The Bones of Joseph

“By faith Joseph , when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones” (Hebrews 11:22).

Joseph was not writing a script for a horror movie. Nor was he giving a lecture on physiology. Joseph was giving instructions about his final arrangements, his burial. This is not as gruesome as it seems.

It is a remarkable statement of faith. He was saying he did not want to be interred in Egypt. When the Israelite nation would be liberated to go to their new homeland, he wanted his remains to go with them. He wanted to be permanently buried among his own people in the Promised Land.

“By faith,” Joseph believed that God would fulfill his promise to Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the desert sky. He believed that they would be a blessing to all nations of the world.

He believed the word promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that the land of Canaan would be given to them and to their descendants after them (Genesis 15:13-16). This promise included Joseph and his sons. Joseph believed that Abraham’s descendants would return to that place and claim it as their own.

Joseph believed that there would be an exodus from Egypt someday. He knew he would not be alive to see it. He believed it because the Lord had said so. He believed that God had purposes for the chosen people of Israel. Joseph was expressing his confidence in God’s word and his solidarity with God’s people.

So we read in Exodus 13:19, “Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the sons of Israel swear an oath. He had said, ‘God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.'”

I believe a practical lesson for us is that when the time comes to talk to our loved ones about our final arrangements, we should express our faith, as Joseph did. When we let them know about our desires and wishes for our funeral and burial, we should talk openly about our faith in Christ, and our assurance of eternal life with him.

Pastor Randy Faulkner