Joseph’s Bones and God’s Promise

The Covenant (with Abraham)

“Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know this for certain: Your offspring will be resident aliens for four hundred years in a land that does not belong to them and will be enslaved and oppressed. However, I will judge the nation they serve, and afterward they will go out with many possessions… In the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”” Genesis 15:13-15, 16

The Move (of Abraham’s offspring)

“Israel set out with all that he had and came to Beer-sheba, and he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. That night God spoke to Israel in a vision: “Jacob, Jacob!” he said. And Jacob replied, “Here I am.” God said, “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you back. Joseph will close your eyes when you die.”” Genesis 46:1-4

The Reminder (of the Covenant, by Joseph)

“Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will certainly come to your aid and bring you up from this land to the land he swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” So Joseph made the sons of Israel take an oath: “When God comes to your aid, you are to carry my bones up from here.”” Genesis 50:24-25

The Oppression (of Abraham’s offspring)

“Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation eventually died. But the Israelites were fruitful, increased rapidly, multiplied, and became extremely numerous so that the land was filled with them. A new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt. He said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and powerful than we are. Come, let’s deal shrewdly with them; otherwise they will multiply further, and when war breaks out, they will join our enemies, fight against us, and leave the country.”” Exodus 1:6-10

The Return (to the Promised Land)

“When Pharaoh let the people go, God… led the people around toward the Red Sea along the road of the wilderness. And the Israelites left the land of Egypt in battle formation. Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, because Joseph had made the Israelites swear a solemn oath, saying, “God will certainly come to your aid; then you must take my bones with you from this place.”” Exodus 13:17-19

The Faith (of Joseph, confirmed)

“By faith Joseph, as he was nearing the end of his life, mentioned the exodus of the Israelites and gave instructions concerning his bones.” Hebrews 11:22

The Application

The references in Geneses and Exodus teach us that God made a promise to Abraham and kept it- even though the fulfillment happened 400 years later!
Hebrews reminds us that God has prepared an eternal home for those who trust him now. Jesus told his disciples in John 14:1-3, “”Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, so that where I am you may be also.”” Though Jesus is not on Earth at the moment, we can rest assured that he will keep his long-term promise to those who believe in him now because of his faithfulness long, long ago.


  1. So important to remember, as you say, that earth is not our home. Heaven is our home and what He has promised, He will absolutely bring about.


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