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FROM CREATION TO A COFFIN

(SERMON #75 ON THE BOOK OF GENESIS)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, March 17, 2013

“And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt” (Genesis 50:24-26).


The Book of Genesis is a book of beginnings. The very word “Genesis” means “birth” or “beginning.” The ancient rabbis who translated it into Greek, called it “Genesis” because it starts with the words, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). The Book of Genesis describes the beginning of the heavens and the earth – as well as the beginning of plant, animal and human life. So the Book of Genesis is a book of life!

But it is also a book of death. The origin of death is given. The awful effects of death are described. The connection of sin and death is explained. In the fourth chapter the first death is recorded, in the murder of Abel. In the fifth chapter the deaths of the patriarchs of antiquity are catalogued. In the sixth chapter the death of the entire human race in the Flood, with the exception of Noah and his family, is recounted. These two themes of life and death are described and interwoven throughout the Book of Genesis.

It is my purpose tonight to focus on the death of Joseph in our text as a pericope, a short passage that illuminates those truths of life and death.

“And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt” (Genesis 50:24-26).

The Book of Genesis begins with the creation of life in the Garden of Eden and ends “in a coffin in Egypt” (Genesis 50:26). This is so striking that I feel we should begin with the negative message of death, and end with the positive message of life.

I. First, Genesis vividly describes the law of sin and death.

The Apostle Paul spoke of “the law of sin and death” in Romans 8:2. The law of sin and death simply means, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). The law of sin and death says, “the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). Now that’s what God told our first parents. He warned them not to eat of the forbidden fruit, “for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17). That was the law of sin and death. God said, in effect, “If you commit this sin you will die.” But they didn’t believe God. So they ate, and then died!

When I was a child my mother watched a little boy nicknamed “Joker” every afternoon. The stove was on, and Mother said, “Joker, don’t put your finger in the flame or it will get burned.” Of course, with a name like Joker, you know what happened! He put his finger in the flame and then started screaming. Mother said, “I told you what would happen.” Yes, but he didn’t listen. He stuck his finger in the flame, and it got burned. That pictures the law of sin and death. God said, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” They didn’t believe Him. So they ate thereof. And so they died. That’s the law of sin and death! Someone may say, “That’s not fair!” Excuse me, fairness has nothing to do with it! If you stick your finger in a fire it will be burned. That’s the law of cause and effect. If you throw a rock up in the air, it’s going to come down. That’s the law of gravity. If you throw a rock up in the air and it comes down and hits you on the top of the head, you can’t say, “That’s not fair.” Fairness has nothing to do with it! It’s the law of gravity. If you throw something up, it’s going to come down! It’s the law. The same thing is true with the law of sin and death. The soul that sins will die. Our first parents sinned, and they died. That’s the law – the law of sin and death! Fairness had nothing to do with it! What goes up, must come down. It’s the law. He who sins must die. It’s the law. People don’t like it, but it’s still the law – and it can’t be broken any more than the law of gravity can be broken.

Now our first parents sinned in the Garden of Eden, and they died in the Garden of Eden. That’s the law of sin and death. First they died spiritually, and later they died physically because the seeds of death entered them when they sinned.

Tragically, their sin brought death not only to them, but also to all their offspring. People may say, “That’s not fair.” I know they may say that, but fairness has nothing to do with it. It’s the law, the law of sin and death. The other day I read about a baby that was born with HIV. The baby didn’t sin. But the mother sinned. Therefore her baby was born that way. Fairness had nothing to do with it. It’s the law of sin and death. When a person sins it affects others as well. It always does. 

And that’s the way it was throughout the Book of Genesis, beginning with the sin and death of our first parents. But the curse of sin and death did not end there. The Bible says,

“By one man's disobedience many were made sinners”
       (Romans 5:19).

Like the baby that was born with HIV, all of us were “made sinners” by the sin of our first parents. The Heidelberg Catechism says that our sin nature comes “from the fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, in Paradise. This fall has so poisoned our nature that we are born sinners – corrupt from conception on” (The Heidelberg Catechism, question seven). The Baptist Confession of 1689 says that our first parents' “…sin was imputed, and corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity, descending from them by ordinary generation, being now conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, the servants of sin, the subjects of death, and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus set them free. From this original corruption...do proceed all actual transgressions” (The Baptist Confession of Faith 1689, chapter 6:2, 3).

“Unless the Lord Jesus sets [us] free” we are “children of wrath, the servants of sin, the subjects of death.” The Bible says,

“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).

The Book of Genesis shows that this verse is true. The first child of Adam and Eve was the murderer Cain. He was born a sinner because his parents sinned. The fifth chapter of Genesis is a catalogue of the deaths of the patriarchs before the Flood, for “by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men.” In the time of Noah,

“God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

How did that happen?

“By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men” (Romans 5:12).

On down through the rest of Genesis the patriarchs were sinners by nature, and they died as a result of Adam’s sin. And so Genesis ends, not with the triumph and success of man, but with death as a result of sin,

“So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt” (Genesis 50:26).

Genesis begins with God creating life, and it ends with sin producing death, and Joseph “was put in a coffin in Egypt.”

Now, then, how does this affect you? What influence does it have in your life? Actually, nothing in the world concerns you more! In the first place, you are going to die physically as a result of sin. I remember the first time I realized I was going to die. I was about eight years old. My little dog ran out in the street and was struck by a car. As I held her broken body in my arms I understood for the first time that I, too, would die. It was a shocking thought. I’m sure that most of us, whether we remember it or not, were shaken when we first realized we were going to die. And death is not something you think about once or twice. Psychiatrists say that the average person thinks about his own death more than once every waking hour. That being true, we think about our death more than almost anything else. We are haunted by it. We try to sublimate it. We push it aside. But our minds come back to it again and again and again. We can’t get it out of our thoughts, no matter what we do. Even when we sleep we sometimes think about dying. We simply can’t escape from the thought of dying!

So, you see, if the thought of death was the only result of sin, what a tremendous effect it has upon our lives. But that isn’t the only result of sin. There are many other effects. One of them is the dark and evil thoughts that proceed from your sinful heart. Jesus said, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts... All these evil things come from within” (Mark 7:21, 23). I don’t have to prove that to you, do I? You know better than anyone else the dark and sinful thoughts that go through your mind, thoughts that you have no control over. You can’t stop them, no matter what you do. This, too, is an effect of original sin, the sin nature we inherit from our first parents.

And then there’s the difficulty you have in prayer. But of course! You do find prayer difficult, don’t you? It shouldn’t be so hard. You know it shouldn’t. But there it is, and you can’t do anything about it, can you? You know that a good Christian should love to pray. And yet you don’t love it. In fact, let’s face it, you really hate to pray for any length of time – don’t you?

Now, then, that presents a very nasty and dark picture of your inner thoughts, doesn’t it? You think about death. You have shameful thoughts. You dislike prayer. In fact, if you are with someone who prays very long, you actually hate it. Not a very pretty picture of your inner life, is it? In fact, if you allowed yourself to think about it very much, you might well say with the Apostle,

“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24).

You see, the law of sin and death has you trapped, or as the Bible puts it, “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Isn’t it true – spiritually and psychologically, you are as dead inside as Joseph's body was when “he was put in a coffin in Egypt” (Genesis 50:26). But, thank God, we aren’t left there! And that takes us to the second point of this sermon.

II. Second, Genesis vividly describes man’s only hope.

Listen again to the first two verses of our text,

“And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence” (Genesis 50:24-25).

There are many lessons we could learn from those verses, but I will only bring out one of them, a very simple one: Joseph knew that our only hope is in God. He said, “God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” “God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.” Joseph had faith to believe that God would bring them out of Egypt, into Canaan. Egypt is a type of sin and death. Canaan is a type of life and salvation. Joseph had faith that God would bring them out of the land of death, into the land of hope and life. Hebrews 11:22 says,

“By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones” (Hebrews 11:22).

I can’t think of a better way to show you that God is your only hope. If God does not save us, we are doomed by the law of sin and death. And God must do all of the saving. Joseph said, “God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob” (Genesis 50:24). “God will...bring you out” of the land of death into the land of life!

If you read the next book of the Bible, the Book of Exodus, you will find that God did it all. The people rebelled, and sinned, and didn’t help themselves at all. God did all the saving. God brought them out of slavery. God brought them to the land of promise. And the Disciples asked Jesus,

“Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God...” (Mark 10:26, 27).

Then, what must you do? Someone says, “Well, I won’t do anything.  I’ll just sit in church like a lump of dirt and wait for God to save me.” Well, if you do that, you will go to Hell. There is something you have to do. The Bible says,

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”
       (Acts 16:31).

Believe on Jesus! Trust Him – and He will do all the saving! He died on the Cross to pay for your sins. He rose from the grave to give you life, and free you from the law of sin and death!

I tell you this evening – believe on the Lord Jesus Christ! Cast yourself upon Him! Trust Him! Do it now! You have waited long enough! Trust Him! He will save you! He loves you! He will pardon your sins! He will save you from judgment! “His Loving-kindness, oh, how great!” Mr. Griffith, come and sing that song again!

He saw me ruined by the fall,
   Yet loved me not-withstanding all;
He saved me from my lost estate,
   His loving-kindness, oh, how great!
His loving-kindness, loving-kindness,
   His loving-kindness, oh, how great!
(“His Loving-Kindness” by Samuel Medley, 1738-1799).

If you are ready to trust Jesus, please step to the back of this auditorium now and we will take you to a quiet place to talk and pray. Go right now while Mr. Griffith sings that stanza again. Dr. Chan, please lead us in prayer for those who responded.

(END OF SERMON)
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write to him at P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015. Or phone him at (818)352-0452.

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Genesis 50:22-26.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“His Loving-Kindness” (by Samuel Medley, 1738-1799).


THE OUTLINE OF

FROM CREATION TO A COFFIN

(SERMON #75 ON THE BOOK OF GENESIS)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt” (Genesis 50:24-26).

(Genesis 1:1)

I.   First, Genesis vividly describes the law of sin and death, Romans 8:2;
Romans 6:23; Ezekiel 18:4; Genesis 2:17; Romans 5:19, 12;
Genesis 6:5; Mark 7:21, 23; Romans 7:24; Ephesians 2:1.

II.  Second, Genesis vividly describes man’s only hope, Genesis 50:24-25;
Hebrews 11:22; Genesis 50:24; Mark 10:26, 27; Acts 16:31.