The Unburied Bones
What does a skeleton order at a restaurant? (answer) Spare Ribs) What
did the skeleton say when another skeleton told a lie (answer) You can’t
fool me, I can see right through you…What did the skeleton say to his girl
friend… (answer) I love every bone in your body…. What do they call a
skeleton that likes ringing door bells? (answer) a dead ringer! Why didn’t
the skeleton like cafeteria food? (answer) He didn’t have the stomach for
it….When does a skeleton laugh? (answer) When something tickles his
When the Israelites left Egypt after 400 years in that place. We are told
that they took the spoils of Egypt with them…The silver and the gold and
the precious jewelry. The Egyptians were so eager to get rid of them after
all the plagues, they just said “take it all and go”….get out of our lives!
But along with everything else they took as they left in haste, was a box
of bones. But we’re not going to start here, because I want us to get
some background regarding that box of bones and what they have to do
with my message today…
Two men were shipwrecked on a deserted island. The one man became extremly
hysterical…”there’s no food, no water, no shelter…we’re going to die! The other man
was leaning up against a rock, relaxing as he searched the horizon. The first man
said, “how can you be so calm… when we’re about to die, and no one will ever find us?
The second guy, without even turning his head, says “I’m not worried, I make
$50,000 a month and I tithe to the church….believe me when I tell you, my pastor will
find me and the treasurer will be rowing the boat”!!!
Well God found Israel in Egypt when no one else cared, because they
were of great value to Him.
Joseph’s story is a story of betrayal and deceit by his own brothers,
who sold him as a slave to a caravan headed for Egypt. That caravan took
him from his home at 17 years of age. Then Once in Egypt, he was
wrongly accused by his slave master’s wife, then thrown in prison, where
he was rescued by a vision which brought him before Pharaoh, which
caused him to be elevated to second in all the land, next to the Pharaoh
It’s a story every Christian is familiar with….But I want to begin today
with the rest of the story (as Paul Harvey used to say) So, we will begin
with the bible account of the death of Joseph’s father, Jacob…
Genesis 50:1 And Joseph fell upon his father Jacob’s face, and wept upon him,
and kissed him. v2 And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his
father: and the physicians embalmed Israel. v3 And forty days were fulfilled for him;
for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed: and the Egyptians mourned
for him threescore and ten days. v4 And when the days of his mourning were past,
Joseph spake unto the house of Pharaoh, saying, If now I have found grace in your
eyes, speak, I pray you, in the ears of Pharaoh, saying, v5 My father made me swear,
saying, Lo, I die and you shall bury me in my grave which I have prepared for me in the
land of Canaan. Now therefore let me go up, and bury my father, and I will come again.
v8 And all the house of Joseph, and his brethren, and his father's house, and it was
a very great company. v10 They came to the threshing floor of Atad, (a sealed
covenant) which is beyond Jordan, and there they mourned with a great and very deep
lamentation for his father seven days. v13 and they buried Jacob in the cave of the
field of Machpelah, (the folded over or hidden thing) which Abraham bought for a
burying place. v14 And Joseph returned into Egypt, he and his brethren and all that
went up with him after he had buried his father”.
Joseph lived to be 110 years old in Egypt and this is the only account
of his going back to the home he was taken from at 17. But once Joseph
had died, the Israelites were made slaves, and they were slaves another
320 years under another Pharaoh who did not know Joseph. God must
have wept over his wayward people….And as the Hebrews labored under
the cruel bondage of their taskmasters, it certainly appeared that all the
prophets as well as Jacob and Joseph had really gotten it wrong! But God
wasn’t finished! (tell somebody)
I heard about a fellow who came into town to a Little League Baseball game. He
looked at the scoreboard and it said, "21 to 0." A little boy was sitting on the bench
while his team was in the field and the other team was at still at bat, and the fellow
said to the little boy on the bench, "Well Son, it looks pretty bad for your team right
now doesn't it?" The little boy with a big smile, said, "Oh, no sir, we haven't even
gotten a chance to bat yet!"
Well my friends, sometimes it may look pretty bad, but your turn at bad
is coming up….so make it count!!
The scripture we have just read in Genesis 50 tells us that …the cave
where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were all buried, was called Atad which
in the Hebrew is “a sealed covenant” and the field where the cave was,
was called Machpelah or “a hidden thing”,
And I really like this part…when they buried Jacob, they named it
“Abelmizraim” in Genesis 50:11, which means “Field of dancing”….
Listen, child of God, if you can’t stand on the promises, in the sealed
covenant, and the hidden thing…you won’t be able to dance in the field!!!
(somebody needs to start dancing!)
Friend this cave points to another cave where there was a sealed
covenant and a hidden thing… and when Jesus came forth out of that
cave it was time to dance!! It’s prophesying that you’re coming forth!!!
Joseph came out of one of the most dysfunctional families you can
ever imagine, it was a mess. He had 12 brothers by four different
mothers. One of the mothers was an unloved wife, who produced 6 sons.
The other moms were two of the concubines of the wives, who had 2 sons
each by Jacob. One of the mothers was the loved wife, who had 2 of the
youngest sons. The father Jacob played favorites with his children and
was unwilling to deal with the sinful patterns in his family which nearly
led to the total destruction of the family. It was an environment filled with
jealousy, deception, and hatred and it culminated in the older brothers
selling Joseph into slavery.
We all have those days where it wouldn’t be so bad that it’s raining but
the roof is leaking really bad, and some days are like hell and you may
even feel like telling someone to go there…
A grandfather, (let’s call him George) tells of a time when his daughter and his
grandson had found a robin’s nest with eggs on the ledge outside the bedroom
window. They were excited to be able to watch the robin family care for the eggs and
actually see the eggs hatch and the baby robins grow. George’s daughter put a sign in
front of the nest that read,
“Shh, I’m happening!” George told his daughter “Now make one and put it on me,
because I’m still happening! He said, “every time you look at me you can say, George
is still happening – he’s not there yet, but he’s happening”.
And if you had your sign on, I would say the same about you. She’s still
happening, He’s still happening” How important it is that we are patient
with one another while our dreams are moving through all the obstacles
and challenges till they come true!
It takes time, it takes some tests, some teamwork, and some trust to
make those dreams come true. But through it all “It’s still happening”!!
Joseph learned that dreams can be too big for others to get their
heads around and dangerous because they can mess up your comfort
zones. They can be dangerous because God’s dreams disrupt the way
things are, and they shake up the “Should be” of life and they usher in the
“can be” of God! It causes you to start believing that there is a life that
transcends the reality you may live in. It’s Dangerous because God’s
dreams may threaten the status quo of life.
If it’s God’s dream, it shakes up our human way of doing things, flipping
life on its head. The last shall be first. The least, can be the greatest. This
is why Joseph’s brothers are so mad. He’s upsetting the apple cart of the
traditional, the normal and the ordinary!
But It is interesting to me that the name Joseph means “taken out of”
and “added to”.
Even though Canaan held nothing but bad memories for Joseph, and
memories of all the evil that was done to him, he saw the hidden thing
that undergirded it all…he saw the sealed covenant that he was a part of,
which brought him to where he was and would give him an enduring
legacy! Like Joseph, we need a dream that will continue to work long
after we have come and gone. His dream was deferred but it was not
ultimately denied. He never stopped dreaming because he knew that
God’s dreams can’t be stopped. God’s dream will prevail because God is
preserving the dream and not even Death can hold back the God dream
flowing through you. Know that there are many others who are waiting to
be blessed when the God dream is fulfilled in you.
Tell someone, “I may not look like much right now, but just hold on,
cause I’m happening”!
There was a man who had deep sorrow because his son and himself had become separated by the constant conflict that existed between them. The son had run away, and the father in desperation, set off to find him. He searched for months with no results. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read: Dear Paco, please meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father.
On Saturday at noon, 80 young men named Paco showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers. Their dream was the same as the father who had placed the add for his lost son.
Many are hoping and praying that your dream will be fulfilled because it
will change their lives forever because it’s part of their dream too.
Hear Joseph’s words in Genesis 45:7 “And God has sent me before you to save
an inheritance in the earth, and to save many lives by a great deliverance. v8 So now
it was not you that caused me to be here, but God: and He has made me a counselor
to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt”.
Joseph understood that his position, his influence and all that he had
received was not an end in itself, but it was connected to something
greater than himself and all of his stuff! Joseph knew that all substance
was just as the bible teaches…there is the physical part and the more
Isaiah 55:10 “For God provides bread to the eater and seed to the
sower…there is that part which is for our needs and then that there is
that part which is to sow into the lives and the future of others.
Everything that comes into our possession is divided into two parts….
bread to eat and seed to sow. It is not one thing, it is two things. Until we
give God his portion, which is the tithe, what we keep for ourselves is
completely unprotected from the destroyer.
Malachi 3:10 “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, says the LORD
of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a
blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. v11 And I will
rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of
your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the
field, says the LORD of hosts”.
Because of his position in Egypt, Joseph could have had a solid gold
coffin and had a huge pyramid built to house it, but he was committed to
something far greater than gold or physical structures because through
him, God was fulfilling his covenant to Abraham. God promise Abraham
his great grandfather, that his children would be as the stars of the
heaven and the sand of the seashore…
We must come to the place that we see more than where we are and
what we have or what we’re doing at the moment and see ourselves as
the instruments of generational blessings that God is weaving together
like a priceless tapestry, framed by eternity. What good is it if we gain the
whole world and our family goes into eternity without Christ and without
Genesis 50:24 “And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit
(Pawkad) you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he swore to
Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. v25 And Joseph took an oath of the children of
Israel, saying, God will surely visit (Pawkad) you, and you shall carry up my bones
from this place. v26 So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they
embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt”.
The word “visit” here in the Hebrew is paw-kad' which means “make
a way for”….God shall surely make a way for you. . and 320 years later a
book of the bible was written by Moses to describe the entire account….it
was named “Exodus”… which means “The Way Out”….Adversity had not
embittered Joseph against the land of his fathers, and prosperity had not
crowded the promised land covenant from his heart. He saw what was
not yet visible and he heard what was inaudible and as a result he
received the inexpressible! His body was dead but his body continued to
prophecy of the promise given by God that was irrevocable…
Considering all that had happened to him, It would have been easy for
Joseph to forget his family, or to have taken revenge upon his brothers
when they showed up. He could have been bitter against his family, but
he chose to be better, not bitter. Indeed, he could have been so caught up
as ruler of Egypt, surrounded by temptations and riches, that his family
could have been long forgotten, as a useless and meaningless part of his
early life. But Joseph proclaimed before everyone that he was an Israelite
His body might have been in Egypt but Canaan and God’s covenant had
While you’re walking out the dream, and you’re waiting for things to
come together and you’re waiting for the happenings to happen…. John
Wesley wrote us all some good advice… “Do all the good you can, By
all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can,
At all the times you can, To all the people you can, For as long as you
can”. (put that under your refrigerator magnet and let it happen!)
Joseph told them, “ Put me in a coffin, but don’t bury me for 320 years.
Just let my coffin sit unburied in a place where it will be seen and
remembered and not forgotten by future generations of Israelites—
The bones of Joseph were to be a constant prophecy to the nation of
Israel, in the difficult times of their bondage, that God had not forgotten
them and that a way out was being prepared for them.
The bones of Joseph in their midst reminded them, Do not get too comfortable here. This is not your home. You are only passing through this place. God will bring you out of here to your true home. Things are bad right now, but God has promised us a way out.
One of best insights into Joseph’s faith is what he named his sons.
One son he named Manasseh, “God has made me forget all my trouble”.
The other he named Ephraim, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering”. What a message… That you don’t have to go through life with all the hurt and injustice hanging on you like an anchor…. And no matter where you are in life, that’s exactly the covenant blessing you have!!!
God has placed a Manasseh and an Ephraim in all of our lives.
And for 320 years, when a child would ask their parents, “whose coffin is that?” the parents had an opportunity to teach their children about Joseph but much more importantly about God’s covenant with Israel. My child, in that coffin are the bones of Joseph, he was a great and godly leader here once, and he asked us not to bury his bones until we get to the Promised Land. Let me tell you about the Promised Land: God promised it to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and one day God will take us there to live free and blessed.
We need that reminder too. Don’t be too comfortable in this world. God
will take us home one day and our calling is to hope, to pray and to work
to bring as many as we can into Christ’s Kingdom before the door is shut.
Many Hebrews stayed in Egypt because they didn’t want to let go. They
considered the position in Egypt, the possessions and the power of Egypt
as more valuable than the land of promise.
And just like them, we must ask ourselves the question constantly…
“Do I have my stuff or does my stuff have me”… “Do I own my things, or
do my things own me”?
I read about a man in Tuskegee who was buried at his request in his
perfectly-restored, 1959 pink Cadillac. I guess he wanted his friends to
remember that he was a man who had great taste.
(Listen, If you want to be buried in a pink Cadillac, please don’t call on me
to do the funeral, unless you plan on donating the cadillac !) I can always
paint it or become a Mary Kay salesman….
Exodus 13:19 tells us “And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him”
Joseph’s bones could have been buried immediately upon arrival in
Canaan, but Joshua felt that those bones weren’t just a prophecy about
getting to the promised land, but they were about possessing the
promised land. So he waited until the conquest was complete. Then and
only then, when God’s promise was fulfilled, were Joseph’s bones finally
laid to rest beside Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
My brother lived an ungodly life…I remember that the last Thanksgiving
we were together, I told him that If I died before him, I would look for him
in heaven. And if he died before me, I would be expecting to see him
there. I took his hand and made him promise that he would surrender his
life to Christ. And he promised me, before we headed home. It was a few
months later, at our brother-in-law’s funeral that he walked up to me and
let me pray the prayer of repentance and he accepted Christ into his
heart and life. A year later, about 10 of his fellow cab drivers prayed to
receive Christ at his funeral. In death he spoke louder than in life!
Joseph made a promise and refused to let anything keep him from it!
Listen, friend, lead your heart, don’t let your heart lead you…choose
your emotions, don’t let your emotions rule you. Sometimes when our
emotions want to cause us to do something we’ll regret for a long time to
come, we should lock ourselves in a closet and not come out until we are
in charge of our HEART AND OUR emotions.
You’re not done yet!! It’s not over, till it’s over, it’s not done till it’s done. Your God will finish the work He’s begun in you. He is your
beginning and your ending, your alpha and your omega, He’s the author and the finisher! Hold on Child of God, joy comes in the morning.. the darkest night is just before the dawn.
So dream on you dreamers, when the stormy clouds of doubt begin to
roll back into your life. Dream on when depression wants to set up camp
in your heart and mind. Dream on when it seems like the only person
cheering you on is yourself. Dream on when it’s hard to dance because it
feels like the devil has put lead weights on your feet. Dream on because
greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world. Dream on because
God is not finished with you yet. Dream on because God will do more than
we ask or even imagine. Dream on for nothing is impossible with God.
Dream on Dreamers, dream on!!!.
.I think of Helen Keller, who was born deaf, blind and mute, but kings,
presidents and heads of state, sat and received her counsel… She wrote
something that should challenge all of us….
“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do
something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to
always do the something that I am able to do.”
Joseph said…”God will surely visit you”, for surely the Lord will
make a way. Christ will surely come and take us with him to be with him
forever and He’s unfolding His hidden things even this moment. Do not
despair in the face of loss, or difficulties or persecution. Don’t let the
actions of others determine your outcome, but allow your faith to bring
you forth into the sure end and the sure blessings God has prepared for
you. Step over into your field of dancing, and begin to celebrate!
Believe in Jesus Christ, hold fast, never draw back, we’re too close to
leaving Egypt and entering the promised land….Amen and Amen!!!.
This is a time of dancing in the field of your finished work….When He
cried out from the cross….It is finished…. Hell trembled, principalities and
powers began to shake, as our victory was accomplished 2000 years ago.