Foundational Themes in Genesis – Study 118

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Foundational themes in Genesis – Study 118

(Key verses: Genesis 50:4-13)

The theme of death concludes the book of Genesis as we read about the deaths of two of its more prominent characters, namely Jacob and Joseph. First, we read about the death of Jacob after he lived for seventeen years in Egypt:

Gen 49:33 And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people.

In our previous discussions on this theme of death, we touched on how we all are first “gathered unto [our] people” in spiritual death via the first Adam before we will be “gathered unto [God’s] people” in Jesus Christ by dying to that old man Adam in us (Gen 2:7; Jer 18:4; Rom 5:12; Rom 8:20; 1Co 15:22-31). It is indeed through death that God ordained that His children will eventually “find” spiritual life through Jesus Christ:

Mat 10:38 And he that takes not his cross, and follows after me, is not worthy of me.
Mat 10:39 He that finds his life shall lose it: and he that loses his life for my sake shall find it.

1Co 15:31 I [the apostle Paul and all “in Christ”] protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.

In the process of dying with Christ to this earthy life, we are given the rulership “on the earth” and a spiritual seat in the heaven (1Co 6:2-3; Heb 2:8; Rev 1:17; Rev 20:4-6):

Rev 5:10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

Eph 2:6 (GW) God has brought us back to life together with Christ Jesus and has given us a position in heaven with him.

Death has many facets, and one of these is mourning, which brings other aspects to the fore, as we read how Joseph and those in Egypt mourned the death of Jacob:

Gen 50:1 And Joseph fell upon his father’s face, and wept upon him, and kissed him.
Gen 50:2 And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father: and the physicians embalmed Israel.
Gen 50:3 And forty days were fulfilled for him; for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed: and the Egyptians mourned for him threescore and ten days.

We understand that mourning is a vital part of the healing process which God instituted, and few can understand why the “house of mourning” plays such an important part in God’s salvation plan:

Ecc 7:2 It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.

It is of great comfort to know why “the house of mourning” is better and why the beloved in Christ “lay [this] to [their] heart”:

1Pe 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
1Pe 4:13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
1Pe 4:14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.

Act 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

The “much tribulation” is part and parcel of our qualification to enter and be seated with Jesus Christ:

Rev 15:6 And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles.
Rev 15:7 And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.
Rev 15:8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.

Mourning links to the recognising and acknowledging of our spiritual poverty in flesh which the proud in heart cannot receive, even as these words of Jesus make no sense to those who seek the house of mirth:

Mat 5:4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

We can only mourn when we are aware that our old man hates Jesus Christ and how our old ways of thinking oppose the doctrine of Christ. We indeed murder Christ and those who come in His name as we naturally hate the truth and those who associate with truth:

1Jn 3:15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

Mat 23:35 That upon you [we as part of the evil and perverted generation of flesh] may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.

Mat 26:27 And he [Jesus] took the cup [symbolising His blood that was shed], and gave thanks, and gave it to them [His disciples], saying, Drink ye all of it.

The voice of mirth shall be taken from all at the appointed time and reveal flesh for what it really is:

Jer 25:10 Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the candle.

Preparations for the burial of Jacob

Another aspect of death is that it requires a burial, and in this earthly ritual, we also learn so many spiritual lessons (Rom 1:20). The scriptures are silent on burials from the first death which happened on the earth, namely that of Abel, who was slain by his own brother, Cain (Gen 4:8). No mention is made how the bodies of dead humans were discarded early on in the book of Genesis. It was only when Sarah died that the first mention of burials is recorded in the scriptures (Gen 23:1-2):

Gen 23:19 And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan.
Gen 23:20 And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a buryingplace by the sons of Heth.

Although many other burials are mentioned only briefly in the book of Genesis after this burial of Sarah, more details are given here relating to the preparations for the burial of Jacob (Gen 25:9; Gen 35:8; Gen 35:16-20; Gen 35:27-29). It is even in these that we also learn how to discern and follow the narrow way. There is indeed a difference in how the world handles death and mourning:

1Th 4:13 But I [Paul] would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

With the death of Jacob in Egypt, it is the first time we read about the embalming of a corpse in the scriptures – it actually took forty days within this extended time of mourning of seventy days!

Gen 50:2 And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father: and the physicians embalmed Israel.
Gen 50:3 And forty days were fulfilled for him; for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed: and the Egyptians mourned for him threescore and ten days.

In its negative application, embalming typifies the preservation of the flesh, and this is how the world also wants to remain attached to their dead. The positive application of this embalming process and the preparation for burial is seen in how we treat the body of Christ, the church, in their own time of dying to self (Pro 19:17; Mat 25:35-40; Mat 26:6-13; Joh 12:3-8; Php 2:4; Heb 13:16; Jas 1:27; Jas 2:14-17):

Gal 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
Gal 6:2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

The physical body of Christ, His church, needs to always be prepared for burial as we indeed bear each other’s burdens fulfilling the spiritual law of Christ (Mat 27:57-59; Joh 19:39-40):

Mat 26:12 For in that she [Mary with her alabaster box with ointment] hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.
Mat 26:13 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.

Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Eph 5:29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
Eph 5:30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

Isa 58:7 Is it [the fast God has chosen] not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

Egyptian Excessiveness

Egypt is known in the scriptures for its extravagant excessiveness and worldly wisdom which supplies the “flesh pots” that our natural man always yearns for, which is then taken to its maturity in its negative application during our time in spiritual Babylon (Gen 12:10; Gen 41:57; Isa 31:1; Jer 46:20a; Act 7:22; Rev 18:9; Rev 18:11-13):

Exo 16:3 And the children of Israel said unto them [Moses and Aaron], Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

The world and its spirit are typified by Egypt – all “the doings of the land of Egypt” is what God warned Israel about:

Lev 18:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Lev 18:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the LORD your God.
Lev 18:3 After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do….

The narrow way is the life of moderation (Pro 30:8-9; Php 4:11-13):

Php 4:5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

Egypt also points to the idolising of flesh:

Eze 20:7 Then said I [God] unto them, Cast ye away every man the abominations of his eyes, and defile not yourselves with the idols of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.
Eze 20:8 But they rebelled against me, and would not hearken unto me: they did not every man cast away the abominations of their eyes, neither did they forsake the idols of Egypt: then I said, I will pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt.

We know that the flesh and the spirit of God are “contrary one to another”, and two cannot walk together except they agree (Amo 3:1-3; Rom 8:5-7; Gal 5:17). The mature in Christ make a clear difference between “the unclean and the clean”, which is why “the doings of the land of Egypt” must be taken from us:

Lev 11:45 For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.
Lev 11:46 This is the law of the beasts, and of the fowl, and of every living creature that moveth in the waters, and of every creature that creepeth upon the earth:
Lev 11:47 To make a difference between the unclean and the clean, and between the beast that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten.

The celebrations and the emphasizing of flesh is how the world stays focused on the old man, and this includes elaborate celebrations of earthy things. It all starts with the celebration of birthdays, and in a sense the celebration of birthdays embalms or memorialises the old man! It is therefore not strange that the first time the celebration of birthdays is mentioned in scripture, it is connected to the Pharaoh in Egypt:

Gen 40:20 And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants: and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants.
Gen 40:21 And he restored the chief butler unto his butlership again; and he gave the cup into Pharaoh’s hand:
Gen 40:22 But he hanged the chief baker: as Joseph had interpreted to them.

Joseph is a type of the new man, and it is indeed in the celebration and memorialising of the old man that the new man is left out and even forgotten:

Gen 40:23 Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.

It is with this background that the time of mourning and the preparations of the burial of Jacob should be understood. The preparation for Jacob’s funeral is also the first time in the scriptures where such a long period of preparation for a burial is seen. Although God’s elect indeed goes through intensive trials and tribulations, God always cares for them. God does not pay so much time and attention to flesh, which is a big stumbling block for many:

Psa 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.
Psa 34:20 He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.

Although Jesus’ death on the cross took a few hours, crucifixion was a very agonising experience and great in intensity, in terms of pain and suffering. His burial was also done without much ado:

Joh 19:38 And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.
Joh 19:39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.
Joh 19:40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.
Joh 19:41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.

Throughout the New Testament not much is written about preparations and the funeral itself. Besides the burial of Jesus, the burials of only Lazarus (Joh 11:44), Ananias (Act 5:6) and Dorcas (Act 9:37) are briefly mentioned. The way the world does things is indeed different from the way God’s children do things. The world cannot let go of this old man, and even in death it wants to preserve flesh as they believe God cannot even create a new body in the resurrection, which is 100% different from the one which was buried (1Co 15:35-50):

1Co 15:44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

Permission to bury Jacob in Canaan

The apostle Paul gives us direction how to behave when we are guests in another’s company:

1Co 9:20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
1Co 9:21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
1Co 9:22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
1Co 9:23 And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.

As children of God we are indeed strangers and pilgrims in this world, and we need to be respectful and in subjection to those God also appoints to be in rulership, unless they demand of us to disobey the doctrine of Christ:

Rom 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Rom 13:2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
Rom 13:3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
Rom 13:4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
Rom 13:5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
Rom 13:6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
Rom 13:7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
Rom 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

Joseph and his family were living with the Pharaoh’s permission in Egypt, who helped them in the time of famine and even gave them a very fertile area in Egypt, namely Goshen. It is with all this in mind that we should understand why Joseph respected and subjected himself and his family to the traditions of Egypt. Although he was second in command in Egypt under the Pharaoh, Joseph humbled himself and did not even approach the Pharaoh directly for permission to bury his father in Canaan:

Gen 50:4 And when the days of his mourning were past, Joseph spake unto the house of Pharaoh, saying, If now I have found grace in your eyes, speak, I pray you, in the ears of Pharaoh, saying,
Gen 50:5 My father made me swear, saying, Lo, I die: in my grave which I have digged for me in the land of Canaan, there shalt thou bury me. Now therefore let me go up, I pray thee, and bury my father, and I will come again.
Gen 50:6 And Pharaoh said, Go up, and bury thy father, according as he made thee swear.

All the servants of Pharaoh and the elders of his house and that of Egypt accompanied Joseph and his family to the burial site in Canaan. It was indeed a funeral of note:

Gen 50:7 And Joseph went up to bury his father: and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt,
Gen 50:8 And all the house of Joseph, and his brethren, and his father’s house: only their little ones, and their flocks, and their herds, they left in the land of Goshen.
Gen 50:9 And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen: and it was a very great company.

It is also interesting to note that they entered Canaan from the east side via the river Jordan where Joseph again called a period of seven days for mourning:

Gen 50:10 And they came to the threshingfloor of Atad, which is beyond Jordan, and there they mourned with a great and very sore lamentation: and he made a mourning for his father seven days.

The threshingfloor of flesh

The idea of a threshingfloor indeed helps us to see the dying daily process of the old man which includes the baptism in the fire of God to bring forth the new man in Christ:

Mat 3:11 I [John “the baptist”] indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
Mat 3:12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

Rom 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Rom 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Rom 6:5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
Rom 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

There are many references to threshing in the scriptures where the concept of separation is highlighted (Isa 28:23-28). It is within our time in spiritual Babylon that God’s judgment will start to bring us “out of her, my people” when the time of the harvest has come in our lives when the tares and wheat are separated (Mat 13:24-30; Rev 18:4):

Jer 51:33 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; The daughter of Babylon is like a threshingfloor, it is time to thresh her: yet a little while, and the time of her harvest shall come.

The temple of the Lord in us is built on the basis of the sacrifice of a life on the altar, as also seen when King David bought the threshingfloor from Araunah:

2Sa 24:24 And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.
2Sa 24:25 And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD was intreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel.

This altar or table of God is only reserved for the elect of God in this age, as they know it takes the removal of our old man for the new man to be established in God’s temple:

Heb 13:10 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.
Heb 13:11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.
Heb 13:12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.
Heb 13:13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.

As Uzza was killed by God at the threshingfloor of Chidon for putting forth his hand to the ark, so we realize, like king David, that it is not our works or our ideas that will bring the ark of God into His temple, but the work of Christ in us:

1Ch 13:9 And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled.
1Ch 13:10 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God.

It is the Canaanites and the Egyptians in us that will indeed have grievous and excessive mourning as they mourn having no hope:

Gen 50:11 And when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning in the floor of Atad, they said, This is a grievous mourning to the Egyptians: wherefore the name of it was called Abelmizraim, which is beyond Jordan.

Jacob’s own sons carried him into the land of Canaan to bury him there:

Gen 50:12 And his sons did unto him according as he commanded them:
Gen 50:13 For his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field for a possession of a buryingplace of Ephron the Hittite, before Mamre.

Detailed studies and emails relating to these foundational themes in Scripture are available on the website, including these topics and links:

We As His Disciples
Ecc 6:1-6
Ecc 7:1-9
Keep Them in This World
Gathered Unto His People
Is The Flesh Being Sown Our Physical Death?

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