Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died,
1. An ending.
2. A beginning.
It closed one chapter in God's providence, and opened a new one. It terminated the sojourn in Canaan; brought to a harmonious conclusion the complicated series of events which separated Joseph from his father, raised him to power in Egypt, wrought for the purification of his brethren's character, and prepared the way for the ultimate settlement of, the whole family in Goshen. It laid the foundation for new historical developments. There is now to be a pause, a breathing space, while the people are gradually multiplying, and exchanging the habits of nomadic life for those of agriculturists and dwellers in cities. The death of Joseph, and of his brethren, and of all that generation, is the proper close of this earlier period. Their part is played out, and the stage is cleared for new beginnings.
1. They died - so must we all. The common fate, yet infinitely pathetic when reflected on.
2. They died - the end of earthly greatness. Joseph had all he could wish for of earthly power and splendour, and he enjoyed it through a long lifetime. Yet he must part with it. Well for him that he had something better in prospect.
3. They died - the end of earthly disciplines. The lives of the brethren had been singularly eventful. By painful disciplines God had moulded them for good. Life to every one is a divinely ordained discipline. The end is to bring us to repentance, and build us up in faith and holiness. With some, the discipline succeeds; with others it fails. In either case death ends it. "After this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). The fact of discipline an argument for immortality. God does not spend a lifetime in perfecting a character, that just when the finishing touches have been put upon it, he may dash it into non-existence. Death ends discipline, but we carry with us the result and the responsibility.
4. They died - Joseph and his brethren - happily in faith. There was a future they did not live to see; but their faith grasped God's promise, and "Joseph, when he died, gave commandment concerning his bones" (Hebrews 11:22). And behind the earthly Canon loomed something better - an inheritance which they and we may share together. - J.O.
I. DEATH REMOVES THE MOST USEFUL MEN — "Joseph."
Joseph died, and all his brethren.I. IT WAS A VERY LARGE FAMILY
II. IT WAS A VERY DIVERSIFIED FAMILY.
1. They were diversified in their sympathies.
2. They were diversified in social position.
III. IT WAS A VERY TRIED FAMILY.
IV. IT WAS A VERY INFLUENTIAL FAMILY.
V. IT WAS A VERY RELIGIOUSLY PRIVILEGED FAMILY. Lessons:
1. A rebuke to family pride.
2. A warning against seeking satisfaction in family joys.
3. A lesson as to the right use of family relationships. Live together as those who must die.
4. Some strong reasons for expecting family meetings after death.
(1) (2) (U. R. Thomas.)
(2) (U. R. Thomas.)
(U. R. Thomas.)
I. Let us ponder the announcement AS IT RESPECTS THE INDIVIDUAL — "Joseph died." His trials, with their many aggravations — his triumphs, with all their glories — were alike brief and evanescent; and his eventful career ended, as the obscurest and most commonplace lifetime must end — for "Joseph died." Joseph is at home, the idol of a fond parent. Ah I dote not, thou venerable sire, on thy fair and dutiful child. Remember how soon it may be said of him, and how certainly it must be said of him, that "Joseph died." Joseph is in trouble — betrayed, persecuted, distressed, a prisoner, a slave. But let him not be disquieted above measure. It is but a little while, and it shall be said of him that "Joseph died." Joseph is exalted — he is high in wealth, in honour, and in power. But why should all his glory and his joy elate him? It will be nothing to him soon — when it comes to be said of him that "Joseph died." Ah! there is but one of Joseph's many distinctions, whether of character or of fortune, that does not shrivel beside this stern announcement. The simplicity of his trust in God, the steadfastness of his adherence to truth and holiness, the favour of Heaven, his charity out of a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned — these will stand the shock of collision with this record of his decease.
II. "AND ALL HIS BRETHREN." They too all died, and the vicissitudes of their family history came to an end in the silent tomb. "Joseph died, and all his brethren." Ah! how intimately should this reflection have knit them together in unity of interest, of affection, and of aim! The tie of a common origin is scarcely stronger or closer than the tie of a common doom. The friend, the beloved brother who has gone, has acquired, by his death, new value in your esteem — a new and sacred claim to your regard. Now for the first time you discover how dear he should have been, how dear he was, to your hearts — dearer far than you had ever thought. How fondly do you dwell on all his attractions and excellencies! Hew frivolous are all former causes of misunderstanding, all excuses for indifference, now seen to be I And whither are they gone? And what are their views now, and what their feelings, on the matters which formed the subject of their familiar inter-course here? Are they united in the region of blessedness above? Or is there a fearful separation, and are there some of their number on the other side of the great gulf?
III. "AND ALL THAT GENERATION." The tide of mortality rolls on in a wider stream. It sweeps into the one vast ocean of eternity all the members of a family — all the families of a race. The distinctions alike of individuals and of households are lost. Every landmark is laid low. Some are gone in tender years of childhood, unconscious of life's sins and sufferings — some in grey-headed age, weighed down by many troubles. Some have perished by the hand of violence — some by natural decay. And another generation now fills the stage — a generation that, in all its vast circle of families, can produce not one individual to link it with the buried race on whose ashes it is treading. On a smaller scale, you have experienced something of what we now describe. In the sad season of bereavement, how have you felt your pain embittered by the contrast between death reigning in your heart and home, and bustling life going on all around! In the prospect, too, of your own departure, does not this thought form an element of the dreariness of death, that when you are gone, and laid in the silent tomb, others will arise that knew not you? — your removal will scarce occasion even a momentary interruption in the onward course and incessant hurry of affairs, and your loss will be but as that of a drop of water from the tide that rolls on in its career as mighty and as majestical as ever. But here, it is a whole generation, with all its families, that is engulfed in one unmeasured tomb! And lo! the earth is still all astir with the same activities, all gay with the same pomps and pageantries, all engrossed with the same vanities and follies, and, alas! the same sins also, that have been beguiling and disappointing the successive races of its inhabitants since the world began! And there is another common lot — another general history — another universal characteristic: "After death, the judgment." Joseph rises again, "and all his brethren, and all that generation." And they all stand before the judgment-seat. There is union then. The small and the great are there; the servant and his master — all are brought together. But for what? What a solemn contrast have we here! Death unites after separation: the judgment unites in order to separation. Death, closing the drama of time, lets the ample curtain fall upon its whole scenery and all its actors. The judgment, opening the drama of eternity, discloses scenery and actors once more entire.
(R. S. Candlish, D. D.)
1. He had instructed his brethren.
2. He had enriched his father.
3. He had saved his nation.
4. He had taught the world an eternal lesson.
II. DEATH RELIEVES THE LARGEST FAMILIES — "All his brethren."
III. DEATH RELIEVES THE PROUDEST NATIONS.
(J. S. Exell, M. A.)
1. That she may gain the power of self-reliance.
2. That she may show her ability to be independent of all human instrumentalities.
3. That she may move into the exigencies of the future.
(J. S. Exell, M. A.)
(H. O. Mackey.)
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