By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones. (Hebrews 11:22)
What do you plan for? How far down the calendar do you look from day to day? What do you know is coming, even when it feels very far away in terms of months, days or hours?
In this way, all of our future planning is based on faith. We have confidence in what we do not see: time. We are sure of what we hope for: that day or season that we love. God wants us to plan for our futures with faith in Him and His promises to us.
How much do you anticipate the start of the new season for your favorite sport? In the Spring you may be eager for Opening Day at your local baseball stadium. In late Summer you get excited when you hear your hockey team is getting ready to the ice for training camp. You might wait two or four years for the next Olympic Games with your favorite international divers, gymnasts, ski-jumpers, bobsledders or skaters.
Is there a holiday or other special day that you wait for each year? Sometimes you wait patiently, and other times not so much. A loved one’s birthday; Christmas; a wedding anniversary; Christmas; an annual town festival . . . or Christmas. How far forward do you look? A week? A few months?
I recently spent some time with a missionary friend who is back in the United States after his second term in Africa. He is raising money to go back for his next four-year term. His family plans ahead in cycles of five years. For example, the next time they return for fundraising will be about five years from now. He will have to teach his eldest daughter how to drive that year.
We look forward to all of the days and seasons in our lives because we believe with confidence that time continues. Today will become tomorrow, which will turn into a week from now, which leads to Christmas, and then Spring and Summer, where we will start it all over again.
This verse in Hebrews 11 tells us about Joseph’s planning for his future. These plans were not for the next stage of his career or about putting money away for his retirement. They were plans for his burial.
Joseph stayed in Egypt, along with all his father’s family. He lived a hundred and ten years . . .
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” And Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.” (Genesis 50:22-25)
Joseph represented the fourth generation to receive a promise from God that He would make a nation out of them and give them a Promised Land that would forever be theirs. It was promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob ahead of him. Though the promise may have been two hundred years old, Joseph believed that what God said would come to pass.
So as he neared his death, Joseph looked forward with faith. He did not want a permanent tomb in Egypt. Because of his position, Joseph may have been buried among the pharaohs. Instead, Joseph trusted enough in God’s promises that he made the people of Israel, a nation that was growing within Egypt, make their own promise to bury him in the Promised Land when God gave it to them, because Joseph knew without a doubt that God would give it to them.
Do you know what happened to Joseph’s bones? They were carried out of Egypt when God freed His people.
When Pharaoh let the people go … Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the sons of Israel swear an oath. He had said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.” (Exodus 13:17a, 19)
And after the people conquered the Promised Land, Joseph’s bones were laid to rest on an ancient plot of family land.
And Joseph’s bones, which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem in the tract of land that Jacob bought for a hundred pieces of silver from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. (Joshua 24:32)
God wants us to plan our futures with Him and His promises in mind. Whatever it is that you are looking forward to, whatever date or anniversary or season, look for God in it, and in the days in between.
What are some ways that you can or already include God in your plans for the future?