In Genesis 46:4 God says to Jacob, “I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.” So about 17 years later in Genesis 47:29-31 we read, “And when the time drew near that Israel must die, he called his son Joseph and said to him, ‘If now I have found favor in your sight, put your hand under my thigh and promise to deal kindly and truly with me. Do not bury me in Egypt, but let me lie with my fathers. Carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burying place.’ He answered, ‘I will do as you have said.’ And he said, ‘Swear to me’; and he swore to him. Then Israel bowed himself upon the head of his bed.”

Why is it so important that Jacob makes his son, Joseph, make a solemn oath that he would not let his father be buried in Egypt but had to take him back to the land of promise and bury him with his ancestors? Well, Hebrews tells us that Abraham was willing to sacrifice his one and only son, Isaac, because he believed God could and would raise the dead. Here, his grandson, Jacob, requests to be returned to the Promised Land because he too believes that God can and will raise the dead.

Matthew 22:31-32, Jesus tells those who deny life after death, “as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” It seems that Jesus was making it clear that all of the patriarchs believed there was life after death. The poor Sadducees that Jesus was addressing had fallen into lamentable error in their understanding of Scripture although they held the writing of Moses most sacred. Spence says, “Christ proceeds to demonstrate how the very Pentateuch (reverenced unquestionably by their party), which they deemed to be entirely silent on the subject of the life of the soul, spoke plainly on this matter to all who had faith to understand and appreciate the words of Divine wisdom.”1 Paul adds to this truth in Romans 4:16f. He tells us that Abraham’s faith was counted as righteousness because he was “fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” You can’t break God’s promises by leaning on them!


1 H.D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., St. Matthew, vol. 2, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 364.