Sunday, July 20, 2008

Humanity in Sin Part 56: Jacob Requested Burial in Canaan

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong on 8th June 2008 in Newton Life. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: Genesis 47

What kind of hope does one have when alive? It was a wonderful thing to be reunited again with a long-lost son who was thought to have died. Very often emotional needs are deeper than rationality.

We are often trapped under temporal sufferings. Very few people can surpass the fragmentary history to see eternal value. From another angle, a culture that has not gone through sufferings is very bland and shallow. The value of human life is linked with sufferings. Sufferings could bring about the greatest blessings in life. A person who has not suffered is a scary person. He lacks empathy towards others and will tend to judge others based on his narrow experiences and self-centeredness.

Often we cannot tell what God has in mind for suffering people. The psalmist said he would wait upon the Lord. After a great calamity, people would often reflect upon their lives. We think that by wealth we can built many things but disasters often remind us that the earth has been cursed since the Fall.

We need to learn the lessons of sufferings. It is better to be envied than to envy others. Nobody envies someone who does not have something better than him. It is better to be maligned than to malign, to be hated than to hate. It is painful to be mistreated, but the person who causes others’ pain is in a more pitiful state, needing sympathy rather than hatred. These are very difficult lessons to learn in life. We need to cultivate a heart that loves God and humanity, have compassion on those who are suffering, and pray for our country and our people.

Jacob rushed to Egypt to meet his son Joseph before he died. He knew the promise land was Canaan, not Egypt. After 3 generations since God’s promise to Abraham, it had not come to pass. It is often difficult to understand God’s timing.

Joseph reported to Pharaoh that his family had come. Pharaoh honored them although that was against Egypt’s culture. Despite the fact that Egyptians despised shepherds, Pharaoh still gave them the best of the land to live in. This shows that Joseph had truly earned Pharaoh’s respect.

Jacob told Pharaoh that the years of his pilgrimage had been few and difficult. He was clear that he was only passing by on earth. No matter how long we live and how much we suffer, we are only guests on earth. His words to Pharaoh represent the lives of Christians. Today we make a lot of mistakes because we treat our temporal dwelling here as our permanent home.

When Jacob was about to die, he told Joseph, “If I find favor in your eyes, do not bury me in Egypt but bury me where my fathers are buried.” Although he was Joseph’s father and could simply command Joseph, he did not use his position to do so. This kind of attitude is often seen in the Bible. Paul did not enforce his authority, but persuade his congregation by the mercy of God to obey God’s commandment. The spiritual people serve fervently but never preach about themselves. The glorious angels cover their faces. The Son of God did not glorify Himself when walking on earth. They want others to see God’s glory, not their glory. Jacob entreated Joseph by reminding him of God’s promise to him. Joseph consented willingly. Even Pharaoh consented to the request as well.

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob received the eternal promise of God with faith. They did not see with physical eyes their descendants inheriting the promise land but they believed. Later on, Joseph himself also requested for his bones to be carried out of Egypt. These patriarchs trusted in the promise of God until their last breath. They are prepared for eternity.


At 2:07 PM, Blogger kien theng said...

HI there. i love stephen tong's sermon, is that mean youhave his chinese sermon. i have been looking for it. i have recently moved to wollongong from malaysia. but hardly can i find his sermon, if you have it..can you point me to it..? thanks.
my name is kien theng and my email is


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