Before you read: After “blessing” all his sons, Israel had one last word for them: “Don’t bury me in Egypt. Bury me in the land of Canaan.” When he died the sons did as he asked, leaving Egypt to bury him in the cave where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah were buried. Then they returned to their families, flocks, and fields in Egypt.
Read Genesis 50:15-26
We are at the end of Genesis, the first “book” in this big Story-about-everything.
Genesis explains all the beginnings. If you can remember way back to the very start, it told how God created everything, then how the snake tricked humans into letting sin in. After that, sin grew until God destroyed the whole world in a flood. After the flood, the story follows the family line of Shem, first son of Noah, all the way to Abraham.
Chapter twelve starts a new kind of thing. God begins a plan to bless the world through a family: Abraham’s family. So the story follows his sons Isaac and Jacob. Jacob has twelve sons and they become Israelites, named after the new name God gives Jacob.
God promises to give the Israelites the land of Canaan but they’re not there yet. Working through a tangle of treachery, jealousy, and famine, God has brought them to Egypt and now Israel is dead and the brothers are scared.
What if Joseph has only been pretending to forgive them? What if, now that their father is dead, Joseph finally punishes them for what they did?
“Dad said don’t do it.” They tell him.
I doubt he did.
But it doesn’t matter. Joseph is so over it.
Listen to him, “God intended … to preserve a numerous people, as He is doing today.” For Joseph, it’s all about God. Never mind what he’s been through, never mind who intended what, never mind even all the distractions of running Egypt – never mind all that. What matters is God doing what He said He’d do.
That is the single thought that fills Joseph’s mind, all the way to death, “Bring me back to Canaan when God comes for you.”
God’s not done yet, he assures his brothers.
It’s an odd way to end a book, this. I find it unsatisfying. I want to leave you – us – with some profound insight or conclusion but this isn’t a conclusion. It’s a cliff hanger. God has started something and it’s not finished yet.
Maybe that’s the whole point of Genesis.
And of us.