“In Chase the Lion, Mark Batterson writes that in 1983 Lorne Whitehead published an article about the domino chain reaction. You can picture it in your mind, can't you? You knock over a domino, and it sets off a chain reaction that can knock down hundreds of dominoes in a matter of seconds. But the unique significance of Whitehead's research was discovering that a domino is capable of knocking over a domino that is one-and-a-half times its size. So a two-inch domino can topple a three-inch domino. A three-inch domino can topple a four-and-a-half-inch domino. And a four-and-a-half-inch domino can topple a … well, you get the point.
By the time you get to the eighteenth domino, you could knock over the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Of course, it's leaning so that's not fair. The twenty-third domino could knock over the Eiffel Tower. And by the time you get to the twenty-ninth domino, you could take down the Empire State Building.
In the realm of mathematics, there are two types of progression: linear and geometric. Linear progression is two plus two equals four. Geometric progression is compound doubling. Two times two equals four. If you take thirty linear steps, you're ninety feet from where you started. But if you take thirty geometric steps, you've circled the earth twenty-six times!
Faith isn't linear. Faith is geometric. Every decision we make, every step of faith we take, has a chain reaction. And those chain reactions set off a thousand chain reactions we aren't even aware of. They won't be revealed until we reach the other side of the space-time continuum.”
Source: Adapted from Mark Batterson, Chase the Lion (Multnomah, 2016), pages 169-170.
We are going to see how Joseph’s faith was geometric and not linear. It was going to have an incredible impact on the future of the nation of Israel.
Trusting God by faith for our future
Judy and I have done that couple of times as most of you probably know
We moved from Florida to Ohio after our oldest son was born without having a job already lined up
We did the same thing when we left California, but we didn’t know where we would be moving to next
We trusted the Lord with our future when it came to having children
We especially had to trust the Lord with our last two children, because of complications
Trusting the Lord with our future
Every one of us probably has a story of how we had to trust the Lord with our future, whether with jobs, children, health, finances, etc.
We can continue to trust Lord with our future from here on out as individuals and as a church
Joseph had been faithful to the Lord throughout his entire life from the time he was sold into slavery at 17 years old until 110 years old, when this narrative takes place. Joseph experienced the blessings of the Lord in every stage of life and especially now with having lived a long life. Joseph had faith concerning the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, so he was able to trust God to fulfill those promises. His final words express an incredible faith in the God who had sustained, protected, and provided for him. We learn through Joseph’s example that . . .
BIG IDEA – We can trust God by faith for our future.
We are coming to the end of about a two and a half year journey through the book of Genesis. We began our journey on January 24, 2021. It has been a wonderful journey as we looked at the ten instances of the Hebrew word toledot that we translated as “the history of/the generations of/the account of/the origins of. We have traveled through the following accounts of:
Let’s look at the final verses of this foundational book of the Bible.
GOD (Genesis 50:22-26)
Family (vv. 22-23)
Joseph stayed in Egypt with all his father’s family after his father, Jacob had died
He lived to 110 years old
Joseph lived 17 years in Canaan before being sold into slavery in Egypt (Genesis 37:2)
He was 39 years old when his father, Jacob, moved to Egypt
He was 56 years old when his father, Jacob, died
He lived another 54 years in Egypt following his father’s death
The age of 110 was considered to be the ideal life span by Egyptian culture, which signified God’s completed blessings on his life [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 625-26]
Because of his long life, Joseph was able to see his grandchildren and great grandchildren
The third generation of Ephraim’s children would have been his great grandchildren
He also got to see his great grandchildren through Manasseh’s son, Makir
I know how excited our parents have been to see their great grandchildren – it brings them great joy
Being able to see our great grandchildren is a sign of God’s blessing
Psalm 128:5-6, May the Lord bless you from Zion all the days of your life; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem, and may you live to see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel.
Proverbs 17:6, Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.
Isaiah 53:10, Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper his hand.
PRINCIPLE #1 – God blesses those who are faithful to Him.
He was blessed as a youth with dreams from the Lord about his future
He did not hold a grudge or waver in his faith after being mistreated by his brothers and sold into slavery
He did not allow a false accusation to deter him from working hard and remaining faithful to the Lord in prison
God blessed him with the ability to interpret dreams while in prison
He remained faithful to the Lord after being forgotten by the chief cupbearer for two years
Joseph remained faithful to the Lord after being promoted to second in command in Egypt and having everything he could have imagined
He remained faithful to his heritage by giving his sons Hebrew names
Joseph experienced God’s blessings throughout his life
Finally, God’s blessing on Joseph meant long life and the ability to see his great grandchildren
God’s blessings on those who are faithful to Him can be varied, so the blessing of long life is not necessarily an universal principle – it may come in other ways throughout our lives
How many of us can say that it has been a blessing from God to see and hold our great grandchildren?
For those of us who have not reached that blessing in our lives, how have you seen God’s blessings in other ways?
#1 – My Next Step Today Is To: Praise the Lord for His many blessings, as I have been faithful to Him.
It’s never too late to choose to be faithful to the Lord – He can and will bless you for making that decision
Joseph followed in his father’s footsteps by adopting some of his great grandchildren as his own
That is what is meant by Makir placing his children on Joseph’s knees when they were born
This was a common practice in the ancient Near East
Joseph’s mother, Rachel, did it with her handmaiden, Bilhah’s children, Dan and Naphtali (Genesis 30:3-8)
Jacob took Joseph’s two sons and adopted them as his own (Genesis 48:5-12)
Naomi took Ruth’s newborn son, Obed, and laid him in her lap and the women living there said, “Naomi has a son.” (Ruth 4:16-17)
Joseph experienced the joy and blessing of being able to see his great grandchildren
Joseph’s faith extended beyond his past experiences to a future he would never see
He knew that he could trust God by faith for his future and we can do the same
Faith (vv. 24-25)
Joseph’s faith about the future
As Joseph neared death, he wanted his brothers and their relatives to have the same faith in God and confidence in His promises that he had
Joseph was the second youngest son, so Benjamin surely outlived him and maybe some of his older brothers did too
Joseph probably viewed his surviving brothers and their children as one and the same [Mathews, New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 929]
Joseph mentioned the Exodus from Egypt 360 years before it ever happened
At this particular time, Joseph and his family were still regarded highly by Pharaoh and the people of Egypt
A time came when the new Pharaoh did not know about Joseph, and he forced the Israelites into slavery
The writer of Hebrews mentioned this passage when he wrote, By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones (Hebrews 11:22)
“Faith isn’t a shallow emotion that we work up by ourselves, or an optimistic ‘hope-so’ attitude of ‘faith in faith.’ True faith is grounded on the infallible Word of God, and because God said it, we believe it and act upon it. True faith leads to obedient action (James 2:14-26).” [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 173]
Read James 2:14-26
I wonder if Joseph’s brothers and their children even understood what he was saying at this point
Why would God need to come to their aid, they were living a really good life, at this point?
Why would they want or need to return to the land God has promised them on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? (Goshen had the best pasture land that Egypt had to offer)
Fortunately they listened to, and passed down, Joseph’s instructions from generation to generation
Perhaps some of them were not caught off guard by the change in their status before the new Pharaoh
They remembered Joseph’s instructions from hundreds of years before
Joseph mentions God’s oath about Canaan
It was an oath God had made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
God’s original promise to Abraham is found in Genesis 15:13-16, Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”
This promise to Abraham was passed down to his son, Isaac, who in turn passed it down to his son, Jacob
Jacob then shared the promise with Joseph as we saw in Genesis 48:21, Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you and take you back to the land of your fathers.
It is a testimony about God that this promise was accepted by each generation, by faith
Joseph, like his father, grandfather, and great grandfather trusted God by faith for their future – a future none of them would see or experience
With an incredible faith in God’s promise about the future, Joseph makes a request
Joseph’s request for the future
Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath
Jacob had done the same thing with Joseph in Genesis 47:31
He was putting them under oath, because he did not want his bones to remain in Egypt
He made them swear, that when God came to their aid, they would carry his bones up from Egypt to the Promised Land
They obviously swore to do what Joseph was asking, because we see the fulfillment of this oath by Moses and Joshua
Exodus 13:19, Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the sons of Israel swear an oath. He had said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.”
Joshua 24:32, And Joseph’s bones which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem in the tract of land that Jacob bought for a hundred pieces of silver from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. This became the inheritance of Joseph’s descendants.
What a testimony to the faith and influence of Joseph, that his request was remembered and fulfilled after 360 years
How many of us are even aware of a request made by a relative over 300 years ago?
How many of us can even remember a request made by our grandparents?
How many of us men can even remember a request our wives made last week or yesterday?
How many of us children even heard the request our parents made this morning?
Joseph had faith in God who was able to fulfill his request even after several centuries
We can trust God by faith for our future.
PRINCIPLE #2 – We can trust God by faith for our future.
What are you struggling to trust God with concerning your future?
Education (which college or university to attend)
Occupation (what trade or industry should I work in)
Family (future spouse, future children, current children or grandchildren, etc.)
Health (will I ever feel normal again)
Finances (will I ever get out of this deep whole)
Economy (will I ever be able to buy a house, will I have enough money to retire)
Our country or the world
Environment (global warming, clean energy, etc.)
Spiritual (is God calling me into ministry or missions, will my family member ever turn to Jesus)
God is loving, just, all-knowing, sovereign, and eternal
It means that you are precious to Him
It means that he wants what’s best for you
It means that He knows everything about you
It means that He has the right to rule and rules rightly in your life
It means that He knows the beginning from the end – your whole story
You can trust Him by faith for your future.
#2 – My Next Step Today Is To: Trust God by faith for the future of _______________.
Joseph trusted God by faith for the future fulfillment of his request
Future (v. 26)
We are not told how soon Joseph died after asking his brothers and their children to swear the oath
We knew with Jacob that right after he gave his final instructions to his sons that he drew his feet up into bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people
For Joseph, it was while he was still 110 years old, so it could have been a few days later, a week later, or a month later (we are not told the time frame)
“The word for coffin is ʾārôn (aw-rone’), the word used for the “ark” (i.e. chest) of the covenant.” [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 711-12]
“All this time in the desert Israel carried two shrines with them, the one the coffin containing the bones of the dead man Joseph, the other the Ark containing the covenant of the Living God. The wayfarers who saw the two receptacles wondered, and they would ask, ‘How doth the ark of the dead come next to the ark of the Ever-living?’ The answer was, ‘The dead man enshrined in the one fulfilled the commandments enshrined in the other.’” [Ginzberg cited by Hamilton, 712]
What blessings do you need to praise the Lord for, as you have been faithful to Him?
What future items do you need to trust God for by faith?
As a body of believers, what blessings do we need to praise the Lord for, as we have been faithful to Him?
What future items do we need to trust God for by faith?
“In December of 2016, a ride at Knott's Berry Farm in California became stuck 148 feet in the air. There were 20 people on board, including seven children. Firefighters tried to reach the stranded passengers by using a massive ladder, but it was too short. Fire crews had no choice. They would have to lower each passenger from 148 feet in the air, harnessed to a single rope.
Fire Captain Larry Kurtz said, ‘It sounds scary, but … we have very, very strong ropes that have 9,000 pounds of breaking strength on them.’ He was building the faith of those who were trapped. He was giving them information that if believed would dissipate their fears. It was up to each person to believe what he said and place their trust in the firefighter.
Let's zero in on one of the youngsters, and say his name was Luke. He's seven years old—old enough to feel terror as he looks at the ground 148 feet below. The firefighter looks Luke in his eyes, and with a steadying voice says, ‘Trust me, Luke. I won't let you go. Your life is very precious to me, and I will have you down before you know it.’
Luke listens to him and thinks about the ‘very, very strong rope.’ He believes the firefighter's reassuring words and trusts him completely. This is his only hope of getting to safety. If he doesn’t have faith, then he doesn't believe that the firefighter cares for him. He would then lose his only hope of reaching the ground. Faith, hope, and love are bound together.
Luke and all 20 passengers were lowered safely to the ground just before 10 p.m. that night.”
Ray Comfort, The Final Curtain (New Leaf Press, 2018), pg. 199-200.
As we face the future, we have to have faith in an all-powerful God who created us and thinks we are very precious.
As we move into the book of Exodus, we will see that the Israelites had to have faith in an all-powerful God who would rescue them from human bondage and sin’s bondage.