Today’s AMI QT Devotional is provided by Charles Graham. Charles is a new intern with Kairos, who came aboard in September of 2017. He is currently studying at Talbot School of Theology to prepare himself for a life of service and ministry.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
Chapter’s End, Not the Book’s
Joseph threw himself on his father and wept over him and kissed him. ²Then Joseph directed the physicians in his service to embalm his father Israel. So the physicians embalmed him, ³taking a full forty days, for that was the time required for embalming. And the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days. ⁴When 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, ⁵‘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.’ ⁶Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear to do.”
At the end of Genesis 49, we see Jacob pass away. Genesis 50 wastes no time illustrating the immediate effect of Jacob’s death on his son, Joseph. Joseph is crushed at his father’s passing, made evident by his actions: hurling of himself at Jacob’s body, weeping and kissing him. To fully appreciate the sentiment here, we have to grasp the biblical understanding of weeping. When the biblical writers describe an instance of someone weeping, they do not mean soft sobbing and a few tears. No, weeping in their eyes is instead a strong, sometimes uncontrollable act of lamentation. Jacob’s death, in fact, carries such weight that all of Egypt mourns his passing for 70 days, just two days less than that of a Pharaoh’s.
Death is not an easy thing to process. No matter the circumstances of the event, whether the deceased has died of an accident, natural causes, disease, was murdered, or even suicide, the sheer news is enough to unsettle anyone, even if for just a moment. When someone has died, we no longer get to experience that person, except in the form of a cold, silent body. Because of this, death is often considered synonymous with the end of existence. To many, ironically, death is the only certainty of life.
However, that does not seem to be the lesson on death Moses is trying to convey. Earlier in Genesis, when asked to sacrifice his son Isaac as a test of his faith, Abraham agrees to follow through with the act, trusting that Isaac’s death as a sacrifice would not be the end of his existence. Abraham trusted in God’s ability to raise Isaac back to life. As such, God promptly stops Abraham from sacrificing Isaac; Abraham had passed the test. Initially, in his despair over the perceived death of Joseph, Jacob longed for death as an escape from the pain. However, at the end of his life, Jacob refers to his impending passing as being “gathered to his people.” This expression is not a mere euphemism, but a pronouncement of hope for the continuance of existence and experience of loved ones after passing from this life, through God. It seems this is the teaching on death Moses wanted to leave us with; that by trusting in God and growing in our understanding of death, we have hope that death is not the end.
Prayer: Father, death comes for us all at the time You choose to call us home. Until that day, please continue to rule over and work in my heart to build trust in Your plans and Your will, which is good. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Joshua 16
Lunch Break Study
Read John 11:17-25 (NIV): On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. ¹⁸ Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem,¹⁹ and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. ²⁰When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. ²¹“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. ²²But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” ²³Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
²⁴Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” ²⁵Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; ²⁶and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Questions to consider
- What is Martha’s stance regarding Lazarus’ death?
- What is Jesus’ stance regarding Lazarus’ death?
- What is the significance of the difference in their understandings?
- Martha is distraught over Lazarus’ death. While she has sound theological knowledge of Jesus’ role and the coming resurrection on the last day, her feelings of loss are so strong that she misunderstands the comforting words Jesus offes her in this scene.
- Jesus is also clearly upset over Lazarus’ death, likely more so than Martha. We see the weight of Jesus’ sadness in verse 35 of this same chapter. However, Jesus’ superior grasp of death and His plans for the restoration of creation allow Him to view Lazarus’ death in a different light.
- The difference in postures between Martha and Jesus paint a picture of the gap in understanding between a finite being, and an infinite being regarding physical death. Martha, in her limited, temporal apprehension, mourns over loss in the wake of her brother’s death despite her theological insight. By contrast, Jesus sees the entirety of reality—His perception unbound by space or time. Because of this, Jesus’ unhappiness doesn’t come from the death of Lazarus’ body, as we see later on, for Jesus can restore a dead body at any time. Instead, Jesus’ frustration and lament stem from the crushing effect of sin and death on His creation.
Death is an unpopular, albeit important, subject to reflect on. Nevertheless, consider the entirety of Scripture: God is aware and active, working towards the full restoration of His creation. We are bound to run into speed bumps and pain as we wait for that day to come, but continue to pray for trust, understanding and strength: For trust, that He is in control; for understanding, that His plans are good; lastly, for strength, to continue to place our faith in God through times of pain.