Over the past few days, the daily reading plan takes us to the story of Joseph. Joseph was the favored son of Jacob, now called Israel. Many of us are familiar with the story of Joseph (Genesis 37-50).
Eventually Jacob and his sons made their way to Egypt and were reunited with Joseph. Jacob lived in Egypt, during the famine. Something that struck me in this next portion of scripture was that after Jacob died, he was embalmed. Joseph told the physicians to embalm his father (Genesis 50:2 & 3).
History tells us the Egyptians are well known for this practice which developed into mummification. They believed that preservation of the mummy empowered the soul after death, which would return to the preserved corpse.* In the Jewish culture, embalming is avoided. At this time Jewish people had not yet become a nation, but Jacob, now called Israel, was embalmed. Joseph, like Jacob was also embalmed when he died (Genesis 50:26). This to me is a foreshadow of God preserving his people throughout history. Joseph tells his brothers in Genesis 45:7, "But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.a]">"
In the bigger picture, God preserved the nation of Israel because through them His very own Son would be birthed. Jesus, being God, came for a great deliverance. Jesus is not only like God, he is God (John 10:30). Jesus delivered us from death into everlasting life (John 3:16). Because Jesus came, we now have the Holy Spirit. When we receive Jesus into our life, the Holy Spirit then gives our spirit life and "preserves" us from death.
Joseph, like Jacob was not buried in Egypt. When Moses and the children of Israel left Egypt, they took the bones of Joseph with them, as Joseph had requested (Exodus 13:19). If you think about that, that was 400 years later. If they had not embalmed him, there may not have been bones to take. God let Israel know ahead of time that He would deliver them from their slavery through Joseph's request. He said to his brothers, "'I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised an oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.' 25 And Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath and said, 'God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.'" (Genesis 50:24 & 25) It was another foreshadow of God's preservation for his people.
Our Heavenly Father is eternal. He has given each of us a promise of eternal life. He has given us the Holy Spirit to preserve us until Jesus returns. Just as Jacob and Joseph were buried with their forefathers in death, we will be joined with our Father for life.