As we come to the end of studying the book of beginnings (Genesis) we must not miss the main point of this great book and the main point of all of Scripture – Living by faith in God (trusting in His promises to us in His Word) in a fallen world with the hope of heaven our true home and the fulfillment of all of our righteous desires. Immediately following the Fall in Gen. 3 we hear these words of faith in Genesis 4:26 “At that time men began to call on the name of the LORD.”
“Then Jacob called for his sons and said: "Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come. "Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob; listen to your father Israel.” (49:1-2) (“Chapter 49 is not a father’s blessing on his sons. Rather, it is a prophecy of what the sons could expect in the future because of their individual characters and the decisions they had made.” W. Wiersbe) The prophecies of Jacob over his 12 sons (plus Ephraim and Manasseh) relate to their obedience or disobedience to God. Many commentators say that interpreting the full meaning of these prophecies from the Hebrew text is very difficult. For example, Dr. Merrill Unger says these prophecies represent different stages of history for the Jewish nation and include OT history (Reuben, Simeon and Levi); NT history and Christ’s millennial reign (Judah); Israel scattered among the nations (Zebulun and Issachar); apostate Israel during the reign of the Antichrist (Dan); the godly Jewish remnant during the great tribulation (Gad, Asher and Naphtali) and the kingdom age (Joseph and Benjamin). One clear point: our faith or lack of, and obedience or disobedience to God can have a ripple effect for good or evil for years to come as seen in the sons of Jacob. Yet, we are accountable for our own sins and cannot blame anyone even the sins of our fathers. (Jer. 31:29-30)
“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb.13:7-8) From Abraham to Joseph, from our fathers/mentors to the ultimate Man and model Jesus Christ, we are to remember the words of God these people of faith spoke to us and imitate their faith, and pass this on to those who follow us by sharing God’s truth with them and living and dying in faith. This we see modeled by Jacob and Joseph who lived and died in faith. “Then he (Jacob )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, the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite, along with the field. There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah.” “Then Joseph said to his brothers, "I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."
“And Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath and said, "God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place." So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.” (“Like his father, Joseph knew what he believed and where he belonged. If we consider all the difficulties he had experienced in life, it is remarkable that Joseph had any faith at all. He knew God’s promise to Abraham that the nation would be delivered from Egypt (15:12–16), and he reiterated that promise to his family. Joseph had brought them to Egypt and cared for them in Egypt. His coffin reminded them that God would bring them out of Egypt. What an encouragement that was during the dark days of their bondage. Our encouragement today is not a coffin but an empty tomb.” (W.Wiersbe) “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3)
Genesis ends with a full tomb (6 people) in the promise land but still not possessed by God’s people. The New Testament ends with an empty tomb (also in the promise land but now under the bondage of Rome) and the promise of heaven. “In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:2-3)
“These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”(Heb. 11:39-40) God had promised Abraham and his descendents the land of Canaan and they all lived and died with that hope yet it was unfulfilled in their lifetime. Their faith was solid because it related to what God had told them to hope for. Likewise we are to hope for what God has promised us and as we do our faith can remain strong even as we wait for the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises to us. Biblical hope and faith go together as modeled by the four patriarchs in Genesis and as we see in Heb. 11:1 “NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].”
So to keep a strong faith to the end we must be careful to only hope for what God promises us. Otherwise we will have misplaced, unbiblical hopes and get disappointed with life and God. I see three primary promises for us as New Testament believers: 1) The fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) that comes as we abide in Christ (John 15:5); 2) that Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5); and 3) that God will take us to be with Him when we die or at His return (Rom. 8:38-39) where all the righteous desires of our hearts will be experienced forever (Rev. 20-22).
What spoke to you through this message?
How do hope and faith relate to one another? See Heb. 11:1.
What did God promise Abraham and his descendents? (Gen 12 and 15)
What does God promise us in this life and after this life?
Are you hoping for something that God has not promised? If so, how does this affect your faith? Share your thoughts at the table.
Scripture Memory verses: “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb.13:7-8)