Jacob lived for seventeen more years after he arrived in Egypt. When he was 147 it was near the time for Israel to die. He called his son Joseph to him and said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh and promise that you will show me kindness and faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt, but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried.” I’ll do as you say, Joseph answered. “Swear to me,” Jacob said. Then Joseph swore to him, and Israel worshiped as he leaned on his staff.
Putting a hand under another person’s thigh was the custom for swearing an oath.
Joseph and Israel Interestingly, Jacob, also called by God, Israel, cared for Joseph for his first seventeen years, and now we see Joseph care for Israel for his last seventeen years. We also see Joseph promise to carry Israel from Egypt, a picture of the world, into the promised land, a picture of heaven.
Jesus and the Jew This speaks to an important issue often discussed in this season of campaigning and debating before our presidential election: the nation of Israel. Even as Joseph remained tied to Israel, I believe our greater than Joseph, Jesus, remains tied to Israel. The name Israel is used more than 2,300 times in the Bible. Compared to 380 times for the word sin, or 280 times for the word love. (Bridges for Peace) God made multiple covenants with Israel. We’ve seen a number of them throughout this study in Genesis. (Genesis 12:2-3, 12:6-7, 13:14-17, 15:7-21, 17:8, 22:17-18) And there are plenty more throughout scripture. Ishmael was promised blessings as well and his descendants received them. Truly Ishmael has become a great nation just as God promised. (Genesis 17:20) And the descendants of Ishmael, the Arab nations, are not only great in number, but are among the richest in the world. God does not break His covenants. (Psalm 89:30-37) He didn’t break His covenant with Abraham regarding Ishmael, and He won’t break His covenant with Israel. I’m often amazed at the political expectations put on Israel today. Israel has less land area than 22 counties in the United States. (Israel land area, List of U.S. counties by land area) Whatever source you use to determine Middle East land area, Israel comprises only a fraction of one percent of all the land in the Middle East. This combined with the long narrow shape of their country makes their borders barely defensible right now. “Land for peace” is the political cry we often hear regarding Israel’s borders. But removing territory and narrowing Israel would only make them more vulnerable, and would almost certainly lead to more attacks. I was on a tour bus once with my wife Kathy in Mexico City. At one point our tour guide referred to the “North American invasion.” “North American invasion? What North American invasion?” I thought to myself. After the tour I did a little research and discovered the United States currently possesses California, Nevada, Utah, and much of New Mexico and Arizona as a result of an invasion of Mexico. Can you imagine giving those states back? And that’s not even representative of what’s being asked of Israel. A more accurate portrayal would be if we were to give Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska to Mexico, virtually cutting our country in half. Would you trade that land for peace? For those looking for perfection from Israel, keep in mind, throughout scripture, everything God has ever done has been in spite of sinful rebellious people. Our greater than Joseph, Jesus, is not done with Israel. She’s still an integral part of God’s plan and the scriptures plainly exhort us to support her. (Numbers 24:9, Psalm 122:6, Zechariah 2:8, Joel 3:1-3, Romans 11:1-36) Pray for the peace of Jerusalem and Israel.
I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means!
Related Links: The Peace of Jerusalem
Notes: Even as Joseph promised to take Israel out of Egypt and into the promised land, our greater than Joseph, Jesus promises to do the same for you personally. Yes we’re in the world, but like Joseph, Jesus won’t leave us here. He’ll take us to the promised land, to the place He has prepared for us. But even as Israel had to ask Joseph to take him to the promised land, you have to ask Jesus to do the same for you. You have to ask Him to take you. God has provided a way for you to go, from here, from the world, to heaven, to be with Him. This is God’s truth. As I’m typing these words I’m serving as God’s agent to share His truth. But in the end, it’s up to you. God will never compromise your free will to chose Jesus Christ and life, over a rejection of Christ and death. So you can decide. You can decide right now. Christ and life? Or rejection of God’s offer and death? What do you have to lose?
[Image via MmMmMmMatt – Creative Commons]