As the Book of Genesis concludes, it does so by drawing attention to Joseph’s remarkable affirmation of the good providence of God. And then, like his father before him, Joseph dies after receiving the promise of his brothers to be sure his remains will be carried back to the Promised Land. Both scenes are acts of faith. Joseph believes that God is only ever good and so, therefore, all that he does and decrees is good. And, like his father Jacob, Joseph believes that the future of his people will spring from the Land of Promise, not from the soil of Egypt.
Each statement of Joseph in this final passage in Genesis represents a “pinnacle of Old Testament (and New Testament) faith. To leave all the righting of one’s wrongs to God; to see His providence in man’s malice, and to repay evil not only with forgiveness but also with practical affection, are attitudes which anticipate the adjective ‘Christian’ and even ‘Christlike’” (Kidner, 224).
Similar to the whole of the Bible, the Book of Genesis points beyond its own story (Revelation 21). Having been expelled from paradise, man traveled far from God. And yet the Lord preserved a righteous seed just as he had promised (3:15). Unlike Jacob, whose body was taken back to Canaan with a grand procession, Joseph’s bones would remain in Egypt for some 30 generations before their exodus to the Land. At the heart of faith is a looking forward knowing that the final fulfillment of God’s great promises will be met in the age to come. Faith is knowing that we do not get heaven in this present evil age. And Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph knew this.
No wonder Joseph, in his dying moments, could say to his brothers, “God will surely visit you.” Whatever the circumstances and however many the years, God would keep his promise. He would not leave his people in Egypt. And he did not. Neither will God leave his people redeemed in Christ Jesus in an unredeemed world. Indeed, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away’” (Revelation 21:3-4).