For 20 plus years Jacob had been living under the impression that his beloved Joseph was dead and gone forever. In Genesis 45:27, he finally learns the truth, and the text says when his sons convinced him that Joseph was still alive, “the spirit of their father revived.” Jacob was revived by what must have seemed to him to be the resurrection of the dead. But to Jacob the revival was seen only that which would carry him to Egypt to see his long lost son one last time because he ends the verse with the expectation of seeing Joseph and then dying. Going down to Egypt to Jacob meant going to his own death. But God had other plans and told Jacob, “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. 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” (Genesis 46:3-4).

Carl Burnham, former pastor of the Chapel on Fir Hill in Akron, Ohio, wrote in 1962, just prior to his death, “When I die, if my family wishes to inscribe anything on my gravestone, I would like it to be the promise of Jesus Christ in Hebrews 13:5, ‘I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.’ For in due season the springtime will arrive…Then, when the resurrection sings itself in the robin’s glad song, and bursting buds defy the death grip of winter, and you walk upon the yielding earth near my grave—remember that my soul is not there, but rather it is absent from the body, present with the Lord. And somewhere, the atoms that make up my brain, my heart—my body—will be sending out resurrection radiations of a frequency too high for any earthly geiger counter to record. But if you place the meter of God’s Word alongside that cemetery plot and adjust the settings to Hebrews 13:5, you will receive this reading: “He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

Boice says, “So when Jacob required Joseph to bury his body in the Promised Land, it was like saying that he was standing on God’s promises. 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. We know God can, will, and has raised the dead. We celebrate that every Easter. In Matthew 21:31-32 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 the God of the dead, but of the living.” When God speaks in the present tense He means it!