Foundational Themes in Genesis – Study 120

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Foundational Themes in Genesis – Study 120

(Key verses: Genesis 50:22-26)

We conclude our discussions on foundational themes in Genesis with the final section of this book where the death of Joseph is detailed. The theme of death is indeed the story of the first Adam, and here with the death of Joseph, certain aspects of this theme are again highlighted for us. Joseph lived in Egypt since he was seventeen years old until the time of his death at the age of a hundred and ten years – in total he lived ninety-three years in Egypt, which includes the eighty years as a ruler (Gen 37:2-36; Gen 41:46). The number eighty has the numbers eight and ten connected to it, which in spiritual terms refers respectively to the new man in Christ and the completeness of flesh. It is indeed the new man who reigns over the flesh, as Joseph also is a type of the elect and their time of rulership (Oba 1:21; 1Co 6:2-3; Rev 20:4-15):

Gen 50:22 And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father’s house: and Joseph lived an hundred and ten years.

During his time of rulership in Egypt, God also used Joseph to bring his own family down to Egypt. All of that was initiated when his ten brothers sold Joseph to traders, who in turn sold him as a slave in Egypt. However, the natural man cannot see that all man’s thoughts and acts are caused by God, and everyone is actually contributing to fulfill God’s purposes, whether through the good or the evil:

Pro 16:1 The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD.

Pro 20:24 Man’s goings are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way?

Pro 16:4 The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.

Isa 63:17 O LORD, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants’ sake, the tribes of thine inheritance.

These truths are not accessible to the carnal mind of the natural man, and this is also what Joseph’s brothers could not grasp, even when Joseph repeatedly told them why all things happened, even the evil they committed:

Gen 50:20 But as for you [his ten brothers], ye thought evil against me; but God meant it [the evil] unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

Joseph’s life, as with the lives of his family and all creation in every detail, is set up and being “worked” by God from start to finish (Eph 1:11):

Isa 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.

Joseph’s heart was fixed on God’s promises

Joseph’s fleshly offspring through his Egyptian wife, Asenath, were born and bred in Egypt as Joseph was also taken through a process of resisting the manifold temptations of Egypt:

Gen 50:23 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.

Like Joseph, the elect are called by God to reckon themselves dead to the flesh with all its desires, even while living in this land of flesh:

Rom 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Rom 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
Rom 6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

Throughout his time in Egypt, amidst all the trials and tests, Joseph’s heart was always fixed on the promises of God to his fathers. Even now on his deathbed this was still Joseph’s focus which he also wanted his family to remember:

Gen 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.

Through God’s words to his forefathers, Joseph knew that Egypt was not the permanent dwelling place for his family and their offspring. Egypt is the type of our flesh which God never intended to be the permanent dwelling for those in the first Adam:

Rom 8:20 For the creature was made subject to vanity [Greek: mataiotēs = transientness/lasting only for a short time], not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,

It is indeed God who subjected this whole creation to operate in the way it does – 100% according to His plan. All physical things were “made subject to vanity”, meaning they were created in a state of transience. All things that were created within this state also operate according to this “very good” plan which God instituted from the beginning – this “very good” plan includes darkness and death:

Gen 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

Gen 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good

Isa 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

This is the initial spiritual state of the first Adam and all in spiritual Egypt. Those who can receive it at this time rejoice in the truth that Adam and all in him were not created “in vain” to continue in this spiritual state. God’s glory will eventually fill the whole earth – even all in Adam (1Co 15:22-28). This is the promise of God:

Isa 45:18 For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.

Num 14:21 But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.

Hab 2:14 For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

Is this creation malfunctioning?

Joseph knew Egypt was part of God’s plan and that one day his family will return to the land God has promised to them. In the same sense, this flesh and all our trials and pain are necessary to teach us important spiritual lessons which we will otherwise never learn. Here are Solomon’s wise words about this earthy experience:

Ecc 1:13 (CLV) I applied my heart to inquiring and exploring by wisdom concerning all that is done under the heavens: it is an experience of evil Elohim has given to the sons of humanity to humble them by it.
Ecc 1:14 (CLV) I saw all the deeds that are done under the sun, And behold, the whole is vanity [Hebrew: hebel – emptiness or vanity; figuratively something transitory and unsatisfactory] and a grazing on wind.

For the natural mind and those who twist the Word of God, this creation appears as malfunctioning, as they also claim that God is not responsible for this so-called chaos. Those perspectives are grounded in spiritual blindness and are not the truth which considers the sum of God’s Word (Psa 119:160). Here are a few scriptural witnesses to show us that God is indeed sovereign and responsible for all things in this creation, and nothing can function outside God’s intended purpose:

Eph 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

Rom 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
Rom 11:34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?
Rom 11:35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?
Rom 11:36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

Jer 10:23 O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.

Nothing in this creation malfunctions, because nothing is out of the control of God – that is what sovereignty means. Even Satan, “the waster”, was created for a specific purpose:

Isa 54:16 Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.

This “waster” was a murderer and liar “from the beginning”, and God gave this adversary “power…and great authority” to deceive those in the first Adam (Gen 3:1-5; 2Sa 24:1; 1Ch 21:1; Job 1:6-12; Job 2:1-6; Rev 13:2). Jesus said these words to those Jews who actually believed in him, but followed him after the flesh:

Joh 8:44 Ye [those who reason according to their carnal mind] are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Every creature is doing exactly what God wants them to do – nothing more and nothing less. It is only those who believe in the false doctrine that creatures have a so-called “free” will who will deny this truth. God can do with His creation what He “pleasures” as His counsel will stand (Isa 46:10). He does not need anyone’s permission to mar or make a vain human “pot” (a vessel “unto dishonour” and “fitted to destruction”) at first before He makes it again in spirit – “a vessel unto honour” (Rom 9:20-22):

Jer 18:1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,
Jer 18:2 Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words.
Jer 18:3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.
Jer 18:4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
Jer 18:5 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
Jer 18:6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.

This is what the sons of Israel, and all at their appointed time are learning. There is no malfunctioning in God’s works. We are all clay in the Potter’s hand.

Redemption is a process in the Potter’s hands

The physical nation of Israel which was being formed in Egypt was promised their own land, and this is what Joseph also now reiterates before his death in Egypt:

Gen 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.
Gen 50:25 And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you

This “visit” of God was, of course, first through hardships in which this physical nation was actually formed and bonded together. As the physical Israel was a type of the spiritual Israel of God, so is the physical land of promise a type of the spiritual inheritance which is fulfilled through the kingdom of God (Rom 2:28-29; 1Co 15:28). Joseph knew that Egypt and all its splendour and glamour was not where he must be, not even for his dead bones:

Gen 50:25 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.

The removal of Joseph’s bones from Egypt is again emphasising the total destruction of everything associated with this earthy life and “this death”:

Rom 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Rom 7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

1Co 15:26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

The removal of Joseph’s bones is pointing to this truth that not even a speck of dust will remain of this creation when the new creation has come in its fullness, even the very substances or bodies associated with these two ages (Rev 21:1-6):

1Co 15:37 And that which thou sowest [in the earth], thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:

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.

1Co 15:52 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.

Even in this age this church knows that their redemption from this old heaven and old earth is experienced “from glory to glory” although it is still in downpayment now (Exo 23:30; Deu 7:22; 2Co 3:18; Eph 1:13-14). The whole creation is waiting for the deliverance from this restriction of flesh, but it is only the church of God in Christ who has this hope already manifesting through the faith of Jesus in them!

Rom 8:20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
Rom 8:21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Rom 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
Rom 8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
Rom 8:24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
Rom 8:25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

Joseph’s body was embalmed and placed in a coffin which again brings interesting insights to the fore.

Joseph’s death in Egypt

Gen 50:26 So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

Embalming in its negative application points to our natural attachments to flesh and how the earthy things ensnare us so easily, even coming with a strong desire for a miraculous rapture out of our trials and tribulations. Nevertheless, it is by enduring the trials and going through death which indeed brings the victory over “this death” which qualify those in the first resurrection (Col 1:22; Heb 2:14). We can only rule over what we have endured and overcome – not escaping it, which the whole life of Joseph is such a powerful witness of:

Rev 2:26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
Rev 2:27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.

Embalming in its positive application therefore points to the elect of God who are being prepared for their own burial through trials and tribulations (Act 14:22; Gal 6:1-10; 1Pe 4:12; Rev 15:6-8):

1Pe 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.

The church is the physical flesh and bones of the spiritual Head Jesus Christ, and if we say we love and serve the Head and ignore His body, we are deceived (Mal 3:16; Heb 10:19-25; 1Jn 5:2-3). Christ’s church is dying to this world and gathered together in that sense:

Eph 5:30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

After being embalmed, the corpse of Joseph was placed into a coffin. This is the first time in the scriptures a coffin is mentioned as being used to enclose a body. Here is Dr James Strong’s explanation of the Hebrew word which was translated as “coffin” in Genesis 50 verse 26:

This is also the first time the Hebrew word “ârôn” appears in the scriptures, and in this instance it is referring to a box in which a body is “gathered” in terms of preservation. The “coffin” in its positive application points to a separation from the world, even as Joseph reveals his faith in the promises of God in this regard:

Heb 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 coffin also therefore points to those who are gathered together by the death of Christ (Gal 2:20; Php 1:23). This is God’s elect who belong together and are taken to be seated with the Christ (Eph 2:6):

Mat 24:31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
Rom 6:2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
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.

Death is a powerful witness of God’s life

God teaches us through opposites. This pattern was established right at the first day of this creation with which this book of Genesis opens – we first experience darkness before the Light comes:

Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
Gen 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
Gen 1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
Gen 1:4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
Gen 1:5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

When physical Israel suffered through slavery in Egypt, which lasted four hundred and thirty years, this coffin of Joseph was among the children of Israel during that whole period as a powerful testimony. The words of Joseph and the oath of the children of Israel were passed on through generations, as we also read how the bones were removed from Egypt and buried in Canaan (Gen 50:25):

Exo 13:19 And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you.

Jos 24:32 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.

Throughout his life we see that Joseph displayed this silent and powerful witness when he was always a living example of obedience to God. Sometimes the vocal Word of God becomes silent to give us the opportunity to be the powerful display of the word and life of God through our works (2Co 3:2-3; Php 1:17; 1Pe 1:15; 1Pe 3:1-2; 1Pe 3:16):

Jas 3:13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.

This is Joseph in life and in death – he lived what he confessed and was either hated or loved for that. In the same way, the death of Christ and His resurrected life is working in a few in this age to bring forth a good conversation or lifestyle for those around to witness. As the godly wife wins her unbelieving husband to the truth which she lives out, so does the true church of Christ show His testimony also by the good conversation they have in the world “without the word” (Rev 1:1-3):

1Pe 3:1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation [conduct] of the wives;
1Pe 3:2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.
1Pe 3:3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
1Pe 3:4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

There is indeed a time to speak and a time to keep silence:

Ecc 3:7b ….a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.


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

Numbers in Scripture
Gathered Unto His People
Is The Flesh ‘Being Sown’ Our Physical Death?
Is Our Moment of Death Our Resurrection?
Who Is Taken, and Who Is Left?

Other related posts