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If the Bones are Good

Exodus 13:19

Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here.”

We’re supposed to be in Exodus 15, not Exodus 13, but I somehow overlooked this reflection when transcribing devotionals from my journal, and it’s a peculiar scene in the Exodus journey that I don’t want to miss. Do you remember a few months ago, when we were going through Genesis together, in that scene where old Jacob reunited with his long lost son, Joseph, and I pointed out that the principle of discipleship is not replacement but advancement—that no saint ever fills the shoes of his predecessor but rather carries the work further? Well, I can’t think of a richer, more poignant illustration of that principle than the sight of Moses carrying Joseph’s four-hundred-year-old bones with him to the Promised Land, can you?

Imagine it with me. As most pilgrims are plundering their Egyptian neighbors, stuffing their travel bags full of dishes and jewelry and clothing and perfumes and oils and whatever accessories they can cram in, Moses reaches for something he deems to be just as essential as his staff and cloak and sandals, something worth sacrificing a few luxuries and conveniences for. I can hear Aaron calling out from the front of the caravan, “Moses—we’re all here and accounted for; all packed and ready to go; hurry—let’s get going!” Then Moses appears with this ancient crypt in tote and replies, “Just one more, Aaron—make room for Joseph!”

Friend, maybe there’s a hand-me-down Bible that belonged to your godly grandmother, with margins full of personal, handwritten comment and notes that you need to start reading through. Maybe there’s an inspiring quote or life-lesson you learned from a spiritual mentor that you need to write in calligraphy and frame on your bedroom wall. Maybe there’s a picture or letter or heirloom you need to keep present with you in your car or purse or bathroom vanity as a constant reminder that you wouldn’t be who you are today without it.

Whatever it is, follow Moses’ profound example and carry the remnants of yesterday’s milestones with you into today’s journey.