Summary: Death visits all
A. WHEN FACED WITH THE DEATH OF A LOVED ONE: GENESIS 23:1-20
1. Death visits all: sometimes a loved one, eventually ourselves.
2. Some think we should not show grief because a believer goes to be with the Lord.
a. True, they are better off.
b. We miss them because they were part of our life.
c. Some grieve inwardly. “Abraham came to mourn” (23:2).
d. Some grieve outwardly. “Abraham came . . . to weep” (23:2).
We couldn’t bring them back, if we would;
We wouldn’t bring them back, if we could
3. Women don’t like to tell their age, Sarah was the only one mentioned in the Bible. “Sarah was a hundred and twenty-seven years old” (23:1).
“Sarah died when she was 127 years old when living near Hebron. After the proper time of grieving, Abraham went to the town council to ask to buy a burial plot. They answered. ‘You are a prince with God; bury your wife in one of our burial sites. No one will refuse you.’ Abraham bowed respectfully and said, ‘If you seriously want to help me, ask Ephron, son of Zohar to sell me the cave of Machpelah at the edge of his property at full price.’ Ephron spoke up before the town council, ‘Oh no, I couldn’t sell it to you. It’s a gift to you. These people are witnesses that I’ll give it to you.’ But Abraham insisted, ‘I want to pay full price so it will be my burial grave.’ Ephron answered, ‘If you insist, what is 400 silver shekels between friends.’ Abraham accepted the offer and weighed out the full price in front of the town council. Thus, Abraham owned the field and buried Sarah there” (Gen. 23:1-20, Amplified).
B. FAITH NEGOTIATES FIRST TITLE DEED TO PROMISE LAND
1. A time of grieving is necessary to adjust to their absence. “Abraham stood up from before his dead” (23:3).
2. Abraham had to do something; the body was at the camp site. “Out of my sight” (23:4).
3. God expects a believer to recognize local cultural customs. “Abraham went to the town council” (23:3, ELT).
4. It was 77 years since God’s call when Abraham was 50 years old. That was when God promised to give him the land.
5. This is Abraham’s first legal property.
6. The local people recognized Abraham’s good testimony. “Thou art a mighty prince” (23:6).
7. This is how we view ourselves. “I am a stranger and sojourner” (23:4). “These all died in faith . . . confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Heb. 11:13).
8. The town council wanted to help. “None of us shall withhold” (23:6).
9. A believer should respect others, even non-believers. “Abraham stood up and bowed himself to the people” (23:7).
10. Abraham did not demand or beg. “He communed with them” (23:8). You must be one with others when you seek something.
11. Hittite law said when someone “gave” you land, you were indebted to them. “Give me the cave . . . for as much as it’s worth” (23:9). By paying, Abraham was free and the property was his.
12. Machpelah means double, probably two entrances. It was the place where Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, and Leah were buried (Gen. 49:3; 50:3). Rachael was the notable exception. The modern city of Hebron was built around it. The cave was earlier covered by a Christian church, but an Islamic mosque is there now; Christians are forbidden entrance.
13. This was their custom of bargaining. To offer it as a gift was to ask for a price. They expected Abraham to offer a price, but he successfully got Ephron to name a price.
14. There was no written contract; it became legal when agreed upon. “Before all that went in at the gates of the city” (23:18).
15. Abraham was not present when Sarah died. “Abraham came to mourn . . . and weep” (23:2). He may have been at Beersheba (24 miles away).
16. Abraham offered to buy the cave. “In the end of his field.” Ephron insisted he buy the property. “The field, and the cave, and all the trees, were in the field . . . all the borders roundabout were made sure” (23:17).
a. Abraham got more than he asked.
b. Abraham got future use of the trees
C. WHAT CAN WE LEARN ABOUT DEATH?
1. It’s inevitable.
2. Make sure in your heart you are prepared.
3. We’re never prepared for the death of loved ones.
4. Bury respectfully.
5. Let a burial be a testimony to others.
6. The way you live determines what others think of you.
7. Death is temporary; we shall live with Christ.
8. Live today in view of your life tomorrow after death. “I am a stranger and sojourner.”