Bless My Soul

Opening Prayer

Heavenly Father, “Whatever may pass / And whatever lies before me / Let me be singing / When the evening comes” (Matt Redman).

Read Genesis 49:29—50:14

29 Then he gave them these instructions: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. 31 There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. 32 The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.”

33 When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.

50 Joseph threw himself on his father and wept over him and kissed him. 2 Then Joseph directed the physicians in his service to embalm his father Israel. So the physicians embalmed him, 3 taking a full forty days, for that was the time required for embalming. And the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.

4 When the days of mourning had passed, Joseph said to Pharaoh’s court, “If I have found favor in your eyes, speak to Pharaoh for me. Tell him, 5 ‘My father made me swear an oath and said, “I am about to die; bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.’”

6 Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear to do.”

7 So Joseph went up to bury his father. All Pharaoh’s officials accompanied him—the dignitaries of his court and all the dignitaries of Egypt— 8 besides all the members of Joseph’s household and his brothers and those belonging to his father’s household. Only their children and their flocks and herds were left in Goshen. 9 Chariots and horsemen also went up with him. It was a very large company.

10 When they reached the threshing floor of Atad, near the Jordan, they lamented loudly and bitterly; and there Joseph observed a seven-day period of mourning for his father. 11 When the Canaanites who lived there saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “The Egyptians are holding a solemn ceremony of mourning.” That is why that place near the Jordan is called Abel Mizraim.

12 So Jacob’s sons did as he had commanded them: 13 They carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre, which Abraham had bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. 14 After burying his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, together with his brothers and all the others who had gone with him to bury his father.

Reflect

If you were to write your own obituary, what would you want it to say? How would you want people to remember you?

Jacob’s body is returned, as requested, to his beloved Canaan (28:15). Despite the relatively short time he spends in their country, even the Egyptians mourn his loss (50:11), a fulfillment of Isaac’s blessing to Jacob (27:29a). These verses focus mainly on the public, outward observance of grief; nevertheless we catch a glimpse of Joseph’s
sense of loss at the moment of his father’s death (50:1)—a mirror image of the embrace described in Jesus’ parable of the lost son (Luke 15:20).

“The Lord Almighty grant us a peaceful night and a perfect end.” So begins the order for “Compline,” a service of night prayer. Many consider it a grace to be present for a member of the family at the point of their death. Jacob was fortunate to have his large family around him (49:33).

Jesus didn’t have this; even though his death was very public, many of his best friends and family were absent. Yet there was one person who didn’t wait until he’d died to express her love for him (John 12:3).

Apply

How can you honor someone who is dear to you now, rather than later?

Closing prayer

Lord, teach me to set my mind on things above, not on earthly things (Col. 3:2). Turn my heart towards heaven.

Syndicated via Scripture Union. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Terry Schneider