Genesis 50:22-26 Turning our eyes from the Old Covenant to the eternal reward of the New Covenant
Genesis 50:22-26 Turning our eyes from the Old Covenant to the eternal reward of the New Covenant
22 Now Joseph stayed in Egypt, he and his father’s household, and Joseph lived one hundred and ten years. 23 Joseph saw the third generation of Ephraim’s sons; also the sons of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were born on Joseph’s knees. 24 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.” 25 Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones up from here.” 26 So Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten years; and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.
The covenant themes of Genesis – riches, offsprings and kingdom continue through this final scene. The conclusion of Genesis sees Joseph giving divine hope towards the fulfilment of covenant promises. By faith, Joseph envisioned himself resting in the earthly kingdom of Israel, but in the fuller sense the heavenly kingdom of the New Covenant. Today’s devotion teaches us to turn our eyes from Old Covenant expectations to the eternal reward of the New Covenant.
Now Joseph stayed in Egypt, he and his father’s household, and Joseph lived one hundred and ten years.
As described in ancient Egyptian literature, the ideal age that people hope to reach is 110. The fact that Joseph lived 110 years attests to the reality of God and divine favour upon him. Indeed, the Egyptians’ very lives depended on Joseph, who is the source of blessing and wisdom. God’s blessing is manifested in the lifeline that Joseph has provided to preserve Israel and Egypt throughout the famine.
Joseph saw the third generation of Ephraim’s sons.
Great-grandchildren is the promise of descendants, a sign of God’s favour upon Joseph. Makir (literally means “one who is sold”) is the most important clan of the Manasseh tribe. As Jacob adopted Joseph’s sons as his own, Joseph now adopts Manasseh’s son, Makir.
God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones up from here.
The book of Genesis ends with the expectation of God’s visitation upon Israel to bring them to the promised land. This great deliverance will be played out in the book of Exodus. Joseph’s relatives, at his request made an oath to bury him in the promised land (carry my bones up from here). Moses fulfils the oath and buried him at Shechem, in the land Jacob gifted to him (see Genesis 48:21-22). The promised land is the earthly prototype of the heavenly kingdom, the final dwelling place of God’s people.
The difference between the Old and the New Covenant.
The Old Covenant generally refers to the covenant God made with Abraham and the patriarchs of the Old Testament. The Covenant was ratified at the time of Moses when the people received the law at Mount Sinai (see Exodus 19:5). It promises blessing if they obey the law and curses if they don’t. In essence, the mechanism of the Old Covenant plays on man’s propensity for blessings and aversion to curses.
Regrettably, the Old Covenant mechanism could not constrain the people from sin. Despite, the threat of destruction by foreign nations, they remain bent on evil, idolatry and oppression of the poor. Indeed, man cannot be coerced to do that which is against his will. Therefore, God introduced a New Covenant, one that can transform and regenerate the core constitution of man. In so doing, man may be freed from the bondage of sin to hate evil and to love good. God made this declaration through the prophet Jeremiah,
“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,… I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people… for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” Jeremiah 31:31-34
By the Spirit, God writes the law within man’s heart. Thus, he can begin to live lawfully, not out of fear of punishment, but out of love for the good. This covenant of regeneration is ratified by Christ’s sacrifice. And from henceforth, all participants of the New Covenant are empowered to walk in the truth freely and willingly. That said, the glory and magnitude of the New Covenant promises far exceed that of the Old Covenant.
Divine hope overcomes all odds
Joseph, with all his wisdom and power cannot ensure Israel’s safety and eventual exodus to the promised land. As there are yet another 400 years before God visits them with a mighty deliverance, Joseph can only hope and look on with eyes of faith. This divine hope, which also carried him through slavery and imprisonment is all that he needed. It is divine hope that gave him confidence that what he has prophesied concerning the famine will come to pass. And it is also with divine hope that he prophesied the eventual exodus of Israel to the promised land.
Likewise, believers can overcome the challenges of life by divine hope. Divine hope (as opposed to optimistic thinking) is undergirded by God’s word and by the believer’s life of faith. Optimistic thinking is not founded on faith and obedience towards God, but by self-centred desires. This is the difference: People with optimistic thinking live for themselves, but people with divine hope live for God. Divine hope carries divine authority, mustering the powers of the angels to overcome all oppositions. Optimistic thinking is confined within the mind; it is just a disposition that has zero effect over the circumstances.
That said, what does it take to obtain divine hope? Revelation 12:11 spoke about the opposer, the devil who attacks God’s people continually. However, they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death (Revelation 12:11). The reason the blood of the Lamb gave them victory is because of the word of their testimony; their life of faith and selfless sacrifice.
If believers want their prayers and prophetic utterances to matter, they must possess divine hope in living out the word through faith. Joseph’s words, by his life of faith carried divine authority bringing hope to future generations.
Turning our eyes from the Old Covenant to the eternal reward of the New Covenant.
The Old Covenant promises are earthly prototypes to the eternal promises of the New Covenant. The patriarchs of the Old Covenant (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph) experienced the blessings by way of material riches, natural offsprings and an earthly kingdom. However, in the New Covenant, these elements are spiritual and eternal in nature.
The Old Covenant gifts and all things earthly will be burned up giving way to the eternal kingdom as promised in the New Covenant. The apostle Paul said,
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18
The promises of the New Covenant though unseen are infinitely more glorious than that of the Old Covenant. That said, how can believers acquire the New Covenant promises?
First, by sanctifying our inner man according to Christ’s righteous virtues and to do His works. Hebrews 11:24-26 records Moses foregoing the temporal riches of Egypt preferring to identify with the reproach of Christ and the Hebrew people because he was looking to the reward.
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. Hebrews 11:24-26
Second, by bearing spiritual offsprings through evangelism and discipleship. Abraham is honoured for being the father of the nations. And this honour is also granted to those who disciple and turn many to righteousness. Daniel said,
Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. Daniel 12:3
Thirdly, to enter into God’s kingdom through repentance and faith in Christ. Jesus said,
Jesus preached the gospel saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:14
That said, many modern day churchgoers continue to live in the Old Covenant promises. Their focus is in acquiring material riches as opposed to riches in their inner man. They idolise their spouses and children without regard for the great commission. Rather than leading their family to serve God, their children become the centre of their world. They amass land and houses as if they will live on the earth forever. Genesis teaches us to saturate our inner man with the fruit of the Spirit, which is eternal riches. It also teaches us to make disciples by inculcating kingdom values into them. Our disciples will in turn give birth to their own disciples, which is our glory. Lastly, we have an eternal and unshakable kingdom that will not pass away; the eternal life of joy, prosperity and glory.
As a believer, are you still looking to an earthly reward? Are you secretly hoping that you can enjoy the passing pleasures of this world? Although Joseph cannot take an ounce of gold from his treasury, but he will pass on into eternal glory because of his faith. Therefore, whatever our lot, we must be contented with our material possessions, but discontented in the pursuit of heavenly things; which is to be concerned about the state of the world today, and how we can make our world a better place.
Dear Lord, cause me to fix my eyes on the things that truly matter. Help me acquire the virtues of Christ in my inner man. Help me make more disciples and fulfil the great commission. Sanctify me so that I may enter your kingdom in righteousness and glory. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.