24 Oct 2021

The End Of The Beginning [Genesis 50]


Genesis 50 speaks of 2 deaths - of Jacob and Joseph. It is like an echo from the Garden of Eden when God said, "In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. " But even though the book of Genesis ends with death, it looks forward to life beyond death! Genesis 50, together with the rest of Genesis, points to the Promise, Providence & Power of Faith. 1. Promise. The promise of the savior is the golden thread that runs through the entire book of Genesis. God is a promise-maker and a promise-keeper. Though man dies, yet those who believe in the savior will live. 2. Providence. God purposely ordains and works all things to fulfill His promises and purposes. Nothing is left to chance. Even painful and sinful things can be and are used for God's purposes. 3. Power of Faith. There are people who believe in God and His promises, and those who do have their lives changed as a result. These are the main themes of Genesis 50, and also the whole book of Genesis. In fact, these are the main themes even of the whole Bible! So here we are, having explored the seedlings of Promise, Providence, and the Power of Faith in the book of Genesis (beginnings).


Sermon Transcript

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Alright, a very good morning, once again. Thank you for joining us this Sunday as we continue our book of Genesis. Indeed, this will be the very last sermon. If my calculations are correct, this is our 52nd sermon, and that means, one sermon a week for a year, not bad for a long book like Genesis with 50 chapters.

I want to thank you for taking these weeks and months to journey together in this Book of Genesis. And I pray that God would use the lessons learned to bless your life and to lead you closer to Him.

Now, when we come to a conclusion of the book, we generally like to have something happy, something that is of cheer, something like a wedding, something like a birth of a child and so on. But the Book of Genesis is not going to end with a birth or a marriage, the Book of Genesis is going to end with deaths, and in particular, the death of Jacob, and then the death of Joseph.

But perhaps it is more fitting that way, because in their deaths, they are like the echoes from the Garden of Eden, when God said, "In the day that you shall eat of it, in a day that you shall sinned against Me and take of that forbidden fruit, you shall surely die."

And the whole Book of Genesis gives us that echoing effect, that chamber effect, because no one escapes death. Death rained upon all! And so Genesis ends with death, as a reminder of the problem of sin.

Now, Ecclesiastes tells us, "It is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all mankind and the living will lay it to heart." So it is appropriate I believe this morning, to be reminded that Genesis tells us about the problem of sin. It all started in Genesis, chapter 3, and that is a problem that reigns overall, even unto the end of the book, and indeed, unto the end of human history as we know it. But Genesis is also a tremendous book about God's provision, of a solution or a Savior for our sins.

Now, I do a Q&A session with all of you every Sunday after the worship service. We do it on Zoom, it's called, "The Meet the Pastor Zoom Session". Every week we have about 20 or so questions, we seek to answer them in a 30-minute time-slot. So it's really rapid fire, short and sharp, and I appreciated spending that time together with you for the past 1-2 years, it's a long journey.

And two weeks ago during the Q&A session, there was a question right at the beginning, and it was a good question. It was this, "Pastor, what are your three main takeaways, or three main themes, as we near the end of the Book of Genesis?" And off the top of my head, I said three things. One - Promise. Two - Providence. Three - Power of Faith.

I say, the Book of Genesis is really about the promise of God right in the Garden of Eden, that He will send forth a Savior and offspring of the woman who will crush the serpent's head. And then I say, Genesis, number two is about Providence. How God purposefully, sovereignly works out all things so that this promise might materialize one day. And then, I say, number three, the Book of Genesis tells me about the power of faith, that there are people who will believe God for His promise and how their lives are changed as a result of faith.

As I thought about it also, as we ... as I was studying Genesis 50, I thought those three themes or main ideas are also very suitable for Genesis, chapter 50, at least after verse 15. Genesis 50 is a chapter about promise, about providence and about the power of faith. So, today's outline for Genesis 50 is somewhat extemporaneous. It was born two weeks ago in our Q&A session, but it is also an overflow of 52 weeks of study together.

So without much ado, let's get right into Genesis 50, which serves I think, as a very suitable conclusion or summary of the entire Book of Genesis, as well.

[1] Promise
So number one, Genesis 50, it's ... it's really a chapter about - A Promise, and so is the book of Genesis.

Why? Because right at the end of Genesis in chapter 50:24, Joseph is reminding or is reminded of; the promise that God gave. "Joseph said to his brothers, "I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that He swore to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob."

So, Joseph is recalling a promise that God has given to His people, a land. And this promise is not unique to Joseph because this was the promise that was already given a long time ago to his great-grandfather Abraham, and to his grandfather Isaac and to his father Jacob.

Now, let me take you back to Genesis, chapter 15:5, when God swore or promised Abraham, "Look towards heaven, number the stars, if you're able to number them." And He said to him, "So shall your offspring be."'

So God said to Abraham, "You have a great people. You have so many people after you, that it will be like the number of stars in the sky." "And then God said, "I am the Lord who brought you out from the Ur of the Chaldees to give you this land to promise." [Gen 15:7]

So God promised a great nation, God also promised him a great land. And God promised him that one of his offspring will be a very special Offspring. "He will possess the gate of His enemies, and in this Offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." [GEn 22:18]

So, this promise of God is very significant. It was not because Abraham was a great chap, was not because Abraham was a super godly guy, but God sovereignly chose Abraham and said to him, "I will give you a land, I will give you a nation, I will give you a great name and through you there will come a great Savior."

That is a promise that we would trace from Abraham and then to his son, Isaac, when God also said to Isaac, "I will be with you, I will bless you, for to you and to your offspring, I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father." [Gen 26:3]

So that promise continues from Abraham, to Isaac and then to Jacob. "I'm the Lord, the God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth ... and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed." [Gen 28:13-14]

So these are the promises given to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, but if I were to bring you even further back, you will see that God promised this even in the garden of Eden, when He said to the serpent, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; He ...] [Gen 3:15] that is the offspring of woman. Actually, later on we realize He will be the offspring of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob and of Judah.

But, "... This Offspring of the woman will bruise your head," will crush your head, O, serpent. So, this Savior will absolutely defeat Satan and his ploy and his desire to usurp God and His rulership over humanity and upon all this world.

So Joseph, when he talks about it in Genesis 50, he is reminded of this promise, and so should we. The whole Book of Genesis really is about this golden chain of God's promise in the Garden of Eden, to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and which Joseph holds on to.

You say, "What is the Bible about? What is the Book of Genesis about?" It's really about the promises, isn't it? And how we rejoice that , "All the promises of God find their yes in Him." [2 Cor 1:20] God is a great promise maker and God is a great promise keeper. He never fails in His promise. He always fulfilled His promise and the whole Book of Genesis is a tracing of how God is always working to fulfill His promise.

So my friends, this is a great message of the Bible. Yes, the Bible is about sin, the Bible is about death, but you see, we are not just looking at a very pessimistic, very sad book, this is a book filled with great hope, because in the midst of death, in the midst of sin, God is promising a Savior, who will save us from our sins. That Special Offspring and we know later on, as we read through the Bible, and now as we look back at history, that God gave His Son, Jesus Christ to be born into this world to be our Savior.

God fulfilled his promise! God sent forth His Son, He was born of a virgin. He lived a perfect life and then He went to lay down His life for us on the cross. Not because He has sinned, not because He's guilty in any way, but He was there to take on your sins and my sins. So that by His sacrifice, He will be our substitute, by His sacrifice, He will be our Savior, and by His sacrifice, He will defeat death, in His death, defeat Satan in his ploy. And now bring all who will belong to Him, all who believe in Him back to God, reconcile a sinful humanity to the Holy God.

So I say to you, the Bible is about this promise that is fulfilled by God. And one day, Jesus will return for us and His people will be ushered into a sinless, deathless, sorrow-less, glorious and joyous eternity.

What is Genesis 50 about? It's about a promise! What is Genesis about? It's about a promise! What is the whole Bible about? It's about a promise!

So today, we can hold on to God's promise, even as we face difficulties and trials, COVID in life, we can trust that God has promised great things for us. And in the life that is to come, we would see all that materialize because God is faithful, who promised. So, this is what I think Genesis 50 and indeed the book of Genesis is about, it's about the promise.

[2] Providence
Secondly, as I've mentioned, Genesis 15 is about - Providence. And so is the book of Genesis, not just this chapter, but the entire book.

Providence is the way God works to ensure His purposes be fulfilled. If I may put it in a more succinct way, providence is God's purposeful sovereignty. God is sovereign overall, God works all things, but He always works things for His purposes. It's never random, it's never luck, it's never misfortune, it's always sovereign and purposeful.

Now, Joseph made mention of this. Remember, Joseph, he was thrown into the pit by the wickedness of his brothers, but Joseph saw not just the promise of God, Joseph saw the providence of God. When he said in Genesis 50:20, "As for you, my brothers, you meant evil against me ..."

Now, there is no denying that they were filled with jealousy and murderous intent, they were evil. But Joseph not only saw the evil of the brothers, he saw the sovereignty, he saw the providence of God. Because he said, "... But God meant it for good to bring it about that many people should be kept alive as they are today."

So, Joseph had great theology that God is absolutely sovereign! And He can even use the sinfulness and the wickedness of men even though God is not the originator of that evil. But Joseph had good theology, that even in difficult times, even through the wicked acts of people, God is still in control. He is still sovereignly orchestrating all things to fulfill His purposes, that even the wrath of men shall praise His Name.

So now, Joseph saw providence throughout his life. He saw God's providence in allowing his brothers to throw him into a pit, so that Joseph might be sold to the Ishmaelites and brought to the kingdom of Egypt under Potiphar. He saw God's sovereign Hand in how Potiphar his wife would accuse him falsely, so that he would now be thrown into prison.

He saw God's providence in how he was able to interpret dreams for the cup bearer and for the baker, forgotten for two years before he would be presented before Pharaoh. He saw how God would rise or raise him through the ranks, so that he might become the second most important person in all of Egypt, that he might be able to store up the grains during the seven years of abundance, in preparation for the seven years of poverty and famine.

He would see God's hand in how through his work in Egypt, he would be able to preserve a life, many lives, and most importantly, the lives of his family - Jacob, his brothers and the descendants. In order that God's promise to give them a great land, a great name, a Great Savior will come true!

So, Genesis 50 is about providence, and I hope you will see that in this book. God is always working. Now, it may look very messy. You look at the lives of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, they were messed up. They ... they sinned against God, they made mistakes, that's clear. They weren't far from being perfect! But even as they messed up, God never messed up, God is still purposefully behind it all.

What a comfort, isn't it? To understand God's providence, God's purposeful sovereignty. You see, our lives today may look like a mess. Your life may look like a mess. Your family's a mess. Your finances may be in a mess. Your health may be in a mess. Your relationships may be in a mess. Now, some of this mess is due to our own sin and failure and let's face up to it, but sometimes we can't really trace them to anything that we kind of should reap, because we have sown wrongly. But even if we can't quite understand why, we need to realize that God is sovereign behind it all.

COVID, whatever that may be, whatever the cause may be, China, US, we do not know, but we do know that God has not in a sense taken His hands off this world and let it run into chaos. Even in the midst of supposed mess, God is working something beautiful.

So, what Joseph mentioned in Genesis 50, I think is very well articulated also in Romans, chapter 8:28. I think this is the New Testament version of the Old Testament verse in Genesis 50. "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good."

There is nothing that is working against you. Nothing! Huh, it looks difficult, it looks painful, it is not nice, but I'm saying to you, based on God's Word, there is nothing that is working against you, because, "... All things are working together for good for those who love God."

Painful things are for your good! Difficult things are for your good! "Who says so?" you say. God says so. So, remember this - God's good is gooder than our good, alright. He's not looking for your comfort, He's looking for character. He's not looking that you may ease off in life, but that you may grow up in Christ. God's providence is what we can hold on to.

So, today we've looked at how Genesis and Genesis 50 is about a promise. A promise like a golden chain that starts in the Garden of Eden, that traverses through Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and to Joseph. We see that this promise results or this promise is backed up by God's providence. His sovereign; purposeful acts, to ensure the fulfillment of His promise. And therefore nothing is misfortune, Nothing is bad luck, nothing is by chance.

[3] Power of Faith
But finally, I like to remind you, Genesis 50 and also the book of Genesis is ... is about the - Power of Faith.

There are people who believe God and His promises, and their lives are changed as a result. You see, faith is powerful! Real faith is not just understanding something or accepting something. Real faith is about convinced about something, being confident about something, and so, results in life change in us.

And Joseph, in chapter 50, demonstrates the power of faith. There are two things that demonstrate that power of faith in his life. One, he was able to bury the hatchet. He was able to forgive his brothers. And number two, he made instructions about burying himself, and it's very similar to what we have learned about two weeks ago with Jacob's burial.

But let's look at number one, how he was able to bury the hatchet. "When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him." [Gen 50:15]

So the brothers were very concerned, because they knew that what they did to Joseph was deplorable, was absolutely terrible. And they ... they can't quite believe that their brother would spare them. Now, when their father was alive, maybe they thought out of respect to dad, Joseph wouldn't do anything to them. But now that father has died, they began to be very worried.

Now, this is not just the worry of the brothers, it was also the worry of Jacob, their father. Because, "They sent a message to Joseph saying, "Your father gave this command before he died: 'Say to Joseph, "Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you." [Gen 50:16-17]

So even Jacob himself felt that he had to put in a word to Joseph, and plead with him not to take revenge on the brothers.
So, the brothers now come and say, "Please forgive us." "And they fell down before him and said, "Behold, we are your servants."' [Gen 50:18]

They ... they did not quite believe that Joseph would absolutely forgive them, but they hoped that maybe he will not kill them, but let them live on as his servants. So it is really amazing that in the Bible, we read here that, "Joseph said, "Do not fear, I will provide for you and your little ones." Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them."' [Gen 50:21]

His forgiveness is remarkable! I mean, he was absolutely not angry with them. He was not going to take revenge upon them, he freely forgave them of their sins. And you say, "Why?" I say, I think the text tells me, its because of faith. "He says, "Do not fear, for I ... am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good."' [Gen 50:19-20]

In other words, he was able to forgive them because he had faith in his God. Wow! That's a powerful lesson for us, isn't it? How often we are stuck in the prison of unforgiveness, because we cannot see God. We can only see that man or that woman who has offended us, and we will not let it go.

But the man of faith reckons on something greater than that, the man of faith reckons upon God and how God allowed even that to happen in his life. Because we can reckon upon God that He's working all things together for good! And so faith reasons, faith is convinced about God and His ways, about His promises and is therefore able to forgive as God commands us to forgive.
So we do not forgive our enemies because our enemies have become good, we forgive our enemies because our God is good. So this forgiveness is a proof of the power of faith.

Now, actually, Joseph or Jacob knew about that. You remember the prophecy, the blessing that Jacob was pronouncing last week. "The archers bitterly attacked him ..." that is the brothers, I think, attacked Joseph, "... Shot at Joseph and harassed him severely, yet his bow remained unmoved; his arms were made agile or strong by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob." [Gen 49:23-24]

So, Joseph or Jacob knew that the secret behind Joseph temperance and forgiveness is the grace of God. My friends, one of the great marks or great evidences of faith in your life is forgiveness. And one of the great marks of a man who does not have faith, is perpetual unforgiveness.

Think about it for yourself - Is it true that you cannot forgive your husband, or your wife, or your boss, or your colleague or your friend, or your church member? Can it be that if you allow yourself this unforgiveness, it might speak of you not even having faith in God at all, in the first place!

Because no man who abides in unforgiveness or hatred is of God.
I'm not the one who says this. John, the apostle says this in 1st John, chapter 3. Because if you love your brothers, you know that you have passed from death unto life, but if you do not then fear and humble yourself before God.

Real faith changes lives!

I'm not saying that, you can always forgive instantly, but I'm saying that, if you are really a child of God, given the gift of faith, you cannot ... cannot remain in perpetual bitterness and unforgiveness. Joseph exemplifies this, he was able to bury the hatchet.

But then again, I said that, the faith of Joseph, the power of faith is seen also in his burial. So we read secondly that, "Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, "God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here." [Gen 50:25]

We have looked at this somewhat but I'll repeat it again. The ... it will be very reasonable for us to expect Joseph wanting to be buried in Egypt. After all, he's the Prime Minister, Egypt is a powerful nation, there can be no more glorious tomb than one in Egypt. But Joseph didn't want that, he said, "I want you to carry my bones to be buried in the land of promise. Bring me out of here."

Now, he lived most of his life in Egypt, but Joseph believes that God's promise to him is more important than being in Egypt. And so he said, "Carry my bones up ..." [Gen 50:25] and the Jews, his people did so.

I shared with you that it was at least about 400 years later before they ... they would bury his bones in Shechem, in the Promised Land. And you can imagine what a hassle it is, for the Israelites to carry the coffin and the bones for 40 years in the wilderness. But ... but Joseph had already laid down his desire, "Carry my bones up." And the reason the Bible tells us is because he believes.

"By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones." [Heb 11:22]

He's saying, "Take my bones out because this is what I believe, and this is what I want you all to believe, that God has made a promise to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, that he will give us a land, a nation, a name and a Savior, and I want even my bones to speak of this message of faith." So he was not fearful about death, but he believed in the life after death, he believed that God will fulfill His Word in giving him and a heavenly city after death.

And so when you read the Bible, and you look at the ... the way, Genesis describes how the patriarchs die, it is very interesting. Because we read in Genesis 25:8, Abraham, "Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old men and full of years ..." And look at this, " ... was gathered to his people."

Now, this is not just a euphemism, this is not just a nice way of saying things. I ... I believe the author, Moses is communicating to us, that though Abraham died, it's not the end of his existence, because he is going to be gathered to his people. There is a hint of life after death, isn't it?

And this is not just the way he describes Abraham's passing, but also Isaac, "He will be gathered to his people." [Gen 35:29] And this is also the way Jacob is described, "He is gathered to his people." [Gen 49:33] So, the life of faith results in people who have a hope of life after death, a looking forward to the heavenly city where God dwells.

And so this marks the end of Genesis. It's about the power of faith of God's people. Genesis, yes ... starts off with the problem of sin, it starts off with that shout out, that, "In a day you shall eat of it you shall surely die." But the book of Genesis is not just a tragic book of pessimism, but it's a great book of hope, because the book of Genesis is also about a promise, and then about God's providence, and then about the power of faith, that there are people who believe God and their lives are transformed, as a result of it.

So, I want to thank you for journeying with me through these weeks and months. The Book begins in the Garden of Eden in Paradise, and it may end up with deaths, but we look beyond that, to life after death, to the heavenly city that is to come.

And if I may say boldly, Genesis is therefore Genesis, not just because it is the beginning of life, but it is the beginning of these three major themes of the entire Bible - of Promise, of Providence and the Power of Faith.

I end with this quote by Winston Churchill. "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is perhaps the end of the beginning."

Genesis is not the end. Genesis tells us that the set ... the stage is set for the arrival of the Savior. Genesis is not even the beginning of the end, we are not even close, but it is perhaps the end of the beginning. God has successfully, I believe, sown the seeds of the themes of Promise, Providence and the Power of Faith. May our lives be spent discovering, learning, growing and establishing ourselves in these major themes.

Thank you for journeying with me. I pray this has been a blessing to you. I pray that as you hear these words, you would repent and believe in Jesus, God's promised Savior. And I pray that you will be a people of faith, living out confident, joyful, faithful lives to God.

Next week, we embark on a brand new journey through the book of 1st Corinthians, read that up if you can, and I hope that this will also be a blessing to you.

Let's bow for word of prayer together.

Father, we thank You today, that the Bible is not a pessimistic book about sin and destruction and defeat, but it is a glorious book that speaks about Your beautiful Promise, Your powerful Providence and the amazing Power of Faith in the people You have given this gift to.

So we are cheered, we are encouraged, and we are thankful to You. O God, I pray that gospeliters will be a people of faith! A people who will always hang on to Your Promises, who will be confident in Your Providence, so that we might live our lives that glorify You.

Dear Lord, we also pray for friends, for guests, even for old time churchgoers, whose hearts may not yet be saved. We ask for Your mercy to grant them repentance and faith. May they see beyond the forms and the outward appearances of a church service, to behold Jesus, Your Son.

Thank You, He is that promised Savior. Thank You, He came to lay down His life. Thank You, He is right now at Your right hand. And thank You one day, in the fullness of time, He would come to receive us to Himself.

O God, thank You, that You are the Alpha and Omega, thank You that You are our Savior! Bless Your people and please let us also have a fruitful journey through the Book of 1st Corinthians in the weeks to come. Thank You and we pray all this now in Jesus' Name. Amen. God bless.

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