Genesis 23:1-20 is our passage today.
For periods of my life, I have used hand tools like spanners, sockets etc. The cost of these tools would surprise most people with many mechanics and fitters owning a toolkit worth many thousands of pounds. When I was young, there was always a temptation to buy some of the cheap tools that can be found in some of the bargain shops. They can look very good and may be fine for the person who will use them occasionally but for those who use them every day they are of very little use as they tend to bend and break. The point is, with many things it’s only when they are tested that you know their quality. Abraham is tested again today and he shows all the marks of a person whose hope is in the Lord.
We know from Hebrews 11:8-19 in the New Testament that Abraham and Sarah were looking towards heaven when they died. As with believers today, they died in hope. That didn’t mean that Abraham didn’t mourn the loss of his wife. It seems he had been staying in Beersheba (22:19), so he made the journey to Hebron (according to Google Maps that’s about a 16 hour walk) to mourn for her and weep over her. They had been together for many years, had travelled great distances and had together held on to God’s promise to have a son. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians;
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” (I Thessalonians 4:13)
We grieve the loss of loved ones but we grieve in hope.
Abraham bought a plot of land from the local people, the Hittites. This is highly significant. Abraham had been living in Canaan for many years, God had clearly told him that his descendants would possess all of Canaan but he didn’t own any of it. “I am an alien and a stranger among you”. Now he needs to buy this small plot to bury his wife. He insisted on paying the full price because he did not need human generosity; God was going to give it all to his family one day. His dealings with the Hittites were above reproach and that is surely a lesson for us.
Abraham could have returned to Ur and bought land but he stayed in Canaan where God wanted him to be. This little plot was important. The cave in it became the family tomb; a tiny foothold in the Promised Land. Speaking of Abraham, the writer to the Hebrews states;
“If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:15-16)
Are you happy where you are? Or are you looking for the heavenly country?
“This world is not my home I’m just a-passing through.
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me from Heaven’s open door,
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.” (Jr Brumley)