Living a Legacy of Faith

Today’s Coffee of Choice: Starbucks French Roasted, Extra Bold

Today’s Scripture: By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, “bowing in worship over the top of his staff.” By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave instructions about his burial. – Hebrews 11:21-22

My favorite story in the Old Testament is the one about the life of Joseph. Maybe it’s because I long to be the type of person that overcomes tremendous obstacles with excellence and unwavering faith. Maybe it’s because I know the deep pain and lasting hurt that comes from being betrayed by loved ones. Whatever the case, the story of Joseph is a wonderful saga of heartache, perseverance, and redemption. You can find the entire epic tale in Genesis 37-50.

Joseph was more than worthy to make the larger-than-life list of heroes we find in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11. However, I’ve often struggled with what is included on his plaque: His sons were blessed by his father, he mentioned the exodus of the Israelites at the end of his life, and he gave burial instructions. For someone who ended up second-in-command to a Pharaoh and saved a huge chunk of humanity using only his brain (not to mention his undying commitment to God despite being sold into slavery by jealous brothers, facing the wickedness of a lust-filled woman, and surviving the interior of a cell when wrongfully accused), you would think the writer of Hebrews would have mentioned some of his finer qualities.

Early 1900s Bible illustration of Joseph’s powerful position in Egypt courtesy of Wikipedia (public domain photo)

Instead, we get mention of a past event Joseph wasn’t personally involved in, a seemingly irrelevant detail about what graveyard plot he wanted to purchase, and the fact that his sons were liked enough by their grandfather to receive a blessing.

As I’ve dug into this Scripture, though, I’ve learned there is more to this small passage than meets the eye. In essence, we are getting snippets of three chunks of time as they related to the end of Joseph’s life: His past, his present, and his future. These verses are about legacy… and not just Joseph’s legacy. They’re about the legacy of God’s people. I think the writer of Hebrews is trying to make a point about how faith affects the overall portrait of our lives and how, though we have just one shot at each day we spend on this earth, we are intricately intertwined with the history of where we come from and the future days affected by the ripples we leave behind.

You see, Joseph’s life proved a point.

Joseph’s Coat Brought to Jacob – Giovanni de Ferrari c. 1640, courtesy of the El Paso Museum of Art, public domain photo (Find this part of Joseph’s story in Genesis 37:12-36.)

Victory can come from heartache if you place your faith where it counts. After years of separation due to thinking he was dead, his father was reunited with him. His father was then able to bless the next generation of his own (and God’s) people. At the end of his life, even with the majority of his life spent serving another culture, Joseph did not forget where he came from. He had confident faith that God would deliver his family to the land promised to them, and he wanted his remains to go along for the ride. (His burial instructions can be found in Genesis 50:25.) His faith continued to overcome fear and doubt to the very end of his days and even into the days of the generation that outlasted him. And, indeed, he and his legacy did make it to the Promised Land (see Exodus 13:19 and Joshua 24:32).

My question to you, and myself, is this: What legacy will we leave behind when we breathe our last?

Will our life be one of great faith? Or will it be one vaporized by vain pursuits and selfish longings? Joshua could have given up and given in at any point of his journey. He didn’t. He continued to have faith that he and his people would be restored. His faith did not return void.

These few verses aren’t just about one man. They are about two related men and a whole nation of people. The second relative is not who you might think. He would come thousands of years later, choose to wear a cross, and usher humanity into the promised land of God’s grace. That legacy of faith, Christ’s legacy, is one I choose to still follow today.

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