[Jan 31]--Joseph’s Hope and Ours

Genesis 50:22-26

The last verses of Genesis end on a slightly anti-climactic note, but there is lot of meaning packed into these few words.

At the end of his life, Joseph gave some special instructions to his family. He allowed the Egyptians to preserve his body, but he requested not to be buried there. Joseph had lived for more than eighty years in Egypt. He'd seen his sons born, his grandsons born, and on down to the fifth generation, all within his adopted land. He had spent far more time in Egypt than he ever had in Canaan. He was second-in-command of the most powerful nation in the world. People came from all over the known world to plead favors from him and bow before him.

In spite of all of this, despite how good Egypt had been to him and his family, he never considered Egypt his true home. He gave Hebrew names to his children, and although (as far as we know) he never made it back to visit Canaan, his heart was there. That was the Promised Land, given as a special inheritance to his great grandfather Abraham. Let me remind you, Abraham--the father of all who believe--left Canaan willingly when a famine hit the land, but Joseph had to be dragged out of it in chains. In that culture, you were buried in your homeland. The wonderful epilogue to his story is that the Israelites followed his instructions: Moses had his body carried out of Egypt in the Exodus, and Joshua buried him in Canaan.

I believe Joseph’s attitude towards his adopted country is an excellent example for us. Overall, America has been overwhelmingly good for believers. There have been sporadic outbursts of mild persecution: Official prayer is banned from public schools, some employees are told not to say “Merry Christmas,” Christians are criticized strongly for their opposition to abortion and gay marriage, etc. Occasionally the "culture wars" which have been brewing in the background explode into the headlines (for example, Christian bakers who are sued out of business when they choose not to cater a gay wedding). I’m not saying that America doesn’t have any problems, but to claim that we’re a persecuted minority is to lose perspective. Has anyone knocked on your door at midnight to haul you away to prison because of your faith? Do soldiers interrupt your worship service to arrest people? When that starts to happen, I’ll call it persecution. Believers around the world are wasting away in hell-hole prisons, beaten and tortured daily, and we’re complaining because someone criticizes us? Like I said, perspective is key, and I think we've lost it sometimes. We need to be grateful for how God has blessed us in this nation.

On the other hand, we must never forget that America is not our true homeland. As good as America is towards us, our true citizenship, our homeland, is elsewhere.

Father God, no matter where I go in this world, I won’t find final rest until I find rest in you. Help me to be grateful for your blessings, but not hold onto them longer than I should.

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