Genesis 50:26
Joseph's life remarkable for the variety of his experience, and for the consistency of his character through all. A man full of human sympathy, who also walked with God. Here the charm of his history. We can thoroughly enter into his feelings. In his boyhood, deservedly loved by his father, and on that very account hated by his brethren (1 John 3:13); in his unmerited sufferings; in his steadfast loyalty to God and to his master; in his exaltation, and the wisdom with which he ruled Egypt; and in his forgiveness of those who had sold him as a slave, we feel for him and with him. But Joseph died. His trials and his triumphs passed away. The scene where he had played so conspicuous a part is filled by other forms. And he who was the means of saving a nation must share the lot of the most commonplace life. One event happens to all (Ecclesiastes 2:15).

I. THE UNCERTAIN TENURE OF EARTHLY GOOD. No care can keep away misfortune, not even care to walk uprightly before God. Sin brings sorrow sooner or later; but it is a great mistake to think that all sorrow springs from faults committed (Psalm 73:5). Joseph's slavery was because his Godward life condemned his brothers and made them angry. His being thrown into prison was because he would not yield to temptation. This often a stumbling-block. If God really marks all that is done, why are his most faithful servants often so sorely smitten? We can neither deny the fact nor trace the reason of the stroke. Enough to know that it is part of God's plan (Hebrews 12:6), to fit us for the end of our being. As Christ was perfected by suffering (Hebrews 2:10), so must we be. And just because to bear the cross is needful for a follower of Christ (Matthew 16:24) - and this is not the endurance of suffering at our own choice, but the willing receiving of what God is pleased to send - the uncertainty of life gives constant opportunity for that submission to his will which is the result of living faith.

II. THE ONE END OF ALL LIVING (Exodus 1:6). How varied soever the outward lot, wealth or penury, joy or mourning, one day all must be left behind. To what purpose then is it to labor for good, or to dread impending evil? Can we not remember many whose name was much in men's mouths, full of youthful vigor or mature wisdom? And they are gone, and the world goes on as before. Joseph, embalmed in Egypt with almost royal honors, was as completely separated from all his wealth and power as if he had never possessed them. Others filled his place and occupied his gains, in their turn to give them up, and awake from the dream of possessions to join the company of those who have left all these things behind. And is this all? Has life nothing worth striving for? Is there no possession that we can really regard as our own?

III. LIFE HAS ABIDING TREASURES. Was it nothing to Joseph that he possessed and showed a forgiving spirit (Matthew 6:14, 15), and singleness of heart, and earnest benevolence, and watchful consciousness of God's presence? These are treasures the world thinks little of. But these are treasures indeed, ministering comfort without care. And when earthly things slip from the grasp these abide, reflections of the mind of Christ, and telling of his abiding in the soul (Revelation 14:13). - M.







So Joseph died.
I. JOSEPH'S DEATH WAS THAT OF EMINENTLY GOOD MAN. Perhaps the best man of the Old Testament. He was not surprised by death, nor dismayed at its coming. He had lived to meet it — lived for the life beyond death — not for present indulgence, nor in heedless disregard of his highest good — but with wise and faithful reference to the will of God and the monitions of the Holy Spirit.

II. JOSEPH'S DEATH WAS THE DEATH OF A GREAT PROPHET.

(P. Whitehead, D. D.)

Joseph died! Then after all, he was but mortal, like ourselves I It is important to remember this, lest we should let any of the great lessons slip away under the delusion that Joseph was more than man. We have seen fidelity so constant, heroism so enduring, magnanimity so — I had almost said — divine, that we are apt to think there must have been something more than human about this man. No. He was mortal, like ourselves. His days were consumed as are our days; little by little his life ebbed out; and he was found, as we shall be found, dead. So, then, if he was but mortal, why can't we be as great in our degree? If he was only a man, why can't we emulate his virtue, so far as our circumstances will enable us to do so? We can't all be equally heroic and sublime. We can all be, by the grace of God, equally holy, patient, and trustful in our labour. Joseph died! Thus the best, wisest, and most useful men are withdrawn from their ministry! This is always a mystery in life: That the good man should be taken away in the very prime of his usefulness; that the eloquent tongue should be smitten with death; that a kind father should be withdrawn from his family circle; and that wretches who never have a noble thought, who do not know what it is to have a brave heavenly impulse, should seem to have a tenacity of life that is unconquerable; that drunken men and hard-hearted individuals should live on and on — while the good, and the true, and the wise, and the beautiful, and the tender, are snapped off in the midst of their days and translated to higher climes. The old proverb says, "Whom the gods love die young." Sirs! There is another side to this life, otherwise these things would be inexplicable — would be chief of the mysteries of God's ways. We must wait, therefore, until we see the circle completed before we sit in judgment upon God. Joseph died! Then the world can get on without its greatest and best men. This is very humiliating to some persons. Here is, for example, a man who has never been absent from his business for twenty years. You ask him to take a day's holiday, go to a church opening or to a religious festival. He says, "My dear sir! Why, the very idea! The place would go to rack and ruin if I was away four-and-twenty hours." It comes to pass that God sends a most grievous disease upon the man — imprisons him in the darkened chamber for six months. When he gets up, at the end of six months, he finds the business has gone on pretty much as well as if he had been wearing out his body and soul for it all the time. Very humiliating to go and find things getting on without us! Who are we? The preacher may die, but the truth will be preached still. The minister perishes — the ministry is immortal. This ought to teach us, therefore, that we are not so important, after all; that our business is to work all the little hour that we have; and to remember that God can do quite as well without us as with us, and that He puts an honour upon us in asking us to touch the very lowest work in any province of the infinite empire of His truth and light.

(J. Parker, D. D.).

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