Faith of Joseph
(From a sermon of Bro. Julius Adewumi, Night Vigil, 7/27/95)
"Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen." (Heb.11:1).
I want to talk about the faith of three men: Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. (Heb 11:20-22). What is the faith of Isaac? Did he exercise any faith that we can think of? Or Jacob! Can we see any thing supernatural that he did? There is nothing dramatic recorded of him that we can say is supernatural. Yet their names are recorded here as men of faith. We are going to point out some few things which characterized these three men. But Joseph, we can say, maybe yes he did something supernatural in Egypt. He did wonders in a way. And that is really not what we will speak about. But for these three men they have an aspect of their life which we can actually point to as "faith for the future!" In verse 20, it reads:
"By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come."
He believed these things which his daddy Abraham told him (and God confirmed it) that his seed will inherit Canaan. God has told Abraham that his seed through Isaac will inherit Canaan. Abraham must have passed it down to Isaac, before God spoke to Isaac about the same promise. Isaac heard his daddy said it is not enough. God came to Isaac and confirmed it. "And the Lord appeared unto him and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of: Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." (Gen.26:2-4).
Isaac passed it down unto Jacob and Esau, by blessing them. He planned it for Esau but it came upon Jacob (because Esau had already sold his birthright). Jacob also passed it down:
"By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff."
Now, what is the faith of these three men? We are talking about faith that believes in the future. Thre is a song that says "I know who owns the future, I know who owns my day". We sometimes wonder about the future. What do we know about the future? Like Isaac and Jacob, they knew the plan God has for them in the future, just as many of us who are in Christ. They knew the plan of God for their seed that through them God shall bless the whole world, and they were passing it down to the children by pronouncing the blessing upon the next generation. What we are saying is they have a clear sight of the plan of God. Not just the future of your enterprise! Everybody has a future: if you have a good business, you may plan that you want your business to grow. That's not the future we are talking about here! We are talking about the future in the plan of God! These folks knew the plan of God. Now when we talk about the plan of God, as God reveals it to anyman, it takes some measure of faith to believe in it. For example, in our own generation, we know, as revealed to us, that Christ is coming back, soon. But some churches don't believe that. Some have a different idea on how he is coming back. Some denominations don't believe that he is coming back physically. ( I talked to a Reverend in one denomination, and said "the Lord is coming soon". He replied, "I know about that doctrine, but it's not like you folks are preaching it." I asked him how he thinks Christ is coming. He said he doesn't want to discuss it.) I know some churches don't believe the "rapture" and "translation to meet the Lord in the air" doctrine. That is "the future" which I am talking about in this sermon. It takes a measure of faith to believe in the plan of God for the future. It takes faith to believe what the Angels told the disciples that "this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." (Acts. 1:11).
The faith of Isaac and Jacob is: God told them that through their seed the saviour is to come to the world. They knew that something is to happen in the future. They believe in that future, and are even passing it down to the next generation. Now let's talk further about the faith of Joseph. Joseph went a little further.
"By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones."
I can say Joseph was more of a prophet than the rest of his parents. Abraham was a prophet because the word of God comes to the prophet. Joseph went a little further. He actually knew more about what God was going to do to the Israelites in Egypt. He knew that God will visit them. All these guys were prophets. Isaac was a prophet; Jacob was a prophet, for hearing from God. You can read Genesis chapter 49, and see what Jacob prophezied to his children about their future. But Joseph was more so a seer. Joseph told his brethren that God will visit them in Egypt. This is very important. Joseph knew the future plan of God and he believed in it. And that is also what we are called upon to believe in. We, Christians, are called upon to believe in the future plan of God for this planet : the kingdom of God cometh! The future is the plan of God for mankind! We are given to know about that future. We are told in the book of Revelation (especially chapter 20-22) about the charting of the events that will bring the Almighty God down to live and have his tabernacle among men.
"Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God." (Rev.21:3).
We are men of faith to believe in this plan of God for mankind, just as these patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph who knew about the plan of God for their future and they believed in it. We are now in that future which they believed in, because the blessing of the whole earth through Abraham is fulfilled in Christ being the Saviour of the world to every one that will believe in him: Jew or Gentile. We also have a future revealed to us by the word of God: the future of this planet - a new heaven and a new earth; the future of the believers in Christ - which is eternal life; the future for those who refused to accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour - which is doom and destruction. It takes faith to believe in the future! We are called to believe in this future! We are men of faith in our own way, but we are to hold firm to that faith. Hold fast to the faith. Sometimes we may have to do some things which our faith commands and yet to the natural mind it is ridiculous. To be men of faith, we may have to do some things which are ridiculous, something that will make people say "why does he get himself concerned about this!" Let's look at the example of Joseph in Egypt.
"And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob." (Gen.50:24).
Joseph knew more about the plan of God than anybody around him. He knew about this plan to bring the hebrews out of Egypt than the rest of his brothers; remember his brothers who wanted to kill him and finally had to sell him into slavery to Egypt? They didn't know about all of those plans and if they knew, they were not into these things. He was the one that brought them into Egypt, and he was telling them now that he would die but God would take them out of Egypt back to the land of promise. That took over 400 years to fulfill.
"And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence." (Gen.50:25). Now that is the point! He was talking about his bones. Just think about that! Something that took 400 years before it happened. Now if we are to be profane like Esau, we will say "who cares? why is he bothering about his bones which is dried and he is gone?" But he cared! Why? Because he knew about the plan of God! That is why I say we've got to be much more spiritual. That is somebody that is spiritual. He knew the plan of God for the future; he also knew that the Messiah would come to Israel; that the Messiah would be in Jerusalem. How did he know? Because he was a prophet and could see afar off; remember he was able to tell about dreams and visions of Pharaoh which gave him the fame. He knew much more than what we read about him. He knew about the coming of the Mesiah. He also knew that the Messiah will resurrect. Joseph in Egypt knew that the Mesiah, when he resurrected , he will take some people up with him, which thing was fulfilled in Mathew 27:52-53. He knew that if he was to partake of that resurrection, when the Mesiah will resurrect and bring some people out of the grave, he better not be in Egypt! He may not send for Joseph in Egypt. He said "take my bones with you; don't leave my bones here!" Think about that. These men are spiritual. Unlike some men who will say "who cares!" There was a man that said "after I am gone do whatever you like with my body." No! These men knew that God has a plan. This is what we are talking about when we say "faith for the future".
Let's read what Job also said. Job was also a man of faith who knew the plan of God and believed in the future which God had revealed to him. Job said a similar thing that "in his own flesh he will see God". He knew about the resurrection. He knew that the Mesiah will come, and that one day there will be a resurrection.
"For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.
Job was saying that he will resurrect and still be in a flesh to see God: that should clear the doubt of those who think resurrection will be into some type of floating bubles, as spirits, to stand before God. Yet Christ's resurrection has given us example when he took up his flesh and bone and went away into the sky: I said "sky" to signify that it's different from the spirit-only place where some people think only souls of dead saints can go there. The souls of the dead are in a spiritual location, different from the heaven where Christ ascended up to! That is why those souls must resurrect to go up to where Christ is now.
Job knew the Mesiah will come and stand upon the earth. He believed he will be resurrected to see God. Perhaps he meant he would be in the resurrection to see the Mesiah when the Mesiah resurrected. We don't know when Job lived. People assume it could be during or before the time of Abraham. Yet, he talked about the Mesiah, the Redeemer, to stand upon the earth in the latter day. He knew that he would be dead by the time the Mesiah would be on earth, but he said "yet in my flesh shall I see God". He knew about the resurrection!
What I am saying is that these men were not profane. They knew the plan of God; they believed in the plan of God, and they walked with that same faith to put themselves in that plan, in the future with God. And now we are also called upon to believe in the future plan of God as it had been revealed to us.
These men believed in the future which God had revealed to them. That is faith! Faith for the future. When God said, "this thing will happen". Do you believe it? If you are a student in the schools, you may run into friends, students like yourself, who do not believe like you do. You may tell them that this is what you believe, this is what the bible says, and they will ridicule you and make you look stupid for believing those "old" stories. Know whom you have believed and be not moved! I have talked to some folks when in college, and they will say "number 666? Ha, I have already tatooed it on my arms", and they will show the tatoo to you, in mockery of the Bible. It's common among unbelievers. They don't believe all those things which we are talking about from the Bible. But don't be deceived by the multitude of the doubters. In the Bible, these men of faith were also few compared to the rest of the world around them. They were classified as men of faith only when they stood firm on the revealed revelation which the rest of the world either did not know or did not believe. Remember Noah! We are called upon to believe in the future plan of God. We have to walk according to the faith of that plan of God to please the Lord!
We also have to express our faith sometimes. Joseph expressed his faith by making plans for it. Do you see what I am talking about? He so much believed in the future with God that he made plans for his bones to be in the proper place. He expressed his faith that God would visit the Israelites and take them out of Egypt. He wanted even his bones to be taken out of Egypt too. He made plans so that he was not buried, but put in a coffin for 400 years. "So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt." (Gen. 50:26). He made it easy for the people to carry him out. He left no excuse for them. If he had been buried, over 400 years, men could have built over those land or individual graves might have been difficult to identify. But being a great man in Egypt like one of the Pharaohs who were always embalmed and made mummies, he arranged for his body to remain in the coffin. But what about the other big brothers of Joseph? They died in Egypt; They were buried in Egypt, and their bones were left there in Egypt. Well, they didn't care; they didn't believe all those things anyway, or if they did, they didn't care about it. But why was Joseph concerned about his bones? Because he knew the future! He knew about what Job was talking about. He knew the Mesiah would visit the Hebrews when they are in their land. He knew that the Mesiah would resurrect some people; not the final resurrection! I am not talking about the final resurrection because wherever they are, they will all come alive. He knew about the resurrection in Mat.27 that after the Lord Jesus resurrected, some saints in Jerusalem came up.
Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel to carry his bones from Egypt when they were to leave. He was left in an above-the-ground coffin probably. Joseph was almost like a king in Egypt; he must have been specially embalmed like the mummies in Egypt, by an art only known to Egypt in those days, and the mummies would remain unrotten for a long time. Almost like the mortuary technique in this generation where bodies are frozen. Moses fulfilled the oath because God will never forget an oath. The Israelites carried his bones away from Egypt and buried him in Israel over 400 years later. What I am pointing out is that Joseph believed in the future plan of God to the extent that he made arrangement for his bones after him to be carried to the proper place. Men may say "who cares where he was buried?" But he cares! Why? Because he knew about the future. He was spiritual. That is the point. We must be more spiritual and not say somethings don't matter. They matter! Joseph knew about the plan of God: when God would came to visit mankind, some bodies of the saints would resurrect in Jerusalem. Do you know those saints went away with Jesus Christ into heaven?
"And the graves were opened: and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many." ( Mat.27:52-53). Do you think those bodies of the saints went back to sleep in their graves? No! They must have gone up to heaven with the Mesiah! So, if you want to ask yourself "who are those saints? who could they have been among the several great men of the bible in the old testament?" I can vote on this that Joseph will be one of them! (How many are they? They could have been the number of the "elders". Rev.4:4). Joseph in Egypt will then not be in the grave anymore; he would have gone to heaven with the Mesiah! But if his bones had remained in Egypt, would God have sent for him in Egypt on that day? Perhaps No!
So when we talk about those saints who resurrected and went with Christ to heaven, I believe Joseph from Egypt was one of them. Now you see? These men knew about the plan of God for the future, and they made provisions for themselves. We are called to believe for the future with God as they did.
Let's look at ourselves now. We can say, yes, all those great things happen in the past. But how does it affect you and me? Think about the future. What is the plan of God that we are part of? These elders (Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph) were talking about the plan of God which they were part of. God told them it would be their seed. Joseph also knew that he brought them to Egypt; they have got to leave Egypt and go back to the promised land for the plan to continue its fulfillment. He made provision for himself to go along. Now what is the plan of God for our life? We know about the rapture. (1 Thes.4:16-18). As Joseph made provision for himself to be included in the plan of God, we also have to watch ourselves that we are not left behind. We are already in the plan once we are born again. But we have to keep ourselves in the plan, because the Bible says "the bride maketh herself ready!" For analogy, suppose a family is planning to go on a trip from Africa to America. They were all packing and getting ready, but there is one member of the family not packing his own things, not concerned, and doesn't care. What will have to happen? He may either be left behind, or be chastized to get involved in the preparations for the trip. Because he is hindering the family. That is why I say we have to put ourselves in the plan of God and get involved in the preparation for the home-going rapture. The future with God is that the Lord is coming soon. Yes, we don't know the date, but there are some things that we should be doing to occupy till he comes, to make ourselves ready. "The bride maketh herself ready". (Rev.19:7).
What do we mean by "making ourselves ready?" We have to grow spiritually. Joseph in his day could only do what he did if he was to leave Egypt. But we are going away in the rapture. Our preparation should not be like some people who went and build bomb-shelters for themselves to be saved from the nuclear holocaust they believe will end the world; neither should it be like some others who went and stockpiled food for themselves to escape the anti-Christ's mark when no one will be able buy or sell without the mark. We believe in the rapture before those evil days occur. Therefore our preparation is to build up our spiritual power in Christ to be able to go away like Enoch and Elijah the prophet in a chariot of fire! That demands some seriousness with the Lord: Conscious spiritual preparation, like regular fasting and prayer sessions; keeping oneself away from sins and any offences which may displease the Lord. We ought to be studying the scriptures, and yearning for more spiritual power from the Lord. Whereas many believers are doing nothing, simply hoping the day will come and they will go away; Invite them to prayer meeting and they have no time. They have no time to fast either. Their daily lifestyle is not distinguishable from the unbelievers. Let's get serious here! Build up your faith - that is the only thing we can do to prepare for the Lord's coming. Whether anti-Christ is around and there is no food or whatever, what anybody needs is enough faith in the Lord. So that even if there is no food, we can get food by the supernatural way, instead of stockpiling food somewhere. Remember God fed Elijah the prophet by the ravens supernaturally. What we need is the faith and the anointing. We have got to do the necessary things to build up our faith. Amen! That is all we can do. Make ourselves ready, by making ourselves grow spiritually.
We are planning for the future. The future is what God has already planned for Christians. Our future is that the Lord is coming soon, and he is going to take us away from here. We've got to put ourselves in that plan, and get ready. Then you have to watch yourself and say , "if I am planning for the Lord's coming, should I be involved in something like this or that." Like Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy,
"Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier." (2 Tim.2:3). Think about it, and ask yourself: "what can be an entanglement?" It could be in business, it could be in chosing a future patner: some people run into triangular conflict with other brethren on the choice of future mate; be careful.
We know the Lord has a future for us. We want to be part of that future. We want to make ourself ready always. What should I not get involved in that may cause me to be left behind? Maybe Politics!
Think about it. Let's pray that the Lord open our eyes to see anything we may have been involved in which may be an entanglement.
I pray that the Lord will guide us in all our choices in life so that we do not stray away from the plan of God, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!
Bro Julius Adewumi, Gospel Distribution Ministry.
Gospel Distribution Ministry, Box 30387, Phoenix AZ 85046, USA.