Last time we looked at the story of God’s call for Abraham to sacrifice his heir of promise – Isaac, and God’s provision of a ram in Isaac’s place. We saw that this was not only a powerful testimony to the depth of Abraham’s faith, but also a foreshadowing of God’s sacrificing His only son – Jesus – in our place for the remission of sin. We examined the fact that most people are repelled by this story, and discussed some possible reasons God might have had to make this outrageous demand upon Abraham (and Isaac).
Hebrews 11:20-22 – The Great Hall of Faith – Part 6
The writer now continues his exposition of the history of faith among the Israelite forefathers with the stories of the faith of Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. The writer makes only brief mention of the faith of these Israelite patriarchs, and we to will examine them only briefly before moving on to look at the life and faith of Moses in some detail.
20By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.Hebrews 11:20 – NKJV
It is interesting that the Hebrews writer includes Isaac’s blessing of his sons in the Hall of Faith. It’s not a pleasant story. Esau and Jacob were twins, who contended with each other their entire lives over the birthright of their family. Furthermore Isaac and his wife Rebekah partook of this contention in that Esau was Isaac’s favorite, but Jacob was Rebekah’s (Genesis 25:28). In Israelite tradition and in many other cultures, the first-born son was given a double portion of the inheritance, but God often overrode this tradition as in the case of Esau and Jacob. It would be Jacob, not Esau who fathered the Hebrew nation from which Jesus the Messiah would eventually come.
21Now Isaac pleaded with the LORD for his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If all is well, why am I like this?” So she went to inquire of the LORD.Genesis 25:21-23 – NKJV
23And the LORD said to her:
“Two nations are in your womb,
Two peoples shall be separated from your body;
One people shall be stronger than the other,
And the older shall serve the younger.”
But despite this clear word from God, everyone in the family tried at one time or another to take a hand in bringing about the prophecy’s fulfillment. Isaac himself even tried to override God’s plan by blessing Esau (who was his favorite) over Jacob. Esau was Isaac’s firstborn, although even in the hour of their birth Jacob was trying to hold Esau back and assume the role of firstborn.
25And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau. [Hairy] 26Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob. [Supplanter]Genesis 25:25-26 – NKJV
When the boys had grown to be young men, Jacob – ever the schemer – took advantage of a moment of Esau’s weakness to convince him to give up his birthright.
29Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. 30And Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.” Therefore his name was called Edom. [Red]Genesis 25:29-34 – NKJV
31But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.”
32And Esau said, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?”
33Then Jacob said, “Swear to me as of this day.”
So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.
Aside – Esau (Edom) became the founder of the nation of the Edomites who later occupied the land along the southern and eastern shores of the Dead Sea as far south as the mouth of the Red Sea. The land encompassed Mt. Seir and the city of Petra, and included portions of the Negev desert within the modern state of Israel, and the southwestern portion of the modern nation of Jordan. Edom refused passage for the Israelites as they were making their way from the wilderness of Sinai to the promised land under the leadership of Moses. God commanded the Israelites to go around Edom to the east and pass through the land of Moab to the north of Edom on their way to Jericho. Later on, the Edomites were defeated in battle, by King Saul, and again by King David who ruled over the Edomites through his appointed governors, and exacted tribute from Edom. Edom was finally overwhelmed and destroyed by the Babylonian armies under Nebuchadnezzar just before his final defeat of the kingdom of Judah, and capture of Jerusalem in 586 BC.
Finally, we come to the episode the writer refers to here in Hebrews 11:20. The entire chapter of Genesis 27 is dedicated to this story, and we won’t go through it in detail. In short, when Isaac was very old and nearly blind, he sent Esau out to bring him some wild game to eat, after which Isaac planned to give Esau his blessing as firstborn. Recall that Esau was Isaac’s favorite. While Esau was away, Rebekah and Jacob conspired to deceive Isaac into giving Jacob the birthright blessing instead. Jacob’s impersonation of Esau fooled Isaac, who gave him his blessing.
26Then his father Isaac said to him,[Jacob] “Come near now and kiss me, my son.” 27And he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his clothing, and blessed him and said:Genesis 27:26-29 – NKJV
“Surely, the smell of my son
Is like the smell of a field
Which the LORD has blessed.
28Therefore may God give you
Of the dew of heaven,
Of the fatness of the earth,
And plenty of grain and wine.
29Let peoples serve you,
And nations bow down to you.
Be master over your brethren,
And let your mother’s sons bow down to you.
Cursed be everyone who curses you,
And blessed be those who bless you!”
It really is humorous that all of this scheming and deceit was just to fulfill what God had declared to Rebecca would happen before Isaac’s twin sons were ever born. Although Isaac himself didn’t partake directly in these shenanigans, he did seek to override God’s choice of Isaac. Recall that Esau was Isaac’s favorite.
Thus it is somewhat odd that God would inspire the Hebrews writer to extol Isaac’s blessing of Jacob as an act of faith. What lessons might God have intended by including it in the Great Hall of Faith chapter? First, to be sure, through this wretched history, God affirms that His will is forever sovereign. His plans will be fulfilled regardless of, and sometimes despite the efforts and aspirations of people. Even Isaac – who sought to override God’s sovereign choice of Jacob over Esau – submitted to His will in the end, albeit through Rebecca and Jacob’s deceit.
Even if we understand that God’s will is sovereign, there is another lesson in this story we should not neglect. Although God’s intentions will always come to fruition, they seldom do so on our human timeline, or in the way we might expect and hope. Those who promulgate the blasphemous so-called “prosperity gospel” (which the pastor of one church I attended who has now gone home to Heaven used to call the “Blab It and Grab It” gospel) forget this. They twist Jesus’ own words to declare that God will give us whatever we desire simply for the asking.
13And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.John 14:13-14 – NKJV
In so doing, they purposely ignore the context in which Jesus spoke these words, and the specific people to whom they were given. Jesus gave this teaching to His disciples at the Passover meal on the night of His betrayal. The immediate context was His promise of the Helper – His Spirit – to come, after He had washed the disciples’ feet and had identified Judas Iscariot as the one who would betray Him. This isn’t to say that we ourselves cannot glean lessons for ourselves from the many things Jesus said to His disciples on that occasion, but those who flog the “prosperity gospel” at the very best deceive themselves and sadly, those to whom they preach it. Of course, many of them don’t even believe their own teachings, but are simply perpetrating a wicked deceit upon the destitute and sick to line their own pockets. If God doesn’t provide on demand the requested riches or healing, these charlatans frequently claim it was because the supplicant didn’t truly ask in faith, trotting out another passage out of context to support this wicked claim.
…you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss…James 4:2b-3a – NKJV
Their listeners in their ignorance of God’s Word are wholly unaware of the greater context of these verses sliced and diced to fit the prosperity gospel floggers’ nefarious purposes. In their full context, these words of James are a condemnation of just the sort of covetousness and materialism the prosperity gospel encourages.
1Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.James 4:1-4 – NKJV
Sadly, in the process prosperity preachers often shipwreck the genuine faith of those they bilk when the requested riches and healing don’t materialize in the way or at the time the petitioners expect. Nowhere is this deviltry more despicable as in the cases of the desperately ill, who come with genuine faith and hope, anticipating miraculous healing, and go away embittered, and estranged from God. As their “proof text” for so-called “healing” ministries, the prosperity gospel pushers go once again to James
14Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer of faith will save the sickJames 5:14-15a – NKJV
Of course, this is yet another case of cherry-picking selected verses (and often verse fragments) to promote a specific agenda, while ignoring the larger context. Here in James, just as with the healing miracles of Jesus Himself, the greater context is the salvation of the soul by the forgiveness of sin through faith in the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
13Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. 14Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.James 5:13-16 – NKJV
Please do not misunderstand. I am by no means saying that God doesn’t heal the sick in answer to prayer. Quite the contrary. The Word of God is rife with examples of such healings both in the Old Testament, and in the New. I have often prayed for physical healing for others, and for myself. When I served as an elder in the church, I prayed often for healing and anointed supplicants with oil in obedience to James 5:14. In some of these cases, God did indeed see fit to bring about physical healing of the bodies of those for whom I prayed. In some of these cases, that healing was inexplicable in human terms, and therefore I deem them miracles of God. But in other cases, God did not manifest physical healing of the body.
In one such case, the baby I fasted and prayed for died without the fleshly malady which had beset her from birth being healed by God. I must confess to being extremely angry with God over that. I raved against His lack of mercy upon this baby’s body for weeks. Then one day, He clearly spoke to my heart asking, “Why are you angry with me over this little one? Do you wish for me to allow her to suffer in the broken world into which she was born? She is safe with me forever. You I leave to carry on as I command.”
Before we move on we need to consider the manner in which God answers our prayers. Our culture has become one of convenience. In the USA and many other places, the commodities we consume are available from merchants around the clock of every day within a short distance, so much so that we as a people have come to expect instant fulfillment of even our most whimsical fleshly desires as something we are due. To some extent, we expect this same sort of answer to our beck and call from God Himself! Yet God’s timetable is seldom aligned with ours. As we saw in the case of Abraham and God’s promise to provide a son and heir who would be his own seed borne by his wife Sarah, nearly a quarter century had elapsed from the time the promise was given until it was fulfilled by the birth of Isaac. God’s primary aim in providing the promised heir in the end was not to satisfy Abraham and Sarah’s desire for a son, but by Isaac’s birth when Sarah was well past the usual childbearing age that the miraculous nature of Isaac’s conception and birth in answer to the promise would be acknowledged by all, and that therefore God Himself would be glorified.
Solomon sings praises to the perfection and mystery of God’s universal timetable in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, concluding…
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.Ecclesiastes 3:11 -NKJV
Yet even being fully aware that God’s ways are beyond our comprehension, when we pray we expect an instant answer. When we pray for salvation for friends and family, we mean right this very instant, not after God has worked within their hearts for them to recognize they need a Savior and thus finally able to hear the gentle call of the Father drawing them to Jesus. When we pray for guidance and the revelation of God’s will, we mean that we want a word from God as we are faced that very moment we stand at the crossroads of some momentous life choice. We don’t mean that we want Him to lead us gently through His plan for our lives so that we can recognize His hand in the events as they unfold. We mean that we want Him to tell us exactly what to do, and tell us right now without any shadow of uncertainty. When we ask God for patience, most often we mean in our dealings with other people around us, not in trustfully waiting for God’s perfect plans to unfold.
Finally, most often we find that God’s own plans for our lives are far better than those we make ourselves. We can only see the glory of God’s beneficence upon us in hindsight. But He always knows what is best. It is then up to us to learn to trust Him. A dear friend of mine who has since gone to His reward often used to say that we are willing to trust God with the big important things like the eternal salvation of our souls, but somehow can’t seem to trust Him with the day-to-day mundane aspects of our lives like finding the means to pay next month’s rent.
20Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.Ephesians 3:20-21 – NKJV
21By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.Hebrews 11:21 – NKJV
Before considering Jacob’s blessing of Joseph’s sons, let’s briefly look at the Hebrew’s writer’s statement about Jacob’s staff. There is only one mention of Jacob’s staff in the Old Testament. Interestingly, it is also the first use of the Hebrew word מַקֵּל maqqel meaning rod, staff, stick, or wand. After his father Isaac died, Jacob fled from Esau who had sworn to kill him for conspiring with their mother, Rebecca, to deceive Isaac into giving Jacob his blessing rather than Esau. At his mother’s urging, Jacob fled to Rebecca’s home country of Padan Aram in what is now northern Iraq. Jacob stayed in Padan Aram for over twenty years working for his uncle Laban. While there, he fathered 11 sons by four wives, and became rich in livestock and other possessions. Of course, like all herdsmen, he carried a staff with him wherever he wandered. As he returned to Canaan from Padan Aram, Jacob prayed for protection from Esau after he crossed over the Jordan into the land of Israel.
9Then Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the LORD who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your family, and I will deal well with you’: 10I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant; for I crossed over this Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two companies. 11Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he come and attack me and the mother with the children.Genesis 32:9-11 – NKJV
No further mention of Jacob’s staff is made in the Word of God until we come to the Hebrews writer’s passing reference to it here in Hebrews 11:21. Whatever Hebrew tradition or extra-biblical writing formed the basis of this reference remains a mystery.
It is interesting that the Hebrews writer’s sole references to Joseph are found in the passing mention of Jacob’s blessing upon Joseph’s two sons born to him in Egypt we find here in Hebrews 11:21, and Joseph’s prophecy concerning the Exodus from Egypt in Hebrews 11:22. This is intriguing, because the story of Joseph takes up thirteen chapters in Genesis (37-50), more than any other person except Abraham. Joseph is one of the few heroes of the Bible whose sins are never mentioned. Consequently, Joseph has been called a model or type of Jesus Himself. One would think that Joseph’s faith would be more thoroughly examined in the Great Hall of Faith chapter than it is. We can’t go into the story of Joseph in any detail, but in order to understand the story of Jacob’s blessing upon Joseph’s two sons – Ephraim and Manasseh – a brief review of Joseph’s own story is in order.
Joseph was Jacob’s eleventh son, and the first born to Jacob by his most beloved wife – Rachel, who later died giving birth to Joseph’s younger brother Benjamin – Jacob’s youngest son – shortly after Jacob returned to Canaan from Padan Aram. When Joseph was a very young man, he dreamt two prophetic dreams which predicted that his father and his three remaining wives as well as his brothers would all one day bow down and serve him. This aroused his brothers to extreme jealousy, and they sold him into slavery in Egypt telling their father Jacob that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal. Joseph later spent many years in an Egyptian prison after being falsely accused of trying to rape his master’s wife. While in prison, he gained a reputation for having the ability to interpret dreams. Upon hearing of this, Pharaoh summoned Joseph from prison to interpret two of his own dreams, and when Joseph was able to do so, Pharaoh placed Joseph in charge of all the affairs of the nation, and made him second only to Pharaoh himself in authority. After some years when there was a great famine in the land, Joseph’s brothers came down to Egypt to buy grain, and eventually Joseph’s family was reunited in Egypt and ended up staying there for over four hundred years. The Hebrews writer picks up Joseph’s story after the family had been living together in Egypt for seventeen years, just before Jacob died at the age of 147.
8Then Israel saw Joseph’s sons, and said, “Who are these?”Genesis 48:8-20 – NKJV
9Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me in this place.“
And he said, “Please bring them to me, and I will bless them.” 10Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see. Then Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them. 11And Israel said to Joseph, “I had not thought to see your face; but in fact, God has also shown me your offspring!”
12So Joseph brought them from beside his knees, and he bowed down with his face to the earth. 13And Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near him. 14Then Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands knowingly, for Manasseh was the firstborn. 15And he blessed Joseph, and said:
“God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
The God who has fed me all my life long to this day,
16The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil,
Bless the lads;
Let my name be named upon them,
And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”
17Now when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took hold of his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18And Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”
19But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.”
20So he blessed them that day, saying, “By you Israel will bless, saying, ‘May God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh!'” And thus he set Ephraim before Manasseh.
Here we find yet another instance where God overrode the tradition of giving the birthright double portion of the inheritance that ordinarily went to the first-born son to the younger heir. Recall that God had done the same for Jacob himself, giving the birthright from his father Isaac to him rather than his older brother, Esau.
Aside – Notice that in this passage we find Jacob called not by his birth name – which means supplanter as we have seen – but by the new name – Israel – which God gave him on the occasion when Jacob wrestled with the Angel of God as he was returning to the Land of Promise from Padan Aram.
24Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. 25Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. 26And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.”Genesis 32:24-29 – NKJV
But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”
27So He said to him, “What is your name?”
He said, “Jacob.”
28And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel;[Prince with God] for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
29Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.”
And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there.
It is quite intriguing that in all this talk of Isaac blessing Jacob, and of Israel blessing the sons of Joseph, the Hebrews writer doesn’t mention Jacob’s blessing of his own sons, and particularly Jacob’s blessing of Judah which is one of the best known Messianic prophecies in all of God’s Word, speaking of the King and Lawgiver – Jesus – who was to come in the flesh through the lineage of the tribe of Judah.
9Judah is a lion’s whelp;Genesis 49:9-10 – NKJV
From the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He bows down, he lies down as a lion;
And as a lion, who shall rouse him?
10The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor a lawgiver from between his feet,
Until Shiloh [שִׁילֹה Shiyloh – he whose it is, that which belongs to him, tranquillity] comes;
And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.
Handout – The Tribes of Israel
Since we have been discussing the sons and grandsons of Jacob it might be a good idea to take a look at the tribes of Israel whose forefathers were the sons of Jacob. Take a look at the Tribes of Israel handout. Jacob had four wives who bore him twelve sons. These are the names we ordinarily think of we speak of “The Twelve Tribes of Israel.” However, as can be seen from this handout, the names of Joseph’s two sons – Manasseh and Ephraim – whom Joseph’s Egyptian wife bore to him, are often given in the lists of the tribes of Israel. Thus once again, God overrode the tradition of giving the double-portion birthright to the firstborn son which should have gone to Jacob’s eldest son – Reuben, and gave it instead to Jacob’s second youngest son – Joseph – by giving each of Joseph’s sons (Jacob’s grandsons) equal status with their eleven uncles.
Thus all told, there are actually thirteen tribes of Israel, although as the handout shows, at least one of the tribes is always excluded in these Biblical lists except in the case of the prophecy of Ezekiel 48:1-29 which lists all thirteen names as receiving inheritances in the Land of Promise at some time in the future.
Notice that in the two censuses from the book of Numbers, Levi is excluded because the Levites were to carry the Ark of the Covenant into battle, and tend to other priestly duties. Since the purpose of these two censuses was to number the men capable of bearing arms in battle, the tribe of Levi was excluded from these counts. Levi is also excluded from the list of the twelve spies sent into Canaan near the beginning of the forty-year wandering in the wilderness (Numbers 13:1-16).
Before his death, Moses chose one leader from each of the tribes who were to be given a portion of the Land of Promise as their tribal inheritance. These leaders were to oversee the apportioning of the tribal allotments as advocates for their own tribes (Numbers 34:16-29). Later, when the conquest of the land of Canaan was nearly completed under the leadership of Joshua, lots were drawn to establish the order in which the tribal lands would be allocated (Joshua 15-19). In each of these cases the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Levi were excluded. Levi was excluded because God had ordained in His Law that Levi was to receive no inheritance in the land. The service of the Tabernacle (and later the temple) was to be Levi’s inheritance. As a matter of practicality, the Levites were given dwelling places, cities, and small holdings within the tribal areas of the other tribes. Reuben and Gad were excluded from these two lists because they, along with half the tribe of Manasseh, had petitioned Moses (Numbers 32) before the nation entered into the Land to take their inheritance from the land of Gilead to the east of the Jordan river instead of from the Land of Promise itself. Moses allowed this on condition that these tribes would fight alongside the rest of the nation in the conquest of the Land before returning to their chosen inheritances in Gilead.
In Ezekiel’s list of the gates which he saw in his vision of the New Jerusalem (Ezekiel 48:30-34) we see that Joseph is once more listed as a single tribe (with a single gate), rather than having his double portion divided between his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim.
One mystery remains in these lists of the tribes. In the Revelation 7:5-18 we find that once again a double portion (24,000) of the 144,000 witnesses who will come forth during the Great Tribulation, will be from the tribe of Joseph – 12,000 from Manasseh and 12,000 from “Joseph” (presumably from Ephraim although the Word does not explicitly say so). However for some reason which is not clear, Dan is excluded from this list of witnesses. Perhaps the entire tribe of Dan will be martyred during the tribulation prior to the coming forth of the 144,000 witnesses in Revelation 7. There is simply no way to Biblically determine why Dan is excluded from this list.
Aside – The Jehovah’s Witnesses cult is named for these 144,000 witnesses written of in Revelation 7. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that these 144,000 will all come from within their ranks. Never mind that (sadly) there are far more than 144,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses alive in the world at any given time. Never mind that the Word of God states explicitly that all 144,000 of these witnesses will be Jewish male virgins. Next time you’re talking with a Jehovah’s Witness, just for fun ask them what tribe they are from. I suppose it would be too much to hope that one of them might answer that they hail from Dan. (;~)}}}
22By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.Hebrews 11:22 – NKJV
The reference here in Hebrews is to the final chapter of Genesis which ends with Joseph’s final wishes concerning the disposition of his body, and his prophecy that the Israelites would leave Egypt and return to Land of Promise after over four hundred years.
22So Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he and his father’s household. And Joseph lived one hundred and ten years. 23Joseph saw Ephraim’s children to the third generation. The children of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were also brought up on Joseph’s knees.Genesis 50:22-26 – NKJV
24And Joseph said to his brethren, “I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” 25Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” 26So Joseph died, being one hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.
This passage is straightforward requiring little by way of exposition except to say that throughout the Word of God, Egypt is symbolic of the flesh and of mortal life here on Earth, while Canaan – the Land of Promise – is symbolic of our eternal life in the Spirit with God in Heaven. Just as God brought the Israelites out of Egypt into the Land of Promise by the hand of Moses, He will also by the power of Jesus’ Gospel and His resurrection lead us out of this earthly life in the flesh into eternal life with Him in the Spirit.
20For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.Philippians 3:20-21 – NKJV
Next time we will continue our examination of Hebrews 11 – The Great Hall of Faith – with the story of the faith of Moses, and the flight of the Israelites out of Egypt.