“Someone Else’s Promise”Categories: Christian Principles
When our lives are over most of us like to be buried with our families. People in Old Testament times were no different – they wanted to be “gathered to their people” (Genesis 15:15, Numbers 20:24, etc.). Unfortunately, there were cases where the family gravesite was really far away.
Joseph had that problem. He died in Egypt, miles away from where he wanted to be buried. “And Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath and said, ‘God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place’” (Genesis 50:25). I don’t know if God gave Joseph a timetable for His plan, but the day God came to their aid was hundreds of years later. The people who promised to move his remains were long gone by the time of the exodus from Egypt. And digging up bones is . . . icky. I guess the people who were leaving had an excuse to not dig up bones if they wanted it. “I didn’t make that promise. Great, great, great granddad did. Not my problem.”
Also, I suppose it could be claimed that this promise was coerced. They were “made” to swear this oath. Joseph was the second most powerful man in Egypt. If he asks for something you say yes. There’s another excuse for anyone who wanted one. And yet, hundreds of years later, “Moses took the bones of Joseph with him” (Exodus 13:19). A promise was made before God – and when the time came the promise was kept. From what I read in Scripture nobody looked for any of the available excuses, they just did it because they said they would. This is a remarkable instance of keeping a promise across many generations.
How many of us have trouble keeping our own promises? Would we be so quick to extend our obligations to those connected to us? If your grandfather accidently orders more popcorn from the little girl who is fundraising than he can afford would you step in to fulfill that obligation? (And how grumpy would you be about it?) If someone at church tells someone who needs a ride to services that they will pick them up, but then their car breaks down, would you inconvenience yourself to go get them instead? I don’t think Israel would have been quite so blessed if they began their nation with breaking a promise. I love that they put themselves out to preserve the honor of their people.
If you have opportunity, especially as a Christian person, I encourage you to do the same.
Love keeping promises SO much that you’re even willing to keep someone else’s.