Where Is Your Sting?
Heavenly Father, I don’t relish the thought of my death but I’m thankful it won’t separate me from You.
Read Genesis 49:29-50:14
 Then he 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 along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite.  There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah.  The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.”  When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.  Joseph threw himself on his father and wept over him and kissed him.  Then Joseph directed the physicians in his service to embalm his father Israel. So the physicians embalmed him,  taking a full forty days, for that was the time required for embalming. And the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.  When the days of mourning had passed, Joseph said to Pharaoh’s court, “If I have found favor in your eyes, speak to Pharaoh for me. Tell him,  ‘My father made me swear an oath and said, “I am about to die; bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.'”  Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear to do.”  So Joseph went up to bury his father. All Pharaoh’s officials accompanied him-the dignitaries of his court and all the dignitaries of Egypt-  besides all the members of Joseph’s household and his brothers and those belonging to his father’s household. Only their children and their flocks and herds were left in Goshen.  Chariots and horsemen also went up with him. It was a very large company.  When they reached the threshing floor of Atad, near the Jordan, they lamented loudly and bitterly; and there Joseph observed a seven-day period of mourning for his father.  When the Canaanites who lived there saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “The Egyptians are holding a solemn ceremony of mourning.” That is why that place near the Jordan is called Abel Mizraim.  So Jacob’s sons did as he had commanded them:  They carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre, which Abraham had bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite.  After burying his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, together with his brothers and all the others who had gone with him to bury his father. Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION
ReflectWhat was special about the cave where Jacob was buried?
Jacob’s death has long been expected. As deaths go, it is a wonderful one. Surrounded by his family, he has said everything he wanted to say and made adequate plans for his burial. He is content, breathes his last breath and “was gathered to his people” (33). This is a common way that death was referred to in the Old Testament. As believers in Christ we can all face death similarly and without fear. We have all the tools we need, through Christ, to end our lives in peace. We can forgive and bless those around us and we can ask for forgiveness from those we have wronged. This is surely a “good death.” Furthermore, we can look forward to eternity with “our people”–and with our Lord. As Paul wrote (quoting Hosea 13:14), through Christ death has lost its sting (1 Cor. 15:55,56). We may not feel able or qualified to prophesy about our families as Jacob did. We may not even be able to provide financially for their future. But we can offer them the promise of a glorious, eternal life to come.
Meditate briefly on the prospect of your own death–soon or long in the future. How will you prepare now?
Pray for your family, near and far. Ask for God’s mercy and pray for his abundant blessing on them!
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