“We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 (KJV)
I had accepted teaching Ancient Hawaiian Studies among other social studies courses in my certification area at Lahainaluna. I hardly knew Hawaii, or its proper pronunciation of Hawaiian words, its history or culture. I learned with the gracious help of a Hawaiian staff member tutoring me during lunch hours on pronunciation. Another teacher friend loaned an invaluable resourceful book. My classes chuckled at my attempt to teach them but my aim was to present unknown facts to expand their knowledge, too. By the end of the year we were all enjoying aspects of a rich Hawaiian heritage.
Fascinating was that Hawaiians of old sometimes buried their dead in sand dunes with such skill in positioning the bodies, that tides would never hinder their placement. Loved, honored and revered through succeeding generations, they were never forgotten. Oral histories of bravery and honor followed them along with their genealogy.
We, like the Hawaiian people, see death as the end of a journey and also a crossing over to a life not yet lived in a new world, a new place. This earthen vessel which is laid to rest still houses the treasure placed by God within.
There is a story in the Bible referring to a burial scene and it is the first and only time that the word coffin is used throughout Scripture. It is the story of Joseph having come to the end of his life’s journey and it reads he was embalmed by the Egyptians and placed in a coffin in Egypt. The beautiful part of this is found in the interpretation of the word ‘coffin’ which means a hope chest. To the bride, the significance of a hope chest is invaluable for in it is contained all those precious things that will become part of her new life in marriage.
The beautiful part of death to both the Hawaiian people and ourselves is the anticipation and preparation for a rich and fulfilling afterlife. We have this treasure contained in an earthen vessel which also like that hope chest will be opened when we stand in the presence of our beloved bridegroom, Jesus, our Savior and Lord. Remember Joseph’s request was not to be left in Egypt but to be taken with his family when they entered the Promised Land. According to Exodus 13:19 (NIV) “Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the Israelites swear an oath. He had said, God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up (to the promised land) with you from this place.
I can’t wait for you to come and gather us to Yourself in anticipation of the words You promised that we will be prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus. What a beautiful plan of making Your family complete.