Essence of Death

Genesis 48:1-7

1Some time later Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him. 2When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed.

3Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me 4and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.’

5“Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine. 6Any children born to you after them will be yours; in the territory they inherit they will be reckoned under the names of their brothers. 7As I was returning from Paddan, to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan while we were still on the way, a little distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem).

Death Insurance Plan

Have you heard about Death Insurance Plan? Have you purchased your Death Insurance Plan, yet? Death Insurance Plan cannot insure you to die. Whether we like it or not, every living being will eventually face death one day.

People buy Death Insurance Plan to insure that they will get decent burial when they die. When they die, their family can have peace also because they will not worry about expenditure for burial, if they’ve got Death Insurance Plan. You know what? At death bed, their family may mourn if they miss them. But, if their family spends their hard-earned money for burial, they will be forced to mourn.

Seriously, preparation for decent burial is noble, but to be decently accepted in the kingdom of heaven is priceless reality to be cherish eternally.

Is it biblical to prepare for burial place? It says in Genesis 25:8-10, 8Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people. 9His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, 10the field Abraham had bought from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah.

Abraham is the father of all who have faith in the Lord. He bought a place for burial. Isaac, Jacob and Joseph didn’t purchase burial places for themselves. But, Jacob asked Joseph to bury him next to the burial place of Abraham and Isaac. Likewise, Joseph had instructed the Israelites to carry his bones and bury them the land of his inheritance, when they return to Canaan.

It says in Hebrews 11:22, By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.

Would you accept that it is an act of faith to prepare for a decent burial?

When Israel sensed that he was nearing his death, he instructed Joseph to bury him in Canaan. He did not wish to be buried next to the tombs of the kings and nobles of the Egyptians. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph set examples for believers to consider and prepare for decent burial. Can you agree more?

The Lord Jesus warned in Matthew 8:11-12, 11I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

The Lord declared that we will see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in heaven. It’s nice to have decent burial but to live with Christ in eternity is a necessity that we should not disregard. Joseph imitated the lifestyle of his father, and he greatly benefited from trusting the Lord during good and challenging times of his life.

Joseph assured his father that he will do it as instructed after Jacob made him took an oath to bury his remains in Canaan. Joseph may have perceived that Jacob was about to die when he was informed that his father was sick.

1. Inform

1Some time later Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him. 2When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed.

When he was informed that his father got sick, Joseph immediately went to see his father. Jacob lied down in bed because he was sick. But when he was told that Joseph has arrived, Israel did his best effort to sit up, why? He may not want Joseph to be bothered by his condition. Jacob was still perceptively alert.

The name ‘Israel’ that the Lord gave Jacob has been used interchangeably and more frequently in the latter part of Genesis. It serves as transition to Exodus events where the descendants of Jacob were called Israelites and not Jacobites.

The recorded dramatic events, before the death of Jacob, present biblical narratives for believers. They offer essential concepts of the essence of death.

Amazingly, Israel was 147 years old but he’s very mindfully sharp and alert. Older people can possibly suffer from dementia, emotional and intellectual deterioration, loss of intellectual faculties, such as memory, concentration, judgment, or loss of personality integration.

Should we pray for the Lord to take care for us when we grow old in life?

We can imitate how King David has prayed for his old age in Psalm 71:9. Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone.

King David exemplified a lifestyle pleasing to the Lord. He also has his own share of despicable and horrible wickedness. He admitted that he sinned and repented of his sins and experienced the Lord’s forgiveness. The Lord declares that King David would do whatever He would command him to do.

It says in Acts 13:22, God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’

The Lord promised King David to have a successor on the throne of Israel. Solomon succeeded David as king of Israel. When King David sensed that his death was coming near, he gave a godly paternal instruction to Solomon.

It narrated in 1 Kings 2:2-4, 2“I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, act like a man, 3and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go 4and that the Lord may keep his promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.’

King David exemplified how believers depart with dignity from this earth.

To prepare for decent burial is sensible, but in the eyes of love ones who will inherit our name, to leave this earth with dignity is very commendable.

King David advised his son Solomon, and told him that the Lord promised that his descendants will be successor on the throne of Israel, if they watch how they live, and walk faithfully before God with all their heart and soul. King David may have learned from Jacob. At his death bed, Jacob advised to his sons.

Jacob informed Joseph that the Lord appeared and gave him a promise. It was the Lord’s good intention to make Jacob’s descendants multiply numerously.

2. Intend

3Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me 4and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.’

Jacob lived in Goshen together with his sons and their families. He stayed in bed when he was sick. But when he learned that Joseph has come to see him, he rallied his strength and sat up on his bed. Jacob personally informed Joseph that it’s the Lord’s intention to make him fruitful and increase in numbers.

His other children and grandchildren could be eavesdropping on them. They may have been envious that Jacob personally told Joseph about the Lord’s promise, but they just kept quiet. They may have discerned that their father cannot trust them because they were not very obedient and respectful to him.

Israel obeyed the Lord, and he was blessed. His sons were also blessed but Joseph experienced greater blessing than his brothers because he trusted God more than his brothers. When the Lord is pleased, He certainly blesses those who trust in Him including their descendants who believe in the Lord.

Remember Proverbs 15:8, The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him.

Joshua and Caleb

When the Israelites came out of Egypt, Moses sent 12 men to spy Canaan. Joshua and Caleb believed that they can conquer Canaan with God’s help but the other 10 spies said they cannot because the people of Canaan were giants.

It says in Numbers 14:6-9, 6Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes 7and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. 8If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. 9Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”

We can be scared of many giants or huge problems of life. We are scared of the future because giant “what ifs” and giant speculations overshadow our own limits and abilities. Some individuals are scared to drive because of the possibility of reckless drivers on the road. We’re also scared to share the gospel, why?  We are anxious of rejection. What is more essential, feeling or to share the gospel?

It says in 1 Peter 5:7-11, 7Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 8Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

When we rely upon ourselves, efforts or experience, fear of the unknown is normal experience, not just for us but all believers and also potential believers.

Joseph was also scared of his life when his cruel brothers sold him as slave but he kept on trusting the Lord. God blessed him more than his brothers.

Jacob had his share of fears. He did not let Benjamin go to Egypt, at first, because he was scared that his son might not return to home alive. And, despite of scarcity of food in Canaan during the severe famine, he was very hesitant to relocate to Egypt. But, when he was assured that Joseph was the ruler of Egypt, he went on to live and eventually, settled in Egypt for the rest of his life.

There was no recorded event, good or bad, about how Jacob lived his life in Egypt for the remaining seventeen years of his life. He must have enjoyed his life in Egypt because he did not even consider returning to Canaan. But, when he was about to die, he made Joseph promised to bury him in Canaan.

Jacob declared that the sons of Joseph will have inheritance in Israel.

3. Inherit

5“Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine. 6Any children born to you after them will be yours; in the territory they inherit they will be reckoned under the names of their brothers. 

Among the 12 sons of Israel, Joseph received the right of the firstborn. Reuben was the firstborn son but he defiled the bed of his father. The right of the firstborn is double portion of inheritance. The nation of Israel was divided into 12 tribes, and two portions were inherited by Joseph’s sons, just as Jacob declared.

7As I was returning from Paddan, to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan while we were still on the way, a little distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem).

Why did Jacob mention the death of Rachel, and where he buried her?

Jacob did not wish to be buried next to Rachel. He wanted to be buried at the burial place of Abraham and Isaac. Did Jacob tell Joseph about Rachel’s burial place so that the tribe of Benjamin would inherit the place? They got it!

Rachel was the mother of Joseph and Benjamin. When Jacob relocated his family to Bethlehem, Rachel died right after she gave birth to Benjamin.

The burial place of Rachel was not in Bethlehem. It was located within the territory of Benjamin, just a few kilometers north of the territory of Judah.

The Israelites left Egypt after 430 years. The Lord made them wandered in the wilderness for 40 years before they entered Canaan because they disobeyed the Lord. After that, Joshua led the next generation, and they conquered and occupied Canaan eventually. Tribal inheritance was assigned accordingly, and the two Israel tribes were named after Ephraim and Manasseh, Joseph’s sons.

Jacob prophesied about the inheritance of his children when he was about to die. Joseph and his brothers listened very carefully. Jacob told Joseph that the Lord promised him to be fruitful, and gave Canaan as everlasting possession for his descendants. The Lord’s promise came into reality after hundreds of years.

It says in 2 Peter 3:9, The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Have you ever received a promise from the Lord?

Has the Lord promised something specifically for you only personally?

We can hold onto the Lord’s promise to return and take us to His heaven.

It says in 2 Peter 3:10-15, 10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 11Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. 14So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation.

Someone said that death if not the end of life but essential part of life.

Death is essential transition of life on earth into the next life in eternity.

We don’t know how much time God assigned for us to live our life on earth.

It says in Acts 17:26, 26From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.

Do you believe that that the Lord designed where and how love we live?

Pray that the Lord will come in our lifetime but continue to live righteously.

Ten Virgins

The Lord Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a parable of ten virgins waiting for the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take extra oil with them. The wise ones took oil in jars along with their lamps.

They waited and waited and waited for the bridegroom until they all fell asleep. At midnight, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins woke up but the foolish virgins had no more oil in their lamps. They went on to buy oil for their lamps.

The wise virgins went into the wedding banquet with the bridegroom and the door was shut. Later, the foolish virgins arrived and knocked but the door was never opened for them.

The Lord Jesus warned in Matthew 25:13, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”

How can we be sure we will join the wedding banquet of the Lamb of God?

Make sure to let the Spirit of Christ bear fruit of faithfulness in your life.

Faithfulness is the consistency of trust in Christ not just here on earth but trust that will continue until eternity.

We can only have faithfulness if Christ’s Spirit prevails as Lord of our life.

We may not taste death if Christ comes in our lifetime but most importantly, we’ve got to make sure that the Spirit of Christ is reigning in our life.

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