‘Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” So Joseph died, being 110 years old. They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.‘
Joseph has lived most of his life in Egypt, but he never forgot his background. His ‘home’ is still the land that God had promised to his forefather Abraham as an eternal possession. So when he feels his death coming near, he asks his relatives to swear that they will take his bones with them when they leave Egypt.
Joseph does not doubt that his relatives will return to their own land. God has promised that not only to Abraham (see Genesis 15:13-14), but also to Jacob when he moved to Egypt: “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again” (Genesis 46:3-4). Joseph does not doubt that God will make this happen, and thus he does not want to be buried in Egypt. His last wish is a great testimony of faith in the God who never leaves his promises unfulfilled. Joseph dies in hope.
Joseph is not the only one who lived as a ‘stranger and exile’. In fact, all Christians do! As Hebrews 11:16 says: “they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one”. Are you longing for this homeland as well? And do you, like Joseph, trust firmly that God will take you there?