A Coffin or an Ark?
As we read the Bible, we often find cases where events happen that are very similar. When looked at, these events often have deeper more prophetic meanings placed into the text by G-D to draw our attention to the event. These prophetic types and shadows help us to understand a concept or prepare us for a future event that takes place either within the pages of Scripture or that will take place in our future. One example is when we compare the sacrifice of Isaac with the sacrifice of Yeshua (Jesus):
Both were offered by their Father.
Both carried the wood for the sacrifice.
Both were accompanied to their sacrifice by two men.
It is clear by these similarities there is a prophetic connection between these two events that was provided so that when the Children of Abraham, the Jewish nation of Israel, saw the crucifixion, they would recognize the symbolic connection between the two and understand that the former took place so that we would better understand the latter.
In Genesis 50:25-26, we find another example of one of these prophetic events. The verses take place just before Joseph’s death. In the text, Joseph asks his brothers to promise him that when they leave Egypt they will bring his bones back to the Promised Land with them.
25 Then Joseph made Israel’s sons swear an oath saying, “When God takes notice of you, you will bring my bones up from here.” 26 So Joseph died at 110 years old, and they embalmed him and he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.
This event is very similar to when Jacob asked Joseph to promise to take his bones back to the land of Israel, which Joseph speaks of in Genesis 50:5-7:
5 “My father made me take an oath saying, ‘Behold, I am about to die. In my tomb—which I dug for myself in the land of Canaan—there you must bury me.’ So now, please allow me to go up and bury my father, and then return.” 6 Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father just as he made you swear on oath.” 7 So Joseph went up to bury his father. Also all of Pharaoh’s servants, the elders of his household and all the elders of the land of Egypt went up with him,
While the requests of Jacob and Joseph to be buried in Israel are similar, there is one huge difference between the two. Jacob asks to be taken back and buried immediately while Joseph asks to be taken back when, as the Scripture says in Genesis 50:24:
...God will surely take notice of you and will bring you up from this land to the land that He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”
The reason for Joseph asking to be brought back with Israel’s redemption instead of immediately is profound. To understand the prophetic significance, let’s look back at a word in Genesis 50:26. The word translated coffin in English is the Hebrew word ארוןAron, which is the exact same word translated as ark when referring to the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant is also referred to as the Ark of Testimony.
To further understand Joseph’s request, let’s turn the page in our Bibles to Exodus 1:6-7:
6 Then Joseph died, as did all his brothers and all that generation. 7 Yet Bnei-Yisrael were fruitful, increased abundantly, multiplied and grew extremely numerous—so the land was filled with them. 8 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.
Notice from the text what happened after Joseph died. A king arose who did not know Joseph. This is only one generation after Joseph’s and yet, the new king came to power and he did not know or remember who Joseph was and what Joseph did. So, G-D led Joseph to set an “ark” before the people of Israel, an “ark” that would remind them of what G-D had done in the past and what G-D has promised in their future. When Israel left Egypt, Moses brought that ark holding Joseph’s bones with them.
19 Moses also took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had made Bnei-Yisrael swear an oath saying, “God will surely remember you, and then you are to carry my bones away with you.”
This ark (Joseph’s) was carried by Israel, reminding them of G-D’s promises. Then, by G-D’s command, Israel made a new Ark of Testimony which held the Tablets. Once again, G-D provided an Ark that would be looked upon by Israel to remind them of their past blessings and their future promises. This Ark would be the focus of Israel until the coming of Yeshua, “The Torah Made Flesh” that would be placed in the “Ark” of our hearts by G-D Himself. This Ark would also be a reminder of our past blessings and our future promises.
Beginning with Joseph, we know and see these types, shadows, and fulfillments extending to the Ark of the Covenant and completing with the Ark of our hearts. We see the prophetic reason for Joseph choosing to remain in Egypt until the redemption as Yeshua remains in the Ark of our hearts until our full redemption from this world takes place. It is also vital to remember that because the Torah was placed in the Ark of the Covenant, it didn’t mean Joseph’s ark was cast aside and left behind. Likewise, because Yeshua is now in the Ark of our hearts, it also doesn’t mean the Torah has been cast aside. Paul states this plainly in Romans 3:31:
31 Do we then nullify the Torah through faithfulness? May it never be! On the contrary, we uphold the Torah.