Summary: An Expository Message On Genesis 22:20-23:20 On How God’s Promises To Us Are Primarily Future Realities. Genesis Series #46
Genesis Series #46 May 05, 2002
Title: Faith For The Future
Welcome to New life in Christ. Today we continue with message #46 in our verse-by-verse study of the book of Genesis.
Illustration: John Elway was for many years the quarterback of the Denver Broncos. Although he was a great quarterback, his team was not that great. So year upon year they experienced losing seasons and humiliation, while he endured numerous injuries. All of his efforts and faithfulness seemed to be useless. Despite their situation John Elway did not retire but kept on enduring the pain and the failure of football. Why did he keep going? Because he had faith for the future! He believed that eventually his faith would pay off and that they would win the Super Bowl. His belief was realized in 1998 when the Denver Broncos won Super Bowl 32. If he had not had faith for the future he would of missed that experience.
In the same way we, as Christians, must have faith for the future if we are to experience the fullness of God promises. We too will experience a life of difficulties. Often there will be very little to show for our years of faith in God. We need to have a faith for the future if we are to endure and press forward and ultimately experience God’s promises. Abraham had this type of faith. I will show you how this passage from Chapter 23 reflects Abraham’s faith for the future in a few minutes.
If my research is any indication; this chapter is one of the least preached and taught in the Bible. On the Internet and in my commentaries very little attention or information was given on this chapter. I can understand this avoidance because, at first glance, this chapter seems to have little to offer in the way of practical application. A preacher or teacher could easily struggle with proclaiming a message from this text. Nevertheless I believe that a closer look at this text reveals not only a practical message but also vital message to the Christian today.
I do not think this chapter is telling the Christian how to cope with the death of a loved one or how to engage in business practices. Some of the limited information I was able to ascertain from commentaries and Internet put much of the focus on these topics because of Abraham’s grief over Sarah’s death and because Abraham conducted business in acquiring the burial tomb. I do not think either of these topics is the main message of this chapter. I think the main emphasis of the story is that Sarah was buried “in Canaan” and that Abraham went to great lengths and cost to make this a certainty. This story is important because it shows us how Abraham actions reflected a faith for the future. To understand how Abraham’s actions reflected his faith for the future we have to understand the importance that people of that era placed on burial.
The ancient Israelites placed great importance in the location of their own or family member’s burial site. It was normal and greatly desired to be buried in one’s homeland i.e. where one’s family roots were. Genesis 22:20-24 reminds us that Abraham and Sarah’s family roots were in Ur. Abraham admits in Gen. 23:4 that he is an "alien and stranger" in the land of Canaan. Despite the importance of burial location, family roots, and Abraham’s current alien status he insist on burying Sarah in Canaan, even though doing so is very costly. Why?
The answer is because Abraham was not looking backward to where he came from, nor was he looking at his present situation in which lived in a tent because he did not possess even 1 acre of the promised land. Abraham’s was looking forward, in faith, to what God had promised! Thus the main point of Genesis 23 is not what Abraham did but rather why he did it.
Abraham’s recognized and believed that God’s promises are still in the future. He had a faith for the future and therefore he acted accordingly. Abraham had received very little of God promises in his earthly life and yet this story demonstrates that he continued to believe faithfully, despite many difficulties, because he had a faith for the future. He expected God to fulfill every one of His promises. In this way, Abraham’s serves as an example to Christians today, who also have been given “very great and precious promises” that we must wait to inherit.
I believe the main lesson in this text that believers need to learn can be summarized as follows:
I. God’s Promises To Us Are Primarily Future Realities.
In other words, most of the great things that God has promised His people will not be received in this life. This was true of Abraham and most of the other saints of God.