Eternity Daily Bible Study

The Life Of Abraham


Number: 579

Verses: Genesis 23:1-20

Topic: Abraham Buries Sarah

Date: 19th April 2006

 

Genesis 23:1-20 RV And the life of Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years: these were the years of the life of Sarah.  (2)  And Sarah died in Kiriath–arba (the same is Hebron), in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.  (3)  And Abraham rose up from before his dead, and spake unto the children of Heth, saying, (4) 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.  (5)  And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him, (6) 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.  (7)  And Abraham rose up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth.  .....  (16)  And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the audience of the children of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant.  (17)  So 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 border thereof 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 children of Heth.

 

This cave and its attendant field became the only “official purchased property” belonging to Abraham and his descendants in the land of Israel. Abraham was 'as a mighty prince” but he was a “squatter” who simply used vacant agricultural land “as if” he owned it, and who was too strong and powerful to be easily dislodged.

 

In ancient times property was owned by families who passed it down the line of inheritance. Since Abraham was from Ur of the Chaldees he had no official inheritance in Canaan. The land all officially belonged to other people and families. Up until this time Abraham had simply been able to move from place to place and not needed a permanent dwelling but with the passing of Sarah he needed a permanent and inviolate grave-site. He had to have land that he owned and which would not return to the ownership of another person.  Eventually Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Leah, Isaac and Rebekah would all be buried there (Rachel was buried near Bethlehem after dying during child-birth).

 

(To see the archaeological site:https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/machpelah.html )

 

This site, which has been preserved intact for three thousand years, means that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are not just fictional characters.  They were real people, who are buried a particular plot of ground, to the east of Hebron. The Bible is not a myth, it is about real people in real places. It is grounded in reality!

 

Abraham, the man of faith says “I am a stranger and a sojourner with you”.  The author of the book of Hebrews (probably Paul) commented on this “sojourning” as follows:

Hebrews 11:8-16 RV By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed to go out unto a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.  (9)  By faith he became a sojourner in the land of promise, as in a land not his own, dwelling in tents, with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: (10) for he looked for the city which hath the foundations, whose builder and maker is God.  (11)  By faith even Sarah herself received power to conceive seed when she was past age, since she counted him faithful who had promised: (12) wherefore also there sprang of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of heaven in multitude, and as the sand, which is by the sea shore, innumerable.  (13)  These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.  (14)  For they that say such things make it manifest that they are seeking after a country of their own.  (15)  And if indeed they had been mindful of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return.  (16)  But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

 

Abraham and his descendants are called: “a sojourner in the land of promise”, “dwellers in tents in a land not their own”, “strangers & pilgrims on the earth”, and “as desiring a better country, a heavenly one”. Let's look at each of these terms in turn!

 

All faith-filled Christians are “sojourners in the land of promise” in that in Christ all the promises of God are Yea and Amen. We live by His promises and stand on the promises of God. Our entire Christian journey is not the inheriting of a literal land but an inheriting of eternal life and of heavenly things.

 

We dwell in tents – the tent of our flesh that is our tabernacle here on earth. Both Peter and Paul refer to their bodies as a tent or tabernacle, a temporary dwelling place:

 

2 Peter 1:13-14 HCSB I consider it right, as long as I am in this tent, to wake you up with a reminder, (14) knowing that I will soon lay aside my tent, as our Lord Jesus Christ has also shown me.

 

2 Corinthians 5:1-5 HCSB (1) For we know that if our earthly house, a tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  (2)  And, in fact, we groan in this one, longing to put on our house from heaven, (3) since, when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.  (4)  Indeed, we who are in this tent groan, burdened as we are, because we do not want to be unclothed but clothed, so that mortality may be swallowed up by life.  (5)  And the One who prepared us for this very thing is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment.

 

So Christians are on a pilgrimage in a “tent” the tent of their own bodies, which will be laid aside when they receive their permanent dwelling, the resurrection body, on the Last Day.

 

Christians are also “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” or as the old spiritual says: “This world is not my home I am just a-passing through, my home is laid up, way beyond the blue”.

 

1 Peter 2:11-12 MKJV Dearly beloved, I exhort you as temporary residents and pilgrims to abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, (12) having your conduct honest among the nations, in that which they speak against you as evildoers, they may glorify God in a day of His visitation, seeing your good works.

 

Our true citizenship is in heaven and we are not to be attached to this world and its lusts!

 

The last phrase from Hebrews, that is applied to Abraham is: “as desiring a better country, a heavenly one”. This should knock prosperity theology out cold! Our desire is not to be for this world, but for the heavenly realms! Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did not seek Palestine, they sought after Heaven! Let's look at this again:

 

Hebrews 11: 14-16: (14) For they that say such things make it manifest that they are seeking after a country of their own.  (15)  And if indeed they had been mindful of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return.  (16)  But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

 

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob sought after the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of God, the place of eternal life and the direct Presence of God in great joy and eternal bliss. If we absorbed this fact, we would stop chasing after this world and start chasing after God! On the way we would have peace in the Middle East because the land was not the real issue for the patriarchs. God, and the heavenly Jerusalem was the real issue!

 

My wife and I do not yet own our own home. If we eventually do, then that is fine. But our life is focused on being pilgrims, sojourners and missionaries on this earth while waiting for the Hope that is to come. Home ownership is a worthy goal, but not an ultimate goal. For what use is a wonderful house to a lost soul!

 

Let us be like Abraham, faith-filled pilgrims focused on our heavenly reward in Christ!

 

Blessings,

 

John Edmiston (johned@aibi.ph)

 

 

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