Funerals are not fun times, they are sad times. The remind us that life is not as it should be, that death interrupts our enjoyment of those we love and that we are dying, always. Funerals remind us of our frailty and that as a race, we rebelled against our creator in the garden. On the other hand, funerals of those who serve the Lord well are times of sadness, but also joy. Joy in the hope of restoration, resurrection and a new home that will never be taken from us. The book of Joshua ends with three funerals.
The first funeral mentioned is for the great general who led the people into the promises of God. Joshua 24:31 is an amazing testimony to the powerful influence Joshua had on the spiritual life of Israel. So long as Joshua and the leaders who served with him were alive, the people followed the Lord God. He showed not just by his words but also by his actions what it means to be strong and very courageous to serve God. Joshua gave his whole life to serving the Lord and to serving Israel. His courage and trust in the Lord led Israel to victory over all their enemies and gave them rest from their journey. He took up the reigns of leadership and followed in the perhaps, the biggest shoes ever filled, Moses. How did he fulfill his overwhelming duty? By pointing the people ever forward to the mission they’d been given, to take the promises that God had blessed them with.
Joseph the man who God used to save Israel from certain death 400 plus years before this is talked about in Joshua 24:32. Joseph was sold into slavery, falsely imprisoned, and ultimately promoted to the second most powerful position in the known world of his day. He stayed faithful to the Lord regardless of the trials he faced and because of this he gives us a great testimony of what it means to trust God even when we do not understand His plans for our lives. At the end of Joseph’s life, he pointed the generations who would come after him toward home. He died with the promises of God on his lips. Joseph made the people promise to carry bury his bones in his real home, the promised land. Even though he had received great material wealth, he never felt at home in Egypt.
Eleazar the leader of those who led the worship of God is mentioned last and his burial in the town of his son Phinehas, a man who was zealous for the Lord when no one else was. Eleazar’s job was to point people’s gaze upward to the Lord in a land that continually drew their focus downward to the earth. Countless generations of priests trace their lineage back to Eleazer.
All three of these men had their bones buried in the promised land that they helped others get to but did not get to truly enjoy themselves. They gave their lives so that others could enter into God’s blessings. Long after they were gone, God’s people enjoyed blessings because of their faithful legacy. Each of them kept the generations to come after them aimed at the city built without hands whose builder is God (
Heaven is a treasure worth more than all that this world has to offer and these men knew it and pointed the way forward for those who would follow after them. They were buried in the land of promise because they would accept nothing less for themselves or their children. Where are you pointing the young people who will follow after you? Are you helping them to keep focus on the promises of God and their true home? Where would they say you want your bones buried?
Let us strive each day to live in such a way that those who look to us for guidance see that our priorities are the priorities of heaven not this world.