The last three verses of the Book of Genesis have a prophetic glow to them:
- Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will assuredly take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will assuredly take care of you, and you shall carry my bones up from here.” So Joseph died at the age of 110 years. And they embalmed him and placed him in a coffin in Egypt (Genesis 50:24-26)
Joseph the prophetic dreamer (Genesis 37:19; 40:8; 41;38) was the great-grandson of the first man ever to be called a prophet – Abraham son of Terah (Genesis 20:7). All the sons and daughters of Jacob have that same prophetic calling (Psalm 105:15; Numbers 11:29; Romans 11: 29). The son of a lion is also a lion, and the son of a prophet is also a prophet (Acts 3:25).
“By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones” (Hebrews 11:22). Joseph “died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen and welcomed them from a distance” (Hebrews 11:13). As we approach the Feast of Passover, what can we learn from Joseph’s visionary faith?
Joseph’s oath was remembered and honored by the people of Israel throughout their 400 years of slavery in Egypt (Genesis 15:13). When it came time to leave in the great Exodus, Moses tells us:
- God led the people around by way of the wilderness to the Red Sea. And the sons of Israel went up in battle formation from the land of Egypt. And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will certainly take care of you, and you shall carry my bones from here with you.” Then they set out from Succoth and camped in Eitam, on the edge of the wilderness (Exodus 13:18-20)
The Jewish people wandered for forty years in the desert before they found rest in their Promised Land. Only then would Joseph’s bones also find rest:
- Now they buried the bones of Joseph, which the sons of Israel brought up from Egypt, at Shechem, in the plot of land which Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of money; and they became the inheritance of Joseph’s sons (Joshua 24:32)
Genesis 33:18-20 gives us that background:
- Now Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Paddan Aram, and camped before the city. He bought the plot of land where he had pitched his tent from the hand of the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for a hundred pieces of money. Then he erected there an altar and called it El Elohei Israel (God, the God of Israel).
That burial ground was known is Yeshua’s day. Messiah met and conversed with the Samaritan women close to that burial plot: So Yeshua “came to a city of Samaria called ‘Sychar,’ near the parcel of land that Jacob gave to his son Joseph” (John 4:5).
The location of both Jacob’s well and Joseph’s burial plot are today found in the suburbs of modern Nablus. God has watched over His covenant promises and guarded the principle He established in the Mosaic Covenant: “You shall not displace your neighbor’s boundary marker, which the ancestors have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that YHVH your God is giving you to possess” (Deuteronomy 19:14).
Palestinian daggers and Captain Hook
In one of the final scenes of Steven Spielberg’s cinematographic Peter Pan remake ‘Hook,’ Captain Hook threatens Peter that, unless Peter consents to fight to the death, Hook will come back in every generation to harm and kill Peter’s children and grandchildren: “Peter, I swear to you, wherever you go, wherever you are . . . I vow there will always be daggers bearing notes signed ‘James Hook.’ They will be flung at the doors of your children’s children’s children . . .”
In the Passover Seder’s recounting – the Hagaddah – the same dynamic is described in the song ‘V’hi sheh’amda’. Throughout history murderous enemies of the Jewish people “have risen up against us to annihilate us, in every generation . . . yet the Holy One, Blessed be His name, rescues us from their hand.”
The dynamic enunciated by both the Hagaddah and Hook is very much active in the Palestinian community who currently live on the land promised by YHVH to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. One of the most explosive flashpoints is the area traditionally known as ‘Joseph’s Tomb.’ For the past 26 years, this site holy to Orthodox Jews has continually been desecrated with swastikas, burnt, and attacked with sledgehammers by Islamist mobs. Any Jewish connection to the site (and to the whole land of Israel, for that matter) has been strongly denied by Palestinian spokesmen, and terror attacks on Jewish holy sites justified by these sources. United Nations infrequent condemnations of the attacks simultaneously heap compliments on the very same Palestinian authorities who encourage those attacks.
In the past week Joseph’s Tomb has been attacked Palestinian rioters. On Sunday April 10, the tomb’s gravestone was shattered and the rooms were set ablaze by approximately 100 rioters. One day later, rocks were thrown, and one of the rioters proclaimed on a video clip taken that evening, “There is no Joseph’s Tomb anymore!” On Wednesday, 31 Palestinian rioters were injured at the site while attacking Israeli security forces and one rioter was killed.
Also on Wednesday, the IDF entered Joseph’s Tomb to repair the damages. Colonel Ro’i Zweig, Brigadier-General of the IDF Samaria Brigade, spoke to his troops before entering the site, quoting Genesis and Exodus:
- “In this place, the land was promised to Abraham, as it is written, ‘to your descendants I will give this land’ [Genesis 12:7] And today we act ‘boldly’ [Exodus 14:8] as our ancestors did as they left Egypt on Passover, which we will celebrate in three days. The Scripture says, ‘On this day!’ Not as thieves in the night, but rather as sons of kings. We are privileged to restore the honor of the land and the people of Israel.”
Symbols also have symbolic value
The Scriptures describe an event during King Saul’s reign where he flatly disobeyed the clear command of YHVH. When Samuel proclaimed the God of Israel’s judgment on the Jewish king, Saul grabbed his cloak, tearing it in the process. Samuel spoke out the prophetic interpretation of what had now become a ‘prophetic action:’
- But Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you; for you have rejected the word of YHVH, and YHVH has rejected you from being king over Israel.” Then Samuel turned to go, but Saul grasped the edge of his robe, and it tore off. So Samuel said to him, “YHVH has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to your neighbor, who is better than you” (1 Samuel 15:26-28)
Symbols play a significant role in Scripture. The destruction of Jerusalem speaks of divine judgment. Droughts are understood to be God’s discipline. When the Philistines seized the Ark of YHVH, both sides in the battle understood that that event had huge significance (1 Samuel 4:3-21). Today Palestinian Islamists see the humiliation of the Jewish people, the destruction of Jewish holy sites and Jewish presence in the Land to be a victory for Islam’s armies and for jihad. The desecration of Joseph’s Tomb is seen by Nablus’ population as a decisive symbol of Palestinian victory.
Joseph’s dying oath was a prophetic declaration: The Jewish people would be powerfully set free from Pharaoh’s slavery, and would return to the Land promised by YHVH to His Jewish people, accompanied by signs and wonders (1 Chronicles 17:21). We celebrate this mighty deed each and every Passover. But there is more to the promise. YHVH declares to David in 1 Chronicles 17:19-20 that Israel will return to the Land and will not be terrorized or slaughtered by their enemies:
- And I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them there, so that they may live in their own place and not tremble with anxiety again. And the wicked will not make them waste away anymore as they did previously, even from the day that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel. And I will subdue all your enemies.
As we celebrate today’s Passover, let us remember that a future Passover is coming (Ezekiel 45:21) when all Israel will live in peace, and when the nations of the world will no longer buck against God’s gifts and calling on the Jewish people (Romans 11:28-29). Foreign kings and diplomats will lick the dust from Israel’s feet (Isaiah 49:23), as will nations who are at present mortal enemies of Jacob’s people (Micah 7:16-17).
How should we then pray?
- Pray for Israel’s leaders, that YHVH would give them His heart, perspectives and strategies regarding how to decisively deal with our enemies
- Pray for our enemies, that the God of Jacob would give them the gift of repentance and a right heart toward the Jewish people
- Pray that YHVH of the armies of Israel would frustrate every evil plan directed against Israel at this season
- Pray for the raising up of Ezekiel’s prophetic Jewish army throughout the earth
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.
In Messiah Yeshua,
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