Good Morning Brothers…
Well…the rut is in full swing and the deer are moving all over. This week is widely regarded as the best week of the year for hunting deer. May we all leave some bones on the ground for others to ponder.
Last week we ended our time together asking about the importance of St. Peter’s bones. I want to get into that topic, by way of introducing you to a story buried deep in the lines of Scripture. We start in Genesis 50:22-26, “Now Joseph stayed in Egypt, he and his father’s household, and Joseph lived one hundred and ten years. Joseph saw the third generation of Ephraim’s sons; also the sons of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were born on Joseph’s knees. Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.” Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones up from here.” So Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten years; and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.“
Now…we remember Joseph, as the son of Jacob, betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery in Egypt. God used the betrayal as opportunity for Joseph to rise through the Egyptian ranks to a position second only to Pharaoh. Joseph was able to save his father and brothers and their entire families from famine because of his God given ability to interpret the future through dreams. Joseph knew that Egypt was not the land God promised to his great grandfather Abraham. Joseph also knew that God was going to keep that oath and wanted to be buried in the land of promise…not in Egypt. Joseph had been in Egypt a long time, had a great reputation as a fair and wise man, but things change, lets read this passage from Exodus 1:7-14, “But the sons of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly, and multiplied, and became exceedingly mighty, so that the land was filled with them. Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, “Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are more and mightier than we. Come, let us deal wisely with them, or else they will multiply and in the event of war, they will also join themselves to those who hate us, and fight against us and depart from the land.” So they appointed taskmasters over them to afflict them with hard labor. And they built for Pharaoh storage cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread out, so that they were in dread of the sons of Israel. The Egyptians compelled the sons of Israel to labor rigorously; and they made their lives bitter with hard labor in mortar and bricks and at all kinds of labor in the field, all their labors which they rigorously imposed on them.”
History tells us the sons of Israel were enslaved for nearly 400 years before Moses comes on the scene.
OK…think back to Sunday School and try to remember the overview of the Exodus story. Moses was a Hebrew but was raised as an Egyptian because Pharaoh was trying to whittle down the Hebrew population by killing the male babies at birth. Moses, as an infant, was put into a basket a set afloat in the Nile River. The basket was found by Pharaoh’s daughter and she raised him as her own. Thus, Moses was saved from death through the same household that was killing the newborn male Hebrew children. The life of Moses takes many wild and weird twists and turns, but I want to get to the part where Moses returns to Egypt to confront Pharaoh about the slavery of the Hebrew people. This is where the story gets really bizarre and God sends plague after plague into Egypt where the Egyptians are afflicted but the Hebrews are not. If you want to read about an angry God then this story is for you. The descriptions of the plagues defy the best special effects movie guy to mimic…yet Pharaoh remains steadfast in his refusal to let the Hebrews leave Egypt. God sends Moses back to announce one more plague in Exodus 11:4-7, Moses said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘About midnight I am going out into the midst of Egypt, and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of the Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the millstones; all the firstborn of the cattle as well. Moreover, there shall be a great cry in all the land of Egypt, such as there has not been before and such as shall never be again. But against any of the sons of Israel a dog will not even bark, whether against man or beast, that you may understand how the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.’
After this last plague, after the angel of death passed over the door headers painted with the blood of the unblemished lamb, signifying the homes of the Jews, Pharaoh finally consented to give the Hebrew nation freedom. The great exodus began. Moses led about 3 million people out of Egypt and toward the Red Sea. Now we all know what happened next, the departing nation was pursued by Pharaoh once anger settled within him. We remember how the angel of the Lord, in a whirlwind, held rear guard against the Egyptians at the banks of the Red Sea. We remember the wind that blew all night to part the Red Sea and the flight of the Hebrews, on dry ground, between the walls of water. We remember the water covering up the Egyptians when they pursued the Hebrews into the breach. But…most of us do not remember this part of the story from Exodus 13:19: Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones from here with you.”
After the wild and frightening plagues, after the angel of death flew through the night air, before the exodus of the Hebrew nation…somebody robbed the tomb of Joseph, four hundred years after Joseph spoke those words. When Joseph died, he was the 2nd highest ranking official under Pharaoh. I’m sure his burial crypt was a sight to see. When the Hebrews plundered the Egyptians of their wealth on the way out, they also plundered Egypt of their past. Our bones important…?
They certainly were to our spiritual ancestors.