Joseph is one of the most famous individuals recorded in the Bible. And I think we could all agree that he was a man of great faith. He trusted God and boldly spoke about his dreams even though he knew it would make him unpopular with his brothers (and his parents). He continued to trust God even when he was sold as a slave and falsely imprisoned. He refused to sleep with Potiphar’s wife (even though he was single and she repeatedly made advances to him). He knew that it would be a sin against God. He refused to exact vengeance on his treacherous brothers, believing that God was working through his suffering.
It is interesting to me that when Joseph is commended for his faith in the book of Hebrews, none of these things are mentioned. We are simply told, “By faith Joseph…spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning his bones” (Hebrews 11:22). Seemingly his greatest act of faith was wrapped up in these burial instructions? This certainly seems like a trivial detail. Who cares about his bones? What difference would it make where he was buried? Why was this so notable?
Remember that Joseph had ultimately risen to great prominence in Egypt. He was made second in command to Pharaoh. He was making lots of money. He was given a beautiful wife. All the culture of Egypt was at his disposal. He was living the good life. In the midst of all this affluence, Joseph never forgot who he was and where he was going. This was perhaps the most remarkable expression of his faith. He never forgot that he was a part of God’s chosen people. He never forgot that God had promised to establish his people in the land of Canaan. And he sent a message with his dying breath – “Egypt is not our home!”
Persecution is hard. But in many ways prosperity is the greater test of our faith. We naturally look to God when our health is failing, our finances are tight and we are without a job. But do you continue to live by faith with a Godward orientation after an athletic accomplishment, a big promotion, a financial windfall or the birth of a new baby? May God help us to pass the test of prosperity.
Photo credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outline_of_ancient_Egypt