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When 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, ‘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.’ “ Genesis 50:4-5

 Yet another chapter in the life of Joseph had come to an end. He’d enjoyed living within the blessing of his father in a large family. He’d experienced the humiliation of being rejected by his own brothers and sold as a common slave. He’d lived through years of suspicion as a result of false accusations. He’d struggled through the stress of leading an entire nation through difficult economic times as a result of a major drought. Egypt became a great nation because of the honest and generous dealings of Joseph. He’d rejoiced in the reconciliation of his family.

Now, his father Jacob had died. The death of a father is never easy. It doesn’t matter if it is early in life or during adulthood. Losing dad is tough. Even when a father has been abusive, absent or alienated that loss is traumatic.

After Jacob died and the mourning rituals were complete it was time for him to be laid to rest. As he was dying he’d asked Joseph for one thing, to be laid to rest in his homeland, the land of his father Abraham, Canaan.

Joseph had always been a man of his word. This time would be no exception. Gaining special permission and the blessing of Pharaoh, Joseph and a large contingent of his family went to Canaan for the burial.

This was no small task, nor was it an ordinary request. Yet it was granted gladly by Pharaoh. Joseph was a major figure in the government of Egypt. To let him go with a large group of people had mutiny and political threat written all over it. Still, he was granted that favor. Why?

Joseph was allowed to go bury Jacob because throughout his life Joseph had proven to be a man of integrity. In all of his business dealings he’d proven that he could be trusted and that he was a man of his word.

Secondly, Joseph lived in a land where many gods were worshipped. Even though the Egyptians didn’t follow Jehovah God as the people of Jacob did, they were impressed with the honesty, the hard work and the devotion of God’s people.

Joseph gained the respect of those around him because he was devoted first to God and then to his neighbor. It wasn’t until long after Joseph died that the Egyptian government turned against God’s people. His testimony lived on for many years.

Each of us, as Christ-followers, can take a lesson from the life of Joseph. We are being constantly watched and scrutinized by those around us to see if our faith really makes a difference in our lives. Can we be trusted? Do we do what we say we’ll do? Are our business dealings honest? Are we someone that can be counted on to offer support emotionally, physically or spiritually to anyone regardless of what they have done to us?

Few of us have had the life that Joseph had. We’ve not been in prison, sold as slaves or rejected by family. Few of us have stayed the course and remained people of integrity as well. Our past mistakes don’t matter to God. He can use you no matter what you have done.

PRAYER: Jehovah God when I look at the life of Joseph I’m both amazed and embarrassed. I’ve not suffered to the extent he did, yet I’ve made some pretty stupid decisions that have kept me from being the man/woman of integrity I know you want me to be. I ask that you forgive me for the times I didn’t stand strong. Empower me to live more fully for you so that your love may flow out to those around me. I ask this for your sake and in the name of your son Jesus Christ. Amen.

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