March 9, 2019

JACOB’S DEATH AND BURIAL

After Jacob had finished blessing his 12 sons, “Then he charged them and said to them: “I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite,  in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite as a possession for a burial place. There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife, there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah.   The field and the cave that is there were purchased from the sons of Heth.” And when Jacob had finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.(Genesis 49:29-33)

All through the records in Genesis, the death of Rebekah was not mentioned and that of Leah. From the last words of Jacob, we were informed that Rebekah died and was buried where Isaac was buried and Leah too died and was buried there. The field was purchased by Abraham when Sarah died and it has been a burial place for his descendants since then. It was good to know that the family held firmly to the tradition laid down by Abraham, and Jacob made Joseph swear to bury him in the same place. Therefore the funeral ceremony of Jacob was recorded in  Genesis 50. He was embalmed for 40 days, and then mourned for 70 days, and then all important officials in Egypt  went with Joseph to Canaan to bury Jacob. Jacob was highly honored even in his death. What God promised Jacob came to pass. He was with him to the end.

After the ceremony, they all came back to Egypt including Joseph’s brothers. Being afraid of what Joseph might do to them now that their father was no more, the brothers said  “Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him.”  So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, “Before your father died he commanded, saying,   ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph: “I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you.” ’ Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him. Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, “Behold, we are your servants.” Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God?   But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.  Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” (Genesis 50:1-22).

The brothers showed a genuine repentance by asking for forgiveness of the evil that they did to him. Though it’s been many years that the deed was done, it was difficult to erase it from their memory especially because of the attitude of Joseph and all the good things he had done for them. It is true that it is only good that can overcome evil. The word of God advises us “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21). All the good things Joseph was doing for all of them was overwhelming to them. How can somebody they had hurt so badly turned around to take care of them and their families? They thought he did all this because of their father, and now that the father was no more, they needed to be sure that he would not turn around to repay them with evil. But Joseph saw the providence of God long before they asked for forgiveness, by saying “am I God?”, though you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good in order to save lives. Joseph assured them that he would continue to take care of them. His good deeds toward them had overcome all the evil they did to him.

Jesus emphasized this on the Sermon on the  Mount by saying “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44).  This was the attitude of Joseph to his brothers. Joseph showed the true love of God to them. This is the way to be like Jesus, our Savior, who commended his love for us “in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:21). The reason why the world is experiencing so much pain and sorrow everyday is because genuine love is lost among people. Our Lord Jesus demonstrated His unconditional love for us by praying for us while he was being persecuted, by saying, “Father forgive them for they know not what they were doing”. If Joseph could do this, then it is what we need to do to make the world a better place to live in. Let us live to please God by forgiving all our debtors, and praying for everyone that has hurt us and doing good to them that persecute us or spitefully use us. I pray that the Holy Spirit of God will fill us up to enable us to Overcome Evil With Good in all our endeavors and relationships in Jesus Name, Amen. Remain Blessed!!!

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