The End Begins

Genesis 50:1-11

1Joseph threw himself on his father and wept over him and kissed him. 2Then Joseph directed the physicians in his service to embalm his father Israel. So the physicians embalmed him, 3taking a full forty days, for that was the time required for embalming. And the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.

4When the days of mourning had passed, Joseph said to Pharaoh’s court, “If I have found favor in your eyes, speak to Pharaoh for me. Tell him, 5‘My father made me swear an oath and said, “I am about to die; bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.’”

6Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear to do.”

7So Joseph went up to bury his father. All Pharaoh’s officials accompanied him—the dignitaries of his court and all the dignitaries of Egypt—8besides all the members of Joseph’s household and his brothers and those belonging to his father’s household. Only their children and their flocks and herds were left in Goshen. 9Chariots and horsemen also went up with him. It was a very large company.

10When they reached the threshing floor of Atad, near the Jordan, they lamented loudly and bitterly; and there Joseph observed a seven-day period of mourning for his father. 11When the Canaanites who lived there saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “The Egyptians are holding a solemn ceremony of mourning.” That is why that place near the Jordan is called Abel Mizraim.

Left Behind

What Left Behind movie did you watch? The Left Behind movie shares an insight about the beginning of the end times. Scholars and ordinary people try to explain the details of rapture, tribulation, millennium, and Judgment Day but have not agreed with just one definite interpretation of those events.

We can agree to disagree of our personal interpretation but what is more important is our hope that Christ will ultimately return gloriously visible to give us glorified bodies, and we will reign and rule with Him forever and ever. But, the beginning of the end times depends on God’s right time, not on our speculations.

Anyway, how is your preparation if Christ comes anytime sooner or later?

It says in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 

You heard a tension between nations. Is it considered start of end times? No matter what may happen, Christ will return eventually. So, it’s very advisable to have assurance that we won’t be left behind. And, as we wait on that moment, we should spend precious time storing up for ourselves treasures in heaven.

The Lord Jesus instructed in Matthew 6:19-21, 19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Notice: Christ’s command is not store up treasures after arrival in heaven. Nothing of that sort! Christ commanded, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” What does it imply? ‘Store up’ means ‘accumulate’ not one but many treasures in heaven. And, God’s purpose for us is intended for earning treasures.

And, after God’s purpose for us is accomplished, our time on earth may end. Most likely, after God’s purpose for Israel was accomplished, Jacob died.

And, Joseph directed the completion of necessary preparation for funeral.

1. Completion

1Joseph threw himself on his father and wept over him and kissed him. 2Then Joseph directed the physicians in his service to embalm his father Israel.

So the physicians embalmed him, 3taking a full forty days, for that was the time required for embalming. And the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.

When our time comes, could we expect our love ones to weep over us?

Joseph wept over Israel but it’s not mentioned if his brothers cried or not. Joseph completed his promises for his father’s funeral. Possibly, his brothers had contributed but not written. Jacob was right to have Joseph as favorite son, why? Joseph was most responsible son to his father. Possibly, his brothers had tried to help out but what they did weren’t significant enough to be added in the narrative.

Interestingly, the Egyptian mourning had its place in the story. It could be a cultural practice for the Egyptians to mourn for the relatives of their rulers. Joseph was ruler in Egypt next to Pharaoh. Most likely, Israel may have been very nice to Egyptians who came to buy livestock from him, and they missed him.

There’s right time for everything. It declares in Ecclesiastes 3:4, There’s a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.

Bereavement for the death of love ones is a painful part of life that may disclose the possibility of eternal bereavement for non-believers. The Lord has instituted right time for reckoning. Time for bereavement cannot be forced. Can anyone dictate how long or how short a person should mourn for their love ones?

Bereavement Leave

In Canada, employees are entitled for bereavement for immediate family up to how many days leave of absence from employment? After funeral service, can bereaving employees request extension of leave of absence?

The Canada Labour Code states that employees are entitled to and shall be granted a leave of absence from employment of up to 5 days that begins on the day of death of immediate family members and ends 6 weeks after funeral service. Request for extension of leave of absence from employment and approval of employers should be made in writing.

It states in Colossians 4:1, 1Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.

Employees: To be employed is much better life than slave with masters.

One thing to seriously consider as employees is to pray that legislators and authorities in our government will come out of laws that favor employees.

The Lord favored Joseph when appealed for Pharaoh’s consent.

2. Consent

4When the days of mourning had passed, Joseph said to Pharaoh’s court, “If I have found favor in your eyes, speak to Pharaoh for me. Tell him, 5‘My father made me swear an oath and said, “I am about to die; bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.’”

The phrase, “days of mourning” implies that the Israelites and Egyptians observed particular number of days of mourning. How long should one mourn?

Technically, Joseph could have exercised his authority as ruler of Egypt.

But he was considerate. Although, Pharaoh granted him authority to rule over the land, Joseph did not abuse his authority. He requested the court of Pharaoh to ask Pharaoh’s consent for extended leave of absence from his office just to bury his dead father in Canaan. He may have followed a Code of Ethics in Egypt.

That’s very respectable character of Joseph. Additionally, he promised to return after the funeral service in Canaan. Joseph fulfilled his promise to Jacob, and continued his duties and responsibilities as ruler of Egypt. Secretaries or scribes in Pharaoh’s court may have put in writing his request and its approval.

Joseph must have displayed greatness as ruler in Egypt so that Pharaoh and his officials readily granted his request. Furthermore, for Joseph to request an extension of leave of absence from his office just to complete his promise to his father, he exemplified a lifestyle for believers. Can you readily accept that?

How should we interpret what Jesus said in Matthew 8:21-22, 21Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 22But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

When He said, “Let the dead bury their own dead,” did Christ prevent the disciple to bury his father? He did not prevent him but challenged his priority. See? If disciples can take leave of absence for bereavement of love ones, can we take more leave of absence to obey the Lord’s instruction to make disciples?

Our priority will determine it. Christ requires disciples in Matthew 10:37, “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Christ’s requirement explained further in Luke 14:26-33, 26“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ 31“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

Christ’s disciples must expect spiritual warfare when we choose priorities. Should we prioritize the command of Christ or necessities for family members? Pray about it and consider your priorities. Will you give up everything you have to follow Christ as His disciple? Truly, Christ demands total loyalty for Him but not disregard our family, right? Actually, Christ loves our family more than we do!

Joseph exemplified a lifestyle for believer of God. Joseph loved his father.

Would you readily accept that the Lord favored Joseph so that Pharaoh gladly gave his consent for Joseph to fulfill his promise to his father?

Surely, God was at work in Pharaoh’s life so that he allowed his officials to accompany Joseph and his relatives, and other dignitaries joined the convoy.

3. Convoy

6Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear to do.”

7So Joseph went up to bury his father. All Pharaoh’s officials accompanied him—the dignitaries of his court and all the dignitaries of Egypt—8besides all the members of Joseph’s household and his brothers and those belonging to his father’s household. Only their children and their flocks and herds were left in Goshen. 9Chariots and horsemen also went up with him. It was a very large company.

Dignitaries in Egypt have high respect of Joseph. They sacrificed their time just to join the convoy going to Canaan. Some of them may have been curious how the Israelites bury their dead. Others may have joined the convoy to make sure that Joseph and his family will be safe and secured in their journey.

Large convoy of chariots and horsemen practically showed Pharaoh’s full consent. He made sure that Joseph was safe and secured on his way to Canaan and back to Egypt. Pharaoh however, stayed in Egypt. The children of Joseph’s brothers were left behind to take care of their home and livestock.

It teaches us in Ecclesiastes 7:1-4, 1A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth. 2It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart. 3Frustration is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart. 4The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.

Joseph had made a good name for himself in Egypt. Respect of Egyptians for Joseph can be easily credited to Jacob as the great father of Joseph.

It says in Proverbs 22:1, A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

Can you easily accept this truth wholeheartedly? Would you accept it as God’s admonition for us also? It requires faith to accept this truth wholeheartedly. When God’s word is real tough to chew or swallow, ask God for increase of faith.       

During election, electorates would readily vote for new politicians who are children of great politicians. Such reality illustrates the benefits of goodness and kindness that may affect the next generation. But, most importantly for believers, goodness and kindness can earn for ourselves treasures in heaven.

It says in Galatians 6:10, Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. 1 Peter 2:17 says, Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God.

To be good and kind to others, especially, to the family of believers or the church family, are practical display that the grace of God is at work in our life.

Joseph’s respectable life was undeniably apparent when Pharaoh gave his consent, and all dignitaries in Pharaoh’s court, all the dignitaries of Egypt and large military convoy joined Joseph for the funeral ceremony held in Canaan.

4. Ceremony

10When they reached the threshing floor of Atad, near the Jordan, they lamented loudly and bitterly; and there Joseph observed a seven-day period of mourning for his father. 11When the Canaanites who lived there saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “The Egyptians are holding a solemn ceremony of mourning.” That is why that place near the Jordan is called Abel Mizraim.

We do not need to observe similar loud and bitter funeral service to testify that we care or love our family members who died. The Canaanites observed a solemn ceremony which may teach that people observe how we may practice our beliefs just as the Egyptians had practiced their beliefs in Canaan.

Again, funeral ceremonies point to such reality that all of us will leave this world eventually. Believers, we are saved by grace and hope for Christ’s return.

It says in Titus 2:11-14, 11For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

By God’s grace, we’re saved. By God’s grace, we say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passion. By God’s grace, we live godly lives. Not by human effort but by God’s grace, we are eager to do what is good while waiting for Christ returns.

It says in Revelation 1:7-8, 7“Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen. 8“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

In the movie “Left Behind,” a pastor explained that believers disappeared because the Lord had taken them. He was left behind because he did not really believe what he preached. It illustrates a reality of church attendees who don’t really have faith in Christ. When true believers just disappeared suddenly in the movie “Left Behind” observers did not see what happened to them. It added to the assumption that Christ will return secretly. The phrase, “Every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him,” how do you personally interpret?

For sure! All of us will see when Christ appears. It’s very significant! As Christ’s disciples, make sure that you store up treasure for yourselves in heaven.

May the end times begin sooner than later. Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus Christ!

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