Hebrews Chapter 11 is often referred to as the “Faith Hall of Fame”. In this chapter, the writer of Hebrews includes an impressive list of Old Testament heroes and their stories of great faith in order to challenge and encourage us. Over the next few weeks we will explore some of these heroes and look deeper into their specific faith accomplishments that are highlighted. I want to start with my personal favorite hero from the Old Testament, Joseph. Joseph was truly a man of great faith and integrity. He walked closely with God throughout his life. Joseph was a role model of God reliance and God confidence.
The following are some of the major faith highlights from Joseph’s life:
- Joseph gets sold into slavery by his brothers into a foreign land. He never loses faith and never gets bitter.
- Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce and sleep with Joseph. He never gives in to the temptation of her advances.
- Joseph gets falsely accused of sexual assault by Potiphar’s wife and goes to prison for a few years. He never gets angry with God while imprisoned for a crime he did not commit.
- Joseph meets a cupbearer in prison. The cupbearer promises to remember and help Joseph when he gets out. The cupbearer gets out and promptly forgets Joseph for 2 years. Joseph again does not get angry and keeps strong faith.
- Joseph interprets dreams correctly multiple times and always gives credit to God for interpreting the dreams.
- Joseph becomes Prime Minister of Egypt. He serves faithfully and successfully for 80 years. Joseph follows God’s plan to be able to provide for people across the world during 7 years of severe famine. He never takes advantage of his power as Prime Minister.
- Joseph forgives his brothers for selling him into slavery. He never seeks revenge against them. In Genesis 50:20 near the end of his life, Joseph tells his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” Joseph fully recognizes God as the author of everything that happened in his life.
Joseph’s whole life was a model of strong faith and confidence in God. So the writer of Hebrews points out the one example of faith from Joseph’s life that put him into the “Faith Hall of Fame”. What do you think it is?
We find the answer in Hebrews 11:22 NLT: By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.
Strange. Not one of the strong examples highlighted above, but rather instructions about what to do with his bones when he was about to die? So what were these instructions? We find them in Genesis 50:24-25 (NLT) – “Soon I will die,” Joseph told his brothers, “but God will surely come to help you and lead you out of this land of Egypt. He will bring you back to the land he solemnly promised to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath, and he said, “When God comes to help you and lead you back, you must take my bones with you.”
Why was this so much a statement of faith? Because Joseph fully trusts God to deliver on His promise some 400 years in the future to lead the people out of Egypt and into to the Promised Land. And Joseph wants to be there (at least his bones) when it happens. He has absolute confidence it will happen. And that is what faith is all about – God confidence. Hebrews 11:2 defines faith this way: Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Joseph is 100% confident in God to deliver on his promise even though Joseph has not seen it.
So what happened with Joseph’s bones? Well fast forward about 400 years and Moses is leading 600,000 people out of Egypt to the Promised Land. I am sure Moses had a ton going on preparing supplies, etc. to lead that many people away from Egypt and Pharoah, but look what Moses took the time to grab before leaving on the journey. Exodus 13:19 (NLT) – Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel swear to do this. He said, “God will certainly come to help you. When he does, you must take my bones with you from this place.”
Moses and the people are then punished and wander in the wilderness for 40 years. Joshua ultimately takes over and leads the people into the Promised Land and successfully through many battles once they get there. This goes on for about another 30 years and Joshua also dies. Shortly after Joshua’s death, we read in Joshua 24:32 (NLT) – And Joseph’s bones, which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem in the tract of land that Jacob bought for a hundred pieces of silver from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem.
Moses, Joshua, and the Israelites carry Joseph’s bones around for 70 years. So some roughly 470 years after Joseph dies, his bones are finally laid to rest in God’s Promised land. Joseph’s faith finally comes true! What an example of faith to challenge us and it’s why Joseph was recognized in the “Faith Hall of Fame”!
Faith Gauge Questions:
Which faith example from Joseph’s life do you personally find the most impressive?
What is your current level of God confidence? Do you have the faith of Joseph to know God has a plan for everything in your life and that God will come through on his promises always?
Do you have any questions or comments? I would love to hear them – please leave a reply below or email me. Thanks.