Joseph: Faithful to the End (Gen 49:29-50:26)

Joseph's_Tomb
Joseph’s Tomb early 1900s (Public Domain)

Will you be faithful to the very end? If you are a Christian, you most certainly will because your salvation is not dependent upon your faithfulness, but on the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. Those who abandon their faith never had genuine faith (see 1 John 2:19-23). Those who are truly born again (John 3:3) will endure to the end because they will be preserved by Jesus unto the end. True faith never fails because the faithful are “keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith” (Heb 12:2). Jesus is the source of our faith and He is the One who will bring our faith to perfect completion. Therefore, “let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus” (Heb 12:1-2). In today’s sermon, we shall learn about three instances in Joseph’s life where he demonstrated faithfulness to the very end.

  1. Joseph Honored His Father (Gen 49:29-50:14). Living by faith, Joseph is able to honor his father. Jacob’s wish was to be buried in the place where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, and Leah were buried. Jacob did not want his body to be buried in Egypt, but in the land promised to Abraham. For this reason, Joseph told Pharaoh, “my father made me take an oath, saying, ‘I am about to die. You must bury me there in the tomb that I made for myself in the land of Canaan.’” Pharaoh agreed and Joseph carried out his father’s wishes and then returned to Egypt.
    Joseph was a man of his word and understood the significance of his father’s request. The cave in which Jacob was buried was purchased by his grandfather Abraham (Gen 23) in order to bury Sarah (Abraham’s wife). Jacob wanted to be buried in this location because he knew that all this land was promised to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. His burial in the land of Canaan is a testimony to his faith that his descendants will inherit the land.
  1. Joseph Comforted His Brothers (Gen 50:15-21). Living by faith, Joseph is able to comfort his brothers. Joseph had already forgiven his brothers for their sinful act of selling him into slavery (Gen 45). Joseph told them that “God sent me ahead of you to preserve life” (Gen 45:5). Joseph’s brothers, however, thought that Joseph would change his mind now that their father had died. They were afraid that Joseph was only being nice to them in order to see Jacob again and in order to spare Jacob from more pain. With their father gone, they said to one another “If Joseph is holding a grudge against us, he will certainly repay us for all the suffering we caused him” (Gen 50:15). They devised a plan to say that it was Jacob who “gave a command: ‘Say this to Joseph: Please forgive your brothers…” (Gen 50:17). When Joseph heard their message, he wept.
    Joseph wept because his brothers apparently did not believe him when he said he forgave them. Joseph told the brothers that it was God who has ordered the circumstances of his life for good so that many people would be saved. Joseph told them directly, “You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result ​— ​the survival of many people” (Gen 50:20). The brothers sinned grievously against Joseph, but Joseph refused to hold a grudge because he knew that God—not his brothers—was in control of his life. Joseph was able to see the goodness of God at work, even bringing goodness out of the evil of others. He trusted that God was guiding his steps. Being faithful to the end, Joseph “comforted them and spoke kindly to them” (Gen 50:21).
  1. Joseph Trusted His God (Gen 50:22-26). Living by faith, Joseph is able to trust God. In verse 24, Joseph demonstrated this when he told his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will certainly come to your aid and bring you up from this land to the land He swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Joseph had confidence that the children of Israel would be brought back to the land promised to Abraham. He made his belief clear when he made his brothers take an oath, “When God come to your aid, you are to carry my bones up from here.” Moses would later fulfill this instruction (Ex. 13:19) and Joseph’s remains were eventually buried at Shechem (Josh. 24:32).
    How was Joseph able to endure faithfully to the very end? Joseph knew that the Lord is faithful. Joseph knew that the Lord is true to His word and guiding his steps. Troubles and trials did not cause Joseph’s faith to fail, they were used by God to strengthen his faith. In every situation, Joseph saw the mercy and goodness of God on display.

Are you worried that you will not be faithful to the end? If so, resist the temptation to base your confidence on yourself and your own obedience. Instead, see that the only true confidence comes from the righteousness of Christ that has been granted to you by grace and received by faith. Remember, you did not earn your salvation by your goodness and you cannot lose your salvation by a lack of goodness. We can endure and be faithful to the end because our salvation does not ultimately rest upon our faithfulness, but on the faithfulness of Christ. Consider carefully these words from the Apostle Paul to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:11-13): “This saying is trustworthy:

For if we died with him,
we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he will also deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful,
for he cannot deny himself”