Lessons from the Burial of Sarah

Genesis chapter 23 records the death and burial of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.

Sarah was 127 years old when she died in Kirjatharba (Hebron) in the land of Canaan and Abraham came to mourn and wept for her. Being a stranger and sojourner in that land, and not having a burial place, he stood up before Sarah’s body and negotiated with the people (sons of Heth) for a place to bury Sarah. When the people identified Abraham as a mighty prince amongst them and offered Abraham the choice to pick from the choicest of tombs, Abraham stood up and bowed himself to the people of the land and instead of taking advantage of his position and princely power, he offered to purchase the cave of Macpelah, from Ephron, the son of Zohar, for the fair market value of what Ephron would sell it to one of his own people. In the presence of the people of the land (children of Heth), Abraham and Ephron settled at four hundred shekels of silver for the the cave of Macpelah, the field in which the cave was and all the trees in the border of that field. Abraham weighed four hundred shekels of silver in the audience of the people and purchased the property, where he buried Sarah.

Points to ponder:
There are some valuable lessons one can learn from this account that applies aptly to businesses.
First, despite the position and power of Abraham, wherein he is recognized as a mighty prince (even to a people not his own), he does not take advantage of that position or power but remembers to be respectful (bowing to the people) and not exploiting their generosity by accepting their ‘free’ offer. In like manner, we ought not to let position and power, make us forget respect of the people nor should we exploit business offers just because we can.
Second, he offers to pay full price at fair market value to purchase a property that he explicitly identifies. In like manner, our business dealings must not only be fair, but the details of the transactions need to be non-ambiguous.
Third, Abraham conducted his business in front of the people as witnesses, making his business dealings transparent and open. In like manner, our business dealings should all be out in the open in a world that is rife with bribery (under the table transactions).

However, in addition to these business lessons, if we fail to see the spiritual application of this account, we would have completely missed the mark. Abraham was a wealthy man, so much so that the people of the land called him a mighty prince. He had possessions, power and position and yet he did not have a place to bury his own wife. This shows that Abraham was not attached to the land for he recognized that he was merely a sojourner and a stranger in the land. In like manner, we are merely strangers and sojourners in the world here … on a journey to an eternal city whose architect and builder is God himself. While we may have some position and power in this world, we must not be attached to this world … for our citizenship is in heaven. Are you on that journey or are you settled here on earth (which will soon pass away)?

Genesis 23:1-20 (KJV)
And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah.
And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.
And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying,
I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a buryingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.
And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him,
Hear us, my lord: thou art a mighty prince among us: in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead; none of us shall withhold from thee his sepulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead.
And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth.
And he communed with them, saying, If it be your mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight; hear me, and intreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar,
That he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which is in the end of his field; for as much money as it is worth he shall give it me for a possession of a buryingplace amongst you.
10 And Ephron dwelt among the children of Heth: and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the audience of the children of Heth, even of all that went in at the gate of his city, saying,
11 Nay, my lord, hear me: the field give I thee, and the cave that is therein, I give it thee; in the presence of the sons of my people give I it thee: bury thy dead.
12 And Abraham bowed down himself before the people of the land.
13 And he spake unto Ephron in the audience of the people of the land, saying, But if thou wilt give it, I pray thee, hear me: I will give thee money for the field; take it of me, and I will bury my dead there.
14 And Ephron answered Abraham, saying unto him,
15 My lord, hearken unto me: the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver; what is that betwixt me and thee? bury therefore thy dead.
16 And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the audience of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant.
17 And the field of Ephron which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field, and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the borders round about, were made sure
18 Unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city.
19 And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan.
20 And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a buryingplace by the sons of Heth.

From his own kindred

The last five verses in the book of Genesis chapter 22 lists the children (sons) of Abraham’s brother Nahor by his wife Milcah and his concubine Reumah. Oddly enough, you find that one of Nahor’s grand daughter, Rebekah is mentioned by name (Genesis 22:23) as the daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son. While this may seem to be insignificant, deeper analysis of the Scripture reveals hidden treasures.

Rebekah is identified as belonging to the kindred of Abraham (Genesis 22:23). While this may not seems so important at this juncture of time, soon, we will learn that after Abraham’s wife, Sarah, died, Isaac his son grieved and was comforted by Rebekah (Genesis 24:67) when he married her. Abraham had made his eldest servant promise that he would find a wife for Isaac from his own kindred (Genesis 24:1-4).

Points to ponder:
Abraham recognized the importance of familial relationships and was determined to find a wife for his son from his own family line. In like manner, God was purposed to find a wife for his son, Jesus Christ and found that wife, in the Church (Revelation 19:7) being adopted into his family when we believe in Jesus (Ephesians 1:5). In other words, God finds a wife for his bridegroom Son, Jesus, in you and me, who believe and are part of his family – from his own kindred. Revelation 19:7 states that the wife has made herself ready. Are you ready for Jesus, the Bridegroom?

Genesis 22:20-24 (KJV)
20 And it came to pass after these things, that it was told Abraham, saying, Behold, Milcah, she hath also born children unto thy brother Nahor;
21 Huz his firstborn, and Buz his brother, and Kemuel the father of Aram,
22 And Chesed, and Hazo, and Pildash, and Jidlaph, and Bethuel.
23 And Bethuel begat Rebekah: these eight Milcah did bear to Nahor, Abraham’s brother.
24 And his concubine, whose name was Reumah, she bare also Tebah, and Gaham, and Thahash, and Maachah.

Return to Beersheba

The account of God blessing Abraham and establishing the Abrahamic covenant, prophesying the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, as the Seed of Abraham, end with Abraham returning with his servants to Beersheba.

Although the reason as to why Abraham returned to Beersheba is unknown, from the Scripture, we learn that Beersheba was the place where Abraham had made a treaty with Abimelech and his commander Phicol and it means the well of seven or well of the oath. At the end of the treaty we learn that Abraham planted a grove where he called the name of the Lord, Eternal God. (Genesis 21:22-34).

With the Lord intervening and preventing Abraham from sacrificing his own son, Isaac, it is not unlikely that Abraham returned to the place where he had previously called on the name of the Lord God.

Points to ponder:
In light of this account of Abraham returning to Beersheba, the question that needs to be answered is Do we return to Beersheba? i.e., Do we return to where we call on the name of the Lord God – the place of worship? If not, we ought to.

Genesis 22:19 (KJV)
19 So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.

Genesis 21:33 (KJV)
33 And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God.

The Role model Father

It is Father’s day in the year of the Lord 2015 and we celebrated Father’s day by starting our day in his presence and meditating on his Word. Being blessed with a wonderful wife (Sangeetha) and two sons (Reuben and Ittai) who are gifts from above, I am highly favored by the Lord. In the evening we went skating and watching movies and I felt so loved and grateful to God for my family and life.

On Father’s day, many recognize their earthly fathers and I wondered if I was by any chance a role model. As my mind pondered, I was thinking about Abraham as a Father and if he could be a role model to us now. The very thought of being willing to sacrifice your own son, whom you love, was indeed a hard pill to swallow and I quickly wrote Abraham off, as a role model – one whom I would not want to follow – dreading at the very thought that I would miserably fail the test of Abraham, if I was placed in such a predicament. Then I realized (which I believe was by the prompting of the Holy Spirit) that Abraham was able to go through that test because he knew the very nature of God.

Abraham was willing to sacrifice his own son to demonstrate his love for God, because he recognized and knew that God as The Father was also willing to sacrifice his only begotten Son (Jesus Christ) to demonstrate his love for man. God demonstrated his great love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ Jesus his Only begotten Son, who was given for us, was sacrificed for us (Romans 5:8; John 3:16; Hebrews 10:10).

Points to ponder:
The real Role model Father is not Abraham, but God the Father himself. Are you and I willing to follow The Role Model – God, Our Father? He is a father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5) and our Abba, Father.

In thy Seed – all the nations of the earth be blessed

In the covenant that the Lord God makes with Abraham for his obedience, God promises to not only bless him but also lets him know that he will be a blessing and through him will come The Seed by whom all nations of the earth shall be blessed.

Though Isaac was the immediate child of Abraham, Apostle Paul identifies that the Seed refers to none other than Jesus Christ himself (Galatians 3:16). The Bible also teaches us that Jesus Christ in the hope of all nations (Matthew 12:21) and Jesus Christ IN us is the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). We also learn from the Holy Scripture that those who have trusted IN Christ Jesus as their Savior, Master, King, and LORD are a new creation – no longer cursed and under the penalty, but blessed with life eternal (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Points to ponder:
Is Jesus Christ, ‘The Seed’ sowed in your life or in other words is Christ Jesus, the hope of glory, by and through whom, all of the nations of the earth is blessed, in you, germinating to make your life fruitful for God’s purpose. And equally important it is for you to answer – Are you in Christ Jesus? Have you trusted in Him – The Seed of Abraham.

Genesis 22:18 (KJV)
18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

Possessing the gate

When the Lord God blessed Abraham for his obedience, he ended his blessing by stating “and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies.” (Genesis 22:17). This may seem odd in our current generation but during the Biblical times, cities were fortified and the gate was the only way in and out of the city. Additionally it was at the gate where the people from outside the city would engage in trade, commerce and exchange, making the gate a marketplace (2 Kings 7:1) and a storeroom (Nehemiah 12:25). When disputes of trade arose, the gate also became a place where these disputes were settled and thus a place of justice (Amos 5:15). At times, the king would come and sit at the gate to settle disputes and listen to the people (2 Samuel 19:8; 1 Kings 22:10).

Thus to possess the gate of one’s enemies means to not only be in a position that controlled trade, commerce, and exchange, but also indicated that the person who possessed the gate was one who could deliver justice and had authority as a king.

Points to ponder:
Jesus Christ the Seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16) traded his own righteousness for our unrighteousness by settling the dispute of sin and death with his salvation, so that we can enter through the one gate (him) into God’s Holy presence. As the King of kings, he sits at the right hand of God, possessing the keys of the gate of hades and death (Revelation 1:18), his enemies. The promise given to Abraham of his seed (note singular) possessing the gate of his enemies, comes true in Jesus Christ.

Genesis 22:17 (KJV)
17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

As the stars of the heaven, as the sand upon the seashore

Genesis 22:17 records the blessing that God assured Abraham, for he had obeyed the voice of God and acted on God’s command to sacrifice his own son, Isaac, whom he loved. God says that he will have multiplied blessings and that his seed will be multiplied as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore.

Note first that the heaven mentioned here is singular. ‘The heaven’ is from where God reigns (Isaiah 66:1) and the stars in the bible not only refers to the angelic beings (Job 38:7) celestial sons of God (Job 1:6) but also those who are wise who turn many to righteousness (witnesses of God) (Daniel 12:3) – the heaven born sons of God i.e., believers. In this sense, the stars refer to spiritual children of Abraham, those born from above (John 3:3; 3:7), who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and who are adopted into God’s family, through The Seed of Abraham (referring to Jesus – Galatians 3:16). Additionally, this blessing speaks of the innumerability of Abraham’s children through Isaac and Jacob, through whom the nation of Israel (physical children of Abraham) comes into being. From dust (sand) was man made and the physical children of Abraham will be like the sand upon the sea shore (land).

Points to ponder:
Many of us who are not born a Jew, but instead a Gentile, would not be like the sand upon the sea shore, but instead we can be like the stars upon the heaven. In other words. we who are born from above, and who are witnesses for Jesus, proclaiming his life-changing gospel to turn many to righteousness, will be like the stars – the spiritual children of Abraham through Jesus Christ. Are you a star? Are you born again? Are you born from above?

Genesis 22:17 (KJV)
17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;