Sermon #     65                                                  Hebrews Notes


     Title:            Joseph’s Bones

     Text:            Hebrews 11:22

     Readings:     Bob Duff and Larry Brown

     Subject:       Steadfast Faith

     Date:            Tuesday Evening – October2, 2001

     Tape #         W-62b



(Hebrews 11:22)  "By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones."


     The title of my message tonight is Joseph’s Bones. Bro. Rex Bartley has asked me about this text two or three times in recent weeks. And I have been putting him off, saying, “Would you rather have the abbreviated version or wait for the full answer?” He chose to wait for the full answer. Tonight, Rex, you get the full answer.


     Let me give you a little background information. At the early age of seventeen Joseph was carried away into a foreign, heathen country. There he remained for many years surrounded by idolaters. It is unlikely that during all that time he came into contact with another believer, not even one who knew and worshipped God. He was a lone believer in the land of the ancient moon god (Sin), whom the Muslims now call “Allah.”


Kept Faithful


In those days there was no Bible to read, for none of God’s Word had been committed to writing. Yet amid strong temptations and various trials Joseph was steadfast in his faith. He was a faithful man, though he was utterly without the aid of another. His solitary aide was the one aide he needed. Jehovah was his strength. The grace of God was sufficient for him. Grace gave him faith in Christ and grace kept him faithful to Christ.

·        Thirteen years of imprisonment did not make him bitter.

·        Being made lord over Egypt did not spoil him.

·        Evil examples all around did not corrupt him.


     The Lord God, who has promised, “My grace is sufficient for thee,” has proved the sufficiency of his grace many times. Has he not? Here he gives us one more example, by which he would encourage our faith.


Through many dangers, toils and snares,

I have already come!

‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,

And grace will lead me home!


Joseph’s Early Training


We recognize that Joseph was the object of God’s free grace. We know that salvation is God’s work alone. Grace chose him. Grace redeemed him. Grace called him. And grace kept him.


     Yet, we also recognize that the Lord God graciously and wisely uses specific means in the exercise of his grace. This, too, is obvious in the life of Joseph.


     In his earliest years Joseph received was taught to worship God, instructed in the gospel of Christ, and encouraged to believe God. How this ought to encourage believing parents. May God give us grace and wisdom to faithfully instruct and train our children, by word and by example, committing them to his hands, his grace, and his care. If he is pleased to call them and grant them life and faith in Christ, he will keep them even in our pagan, heathen society.


The Example Chosen


Reading this chapter, I cannot help wondering, -- “Why did the Holy Spirit choose this particular example of Joseph’s faith to use as an encouragement to us?” Had I been making the choice, there are many things I would have selected, which seem far more significant to me; but I never did know much.


     The Holy Spirit is demonstrating great examples of faith. He is encouraging us to believe God and to be faithful to him in all things. Yet, he makes no mention here of Joseph’s faithfulness in…

·        declaring what God had made known to him,

·        his charity,

·        his wisdom and prudence,

·        his faithfulness in great adversity (Potipher’s – Prison)

·        his fear of God,

·        his compassion, his overcoming evil with good,

·        or his reverence and obedience to his father.


     Joseph was a remarkable man, with a remarkable life. But his entire life, all his mighty deeds, all his examples of devotion are passed over, and we are introduced to the final scene of his pilgrimage.


The Purpose


You see, the great purpose of this chapter is to encourage us to believe God, to remain faithful to the end, and to help us to overcome the fears with which God’s saints are vexed in every age. The Lord is here very graciously showing us that he who gave us faith will keep us in faith unto the end, and carry us safely through every trial into heavenly glory. Nothing inspires faith and faithfulness like the assurance God gives us of his faithfulness.


(1 Corinthians 10:13)  "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."


(Philippians 1:6)  "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:"


(1 Thessalonians 5:18-24)  "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (19) Quench not the Spirit. (20) Despise not prophesyings. (21) Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. (22) Abstain from all appearance of evil. (23) And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (24) Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it."


(2 Timothy 2:19)  "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity."


A Question


Here is a question that, I suspect, you have asked yourself more than once. “Do I have a faith which will support us amid the frailties of age and the pains of decaying nature?Do I have faith that will give me peace, when it comes time for me to leave this world?


     Most of us here profess faith in Christ. The hour is rapidly approaching in which our profession will be tried. The reality and strength of our faith must at some time (God alone knows how soon!), be put to a severe trial.

·        Many who thought that they had faith in health, find that they have none in sickness.

·        Many who thought their faith was strong, have found that it was not even as “a grain of mustard seed” when it was most needed.


Proposition: Nothing but the faith of Christ can enable rational, thinking men and women to enter with composure and delight into the unseen world of eternity.


     It is the faith which is wrought in men and women by Christ, and that alone, which can enable the expiring mortal to rejoice in the dissolution of “the earthly house of this tabernacle”, and to say, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”


     Let’s look, now, at the example of faith given to us in Hebrews 11:22.


(Hebrews 11:22)  "By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones."


The reference to which our text points is Genesis 50:22-26.


(Genesis 50:22-26)  "And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father's house: and Joseph lived an hundred and ten years. (23) And Joseph saw Ephraim's children of the third generation: the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were brought up upon Joseph's knees. (24) And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. (25) And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. (26) So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt."


I.      Joseph believed God amidst severe and persistent trials.


Because our text passes over the other events in Joseph’s extraordinary life, I will too. Joseph’s life was remarkable. His trials were remarkable. And his faith was remarkable. Like the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom he was an eminent type, Joseph shows us by example how that we ought ever to bow to the will of God, believing him (Gen. 50:20).


(Genesis 50:18-21)  "And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants. (19) And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? (20) But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. (21) Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them."


But out text points us to Joseph’s display of faith and faithfulness in his last days, when he was at the very zenith of his glory in Egypt. Here was a man who believed God in circumstances that cause most men to forget God.


A.   Joseph was a man tempted by the possession great prosperity.


1.     God does call some men to high positions. Some of his servants are found in Ceasar’s court, some in Uzziah’s, some in Pilate’s, and some in Pharaoh’s. – That in itself is a great trial of faith.


2.     Joseph was the highest ranking official in a land of idolaters, serving a mighty king who was a base idolator.


3.     He was wealthy beyond imagination.


·        Riches of themselves do not injure a person.

·        Whether we are rich or poor, we simply must not set our hearts upon material things. That’s the danger (Phil. 4:12; Psa. 62:10).


(Philippians 4:12)  "I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need."


(Psalms 62:10)  "Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them."


(Proverbs 30:7-9)  "Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: (8) Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: (9) Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain."


(Matthew 6:31-34)  "Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (32) (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. (33) But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (34) Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."


(Colossians 3:1-3)  "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. (2) Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. (3) For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."


B.   When he knew he was dying, Joseph believed God.


1.     Death is a great tester of man’s sincerity. It shakes down bowing walls and tottering fences.


2.     The brightest instance of faith in this grand old man was at his death.


a.      In his death he remembered God’s covenant.

b.     His heart was totally baptized with the thoughts of heaven.

c.     He did not dwell upon the past, but hoped for the future (Heb. 11:1).

d.     He rested his soul upon his God, believing his Word, trusting his promise.


C.   Joseph believed God, though that which God had promised was totally contrary to reason, to the things which he saw, and to all outward appearance.


1.     Israel was in Goshen. Why should they leave? – But God had promised that after 400 years, he would bring them out of that land; and Joseph believing God, “made mention of the departing of the children of Israel.


(Genesis 50:24)  "And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob."


2.     Joseph knew that his brethren would become slaves to the Egyptians. How could they then escape? -- Faith does not reason, but believes.



II.   Because he believed God, Joseph refused to become or even be regarded as an Egyptian.


A.   Joseph’s faith in Christ compelled him to identify himself with Christ, his people, and his worship.


Joseph was not asked merely to be an Egyptian, of even one of the nobles of the land. He was made the prime minister of the land, but refused even the place afforded him by Pharaoh. He was a loyal citizen in the land where God placed him. He served the land of Egypt better than any man in the history of that nation. But, because he was an Israelite indeed, a true believer, he would not be identified with the Egyptians.


“In Sakhara, hard by the pyramid of Pharaoh Apahis, stands at this day the tomb of a prince, whose name and titles are in hieroglyphic writing. The name is ‘Eitsuph,’ and from among his many titles we choose two — “Director of the king’s granaries,” and the other an Egyptian title, ‘Abrech.’ Now this last word is found in the Scriptures, and is that which is translated, ‘Bow the knee.’ (See a little book, ‘Stone Witnesses.’ Morgan & Chase.) It is more than probable that this monument was prepared for Joseph, but he declined the honor. Though his resting-place would have been side by side with the pyramid of one of Mizraim’s greatest monarchs, yet he would not accept the dignity, he would not be an Egyptian.[1].


If we would follow Christ, we must constantly refuse to align ourselves with this world. We must choose rather to identify ourselves with the people of God and the worship of God.


(1 John 2:15-17)  "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (16) For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (17) And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever."


(2 Corinthians 6:14-18)  "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? (15) And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? (16) And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (17) Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, (18) And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."


(2 Corinthians 7:1)  "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."


     Faith in Christ is manifest by love for God’s people (1 John 3:14). And Joseph demonstrated, both in his actions and in the most public manner possible, his love for his brethren.


     At the very time of his death Joseph’s heart was engaged with the future happiness of Israel (Ps. 137:5-6).


(Psalms 137:5-6)  "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. (6) If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy."


·        How beautifully this unselfish faith was pictured in the dying daughter-in-law of Eli (1 Sam. 4:22).

·        Much more was this unselfish love demonstrated by our Savior (John 13:1).


     As Joseph believed God in though everything seemed to contradict his Word, let us believe God, though everything seems to contradict his Word (Isa. 59:19; Matt. 16:18).


(Isaiah 59:19)  "So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him."


(Matthew 16:18)  "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."


B.   Joseph’s faith was in Christ.


Faith in Christ caused him to see the unseen, and to look to the spiritual blessings of grace pictured in the carnal things that represented them. Faith gave him an eye to the spirituality of the covenant. His hope was not in the earthly Canaan, but in the spiritual. Look at Genesis 50 again.


(Genesis 50:24-26)  "And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. (25) And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. (26) So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt."


1.     He believed that God would graciously visit his people in deliverance, bringing them out of bondage. – That is Salvation! -- (Moses/Christ)

2.     He believed not only that God would bring them out of Egypt, but that he would bring his chosen, redeemed people into Canaan. – Heavenly Glory!

3.     He believed he would also enter into the land of promise. – He made his brothers swear that they would not bury him in Egypt, but embalm him and carry him into Canaan. – Embalming, though an Egyptian custom, was adopted by Joseph, by an act of faith, to be an emblem of the hope of the resurrection.


Joseph’s bones were buried in Canaan with Joshua’s, after the Lord God fulfilled every promise he had made to Abraham and the nation of Israel concerning that land.


(Joshua 24:29-32)  "And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old. (30) And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathserah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash. (31) And Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the LORD, that he had done for Israel. (32) And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph."


C.   Joseph’s faith in Christ made him submissive to the will, purpose, and glory of God.


     Because he believed God, Joseph was willing to wait God’s time for the promised blessing. (Here is Christianity -- Resignation).

·        He waited for God to exalt him.

·        He bowed to God’s providence.

·        He waited for God to deliver Israel. -- His bones were not buried until Joshua had conquered and divided the land.


(Isaiah 40:27-31)  "Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God? (28) Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. (29) He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. (30) Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: (31) But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."


III.           When he was dying, Joseph sought to honor God and to instruct his brethren in the faith of Christ.


The dying saint wanted his brethren to know and trust his God. He openly avowed his confidence in God’s promise. He encouraged his brethren to trust God. He gave them and us a pattern, an example to follow.


A.   Let us in the hour of death take comfort in the covenant as Joseph did.


B.    We can be comforted knowing that Christ will yet visit his people.


(1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)  "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. (14) For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. (15) For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. (16) For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: (17) Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (18) Wherefore comfort one another with these words."


(1 Corinthians 15:51-58)  "Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, (52) In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (53) For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (54) So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. (55) O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (56) The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. (57) But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (58) Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."

[1] C.H. Spurgeon, MTP, vol. 16 #966