Have you ever wondered how many people would show up to your funeral? It’s a vain thought, really. “How important am I?” If you want to humble yourself Google “largest funerals.” In the US an estimated 7M people paid their respects to President Lincoln. In Iran, 1989, the Ayatollah Khomeini had 10M people line the 20 mile route to his grave and 3M people actually at the grave. The largest funeral in history was a Chief Minister from India named “CN Annadurai.” When he died there were 15M people at the grave. I’m thinking about 100 when I die. If you ever think I’m getting a big head just remind me that not only will I die but not many will be there.
Then there is Jacob in the Bible. When he died the whole nation came to a halt. I don’t think we read about anyone in the Bible who caused a bigger response to his death than that of Jacob. We have 3 more sermons left for Genesis. I mapped it out the other day and we will finish chapter 50 with 3 sermons and then there will be a “Goodbye Genesis” sermon to recap the book and highlight some take aways. So today we are going through verse 14, next week will be 15-21, then after that will be 22-26 to end the text, and then a final recap sermon.
Today we are going to travel under 3 headings: Jacob Mourned, Back To Canaan, Jacob Mourned Some More, and then Back To Egypt. Along the way we’ll pull out some insights and applications.
JACOB MOURNED (1-3) First, the mourning over Jacob. Read verses 1-3.
How great was Jacob? You can see it in how greatly he was mourned in his death. Joseph casts all dignity aside and throws himself on his dead father in an incredible outburst of emotion. No doubt the rest of his brothers did the same and wept over their dead father. Then, incredibly, all of Egypt set aside 70 days of official mourning. Seventy days!
- When Moses died Deuteronomy 34:8 says “the Israelites grieved for Moses for 30 days”
- As David fled Jerusalem from his son Absalom it says in 2 Samuel 15:23, “The whole countryside wept aloud …”
- When David heard King Saul and his friend Jonathan were killed 2 Samuel 1 says, “Then David and all the men with him took hold of their clothes and tore them. They mourned and wept and fasted…”
- “I am worn out from my groaning” Psalm 6 says, “All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.” Or Psalm 42 when it says, “My tears have been my food day and night…”
- We take note too that our Lord wept at the grave of Lazarus
Here in Genesis, the whole Egyptian nation joined Joseph and his brothers in grieving the death of their father Jacob.
APPLICATION: Enter into your grief. Embrace your own mourning. Do not suppress it. Do not deny it. Do not think the manly or strong thing to do is act like you’re untouched by painful emotion. The stoic or the stiff upper lip is not biblical. Joseph gave his grief full expression. Give expression to yours too.
TO CANAAN (4-9)So after 70 days of mourning Joseph gets permission to go back to Canaan to bury his father, read 4-9
The only person in Egypt who was higher than Joseph was Pharaoh. So Joseph requested permission to go to Canaan. How could Pharaoh refuse? I’m sure there was not even a hint of hesitation on Pharaoh’s part. Joseph commanded the respect and affection of everyone in Egypt, from Pharaoh on down. Joseph is in his mid-fifties at this time and has been at Pharaoh’s side for about twenty five years now. Joseph was the hero of Egypt, saving the nation during the seven year famine. Whatever Joseph wanted I’m absolutely certain he got it – as far as Pharaoh was concerned.
APPLICATION: Do we command the respect of those around us? Is our faith, our dignity, our integrity, our work ethic, our reliability, our attitude of the sort that others admire? Let us be Joseph where we are.
APPLICATION to the APPLICATION: Remember that favor with man comes from God. Humanly speaking Joseph earned every ounce of respect given to him. But we must remember that how we are perceived is in God’s hands. Potiphar, the warden, Pharaoh all favored Joseph because of God. Nehemiah was favored by the king because of God. Moses, Daniel, Joshua – the list goes on in Scripture – all were revered and favored by men because God exalted them in the eyes of men. The lesson is this: whether respected or not, let each of us always be worthy of the respect we are given.
The respect for Joseph is displayed not only in Pharaoh’s permission to go to Canaan, but even more when you see the huge entourage Pharaoph sent with Joseph. Verse 7 says, “ALL of Pharaoh’s officials accompanied him – the dignitaries of his court and the dignitaries of Egypt.” Then verse 9 says “chariots and horsemen went with him. It was a very large company.”
In other words, while they were gone essentially there was no government activity going on. They may have been vulnerable militarily too with so many soldiers gone to Canaan. The only thing left in the palace were the cats and the mice. No one answered the phones, no one held meetings, no one made decisions, no one trained for war, no one kept guard. They were all gone. They all went to honor Jacob and see him buried in Canaan.
MORE MOURNING FOR JACOB (10-11)Once they got there another period of intense mourning happened. Verse 10 says a seven day period of mourning happened. We’re now up to 77 officially designated days of mourning for Jacob. And their mourning didn’t fizzle out at that point. It was apparently even more intense, “they lamented loudly and bitterly.” The grieving of the Egyptians was so intense that all the Canaanites were affected by how solemn and sad it was, verse 11 says, “….” Imagine a funeral being so loud, so sad, so notable, that they change the name of the cemetery.
APPLICATION: Mourn with those who mourn. The Egyptians did not merely sit by quietly in support of Joseph while he and his brothers wept. They joined in with lamenting loudly, bitterly, and with many tears. That’s why the Canaanites said the Egyptians were having a solemn ceremony – because it was the whole group, mostly made up of Egyptians, who greatly outnumbered Jacob’s family, that turned out to weep with them. Mourn with those who mourn.
There is something human and intimate about coming alongside someone in their pain and joining them – where you allow their pain to become yours. Job’s friends were truly his friends for 7 days when they sat in silence with him. When they sat WITH him and were SILENT. They blew it on the 8th day when they tried to lecture Job about his horrific circumstances. You begin to think, like I do about Job’s wife, that Satan left Job’s wife and his friends alive to maximize Job’s suffering – to turn the knife while it was still in him.
Mourn with those who mourn. Ecclesiastes says there is a time for everything. A time for trying to find answers and making sense of circumstances and discovering an explanation will come at some point. But when the time comes to mourn that is the last thing you should do with someone. When the time comes for someone to mourn, then you need to mourn with those who mourn.
BACK TO EGYPT (12-14)Finally we see Back To Egypt, Read 12-14.
I don’t know about you but I notice again the faithfulness of Joseph. He was faithful to bury his father according to his wishes, and, he was faithful to return to Egypt as he promised Pharaoh.
CONCLUSIONThe final point here I want us to see is the significance of the burial of Jacob. I’ll use this to close us today. It is very significant that Jacob wanted to be buried in Canaan and not in Egypt. Canaan was the land God promised to him and his descendents. Canaan was the land God promised by covenant to him and his descendents. In this sense, Canaan was the land of faith – meaning Jacob died with faith that that land would belong to him and his descendents just like God promised. Jacob wanted to be buried in Canaan because while he closed his eyes in death in Egypt he wanted to open them at the resurrection in Canaan. He wanted the first sights with his new eyes to be the land God gave him.