What is correct application?
Today we want to continue seeking to study God's Word and handle it accurately, learn how to do that by applying the text. We've already looked at observing the text carefully. We looked at observation. Then last time we looked at interpreting the text rightly, and how do you do good interpretation. We saw that last time and today we want to look at now, having done good, sound observation and correct interpretation, how can we rightly apply the passage? What is correct application? What does it look like? Let's remember asking the question, “What does the text mean to me?” Since we've interpreted it correctly, we're ready to do that.
Let's review a little bit about what we have seen in our interpretation of the passage. We saw that Genesis 50:22-26 speaks directly to the Nation of Israel, that the Lord inspired these words to be written down by Moses for the edification and the benefit of the people of Israel at a particular time in history. The time between the Exodus, when they left Egypt, and the time when they entered the promise land. They have left Egypt, they're out in the wilderness, and they're wondering are they going to be able to get into the promise land. Is God going to be faithful to His Word? That's their life circumstance, the historical context. So the passage is basically saying to them, “The Lord is faithful to His Word.” I want to read the passage again for us right now.
Now Joseph stayed in Egypt, he and his father's household, and Joseph lived one hundred and ten years. 23Joseph saw the third generation of Ephraim's sons; also the sons of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were born on Joseph's knees. 24Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.” 25Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones up from here.” 26So Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten years; and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.
– Genesis 50:22-26
What was their circumstance?
So Joseph died at the age of 110 years, and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt. We saw as we looked at the passage that the meaning of the text interpreted in light of the literary context, the flow of the Book of Genesis, in light of the historical context, the relationship of the author Moses to the original audience, the sons of Israel about to go into the promise land. What was their circumstance? They needed to hear that God was faithful to His word.
In fact, we just heard as we read the passage again something we hadn't talked about before and that was the important words ‘promise land’. He said, “He will bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” The Lord is saying, in Joseph's words, “God is going to take you from this land, the land of Egypt, up to that land, the land of Canaan which He promised on oath.” In fact, another important word is the word ‘promised on oath’. It's actually one Hebrew word translated ‘promised on oath’, and the word ‘solemn oath’, a vow. God vowed. It's echoed when Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, emphasized in this concept of a sworn oath. The Lord has made a solemn vow that He's going to get you into that land. He's going to take care of you and He's going to bring you up from this land to that land. He's going to take care of you, the second time Joseph says, “...and you will carry my bones up from here.” So that's the force of the passage and what it meant to them was that the Lord is going to get them into the land despite their circumstances and their doubts, He's going to get them into the land.
It's helpful to think about their circumvents a little more before we really turn the corner to applying it. They're on the way from Egypt to Canaan. They are in the wilderness. At times they lack food, at times they lack water, but almost constantly they're doubting God's awareness of their circumstances and God's readiness to meet their needs. They're afraid, they're fearful, and they're not sure God's going to fulfill His promises, His oath to them. In fact, it's helpful at this point to again consider that in the Book of Genesis, God's covenant relationship, His relationship based on His promises, really contains three separate promises. That is the promise given to Abraham had three parts. God said, “I will make you a great nation,” and that's the promise of a seed. The second part of the promise was that God's presence would go with Him. “I will be God to you and to your descendants, your seed after you.” So God's presence and blessing is the second part of His promise. And the third part is the land of Canaan. “I'm going to give you the land of Canaan as an everlasting inheritance.”
So you have the promise of the seed or descendants, you have the promise of the blessing and presence, and you have the promise of the land. When they heard this promise written down by Moses, when it's given to them from the prophet Moses in the form of the book, what were their circumstances? They were on the way but think about the promises. They have not yet received the land but they can look around and see that God has been faithful to His promise of the seed. Seventy people went down into Egypt but over 2 million have come out. Seventy has turned into 2 million plus. God has been faithful to the seed.
His presence, remember when you read Exodus that the Lord made His presence visible among His people day and night? They saw a pillar of cloud by day that led them, that settled over the tabernacle, the place of meeting between man and God. God's presence was visible in a pillar of cloud. At night that pillar became a pillar of fire. So there is a visible manifestation of the presence of God. “God has been faithful in giving us a seed. God has been faithful in giving us His Presence. Surely He'll be faithful in giving us His land.” That's the message of this passage.
In fact, another interesting testimony to them was that when they are moving from Egypt to Canaan, though 360 years have passed, Exodus 13:19 tells us that when they left, they didn't forget to bring Joseph's coffin and his bones. They are carrying every day for those 40 years, the coffin of Joseph. Look back with me at the passage.
…God will surely take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land…
– Genesis 50:24
“God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones up from here.”
– Genesis 50:25
The presence of the coffin itself can confirm again, look at the Word of God, “We didn't forget Joseph's bones though it was 360 years, we didn't forget because God didn't let us forget. And we may doubt that He can get us into the land, but He's not going to fail to get us into the land. He's faithful to His promises.” That's the meaning.
Now, how does that apply to you and me?
Now, how does that apply to you and me? We're not trying to move from Egypt to Canaan. How does this relate to us? It's important for us to apply it correctly by asking the question, “What does the land of Canaan represent?” Hebrews 11 actually tells us the key to understanding how this passage applies to us. In Hebrews 11 we learn that Canaan is a type for Heaven. Canaan for them was a picture of Heaven for us. Listen to these words from Hebrews 11:8.
By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; 10for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
– Hebrews 11:8-10
Skipping ahead to Verse 13, speaking of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob:
All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
– Hebrew 11:13
And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return.
– Hebrews 11:15
Listen closely to Verse 16:
But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.
– Hebrews 11:16
What this is saying is Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob never received the land themselves, and in the promise of the promise land, and not having received it, God showed them in their hearts that Canaan was a type of Heaven. It was the assurance that the Lord was going to take them to His land.
Has God forgotten me?
Now for you and me today, this doesn't have application to any kind of land around us. It has application for Heaven. This is telling us that when you and I doubt, “Has God forgotten me? Is the Lord busy with other things and He's no longer interested in me? Has my sin separated me from Him so that He no longer loves me? Am I going to get to Heaven? If I have repented and believed in Jesus Christ, is the Lord able to keep me safe to Heaven?” That's the application for this passage, and the answer is: Yes! Once you become a child of God, nothing is going to stop the Lord from fulfilling His promises. He's going to get you from here to there. In fact, 1 Peter is a picture, a beautiful picture of the application of this passage. We doubt our salvation, we doubt if the Lord is going to be able to get us from here to there. 1 Peter 1 tells us that the Lord has caused us to be born again, in Verse 3, to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
– 1 Peter 1:4-5
He's saying that when we're born again, when we come to have faith in Jesus Christ, the Lord then prepares an inheritance for us. That is what Canaan was a type of our place in Heaven. He has reserved it, it's imperishable, undefiled, does not fade, and it's held and guarded by God in Heaven. At the same time, in Verse 5 he says, “You who believe are guarded, protected by the power of God even now.” The Lord is taking you from here to there, and He's determined to make that happen. In fact, the passage shows us, as you read on ahead, Verse 6, “You rejoice that you have this inheritance in Heaven,” he says. “You rejoice that God's got you in His hand and yet though now you are experiencing various trials. These difficulties have come.” It seems like God isn't getting you from here to there. It's like what happened to Joseph. Joseph was promised he was going to lead his family, his descendants, and yet what happened? Immediately, the Lord sent him into adversity. He's sent as a slave into Egypt.
No, He's not forgotten you.
That's what happens in our lives. God says, “This is where you're going. I've created you to reign with Christ,” and yet your circumstances, my circumstances so often seem like they're the opposite direction and we go into suffering. We wonder, “Has the Lord forgotten me? Can He get me truly from here to there? Or am I out of His will? Am I off track?” The passage from Genesis 50 that we read, and we've been working through, says: “Forget about your feelings, forget about your circumstances, and cling to the promise of God.” Faithful is He Who called you, He also will bring it to pass. He began a good work in you, He's going to complete it the day of Christ Jesus. He's getting you from here to there and even the trials of your faith actually though you may seem to be going down, are propelling you forward in the will of God. That's the application of this passage. That's the meaning that it is to have for you and me today. Never doubt the Word of God. Believe in the promises of God even when your circumstances seem to say the opposite. “Has the Lord forgotten me?” No, He's not forgotten you. He's going to get you from where you are, if you're in Christ, to where He is. That's the promise of the Lord's Word. That's how it relates to our problems.
Thank you for studying God's Word with us and may you continue to abide in His Word so that you can know the truth, and the truth can make you free.