Greeting Them from Afar – Genesis 23:1-20
This is our last message in our study of Abraham. Over the last couple of stories, we have seen the blessings of God upon Abraham’s life. We saw him walk by faith and not by sight. His faith in his God has grown. He has learned that God is the God of blessings, he is Yahweh El Olam, the Everlasting God, and he is Jehovah Jireh, the Provider. We find the death of Abraham in chapter 25, but after the death of Sarah, which is at the heart of the text we are looking at, the focus of the narrative turns to Isaac. God has tested Abraham’s faith, strengthening it and making it shine and now he is ready to run the last leg of his race.
In the story today we find some things that are familiar to us and some things that might cause us to scratch our heads. We know the familiar scene of a loved one mourning at the side of the beloved. We know from experience or we can sympathize with those that have the tough job of making funeral arrangements and preparing for the burial of their loved one. Some of us have experienced that this past year and know all too well what Abraham is going through. This story is a reminder that, if the Lord does not return in our lifetime, death comes for us all. As Spurgeon once said, “The young may die. The old must die.”
This story is also one of promises and perseverance. One of the main themes that I have tried to emphasize to you as we started in Genesis is the promises of God. It started in Genesis chapter 3 and will continue unbroken until the book of Revelation. The promises have been given and now we watch them unfold. But more than just watching them in the word we must strive to make them our own. AW Pink once said, “The bee would not extract honey from the flowers as long as he only gazed upon them.” This is perseverance. Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Jacob are given to us as those that persevered to the end. They heard the promises of God, they saw them but greeted them from afar. Yet, this did not stop them from finishing the race in faith.
Today’s passage divides nicely into five parts. Verses one through two describe the death of Sarah and we will consider the passing of an example. In verses three through six we find Abraham, a man who has lived decades in the land still a sojourner and a foreigner. In verses seven through eleven we see the Hittites willing to give Abraham a cave for burial but in verses 12 through 16 Abraham insists on weighing out the silver (he buys the land). And finally, in verses 17-20 we’ll consider Abraham’s possession and what that means.