A COFFIN IN EGYPT
Intro: The book of Genesis is known as "the book of beginnings". In its
pages, we find first mention of many of the things that we are familiar with
in life. Things like sin, death, marriage, child birth, prayer, rain, etc. It is
also a book that ends quite differently than it begins. It begins with creation
and ends with a coffin. It begins with life and ends with death! That is a
rather odd situation.
In our text this evening, we are confronted with the death of one of the
Bible's most spectacular characters, a man by the name of Joseph.
Nowhere in the Bible is there a clearer portrait of the Lord Jesus Christ than
the one painted by the life of this great man of God. In this passage, Joseph
dies at the age of 110 years. As he lays dying, he gives a commandment
to his brothers that they are not to bury him in Egypt, but they are to carry
his body to Canaan when the Lord visits them and brings them out of Egypt.
He was not to be buried in a pyramid like many of the other great leaders of
the land. He was to be placed in a humble coffin to await the day when he
would be taken home!
After his death, all that remains of Joseph is a coffin in Egypt. It stood as
a testimony to the faith of this great man, Heb. 11:22. For over 360 years
that coffin, which contained the bones of the great Patriarch, served as a
powerful preacher to the people of Israel. Now, you would agree with me
that the Lord has used some strange preachers over the years. For
instance, he used a donkey to preach to Balaam. He used a rooster to
preach to Peter. He used a dove to preach to Noah. Here, the Lord uses
a coffin filled with a dead man's bones to preach to Israel.
Tonight, I want you to know that Joseph's coffin still has something to
say to you and me. I want to take a listen to the message from this coffin.
I want to share with you some of the statements this coffin makes as it sits
there in Egypt. It may have preached its message many hundreds of
centuries ago, but it still speaks loudly today. Let's listen in to its message
as we consider A Coffin In Egypt.
I. IT PREACHES A MESSAGE OF PASSING
A. Among the dying words of Joseph are words of his own mortality.
He knows that he is going to die! After he does and his body is
placed in that coffin, it preaches a loud message to all who see it
that they too are mere mortals and will pass away into death.
B. That is a message that we need to hear today. Most likely, none of
us will live to be 110. (Ill. Man in California has been certified
(August, 2002) as oldest man in America. He is 112!) The fact of
the matter is, we are all slated for death, Heb. 9:27. (Ill. The
following epitaph was placed on a tombstone in California:
Pause, Stranger, when you pass me by,
As you are now, so once was I.
As I am now, so you will be,
So prepare for death and follow me
Someone passing by read those words and scratched this thought
into the tombstone:
To follow you I'm not content,
Until I know which way you went.
C. In light of that truth, two things must be remembered:
1. This life is a time of preparation to meet God in eternity!
2. If you are going to serve the Lord, today is the day to get about
The Bible makes it clear that it is foolish to bank on hope of
tomorrow, Pro. 27:1. (Ill. This truth is illustrated by the parable of
The Rich Fool - Luke 12:16-21.)
II. IT PREACHES A MESSAGE OF PROMISE
A. As Joseph lays dying, he impresses upon his hearers the truth that
one day, God Himself will visit the people of Israel and He will deliver
them from Egypt and take them to Canaan. That is their blessed
hope! That coffin was a constant reminder that there is hope and
promise for the future.
B. The sad truth of our own mortality bothers many people. They do
not like to think about death and dying. But, have you ever though
that a cemetery is merely a reminder of the promises of God? When
we see the places where the bodies of the departed lie buried, we
are reminded that death is not the end! There will come a day when
the Lord will visit those graves and bring those bodies out, 1 Thes.
C. For Israel, the coffin of Joseph stood as a constant reminder that
Joseph had died in absolute of hope. In fact, when all the great
deeds of this man's life are considered for mention by the Holy Spirit,
the one fact of his life that is mentioned as his greatest act of faith
is his command concerning his bones and his reminder to them that
God would bring them out some day.
D. I would just like to remind you that we have something far better than
a coffin full of bones! We see our own death grow closer with every
passing day, we have an empty tomb to give us hope and comfort.
You see, Israel had the hope that they would one day carry Joseph's
bones to the promised land. We have the hope that our Savior has
already conquered death for us. He is preparing a place for us and
one day, He will return again for us, John 14:1-3; 1 Cor. 15:20.
E. He may come for us before we face death, 1 Cor. 15:51-52. But,
even if He doesn't and death's icy finger take hold of us some day,
rest in His promise that, while this body may return to the ground,
the soul goes to rest with Him, 2 Cor. 5:8. So, whether I go by
means of the undertaker of the Uppertaker, I am a winner either
III. IT PREACHES A MESSAGE OF PATIENCE
A. In Joseph's dying words, there is no mention of the fact that the
children of Israel will be forced into slavery. But, this was part of the
truth that God had revealed to Abraham, Gen. 15:7-21. When
Joseph died, Israel was in favor in Egypt, but Exodus chapter 1
relates the story of how Israel was forced into bondage. As the
years piled up, the people of Israel became discouraged and
defeated as a result of their bondage, but the coffin containing the
bones of Joseph continued to preach. It preached them a message
of patience. It said, "Wait on the Lord! He will come as He has
promised. He will deliver you and take you to Canaan!"
B. As you and I live out our lives here in this world, we are also waiting
for the promise of the Lord to be fulfilled. How many of us have
entertained thoughts of being raptured and delivered from this world
this week? Probably most of us have! But, we are still here!
C. Until He comes for us, let me encourage you to wait in patience!
This was the mind set manifested by Job in the midst of his
tribulation, Job 14:14. The word "wait" has the idea of "trust and
hope". You see, we do not know where our path may lead us before
we get out of here. We know it's going to get hard, John 16:33, but
not how hard. Until He comes for us, let us patiently wait for Him
and trust Him to guide our paths, Psa. 37:23, and to bring into our
lives the things He knows are best for us, Rom. 8:28.
D. Be patient, Brethren and Sisteren, the Lord is coming soon. That is
His promise to you and me, Rev. 22:20!
IV. IT PREACHES A MESSAGE OF POSSESSION
A. Joseph's dying words were a reminder of the Lord's promise to give
to Abraham and his descendants the land of Canaan, Gen. 15:16.
This was a promise never realized during the life of Abraham, Isaac
or Jacob. In fact, the only land they owned was land Abraham
purchased in order to bury Sarah, Gen. 23. Even though neither
they nor Joseph had ever owned that land, it was their's and they
were going there some day! That coffin filled with bones was a
constant reminder of that truth. It preached the message, "To
Canaan's land I'm on my way!"
B. As we wait in this world for our Lord to come, let us remember that
we are headed to a blessed homeland! We are citizens of Heaven, Phil. 3:20 and one day, we will be there with our Lord!
C. I am looking forward to getting home! (Ill. Rev. 21:4; Rev. 21:27) (Ill.
The glories of that city!) (Ill. A pastor was preaching on going to
heaven. He said, "How many of you would like to go to heaven
tonight?" And everybody raised their hands but a little boy in the
balcony. He tried again, "How many of you would like to go to
heaven?" Everybody but that one little fellow in the balcony. So he
said to him, "Son, don't you want to go to heaven?" The little boy
said, "Yeah, someday, but I thought you were gettin' up a load right
D. For nearly 400 years, that coffin preached a message to Israel that
they were not home yet, but they were going. Tonight, the message
has not changed. We are not home yet, but we are going soon!
(Story: Three friends die in a car accident and they go to an orientation
in heaven. They are all asked, "When you are in your casket and friends
and family are mourning you, what would you like to hear them say
about you? The first guy says, " I would like to hear them say that I was
a great doctor of my time, and a great family man." The second guy
says, "I would like to hear that I was a wonderful husband and school
teacher who made a huge difference in our children of tomorrow." The
last guy replies, "I would like to hear them say … 'Look, he's moving!'")
Conc: That old coffin down there in Egypt delivered a message that I can
identify with this evening! Is it a message that speaks to your heart and
your situation? Is it a message that you need to deal with this evening?
There is peace, power and promise in the message of that coffin down in
Egypt. It is the same message that our Savior gives to us this evening. Let
it encourage your hearts!