By sin man and all creation were cursed. In Genesis 12 we see God’s plan to reverse the curse and bring man into a state of blessedness through Abraham. Abraham is promised three distinct things; land, offspring, and to be a conduit of blessing to all the families of the earth. Our book ends with none of these promises fully realized, but with every reason to expect their fulfillment.
We close with two final requests and deaths. There are many parallels between the account of Jacob’s last words and passing and Joseph’s, although Jacob’s is so much longer. These similarities I believe point us toward the common function or purpose they’re recorded in Scripture. By recalling the promises and making their burial requests both Jacob and Joseph thrust their relatives out of Egypt in hope of the Promised Land. God will visit His people. He will make good on His promises. Egypt is not their home. Their waiting does not mean God is delaying, but rather fulfilling His promises (Genesis 15:12-16).
What Jacob and Joseph do for their relatives, Moses does for his readers. The initial audience wanted to go back to Egypt, but their hearts were never meant to be there. The promises are meant to dislodge their pseudo-homesickness and replace it with a longing for the Promised Land. The promises serve a similar function for us, they buttress a sojourning spirit. They make sin sour and Christ sweet. They eradicate worldly-mindedness and establish heavenly-mindedness.
How can they, how can we be sure of God’s visitation and deliverance? The main point of the last section of Genesis is meant to make the light of faith burst forth in our hearts. Just as God spoke in the beginning such that light came bursting forth, so this last section of Genesis is God speaking, causing faith to burst forth. The last section of Genesis (37:2-50:26) hammers home one doctrine, the providence of God. The 1689 Baptist Confession defines God’s providence this way.
God the good Creator of all things, in his infinite power and wisdom doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, to the end for the which they were created, according unto his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will; to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, infinite goodness, and mercy.
Or Joseph simply puts it this way, “…you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”
How can we be sure of full and final deliverance of a happy “The End”? The end of the beginning points us to God’s providence. The same providence that was at work in Christ’s first coming (Acts 4:25-28), is at work now. This time of waiting does not mean God is delaying, but rather fulfilling all His promises.