22 It was by faith that Joseph, when he was about to die, said confidently that the people of Israel would leave Egypt. He even commanded them to take his bones with them when they left.
Hebrews 11:22 (NLT)
Welcome to the fifteenth installment on my study of faith from Hebrews 11. This time we look at Joseph. It does not surprise me that Joseph made it to the list of people known for their faith. After all, he had the best career success in the Bible. He started from being a slave and rose to be in authority over his master’s household. I suspect even the free citizens of Egypt at that time did not have his standard of living. Later, when he was thrown into the prison, he rose to become the manager of it. He was given one interview with the Pharaoh and became the second most powerful man in the most powerful nation in the region. This is career success as never seen before.
Yet, God did not remember Joseph for his career success. According Hebrews 11:22, Joseph was remembered for his faith when he said that the people of Israel would leave Egypt and wanted the Israelites to take his bones with them when they left. Don’t you think it is strange? What has leaving Egypt and taking bones got to do with faith? What can we learn from it? It seems that Hebrews 11:22 does not tell us much. We will need to go to Genesis to find out.
24 “Soon I will die,” Joseph told his brothers, “but God will surely come to help you and lead you out of this land of Egypt. He will bring you back to the land he solemnly promised to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”
25 Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath, and he said, “When God comes to help you and lead you back, you must take my bones with you.”
Genesis 50:24-25 (NLT)
Genesis 50:24 tells us Joseph knew God will come and lead his people out of Egypt to the land he promised to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He did not seem to know of the oppression that took place in the book of Exodus. His heart was with the promise of God, in particular the covenant God made with Abraham. At that time in Egypt, life was good but that did not affect Joseph’s faith in the will of God. He knew his people were meant to live in the land God wants them to have.
Could this be the secret to his career success? All the while, his attention was on the will of God. In fact he was so focused in fulfilling the will of God that in Genesis 50:25 he made his brothers swear to take his bones with them when they left. Even after his death, he wanted to go back to the land God had promised to give to his people. His desire to fulfil the will of God seemed to have enhanced his faith that has caused the success of his career. The wealth and riches he was enjoying were just the by-products of it.
What does this mean to us? How can we benefit from this? Please don’t get me wrong, God has nothing against people wanting to achieve career success, make more money, attaining better health, having more fun, better family relationship and other self-improvements. Religious people may have problems with self-improvements but God doesn’t. I believe what God wants us to know is when we choose to focus our desire to fulfil his desires, our rewards will be much greater than we can ever wished for. Our prosperity will be greater. In other words, we will be in better position of prosperity if his desires become our desires.
If we only focus on our own needs and enjoyment, our prosperity will be limited. Let me give you an example. I understand that this article is read all over the world but I can only use the Singapore background in this. In Singapore, if you have $1 million you can put the money in a stable investment that yields 5% per year. This translates to $50,000 a year and more than $4,100 per month. This amount of money can give you a middle class living standard without working. If you have 10 times the amount, which is $10 million, that will provide you with more than $41,000 per month. If you have this amount of income, you don’t need a house anymore. You can be a hotel and resorts hopper. You can afford to spend the rest of your life moving from one hotel (the 5 star types) to another. Any more money is just numbers. You may feel the thrill in the beginning but as time goes by, you will be bored and restless. Satan will start to tempt you into drugs and gambling addiction. Soon, all your money will be gone.
How could this happen? When we became Christians, we were born again as children of God. In my previous article entitled “We Are Gods”, I have shown that being the children of God means we are born of God. We belong to the same species as God. This means we are gods. As such, we have the nature of God. The nature of God is not only about health and wealth. The nature of God also includes compassion for people. God loves every human being in the world. He does not want them to starve, suffer from disease, oppression or be distressed in any other way.
As gods, his desires should also be our desires. Therefore, if we make his desires to be our desires, there is no limit on how much prosperity we can have. When we have more money, it is no longer a change in numbers. It will translate to lesser people dying of starvation. It will translate to more people getting to hear the Gospel and be saved. It will translate to more people being healed from sickness and disease. It will translate to lesser sufferings and more joy in the world. At that time, no matter how much money you have, you are in position to receive more.
This is the exceeding prosperity God wants us to have. Do you want it? If you do, you will have to take your “god-hood” seriously.