Year 2 Day 309
Read - Genesis 49v28-50v14
Message - Scott Woodburn
I remember vividly where I was on the 1st July 2005. It was a beautiful summer’s day and I found myself conducting a funeral in the Co-op funeral home in Larne. I was so nervous that I barely slept the night before. I read my notes and re-read my notes. I wrote the name of the deceased on every page so I wouldn’t get it wrong. It was my first ever funeral and I doubt I’ll ever forget it.
I’ve done countless funerals since then and I sleep much better these days, but in the midst of death I now face another challenge. I’ve done so many funerals and stood at so many gravesides that my new challenge is to never take death for granted. I never want to get into the position where death is just normal. It isn’t. It is the enemy. It was not part of God’s original creation. Sin entered the world and death followed with it. I pray that funerals will always be physically and emotionally draining. They are visible reminders that this world is not as it should be, that one day all will die and that each one of us needs to be ready to meet the Lord.
As Genesis comes to a close, death abounds. Israel would soon die but before he breathed his last, he commanded his family to take him home and bury him in the family tomb at Machpelah (v30). Abraham had bought this cave and Israel’s descendants had all been buried in that place (v31-32). Jacob had a hope that would not be defeated by the grave. With his final wishes made clear, Jacob breathed his last (v33).
His death was followed by much mourning. Jospeh wept over his father (50v1) and the Egyptians wept for 70 days (v3) which in itself was a great honour. Jacob was embalmed by the Egyptians (v2) - this is the same process used on Egyptian mummies - and a large funeral cortege made its way from Egypt to the land of Canaan (v9).
When they arrived home they lamented Israel’s death once more, this time for seven days (v10) and their mourning was so powerful that the locals named the place “Abel-mizraim” which means “the mourning of the Egyptians” Finally, Israel’s body was taken to the cave at Machpelah and placed in the family tomb (v13) after which the cortege returned to Egypt (v14)
As we consider the reality of death in this passage we see that even Christians will mourn. Paul tells us that we do not mourn as others do who have no hope (1 Thess 4v13) - but although our mourning is different, we still mourn. We see this clearly in the life of our Lord who wept at His friend’s tomb (John 11v35). Death will sting us and we do not need to act like robots detached from the enemy of death. Christians will mourn and that is a perfectly acceptable response to death. We weep and rail against the tragedy of sin and its wages of death.
Yet we do not mourn as others do for we have the sure and certain hope that Christ has defeated death. He died but rose again and so all who believe in Christ will be brought to everlasting life. Jesus is the death of death. Death is our enemy but one day it will be put under the feet of Christ. He died but stood again on this earth and is alive forever more. In Christ death has been defeated - praise God!
I hope you and I never get so familiar with death that it becomes routine and just a little bump on the road. May it drain us and cause us to loosen our anchors in this harlot world. May it put zeal into our evangelism and prayers as we remember that many live around us with the wrath of God abiding upon them. May funerals not be filled with the false gospel of Frank Sinatra but instead the glorious Gospel of Christ. May funerals give us pause and cause many to flee from hell and run to Christ - REPENT & BELIEVE THE GOSPEL FOR YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN
Thankfully I have never forgotten the 1st July 2005 and I hope I never will.
“For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15v21-22)
Q67 Which is the sixth commandment? The sixth commandment is, Thou shalt not kill.