‘By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.’ Hebrews 11:22
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING (Spurgeon): Genesis 50:22–26
No man may be said to have real faith who is not concerned that faith may be found in the hearts of his fellow men. But, say you, ‘What did Joseph do to encourage the faith of others?’ Why, he left his bones to be a standing sermon to the children of Israel. We read that they were embalmed and put into a coffin in Egypt and thus they were ever in the keeping of the tribes.
What did that say? Every time an Israelite thought of the bones of Joseph, he thought, ‘We are to go out of this country one day.’ Perhaps he was a man prospering in business, laying up store in Egypt; but he would say to himself, ‘I shall have to part with this; Joseph’s bones are to be carried up; I am not to be here for ever.’
And then while it acted as a warning, his body would serve also as an encouragement, for when the taskmasters began to afflict the people and their labour was increased, the despondent Israelite would say, ‘I shall never come up out of Egypt.’ But others would say, ‘Joseph believed we should; there are his bones still unburied. He has left us the assurance of his confidence that God would in due time bring up his people out of this house of bondage.’
It seems to me that Joseph had thought of this device as being the best thing on the whole he could do to keep the Israelites perpetually in remembrance that they were strangers and sojourners, and to encourage them in the belief that in due time they would be delivered from the house of bondage and settled in the land that flowed with milk and honey. True faith seeks to propagate herself in the hearts of others. She is earnest, eager and intense, if by any means she may scatter a handful of holy seed that may fall in good soil and bring forth glory to God.
FOR MEDITATION: Faith in others can be promoted in various ways. Sometimes it will be helpful to encourage it (Mark 11:22; Acts 14:22; Ephesians 6:16; 1 Timothy 6:12). At other times it may be necessary to examine it (Luke 8:25; 2 Corinthians 13:5). It will always be good to exemplify it (1 Timothy 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:10) as Joseph did. Do you share the apostle Paul’s concern for healthy faith in others (1 Thessalonians 3:5–8)?
C. H. Spurgeon and Terence Peter Crosby, 365 Days with Spurgeon (Volume 3), (Leominster, UK: Day One Publications, 2005), 360.