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 Vol. 3, No. 12 

Page 16

December, 2001

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Editor's Note

I Carried the Bones

By Bonnie Rushmore

When Joseph was a teenager, his brothers sold him into slavery to the Midianites, who in turn sold him to Potiphar, an officer of the Pharaoh of Egypt (Genesis 37:28, 37). Joseph found favor in eyes of Potiphar and held a place of honor and authority in Potiphar's household. Because of false accusations against him, Joseph was placed in prison. Throughout all the adversities Joseph faced, he remained faithful and true to God. Eventually, Joseph was released from prison and once again held a place of honor, prestige and authority in the land of Egypt.

It was during this time of authority that Jacob, his sons and their families moved to Egypt (70 people, Genesis 46:27) because of a great famine in the land of Canaan. Shortly before Jacob's death, he called all his sons together to give them his blessing (Genesis 49) and made Joseph promise to bury him in the land of Canaan (Genesis 47:29-31). This same request was made of all the sons of Jacob in Genesis 49:29-33. At the time of Jacob's death, Joseph had his body embalmed and after the forty-day period of mourning, Joseph and his brothers carried Jacob's body to the cave of Machpelah to be buried with Abraham and Isaac.

Many years later, as Joseph grew older and began to prepare for his death, he also requested of his brethren that he not be buried in Egypt, but in the land of Canaan with his forefathers (Genesis 50:25-26). At Moses' instruction, the children of Israel carried Joseph's bones with them as they left the land of Egypt (Exodus 13:9) and Joshua buried the bones of Joseph in Shechem (Joshua 24:32).

The Israelites did not make a quick trip to the land of Canaan. Because of their murmuring and unbelief, God caused them to wander in the wilderness for forty years (Numbers 14). As you remember your Bible history, you will recall that all the adults, except Joshua and Caleb, that left Egypt died in the wilderness. From the time the Israelites left Egypt until they arrived in Canaan, someone carried the bones of Joseph. Can you imagine being the one in charge of carrying Joseph's bones all those miles and years? Each time camp was moved to a new location, Joseph's coffin was carried with them. Just as various families were given duties and responsibilities, someone had the job of ensuring that Joseph's bones arrived in Canaan for burial. Though one would not expect this job to be noteworthy or to require any special skill, nevertheless it was a job that had to be maintained in order to fulfill the promise given to Joseph many years before.

Just as someone had to carry Joseph's bones, Christians have a job to do. Though many of these jobs seem insignificant and thankless, still they must be accomplished. All Christians are required to work in the Lord's kingdom, using the talents God has given them. Many of us feel we do not have the ability to teach a Bible class or a home Bible study. We feel that we are not creative enough to prepare bulletin boards. God does not expect every Christian to do every good work that needs to be done. He does expect each of us to do something. No job is too small or insignificant in God's eyes. Cleaning and maintaining the church building are important tasks that someone needs to do. Preparing the communion each Sunday morning is a must. Sending a card to the sick and shut-ins can be a great encouragement to those who are unable to meet with the saints on the Lord's Day. Volunteering to baby-sit for a young mother, so that she can have an hour or two of free time, or offering to help with the children during worship services would be greatly appreciated. These are tasks to which many do not give much thought. I am sure many of the Israelites did not think about carrying Joseph's bones to Canaan, but it was a job that was performed by someone.

What are you doing for God? Do you assume the communion has been prepared? Do you sit back and expect the building to be cleaned, the wastebaskets emptied, the toilets scrubbed, floors swept, the grass mowed or the walks cleared of snow and ice? Do you give any thought to the time and effort that goes into preparing the bulletin boards and the Sunday bulletin? When was the last time you thanked those who accomplish these tasks week after week? I encourage each of you to go to the elders of your congregation and volunteer to assist those who are involved in these tasks. Many times those who are working diligently in these areas would like a break, but there is no one to take over for them. Do you wish the young mother would have better control of her children during the worship? Instead of becoming upset with the children who become restless during the worship services, volunteer to sit with them and help guide them to better behavior.

The inspired apostle Paul stated the same principle this way: "That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God" (Colossians 1:10; cf. 2 Corinthians 9:8; 1 Timothy 5:10; 2 Timothy 2:21; Titus 3:1; Hebrews 13:21, each of which emphasizes "every good work" in which Christians ought to be involved). Why not resolve with me now to make a greater commitment to "being fruitful in every good work" in which we have both the opportunity and the ability to participate? Everyone has a job to do no matter how insignificant it may seem!

Copyright 2001 Louis Rushmore. All Rights Reserved.
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