A few months ago, I went back to the small town I grew up in to find my grandfather’s grave. As I picked my way through the rows of granite, a strange grief came over me. It wasn’t a sorrow for my grandfather. It was homesickness triggered by the names I read on the headstones. These names were as common to me as Smith or Jones, but unique to rural Indiana—names like Tragesser, Tebbe, Ribperger, and Schmidt.
Seeing these names reminded me that I come from somewhere. These are my people. It is a romantic thought, isn’t it, to think about where we come from and whose we are?
The book of Genesis ends with graves. Two primary figures in the story, Jacob and Joseph, are laid to rest. When Jacob dies, his body is embalmed like Egyptian royalty. This honor is given because of what his son Joseph meant to Egypt. Read the text. It is beautiful.
But Jacob did not want to be buried in Egypt. He wanted his body to be taken back to the cave at Machpelah, where his grandfather Abraham buried his beloved wife, Sarah. Jacob wanted his bones to lie with the bones of his family.
This is classic storytelling. Let’s take a minute to go back and remember how this book began. It began with our first parents walking with God in the Garden in the cool of the day. But then the Fall happened and the bottom fell out. Death entered, waters covered the earth, and people scattered.
But just when it seemed the world would be lost to chaos, God sent Abraham and Sarah out on their journey to the land the Lord had promised to give them. Abraham’s first and only official acquisition of that land was this cave where he buried his wife.
Now Jacob’s children carry their father’s body back to that place. It is a beautifully sad story, and yet one that is filled with hope because Jacob’s request is born out of a conviction that he belongs someplace—that he comes from somewhere. Abraham’s grave stands as a symbol of belonging. It binds his descendants together in life and in death.
The book of Genesis was written to let us know that we come from somewhere, and that we belong to Someone. Death entered the world early, but this book spins us forward into a story where light pushes back the darkness, where life carries on beyond the grave, and where God claims a people who have rejected Him.
When you see the names on the Genesis graves—Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Noah, Adam, Jacob, Joseph—remember that these are family names. We come from somewhere. The promise of life in Christ is that we, too, will one day be gathered with our forefathers. The difference is that we will not be gathered to them in death but in life, forever.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Written By Russ Ramsey