AGCC Sun. a.m. 10/19/1997

(see also: 7/28/1991)



TEXT: Gen. 47:28-31; 50:24-26; Ex. 13:19; Josh. 24:32; Heb. 11:22

INTRO: There is an old ritual practiced around chicken dinners all over this country....that is the taking of the "Wish Bone" from the chicken breast and one person grabs one side of the bone while another takes the other side...each makes a wish and supposedly the one who after bending the bone ends up with the largest segment of bone is the one whose wish will come true. Though doesn't really work! If it was really a "wish bone" the chicken wouldn't be on your plate for it certainly didn't wish itself there!

There is however a real "wish bone" concept in the Bible...and these "wish bones" actually worked! These bones gave courage and faith not only during their own lifetime, but for generations to come!

It is possible for these "old bones" to not only give a testimony today, but long after we are gone and only our bones are left behind, they can still give testimony to another generation about faith and trust in God. What kind of legacy will our bones leave?

PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us to live a life of faith in such a way that the very testimony of our life will continue to inspire faith long after we have passed from this life.

I. A 'GRAVE' TESTIMONY Gen. 47:28-31

A. Home 47:28-29

1. Jacob, Joseph's father had lived in Egypt now for 17 was where he called "home" at the end of his life.

a. However, his heart was still in the promise land!!

b. He never had had it so good as he had it in Egypt...but the pull on his heart was still the place God had promised him and his was God's place where he considered his home, not the physical presence of his body!

2. Though 17 years in Egypt, he still did not consider himself an "Egyptian"...he still thought of himself as "God's chosen", he never "walked like an Egyptian!"

3. Why was this important?

a. If he had become satisfied with Egypt, his children would also...and their desire for God's place would have diminished over time.

b. It was important to Jacob to keep God's call at the forefront of his life...and even his death!

4. Jacob was not concerned that somehow he would miss heaven if his body stayed in Egypt, he was afraid his children would miss heaven if they stayed there!

a. Jacob lived for God's promises, even though he had to stay in Egypt for a long period of his life.

b. Jacob did not want them to lose focus on priorities, nor lose focus on what was really important!

ILLUS: America was founded by people who believe that God was their rock of safety. I recognize that we must be cautious in claiming that God is on our side, but I think it's all right to keep asking if we're on His side. -- President Ronald Reagan, January 25, 1984, in his Second Inaugural Address.

5. What message about what is really important in life are our kids hearing from us....what are we identifying as "home" in our hearts?

B. Heritage 47:30-31

1. Jacob immediately requests that even after his death his body be carried out of Egypt and taken to the "promise land".

a. Jacob wasn't worried that he would miss heaven...for he said, "when I rest with my fathers, carry me out..."

b. He understood that at death he would be in fellowship with the other saints of God....then why so concerned that his body be left behind in Egypt?

c. He did not want the chosen people to keep their hearts and minds on Egypt...this would only be a temporary dwelling place...they had a better dwelling awaiting them!

d. how true for Christians also!

2. Ever notice how almost every gravestone in cemeteries has inscribed on them "at rest" untrue in many cases...only those whose walk in life was a walk with God will be "at rest" in death...all others will experience anything but rest!

3. Jacob was concerned about the heritage he would leave behind...and the message was clear: "Don't hang on to is merely a stop-gap place, our real home is the place God promised to those who enter into a covenant with Him.

a. Egypt like this world was a nice place, it was a good life...but it was not the passion of Jacob's heart...only God's promise had this place in his heart!

b. Jacob wanted to leave an important message to his descendants...God has something better for you than this Egypt!

c. Are we giving this message to our kids?

ILLUS: The Indians have a wonderful saying: "When you were born, you cried, and the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a manner that when you die, the world cries, and you rejoice."

4. Notice Jacob's response when Joseph promises to bury him in the "promise land" rather than Egypt....he worships!

a. The fact that heaven is the promise land to those who believe should cause worship to break out in our hearts too!

b. The fact that Jacob made Joseph promise by putting his hand into his thigh area...the area of the body that is responsible for generating babies, or a new generation...making Joseph swear in this way was a promise to make his life and death a challenge for future generations to follow!

5. It was Jacob's example he was concerned with...and its influence on another generation even after he is gone!


A. Hope 50:24-25a

1. Joseph is now close to the end of his life...and he asks his brethren to not allow his bones to stay in Egypt too, like his father Jacob he wanted Israel to only see Egypt as a temporary home.

2. Joseph had a good life in Egypt too, very successful business man, good living, nice house, a new chariot every year, great health benefits, etc...but his hope wasn't in Egypt, it was in God and His promise, both for him and future generations.

3. Joseph too wanted to leave a legacy of hope and faith asking that they take his bones up when God delivers them was a way to keep them focused on the future promises of God and not to become satisfied with Egypt!

a. Joseph wasn't thinking so much of his future as much as he was his children's future and their generations after them!

b. Joseph's bones would have to wait 430 before they get home!

4. At the end of his life he isn't thinking about how much power he had gained in Egypt...his only thought was what would live on after he is gone...the hope of being in God's promises, not just enjoying man's pleasures!

ILLUS: A little survey that very few people would pay much attention to, but because I'm moving these rapidly, I did pay attention to it. It was a survey taken of people who are over 95.

A large number of people over 95 were asked one question. It was an open-ended question they could answer any way they wished. No religion connected with it, no anticipated response -- just answer the question. And among all of the different answers given, these 3 answers came back most frequently:

The question was: If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently?

If I could live my life over again:

1. I would reflect more (one of the most popular answers),

2. I would risk more.

3. I would do more things that would live on after I'm dead.

5. It wasn't Egypt's fame and accomplishments that held Joseph's heart and mind at the end of his life, it was the future of God's people that he was concerned about...and a way to constantly remind them of that future even after he was he tells them to promise to take his bones home, this was his WISH..bone!

B. Heart 50:25b-26

1. Joseph dies at 110 years old...the Egyptians considered the perfect life span to be 110 years old and anyone that died at that exact age was considered to have divine favor on them!

a. So not only did Joseph with his bones witness to God's people about God's promise, but his "bones" also gave testimony to the world of God's presence in his life!

b. He witnessed to both world and believer! He would leave a legacy behind in Egypt too...that God's favor had been on him, and his bones waiting to go to the promise land and the promise that his descendants would take them there would constantly be reminding them of what direction their lives needed to go in!

2. The fact was that he was going to die in Egypt...but faith saw the promise land for his bones and descendants!

ILLUS: A pastor was speaking to his people on the relationship between fact and faith. He said, "that you are sitting before me in this Church--is fact. That I am standing here, speaking from this pulpit--is fact. That I believe anyone is listening to me--is faith!" --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 351.

3. Joseph's heart was set in faith on God's promises...even when the facts weren't yet that obvious!

4. Joseph however believed God's promises...and so he saw in faith his bones and descendants in the promise land!

ILLUS: Some things have to be believed to be seen. --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 190.

5. The world says, "when I see it I'll believe it"...but the heart of faith says, "because I believe it, I'll see it".

6. Though Joseph was embalmed as a great Egyptian leader and no doubt put into some kind of pyramid or large Egyptian tomb worthy in nature to nearly that of a Pharaoh...unlike the Pharaoh's tombs which were so sealed that no one could enter them, Joseph's was constructed deliberately to NOT hold his bones....his body was set to go in faith to the place God promised!

III. A GODLY TRIBUTE! Ex. 13:19; Josh. 24:32; Heb. 11:22

A. Honored! Ex. 13:19; Josh. 24:32

1. Joseph's hope still lives in his descendants 430 years later...Moses instructs God's people to get Joseph's bones for traveling home!

a. This promise many years ago was not forgotten...and it was a rallying point for God's people to believe that they would make it to the promise land!

b. Joseph's testimony is still inspiring faith 430 years later!

2. His wish is being honored by those who saw God's promises as being real.

3. Joseph's life and faith were very much alive in his bones!

4. His seemingly crazy wish inspired faith for generations!

ILLUS: A Nashville newspaper carried a tongue-in-cheek story about Mrs. Lila Craig who hasn't missed attending church in 1,040 Sundays although she is in her eighties. The editor commented, "It makes one wonder, what's the matter with Mrs. Craig? Doesn't it ever rain or snow in her town on Sunday? Doesn't she ever have unexpected company? How is it that she never goes anywhere on Saturday night so that she's too tired to attend the worship service the next morning? Doesn't she ever 'beg off' to attend picnics or family reunions, or have headaches, colds, nervous spells, or tired feelings? Doesn't she ever oversleep or need time to read her Sunday newspaper? Hasn't she ever become angry at the minister or had her feelings hurt by someone and felt justified in staying home to hear a good sermon on the radio or TV? WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH MRS. CRAIG ANYWAY?

5. Moses and the faith of a "skeleton crew" left Egypt heading for God's promises! The legacy of his life still had power even after his death!

B. Hero! Heb. 11:22

1. Even thousands of years later Joseph's bones are still shouting "FAITH", in the New Testament era they still speak to God's people!

2. Success in Egypt wasn't Joseph's legacy, success in faith was his real legacy and his in God in life, and even in death!

3. Joseph's desire was to speak to his own generation while he lived, and to all generations when he died!

4. Joseph's example was to point to something greater than Egypt....Dad, Mom, Teenager, children....what does your example point to...success in Egypt, or faith in God's promises?

5. Joseph is a hero, not because he was the second in command in Egypt, but because by faith he saw a better inheritance...and wished to make a statement of that faith by not only how he lived in Egypt, but where he resided in death!

6. Joseph's life and death gave witness to his faith in this what others see in us?

ILLUS: There is a story about four pastors discussing the merits of the various translations of the Bible. One liked the King James Version best because of its simple, beautiful English. Another liked the American Revised Version best because it was closer to the original Hebrew and Greek. Still another liked a contemporary version because of its up-to-date vocabulary. The fourth minister was silent for a moment, then said, "I like my mother's translation best."

Surprised, the other three men said they didn't know his mother had translated the Bible. "Yes," he replied, "She translated it into life, and it was the most convincing translation I ever saw." -- Eleanor Doan in Seasons of Motherhood: A Garden of Memories (Victor Books).

7. Joseph lived like a hero...and he died like one too!

8. What will our life say to the future generations after we are gone, will it still speak "faith"?

9. What "Wish Bones" are you giving the world...and your children?

CONCLUSION: The statement of faith made by Jacob and Joseph outlived their own lifetime! Their strong confidence in God in their lifetime still inspired faith in their descendants even hundreds of years later! What "Wish Bones" are you creating for your children and future generations to grab hold of?