“And when the time drew near that Israel must die, he called his son Joseph and said to him, “If now I have found favor in your sight, put your hand under my thigh and promise to deal kindly and truly with me. Do not bury me in Egypt, but let me lie with my fathers. Carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burying place.” He answered, “I will do as you have said.” And he said, “Swear to me”; and he swore to him. Then Israel bowed himself upon the head of his bed.
Near the end of the book of Genesis, we get to listen in on a significant exchange between Joseph and his father, Jacob, who was about to die. Jacob, who is also known as Israel, had settled in Egypt with his sons. The family had great possessions, and they were fruitful and multiplying greatly in Egypt as a result of God’s provision. But when Jacob got near the end of his life, he said, “I don’t want to be buried here.”
May we lift our eyes from this world and all that it offers and look to the promises of God, for He has called us to another world, a heavenly country, a new heaven and a new earth.
So why would Jacob not want to be buried in Egypt? Remember, God had promised long ago to give His people a land where they would dwell (Genesis 12:1–9), and in that land He would display His glory and shower His blessing on His people for the spread of His glory to all peoples. And Jacob essentially says, “That’s where I belong.”
Jacob’s refusal to be buried in Egypt is even more remarkable when you consider that Egypt was a place of prosperity at this time, largely due to God’s work through Joseph, Jacob’s son. Yet Jacob wanted to be buried in Canaan. He trusted in what God had promised. Here’s how the author of Hebrews describes the forward-looking faith of God’s people:
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:13–16)
May we too lift your eyes from this world and all that it offers and look to the promises of God, for He has called us to another world, a heavenly country, a new heaven and a new earth.