Thus Israel settled in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen. And they gained possessions in it, and were fruitful and multiplied greatly. And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years. So the days of Jacob, the years of his life, were 147 years.
And when the time drew near that Israel must die, he called his son Joseph and said to him, “If now I have found favor in your sight, put your hand under my thigh and promise to deal kindly and truly with me. Do not bury me in Egypt, but let me lie with my fathers. Carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burying place.” He answered, “I will do as you have said.” And he said, “Swear to me”; and he swore to him. Then Israel bowed himself upon the head of his bed. Genesis 47:27-31 ESV
For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Romans 14:7-9 ESV
When Abraham Lincoln died, his body was taken to Springfield, Illinois, and he was buried there. You can visit Lincoln’s tomb if you go to Springfield. He is buried with some of his family members inside a building made of granite, marble, and bronze. On the inside walls of his tomb there are plaques that have some of his most famous words. You can read what he said about a house divided against itself, or about a nation having a new birth of freedom, or about the nation continuing with malice toward none and charity toward all. Do you know what speeches these words come from? Abraham Lincoln is dead, but his burial place is a place that helps people remember his words and some of the things he believed and worked for.
Jacob knew he was going to die, and it was very important to him that he be buried in a way that showed what he believed. Jacob knew that the most important things in his life were all of the promises of God. He knew that the Savior would come from his family, and that God would bring his people back to the promised land again. He didn’t want to be buried in Egypt. He made Joseph promise that he would take his body and bury it in the promised land. Abraham had bought a burial place for the family, and that’s where Jacob wanted to be buried. His burial would be one last reminder to his children and grandchildren of his faith in God’s promises.
Today when people die and are buried, some kind of picture might be put on their gravestones. There might be flowers, or a musical instrument, or trees and mountains, or a baseball or a football. People who believe that in Jesus often have a cross put on their gravestones. This shows that they believe Jesus died for them, and that his death won them God’s forgiveness and life forever. A cross on a gravestone reminds us that Christians who die belong to the Lord.
Our lives are also marked by Jesus’ cross. We live believing in what Jesus did for us. We belong to the Lord now, and will belong to him forever–while we live, and after we die. We don’t have to wait till we die to show what is most important to us. God the Holy Spirit helps us live in a way that shows that we belong to Jesus.
Dear Jesus, thank you for making us yours, and that we belong to you in life and in death. Amen.