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Summary: Abraham purchases land

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Genesis 23:1-20

John Shearhart

October 19, 2008

We’re making our way through Genesis: chapter-by-chapter and verse-by-verse. After 25 years of waiting Abraham has a son, and then he’s commanded to sacrifice him to God as a burnt offering. It would have been very difficult (probably even impossible) for most people, but Abraham’s already learned that God can be trusted to keep His promises.

Since God has promised that Isaac will be a father, then Abraham reason there’s no way Isaac can die (or stay dead) at least until he has a child. So in faith in that promise Abraham goes to the top of the mountain, ties up his son, draws the knife, and just before plunging it into his son, God stops him and says something like, “Now you’re faith is made evident.”

And so, God provided a ram to die in Isaac’s place. The two worshiped on the mountain, and then they go back down. We don’t know how much time passes, but sometime later Sarah dies, and this is where we pick up this morning:

And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah. 2And 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 here we see again the curse of Adam taking its toll. The serpent lied to Eve when he said, “You will surely not die.” Even these people who are chosen by God from all the people of the earth still have to face their own mortality.

But it’s interesting to me that her death (at least as far as the chapters go) immediately follows the “life” of Isaac. Abraham figuratively received Isaac back from the dead (Heb. 11:19), but then he literally loses Sarah.

What may be more interesting about chapter 23 is that only 2 verses describe her death and burial, but 18 describe how Abraham purchased her burial plot.

At first, it may seem like Moses got it backwards. Shouldn’t we read more about how she died and what it meant for Abraham?

But the point you have two remember when reading this chapter is that Moses’ intention isn’t to be dramatic or to pull our heartstrings—the whole Bible is a book about how God has chosen His people, made them a promise, and then how He has fulfilled His promise.

The story we read in chapter 23 isn’t primarily about how Sarah dies but how Abraham receives land—Promised Land.

Up to now he’s been living in a tent on the plains owned by a man named Mamre. Not long ago he was able to secure the rights to use a certain well at Beersheba, but he still didn’t own the land. What we’re going to see today is how the stranger and sojourner acquires the first little spot of land that will one day be called Israel.

3And Abraham stood up from before his dead,

That is that he stopped his time of mourning,

and spake unto the sons of Heth,

Now, you’ll remember in the story of Noah how he got drunk on wine and passed out without wearing any clothes. He had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.


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