Redemption of the firstborn (13:1-16), crossing the Red Sea (14), and the song of victory (15) – “The horse and its rider, He has thrown into the sea!”
All the above were great and important matters. But the bones of Joseph (13:19)?
And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had placed the children of Israel under solemn oath, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here with you.
Is this important? Let us read the original Bible passage concerning this request.
Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” So Joseph died, being one hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt. (Genesis 50:25-26)
It seemed really important to Joseph. His father Jacob was also buried in Canaan (Genesis 50:5-13).
(As an aside, we note that embalming in ancient Egypt involved removing most of the viscera, and thus what remained of the corpse of Joseph were his bones (and skin). The Jews during Jesus time were not embalmed. We can see that from the resurrection of Lazarus after four days of burial (John 11:44), for otherwise he would not have had his organs with him! The Jews then were wrapped with cloth soaked in spices to minimize the odour from the decaying body. Thus, the body of our Lord Jesus was not ‘emptied out’ but was awaiting bodily resurrection.)
By 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)
The author of Hebrews linked the instructions concerning Joseph’s bones to his faith.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. (Hebrews 11:13)
Joseph did not want to be remembered as a minister of Egypt. To him, the grandeur of the tombs of Egypt was nothing compared to the hope of a portion in the Promised Land. By faith, he saw its fulfilment and by his insistence that his physical remains not remain in Egypt, he taught the Israelites that they too were strangers and pilgrims on the earth, with Canaan/Israel their link to a heavenly home and hope.
We also should not cling to the status and fame of this world. They pass away.
Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. (Exodus 1:8)
Instead, we should ensure that our names remain in the Book of Life in heaven forever.
He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. (Revelation 3:5)
And so it came to pass, the prophecy and command from the faith of Joseph the dreamer. He who thought that being great was not everything but was great anyway. He who still saw that there was a greater eternal greatness beyond. Let this strengthen our faith that God will also take us home one day.
The bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel had brought up out of Egypt, they buried at Shechem, in the plot of ground which Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for one hundred pieces of silver, and which had become an inheritance of the children of Joseph. (Joshua 24:32)