(Please read Genesis 49+50 in your preferred version of the Bible. I have based the following remarks on the NIV.)
Eric Jackson, writing for Forbes magazine three years ago, listed the top 25 regrets people tend to have as they approach the end of life. I’ve changed the list to make it proactive and positive – how to avoid having regrets at the end of life.
- Don’t work so much at the expense of relationships.
- Stand up to bullies in school and in life.
- Stay in touch with good friends.
- Turn off your phone more.
- Resolve romantic break-ups with honesty and then move on.
- Stop worrying about what others think about you.
- Have more confidence in yourself.
- Live the life you want to live, not to please others.
- Apply for the “dream job” you always wanted.
- Don’t take life so seriously.
- Go on more trips with family/friends.
- Don’t let your marriage break down.
- Teach children (especially your own) to do stuff.
- Bury the hatchet with a family member or old friend.
- Trust that voice in the back of your head.
- Ask more questions.
- Involve yourself with the good people.
- Get that degree (high school or college).
- Don’t always make decisions on the basis of practicalities – have faith and take a risk.
- Spending more time at special events.
- Take care of your health when you still have a choice.
- Not having the courage to get up and talk at a funeral or an important event.
- Visiting a dying friend before they get sick and die.
- Learn another language.
- Be a better lover.
(Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericjackson/2012/10/18/the-25-biggest-regrets-in-life-what-are-yours/ on 9/25/15.)
Message: Make peace in order to finish strong.
- Jacob (aka “Israel”) made peace with his sons and died.
Jacob had already hinted twice that death was near.
– 45:28 = AND ISRAEL SAID, “I’M CONVINCED! MY SON JOSEPH IS STILL ALIVE. I WILL GO AND SEE HIM BEFORE I DIE.”
– 46:30 = ISRAEL SAID TO JOSEPH, “NOW I AM READY TO DIE, SINCE I HAVE SEEN FOR MYSELF THAT YOU ARE STILL ALIVE.”
Still, death was not very near: Jacob and Joseph enjoyed 17 years together before he died. In 47:28 we read, JACOB LIVED IN EGYPT SEVENTEEN YEARS, AND THE YEARS OF HIS LIFE WERE A HUNDRED AND FORTY-SEVEN.
The big thing prior to death was for the father to pass along a blessing to his sons. Jacob’s first preparation for death was to gather his sons and pronounced that blessing. It is recorded in detail in chapter 49. First, let’s recall how Jacob had himself deceived his elderly father Isaac several years ago to unlawfully obtain the first-born son’s special blessing way back in chapter 27.
In the case of Jacob’s sons, the blessing didn’t work out as some of them expected. In fact, Reuben (the firstborn), Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Dan, and Benjamin – were all vilified by Jacob. He didn’t exactly curse them, but his words had the sting of rebuke in them! Watching those eleven knuckleheads grow up together, Jacob obviously knew his sons. With the possible exception of Judah, those who were virtuous received his praise and those who weren’t were blasted by his criticism.
Still, I believe that Jacob addressed his sons in this way to make one final attempt to make peace between them and with them. He hoped to end the sibling rivalry that had previously marked their relationships.
Though they were older, Reuben, Simeon, and Levi had been bad actors and did not deserve to be head of the family. Though that role traditionally fell to the eldest, these three were unworthy. So there would be no doubt and no arguments about his wishes, Jacob designated Judah as chief among his brothers. In 49:8 he said, “JUDAH, YOUR BROTHERS WILL PRAISE YOU; YOUR HAND WILL BE ON THE NECK OF YOUR ENEMIES; YOUR FATHER’S SONS WILL BOW DOWN TO YOU.”
Jacob blessed Joseph with the highest praise and affirmed that he was worthy of his father’s richest blessing. In 49:26 he said, “YOUR FATHER’S BLESSINGS ARE GREATER THAN THE BLESSINGS OF THE MOUNTAINS, THAN THE BOUNTY OF THE AGE-OLD HILLS. LET ALL THESE REST ON THE HEAD OF JOSEPH, ON THE BROW OF THE PRINCE AMONG HIS BROTHERS.”
The other preparation Jacob made for death was to hold Joseph to his earlier vow to bury Jacob in Canaan. This vow was sworn in 47:31 = “SWEAR TO ME,” [Jacob] SAID. THEN JOSEPH SWORE TO HIM, AND ISRAEL WORSHIPED AS HE LEANED ON TOP OF HIS STAFF.
Seventeen years later, (48:29-32) Jacob reminded Joseph of this oath and reminded all his sons of where he wanted to be buried.
The point here is that Joseph wanted to be buried in the land God had promised to his fathers. His last wish was to be perpetually connected with the land that would be the singular possession of his people. This final request reveals the faith of Jacob, who was utterly assured that God would keep His promise.
Notice the touching but understated way the writer of Genesis describes Jacob’s death (49:33): WHEN JACOB HAD FINISHED GIVING INSTRUCTIONS TO HIS SONS, HE DREW HIS FEET UP INTO THE BED, BREATHED HIS LAST AND WAS GATHERED TO THE HIS PEOPLE. Isn’t that the way all of us would wish to go? Quietly in our bed, with our family gathered around us?
Joseph’s reaction was also touching and obedient to his father’s wishes.
– 50:1 = JOSEPH THREW HIMSELF UPON HIS FATHER AND WEPT OVER HIM AND KISSED HIM.
– It’s interesting how Joseph followed all the Egyptian customs first; he had Jacob’s body embalmed in the Egyptian way (50:2-3). The embalming took A FULL FORTY DAYS and was followed by SEVENTY DAYS of mourning all over Egypt.
– After meeting all the Egyptian customs, Joseph asked pharaoh for permission to bury his father (50:4-6). Notice that Pharaoh did not merely agree to allow this, but – as he had done before – really went the extra mile and sent all of the court of Egypt along with Joseph traveling in the greatest luxury possible (50:7-9).
Then, once the caravan reached the burial site, they followed through with the burial customs of Joseph’s people: the mourners all LAMENTED LOUD AND BITTERLY, observing seven days of mourning before burying Jacob’s body (50:10-14).
- Joseph (aka “Zaphenath-Paneah”) made peace with his brothers and died.
One of the absolute truths of human nature is that the motives we attribute to others are a window to our own soul. So when we read about the eleven worrying about Joseph retaliating, it gives us insight into how little their character has changed over the years (50:15). For this reason they…
– Concocted a new lie (50:16-17).
– Humbled themselves before Joseph (50:18). Of course, this action is the fulfillment of the dreams back in chapter 37! Their reaction to the dreams set all these events in motion, then, toward the end, their choice of actions fulfill the dream. That is both irony and providence.
Joseph’s reaction offers more proof of his godly character.
– 50:17 = WHEN THEIR MESSAGE CAME TO HIM, JOSEPH WEPT.
– 50:19-21 = He did everything he could to reassure them that revenge was not on his mind or in his heart. Joseph knew vengeance is best left to God. He also knew that what they did so many years ago was out of evil intent, but God used it to accomplish good. As he had told them seventeen years earlier (45:4-7), God’s purpose was SAVING LIVES. With reassuring and kind words, Joseph urged his brothers not to be afraid of retaliation or anything else. He promised to PROVIDE FOR them and their children.
Three generations later, it came to be time for Joseph to be join his fathers in death (50:22-23). He called the eleven brothers to his side and said two things to them:
– 50:24 = He reminded them of God’s promise that one day God would help the descendants of Jacob leave Egypt. He reassured them that God would take them to the land He had promised their fathers.
– 50:25 = As his father had done before him, Joseph made his brothers promise that when they left Egypt, they would not leave his remains in Egypt, but take them along to be reinterred in the Promised Land. As we observed with Jacob, this is an act of faith on Joseph’s part. Confident God would keep His promise, Joseph wanted his remains to rest where his people would live. He saw their return to Canaan as inevitable
And with these simple words of 50:26, one of the most dramatic accounts in the Bible comes to an end. Notice again the restraint with which Genesis records Joseph’s death: SO JOSEPH DIED AT THE AGE OF A HUNDRED AND TEN. AND AFTER THEY EMBALMED HIM, HE WAS PLACED IN A COFFIN.
This promise was kept in Joshua 24:32 = AND JOSEPH’S BONES, WHICH THE ISRAELITES HAD BROUGHT UP FROM EGYPT, WERE BURIED AT SCHECHEM IN THE TRACT OF LAND THAT JACOB BOUGHT FOR A HUNDRED PIECES OF SILVER FROM THE SONS OF HAMOR, THE FATHER OF SCHECHEM. THIS BECAME AN INHERITANCE OF JOSEPH’S DESCENDANTS.
Old Max had started out as a diamond cutter, and through hard work and good judgment he finally became the owner of a National chain of jewelry stores. He was wealthy indeed.
But now, he lay dying, so he called his wife to his side. “Hannah,” he began, “I always meant to draw up a will but somehow I never got around to it. So pay close to attention to my last wishes.”
“Yes, Max, I am listening,” Hannah wept. “Whatever you want, it will be done.”
“First of all, the business I leave to Harry.”
“Oh, no, Max, not to Harry!” his wife protested. “With Harry it’s girl-girls-girls! Leave the business better to Jerome. He’s at least reliable and has a good head for figures.”
“Alright, let it be Jerome,” sighed the dying man. “To Harry I leave the stocks and bonds.”
“Better you should leave me the stocks and bonds. I should take care he doesn’t squander it on women or cards.”
“Very well, in your name I leave the securities. And the summer house I leave to our sweet Minnie.”
“Minnie!” exclaimed his wife. “What for what does Minnie need another summer house? Her husband didn’t buy her one last year? Give it to Anna – her husband is a poor man. After all she’s our flesh and blood too.”
“Fine! Anna gets the summer house,” he sighed resignedly. “And to our youngest Abe, I leave the car and the warehouses.”
“But Abe has already 2 cars. What does he need with another one? And he wants to be a musician – what would he do with warehouses? Take my advice and give them to Louis.”
That did it! Old Max had taken all he could of his wife’s interference. Raising himself off the pillow and summoning his last ounce of strength, he snapped, “Hannah, who is dying here – you or me?”
(Retrieved from http://www.greatcleanjokes.com/jokes/death-humor/death-joke/ on 9/25/15.)