joseph and throw him in a ditch. As they were doing this, some slave traders came by, so they decided to sell Joseph to them and tell their father that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal.
Joseph ended up being bought by an Egyptian named Potiphar who was one of Pharaoh’s officials. Joseph began to have great success in the work that he did and found favor in Potiphar’s eyes. Potiphar began to put him in charge of more and more things until Joseph was basically second in command. Now during this time, Potiphar’s wife began to take notice of Joseph and wanted to sleep with him. Joseph refused and one day literally ran away. As he ran, he accidentally left his cloak behind. Potiphar’s wife used this to frame him by telling her husband that Joseph tried to rape her. Joseph was sent to prison.
While Joseph was in prison, the cupbearer and the baker of Pharaoh were also in prison. One night the two men had dreams and the next day shared their dreams with Joseph. God gave Joseph the ability to interpret the dreams which came true after three days. The cupbearer was reinstated and the baker was hung.
Two years later, Joseph being in prison this whole time, Pharaoh had a dream and was greatly troubled the next day. He told his dream to everyone he could think of but no one could tell Pharaoh what it meant. At this point the cupbearer spoke up and told Pharaoh of Joseph. Joseph was summoned to Pharaoh and interpreted the dream for him. Pharaoh’s dream meant there was going to be seven years of harvest and then seven years of drought and famine. Joseph told Pharaoh that he had to plan accordingly, to store food for the famine otherwise the people would die. Pharaoh was so pleased with Joseph’s interpretation and wisdom that he made Joseph the head of the palace and told all the Egyptians that they were to submit to Joseph’s orders.
While Joseph was in charge they stored up food to prepare for the famine and in seven years they had enough that all the surrounding nations were coming to Egypt to get food to survive. One day, Joseph’s brothers came to get food but they did not recognize him. Joseph eventually told his brothers that he was Joseph and they embraced and wept. Joseph sent them home to get his father, Jacob, and bring him to Egypt. Joseph then cared for his whole family saving them from the famine on the land. They lived together in Egypt for the rest of Joseph’s life.
Joseph has so much to be remembered for! Which of the remarkable things that happened in Joseph’s life do you think he was commended for in the New Testament? None of them!!! Joseph is only mentioned four times in the New Testament. Two of the times it is only his name that is mentioned and one time his role in the history of Israel is mentioned. The only other time is in Hebrews 11:22 which commended Joseph for his faith. “By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones.” The passage that this verse in Hebrews refers to is Genesis 50:24-25.
***Read Genesis 50:24-26***
Out of all that Joseph did, out of all the amazing things that happened to him, Joseph is remembered and commended for the words he spoke on his death bed. At first glance, it seems to be unfair. Abraham had three paragraphs in Hebrews 11 talking about the acts of faith that he took. Joseph has one sentence. What was so important about Joseph’s last words? These last words of Joseph show us where his focus had been throughout his entire life.