Intro. It has been 62 years since God called Abraham to leave Ur of the Chaldeans. Isaac has been born, the child of promise.
Sarah has been with Abraham in all his victories and his defeats. Twice she was passed off as his sister for fear of his life. She was complicit in the birth of Ishmael through her maidservant, not trusting that God could open her own womb and fulfill his promise.
Then she dies. The character of the family comes forth in death as Abraham buries his wife.
There is more here in this story, however, than a man burrying his beloved bride. God has promised him the land and now he needs it – he needs a place to bury his wife. So how will Abraham act in this particular hour?
The big idea: In the face of legitimate need, God demonstrates his covenant faithfulness to Abraham by allowing him to possess a small portion of the Promised Land.
I. The reality of common sorrow. Vs1-2
Sarah is the only woman mentioned in scripture whose age is given and a description of her death and dying. Abraham properly mourns his bride. They spent over a hundred years together married.
Being God’s people does not remove us from sorrow and tragedy. It does not mean that death will not be an unwelcomed houseguest. Sorrow will hit each of us, because we live in a broken world.
In the book called the Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbs he recounts after a man lost many in his family to death, he had not lost his faith in God but had lost his sense of him.
This is the normal experience of a believer grieving in a broken world. It is the dark night of the soul – both outside and inside we feel the darkness of the broken world and seemingly at times lose the hand of God.
II. The paradox of covenant living. Vs3-9
Abraham has to go pay a king’s ransom for land that by God’s covenant promise is rightfully his.
Peter in his book picks up this language of sojourning. There ought to be a constant sense that we do not fully fit in the culture and world around us. This is not quite our home – it is and it is not.
This is my home but it is also at the same time, paradoxically speaking, not my home.
When inordinate sorrow hits us instead of the normal sorrow it indicates that maybe we embraced the world a little more than we should.
We respond not with grief with hope but grief without hope. That is because we think we should be satisfied with all this world has for us. It’s because of over realized expectations of this world in which we live.
Not everything promised us will be received in this life.
III. An assurance of covenant faithfulness. Vs.10-20.
Moses wants to remind us that all of this IS going on IN the promised land.
Abraham should not have been heard at the city gate. He is a foreigner. In this transaction that never should have come to pass, Moses gives us great detail of how God fulfills his promises.
There is a buck to be made here. Ephron, the Hittite selling the land, is ready to make top dollar. He is robbing Abraham here. A laborer would have made 10 shekels per year. The selling price is 400 shekels.
But Abraham does not barter and haggle. Why? He knows by God’s grace he can make this deal and by faith someday somehow God will give the rest of the land too.
Father Abraham now has a free and clear title deed to the promised land. God has shown him his faithfulness. He does not have the whole thing – he has a piece of it like earnest money or a down payment on the rest of the land.
In Ephesians 1:11-20 we too have a part of all that God has promised for us. The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of our inheritance. We are sealed by the Spirit. Where do we see this is how God operates? It is here with Abraham. He has an assurance of more actual blessing to come!!!
We know as believers that until Christ returns, we will also bury loved ones like Abraham and grieve. When we are grieving we cling to assurances.
Abraham and we have assurances proven by a down payment on our full inheritance.
In communion we see a paradox too. This is bread and wine and yet it is a foretaste of the feast that is yet to come. It also serves as an assurance of him coming again. This is our seal and deposit in the Holy Spirit that God’s son will return.
Comfort one another with these words and assurances says Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians.
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