Book 1 of Genesis started with this sentence: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…and that single sentence captured the creation of the entire universe, God’s creation of all the raw materials he is going to be working with throughout the rest of Time.
And then, as we read on, we found that the rest of Book 1 is the account of how God, over the course of 6 days, began to assemble those raw materials: how he used light to reveal the lifeless earth floating there in the blackness of chaos, how he used his voice to speak a protective shell into place over it, and how he began to fill the skies and seas and dry land with life and order.
And when we read Book 1 of Genesis together — more than a year and a half ago! — we wondered: why did Moses write it like this? Why 6 days? Why not 10 days, or 40 days, or billions of years? And because we respect Moses as a writer, and because we believe that Genesis is the Word of God, we strongly suspected that there was more going on in Book 1 than meets the eye: we strongly suspected that Moses was doing more than just giving us an FYI on how God put the pieces of the earth together.
But the structure of what God was doing only became clear to us when we came to the Seventh Day of creation, the last sentence of Book 1: By the seventh day God has finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.
That is when we finally understood what Moses was trying to teach us: that the earth is designed by God to act as a temple where he could come and rest and enjoy life alongside his creation.
And then, when we realized that all the rest of the six days of creation had mornings and evenings, but the seventh day had no evening…then we realized that we are still living now in the the Seventh Day. The earth is still a temple being dedicated to God’s rest, it is still a sacred space designed to bring God and his creation together in eternal worship and enjoyment.
And that is when we realized that Book 1 of Genesis is actually a summary of earth’s history, from beginning to end. God did all the real work of creation during the first six days, and mankind was not present for most of that: we appeared near the evening of Day 6. And all the rest of history — as we understand it — has actually been the story of God’s interaction with human beings throughout the course of the great Seventh Day of Rest and Worship.
And this realization changed everything about how we understood the Book of Genesis. It helped us realize that, really, the Book of Genesis is the great unpacking of that single sentence at the end of Book 1. At the end of Book 1, Moses wrote that God blessed the seventh day and made it holy; and Books 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 have all been the story of how God has been blessing the seventh day and making it holy.
And so, from God’s perspective, the entire history of the redemption of the earth can be contained in one smooth sentence: God blessed the seventh day and made it holy. It is as simple as that! But from our perspective, the history of God’s redemption is full of ups and downs and lifes and deaths, unimaginable joys and unspeakable terrors.
In a way, we could say that Book 1 of Genesis is a picture of God’s plan as seen from a telescope. From very far away, the history of the earth looks like one smooth progression from chaos to the heights of holiness and beauty.
But the rest of Genesis — indeed, the rest of the bible — is a picture of God’s plan as seen through a very powerful microscope. From very close up the history of the earth does not look like one smooth progression at all!
And so, over the course of the last 11 Books of Genesis, we have been led through every detailed twist of God’s plan to bless the earth and make it completely holy. We saw how he created a sacred center for the earth, a sacred garden, which was itself a miniature temple where God could live and work alongside his children. We saw how his children rebelled against him, rejected their sacred center, and chose life in the unformed wilderness. We saw how most of mankind in the generations that followed went away from God and dedicated themselves to building the City of Man; they dedicated themselves to the reaching out and taking of power; they dedicated themselves to the worship of the serpent and of themselves.
And even though this looked like a terrible crash into disaster, as Genesis went on we discovered that even this fall was contained within God’s plans for the Seventh Day. We saw that, even in the midst of death and disaster, God preserved a family for himself, a family that was destined to become the seed of a new nation dedicated to God, dedicated to love, dedicated to blessing the seventh day and making it holy.
Book 1 of Genesis began with an unformed and lifeless earth floating in the blackness of chaos. Book 1 ended with a vision of an earth at rest in God’s presence, a temple bursting with plant and animal and human life, all of it being dedicated to the glorious worship of God.
In the same way, Book 12 of Genesis began with a family in chaos, divided and destroyed by ambition, the worship of self and serpent. Today, Book 12 ends with God’s family coming finally to a place of rest in the presence of God.
So as we pick up the threads of Jacob’s story here, we remember that he has just delivered his final will and testament to his sons. Reuben, Simeon, and Levi — Jacob’s oldest sons — have all been demoted from their positions as first-born sons. Joseph has been officially elevated in their place: as the official “first-born son”, he will receive a double portion of the estate. But Judah’s family line has been given the promise that, in the generations to come, he will be the father of the kings of Israel, and the father of God’s promised Messiah, the man who will finally complete the work of blessing the earth and making it completely holy. And the rest of Jacob’s sons — from Zebulon to Benjamin — have each been given a special blessing of their own, if they consent to submit to Judah and Judah’s Messiah in the future.
Then — verse 29 — Jacob gave them these instructions: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite,  the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite.  There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah.  The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.”
Jacob is going to his rest. And he has a particular place in mind: he wants to be buried in the center of the land of Canaan, at the highest point in the land, where three generations of his family have now been buried.
Because Jacob knows that this Golden Age under Joseph’s rule is only a temporary Golden Age. It is only a shadow pointing forward to a day when God’s nation will rule over the entire earth, not just Egypt. Jacob knows that he is living in Phase 1 of God’s plan, and God has told him that Phase 2 is coming, and that Phase 2 is going to begin in the land of Canaan.
So Jacob wants to be buried in the earth at the centre point of God’s plan, so he will be there to participate when the true Golden Age finally begins.
And for Jacob to make this request is a statement of his faith in God’s promises for the future. God told Abraham way back in Chapter 15 that his descendants would suffer slavery for centuries in a foreign land before God rescues them. Jacob knows that his grandchildren and great-grandchildren are about to enter into a very difficult time in their history. So with his closing words here, Jacob is taking this opportunity to preach the Gospel to his family: throughout the generations to come, he wants them to remember his words, remember where he is buried, and be reminded of God’s promise that one day God himself is going to come down from heaven and redeem all his children from slavery and death.
Jacob is basically telling his family to keep looking forward, to set their hope on the redemption that lies beyond the years of suffering to come.
 When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.
 Joseph threw himself on his father and wept over him and kissed him.
Just as God had promised to Jacob a few chapters ago: Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.
 Then Joseph directed the physicians in his service to embalm his father Israel. So the physicians embalmed him,  taking a full forty days, for that was the time required for embalming. And the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.
…Hmmmm. Interesting parallel: seventh day of rest in the beginning, 7X10 days of rest at the end…
And  when the days of mourning had passed, Joseph asks Pharaoh for permission to leave his post as Prime Minister — just for a while! — so he can go up and bury his father. And Pharaoh agrees.
But he does more than just agree: he sends his entire government with Joseph — the dignitaries of his court and all the dignitaries of Egypt —  besides all the members of Joseph’s household and his brothers and those belonging to his father’s household. Only their children and their flocks and herds were left in Goshen.  Chariots and horsemen also went up with him.
It was a very large company.
— numbering in the thousands, perhaps even in the tens of thousands.
And they take the long way around, travelling in a large circle so that they can pass through the eastern gateway into the land of Canaan, crossing the Jordan river.
Well, we don’t know for certain. Perhaps hostile nations had taken control of the direct road. Perhaps there was no food to eat along the direct road.
Symbolically, though, by pointing this out, Moses is accomplishing two things:
First, he is reminding his people — the ancient people of Israel — how Jacob once wrestled with God right there at the eastern gateway back into the land, and that was the day he received his new name of Israel: the One Who Wrestles with God, the One For Whom God Wrestles. Now the body of Israel is being carried back through that same gateway, across that same river.
Second, he is showing his people that the body of Israel, on his final journey out of Egypt, followed the same route that the people of Israel did in the years after they escaped from Egypt. Which is Moses’ way of showing his people that God is bringing them home in exactly the same way he brought their ancestors home.
And both of these points are supposed to be points of comfort for Moses’ people, reminders that — despite all the ups and downs of their journey home — God’s plan is proceeding smoothly and inevitably to its conclusion.
So when they arrive at the eastern gateway, near the Jordan, they stop so Joseph can observe a seven-day period of mourning for his father.
And  when the Canaanites who lived there saw what was going on, they said, “The Egyptians are holding a solemn ceremony of mourning.”
And this sight of thousands and thousands of Egyptians mourning made such a strong impression on the locals that they changed the name of that place to Abel Mizraim, which means “The Mourning of the Egyptians“.
And with this, Moses is making yet another very important point:
Two weeks ago we saw how Joseph gave all the power and authority he had accumulated into his father’s hands. Last week we saw Jacob take that power and authority and pass it into Judah’s hands.
But what we are seeing here, in Jacob’s funeral, is that all the power and authority of Egypt is now being used to honour a dead Hebrew, a dead shepherd. Ethnically, culturally, and religiously speaking, Jacob is everything that the Egyptians normally would despise! — but here is the entire government of Egypt, complete with chariots and horsemen — all the military might of Egypt — being spent in tribute to God’s man, the last patriarch of God’s family in Genesis.
And the point Moses is making is that this moment here is also a preview of the true Golden Age to come: that in the end, when God’s Messiah passes his completed kingdom back into his Father’s hands, all of the wealth and the power and the authority of the nations will also come to be spent in tribute to the Creator of all things. In the end, even those things that were once dedicated to corruption and false worship will be reconsecrated and brought into the temple of the Lord.
 So Jacob’s sons did as he had commanded them:  They carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in Abraham’s tomb.
And then they all go home.
But now we find out that, even during the Golden Age of Joseph’s rule, fear still exists, even among God’s people. More than 17 years before this, Joseph had declared his brothers forgiven. He had clothed them in robes of glory and honour, covering their shame, their guilt.
But apparently, even though the reality of their guilt has long since been atoned for, Joseph’s brothers still feel guilty. And they wonder if, perhaps, Joseph has just been biding his time, waiting for Jacob to die before he takes revenge on them.
So they finally approach Joseph and — sort of — confess their sins and ask for forgiveness.
And when their message came to him, Joseph wept.
And why not? I mean: how long is it going to take before his brothers finally see him for who he really is? Joseph has been their messiah now for a long time, he has provided them with land and food and peace, he has been nothing but kind to them…what else does he have to do to convince them of his love?
 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.
In other words: “Please, allow us to atone for our sins against you! Please punish us, not our families.”
 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God?  You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.  So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
And what Joseph just said here is Moses’ explanation of the meaning that lies behind the entire Book of Genesis: You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. This is actually Moses’ explanation of the meaning that lies behind all of history.
Moses was a man just like us. He understood that his people — and people from every age — would look around at the world and say, “Why does it have to be like this?” He knew that people would read the first pages of Genesis and say, “But why did God create the Forbidden Tree? Why did God create the serpent? Why did God give Adam the option of screwing up the plan?”
Moses, inspired by the Spirit of God, has carefully constructed the entire Book of Genesis — from beginning to end — to make this point above all: this is God’s plan. Yes, it looks chaos to us, living here at a microscopic level. Yes, it looks to us like death and darkness is winning the war. But actually, as Joseph has just declared: God intended all of this for good to accomplish what is now being done: the saving of many lives.
So in the future, when people ask us, “Why did God do it this way? Why did he give Adam a choice?” we now have a very simple and clear answer: he did it for the saving of many lives.
And what this tells us is that, if God had not given Adam a choice, then many lives would not have been saved.
In fact, theologically and philosophically speaking, we could say that, if God had not given Adam a choice, then Adam would not have actually been alive, any more than a computer is alive. He would have been just a pre-programmed robot without true choice.
If God had not given Adam a choice, then there would have been no lives to save in the first place. Book 1 of Genesis would have begun with a lifeless earth, and it would have ended with a lifeless earth. A very busy earth, perhaps: scurrying with busy little robots doing their busy little robot things — but that is not life! And that is certainly not grounds for a fulfilling relationship: robots serve their creators, we cannot say that robots worship their creators.
And so, if God had not given Adam a choice, then we could not say that the earth is God’s temple. Because a temple is a place where God comes to rest in worshipful relationship with the life of his creation.
So the reason God gave Adam choice in the first place was for the creation of many lives…and then for the saving of many lives.
 Joseph stayed in Egypt, along with all his father’s family. He lived a hundred and ten years  and saw the third generation of Ephraim’s children. Also the children of Makir son of Manasseh were placed at birth on Joseph’s knees.
Pausing to notice a couple of things:
First, Joseph lives to 110 years, which Egyptians believed was the optimum age. Of course, archeologists tell us that the average age of death in ancient Egypt was 60 years old — which suggests that the number 110 had a symbolic value for the Egyptians. Which suggests that, for Moses, who was educated as an Egyptian prince, Joseph’s death at 110 also has some kind of symbolic meaning.
What is that meaning? Well, scholars have noticed that the death ages of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob form a distinct mathematical sequence — which would symbolize God’s great blessing and control over their lives. And those scholars have noticed that Joseph’s age at death is both the next step of that mathematical sequence, as well as the sum of that same sequence — which, if correct, would symbolize the fact that Joseph is not just the successor of his ancestors, he is also the sum of all of them.
Second, we notice that Joseph lives to see his great-great-grandchildren on Ephraim’s side. Which is pretty rare in any culture at any time! And so this, also, is symbolic of God’s great blessing upon his life.
Third, Joseph adopts his great-grandchildren on Manasseh’s side, just like Jacob adopted his grandsons last week. Which means that even in his extreme old age, Joseph continued to be very involved in passing on to his descendants the blessings he had received from his ancestors.
In other words: with this closing summary of Joseph’s life Moses is still giving his people a preview of what God’s final Messiah is going to look like: he is going to be the sum total of all the previous messiahs, he is going to live for a very, very long time — forever, actually — and he is going to adopt and bless generation after generation after generation of God’s people…
 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Listen, let me preach to you the same gospel our father Jacob preached to us: I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”  And Joseph made the Israelites swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.”
 So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.
And at the end here we have to notice that Joseph just said, two time in a row, “God will surely come to your aid.” Which, when we look back over Book 12 and remember that all of these double repetitions have a symbolic meaning —
We realize that with these closing words, Moses is winking at us yet again, and saying that “the reason Joseph just said this twice is because: the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.”
Now, we know that God does not rescue the children of Israel for another 400+ years.
Which raises questions in our minds about how God defines “soon”. But the Apostle Peter is going to answer some of those questions for us as we begin our sermon series on 1st and 2nd Peter. So if you are interested in those answers, make sure to join us over the weeks to come.
So, just like Jacob did with his last words, Joseph is also telling his family to keep looking forward, to set their hope on the redemption that has been promised.
And that is Moses’ closing application for the Book of Genesis also. He is telling his people — the ancient people of Israel — to keep looking forward.
The people of Israel in Moses’ time were the people — 400+ years later — who had been redeemed from slavery in Egypt. They were the people God had met and married at Mt. Sinai. They were the people God had led across the desert to the eastern gateway of Canaan. They were the people who had carried Joseph’s bones up from Egypt, and here they were standing with Moses on the banks of the Jordan River, looking into their promised Land of Peace, the nation-sized temple where God would descend and live in the midst of his people.
And Moses knew that, once they entered the land, it would feel like Rest in comparison to their slavery in Egypt — and it truly would be Rest for the people of Israel. But Moses also knew that the people’s Rest in the land of Canaan would not be their final Rest. He knew that all of this was just Phase 1 of God’s plan, and that Phase 1 was really just laying the foundation for Phase 2, when the whole earth would become the Temple of God, drawing all nations to bring their tribute — their powers and authority — and lay it all down at the foot of God’s throne.
And so Moses’ closing practical application for his people was to tell them not to be content, not to become complacent, in the centuries to come. Stay ready! Keep watch! Because, long after it feels like all hope has been lost…God will surely come to our aid: his Messiah, his Chosen One, will appear, and lead his people into Phase 2.
And we have seen how, all the way through this final Book 12 of Genesis, Moses has worked very hard to give his people a preview — through Joseph’s Golden Age — of what the final Messiah’s Golden Age is going to look like, so that they will know what to look for and will not miss it.
And if you have been travelling with us over the last few weeks, then you already know that we are living now in that Golden Age of God’s Messiah. 2000 years ago a man was born in the land of Canaan, in the land of Israel, in the kampung of Nazareth. He was named Jesus, and he claimed to be God’s promised Messiah. Just like Joseph, he was humiliated, and betrayed by his brothers, and then he was exalted: crowned king over all creation. He kicked off Phase 2 of God’s plan: rebuilding the Garden of God’s presence, which is the Church, a living Temple made out of living people into which God has descended and lived for the last 20 centuries. And over the last 20 centuries Jesus has been ruling: reducing the nations to servitude, blessing those who bless his people, cursing those who curse his people, redeeming the most helpless of their citizens from the tyranny of wicked men, and bringing them into the safety of the Garden, the Church, where they can finally rest.
And that is where we are now: resting in the presence of our Father and his risen Son, Jesus.
So what is Moses’ application for us, here at the end of the Book of Genesis?
Well, Moses’ application for us is actually the same as it was for his people: keep looking forward. Ancient Israel was commanded to look forward to Phase 2 of God’s plan, when all nations would have a chance to join the Messiah’s kingdom. We are commanded to look forward to Phase 3.
Okay. But now we want to know: what are we looking for? What is Phase 3 going to look like, and what will be the signs that it is beginning?
Well, once again, in his writings here, Moses has given us a very clear preview of what is to come: for a long time, during the Golden Age of the Messiah’s rule, the seventh day is going to be blessed; the Gospel of Jesus Christ is going to go out in every direction, to every nation of people; little by little, the knowledge of God is going to fill the earth and make it holy. That is where Genesis came to an end: describing the great Golden Age of Joseph’s rule over Egypt, which was just a preview of the great Golden Age of Jesus’ rule over the earth that we are living through right now.
So: what is going to happen next? How is Phase 2 going to end, and Phase 3 begin? All we have to do is turn the page to the next book of the bible, the Book of Exodus, where Moses tells us how Joseph’s Golden Age came to an end: a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us.” So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor…
And the rest of the Book of Exodus is the story of how God sent his messiah Moses to pour out judgement upon Egypt and lead God’s children out of the land of chaos and death into a new land of life and order and worship.
This is also how Jesus’ Golden Age is going to come to an end: we Christians are going to become so numerous among the nations of the world that the rulers of the nations are going to fear us. They are going to rise up against us and against our Lord. They are going to try to crush Christ’s global Church with slavery and death. And long after it feels like all hope has been lost, God will surely come to our aid: his Messiah, his Chosen One, will appear and pour out his judgements one by one upon the nations of the earth and lead us out of death for the last time.
Jesus himself talked about what the last days of Phase 2 would look like: he told his disciples that his Church would be “handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.” He also said that, during that time, the world will suddenly be filled with false messiahs and false prophets who will perform great signs and wonders, promising God’s people an easy escape from suffering. And he told his disciples, “Do not be fooled by them! Do not get lost in your present sufferings: keep looking forward!”
Paul also predicted the same things: that during the closing days of Phase 2, God will allow Satan to fill the earth with false teachers who will deceive people with all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders. And Paul’s command was the same as Christ’s: Stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you! Do not be fooled by them! Do not get lost in your present sufferings: keep looking forward!
And then John, in the Book of Revelation, confirmed everything Jesus and Paul talked about: how, for many centuries, God will keep Satan chained up, his power limited — his head crushed! — while Jesus’ Gospel is preached to all the nations. And then, just as Jesus is completing his work, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth, and to gather them for battle. They will march across the breadth of the earth and surround the camp of God’s people, the city he loves — which is the Church. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And then, John says, I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. And John goes on to describe a great city ruled by the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb. “The nations walk walk by its light,” John says, “and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.”
John is describing the end of Phase 2 and the beginning of Phase 3, when all the tribute of all the nations will be given over to the glory of God. And so John’s command for the Church, in the end, is the same as Paul’s and Jesus’: do not be fooled by Satan’s false teachers! Do not get lost in the sufferings of this present age. Keep looking forward!
Friends, what all this means is that, during the transition from Phase 2 to Phase 3 of God’s plan, there will be one final great deception, one final great rebellion against God, against Jesus, and against his Church.
And I don’t know about you, but I find that frightening. I am afraid for my children, for my grandchildren. Because, to tell you the truth, it looks like many of the signs of the end are beginning to show up!
First of all: Christianity has never grown faster than it has grown over the last 100 years. We are more numerous now than we have ever been. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has reached almost every single nation of people. The knowledge of God has almost competely filled the earth. Jesus’ work looks like it is almost complete!
Second: at the same time — over the last 100 years — we have seen an explosion of false teachers and false prophets who travel around the world performing signs and wonders in Christ’s name, promising Christians that if they have enough faith, they need not suffer in this life. So Satan’s power to deceive appears to be growing.
Third — and somewhat ironically — more Christians are suffering persecution today than have ever suffered before! Nations that have never lived in submission to Christ’s values are turning violently against the Church: nations in northern and southern Asia, nations in North and East and West Africa. But even in nations that once blessed Christians — and were blessed by Christ in return — new kings have come to power, to whom Christianity means nothing. More and more those nations are passing laws that will require Christians to affirm the power of the State in exchange for the freedom to participate in the economy. These are nations like America and Canada, nations in Europe. So it looks like the rulers of the world are getting ready to try and crush Christ’s global Church.
So: we do not know for certain, but it could be that Satan has already been released from his prison, and that the final, great deception has already begun. This is why I am frightened, sometimes, when I think about the immediate future.
And this is why Moses’ application — Jesus’ application, Paul’s application, John’s application — is so important for us today: brothers and sisters, keep looking forward to the city that is to come. God will surely come to our aid. This matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.
And as we are about to find out over the next few weeks, Peter also has a lot to say about the last days of Phase 2. So: make sure to join us for that.
But what should we do in the meantime, while we wait to find out if the sun really is finally setting on the Seventh Day?
What is our practical take-home application for right now, for our daily lives?
Well, as Christians we are called to live our lives looking forward to the end of Phase 2. But we are also called to live our lives looking backwards to the beginning of Phase 2. Because it was at the beginning of Phase 2 that Jesus made his atoning sacrifice for all our sins. 2000 years before this, Jesus declared us forgiven, he clothed us in robes of glory and honour, he covered our shame, he wiped away our guilt.
And the reason we are commanded to keep looking backwards is because, just like Joseph’s brothers, we forget. We often still feel guilty. We often wonder if, perhaps, Jesus is just biding his time, waiting for Judgement Day to he can take revenge upon us all. Just like Joseph’s brothers, we often enter Jesus’ presence and throw ourselves down before him and say, “We are your slaves! Please, allow us to atone for our sins against you! Just tell us what you want: more money? More prayers? More good religious deeds? Whatever you want, we will pay!”
Friends, when we do this, Jesus weeps, just like Joseph wept at his brothers’ message. When we doubt Jesus’ promises of forgiveness, that is when we grieve the Holy Spirit.
So, to keep from grieving the Holy Spirit, we need to keep looking back at the Cross of Christ because we need to keep on being reminded that we are not Jesus’ slaves, we are his adopted brothers and sisters. We need to keep on being reminded that no matter what happens to us in this world, no matter how we may suffer, we are destined to live out the remainder of God’s Seventh Day at rest in the garden of our Father’s presence. We are safe.
We are like children who have rescued from a fire. Once upon a time, we awoke to find our bedrooms aflame, and our Father on the ground outside our window saying, “Jump! Trust me! I will catch you!” And we jumped. And he caught us. And we are safe.
But sometimes, even now, we have nightmares about that fire. We dream that we are being burned alive. We dream that we must somehow save ourselves. We dream that, when we go to the window we find that our Father is not there, or that he is there…but that he is angry, or mocking, or that his back is turned. Or we dream that we jumped, and he did not catch us —
Brothers and sisters, if you are in Christ, then those are only nightmares. Those fears are only our natural human responses to past trauma. Every time we look back at the Cross of Christ, that is us waking up safe in our Father’s arms, with his voice reassuring us and speaking kindly to us, telling us that we are going to be okay, that one day we will be completely healed and then those nightmares will never return.
So, these are our applications:
Let us keep on looking forward to the end of Phase 2, when the Golden Age of Jesus’ rule over the nations will transition into the eternal Golden Age of God’s rule over all.
Let us keep on looking back to the beginning of Phase 2, to the Cross of Christ, when we were redeemed and adopted even before we knew what was going on.
And in the years to come, when we ask one another why God planned history in Phases like this, why God allows his children to suffer slavery and death at the hands of the world, then let us preach this Gospel to one another, just like Joseph did to his brothers. Let us say this to one another: “Remember, the nations intend to harm us, but God intends all this for good, to accomplish what is now being done: the saving of many lives.“
We are going to close the Book of Genesis now with this:
Book 1 of Genesis contains is a very compressed summary of the whole history of these heavens and this earth, and it ends with God blessing the seventh day and making it holy. The point of creation, Book 1 tells us, is for God to live in peace with his people in a perfectly consecrated temple which is the earth.
The rest of the Books of Genesis have been dedicated to expanding that summary found in Book 1, showing us how God is at work in history to bless the seventh day and make it holy. And the Book of Genesis also previews the end of history, with God living in peace with his people and his creation in a perfectly consecrated land which is called Goshen.
The rest of the books of the bible are dedicated to expanding the summary of earth’s history that we find in Genesis. And at the end of the bible, in the final pages of the Book of Revelation, we find this vision of God living in peace with his people and his creation in a perfectly consecrated temple which is the earth itself.
And what all this tells us is that all of history as we know it is contained within the bible. It tells us that all of history as we know it is contained within God’s Seventh Day. Which means that all of history is actually the story of God’s plan to bless the earth and make it holy.
In 2018, we began our first sermon of this series by asking: “What is the meaning of existence?” Here, in 2020, even in the midst of global chaos, we have our answer: all of history belongs to God, and he is leading all of creation toward the evening of the Seventh Day, and the dawn of the Eighth, a day which will never end, in which God will be all in all.
He who was seated on the thone said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.“
Amen. And amen.