“Shalom for Sarah”
II. Vs. 1-9 A resting place for Sarah
III. Vs. 10-20 Possessing a promise
The next two chapters of Genesis we will look at two events that draw families together, a funeral and a wedding. A whole chapter is given to the burial of Sarah and like most of Abraham’s life he does so with trust in the Lord. There are few things that bring more emotion and confusion into a life then the death of a loved one so it is appropriate to look at how a person of faith handles grief.
II. Vs. 1-9 A resting place for Sarah
Vs.1 Literally this reads “And the life of Sarah was 127 years, the years of the life of Sarah.” She is the only women in scripture whose age and death are recorded in scripture. She lived some 37 years after the birth of Isaac and 60 years with Abraham in the land of promise. Although there are many godly examples of women in the Bible Sarah shines above them all including Mary the mother of our Lord who we call blessed. Sarah is the only woman in who women are admonished to follow as an example.
- Isa 51:1-2 “Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, You who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were hewn, And to the hole of the pit from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father, And to Sarah who bore you; For I called him alone, And blessed him and increased him.”
- 1 Peter 3:3 NLT “Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. That is the way the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They trusted God and accepted the authority of their husbands. For instance, Sarah obeyed her husband, Abraham, when she called him her master. You are her daughters when you do what is right without fear of what your husbands might do.”
In Eccl 7:1 we are told that “A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one’s birth”. Solomon’s point is that there are two times that your name will be mentioned at your birth and at your death and what is thought of you concerning your name at death is the way it will be remembered. Sarah’s named in scripture is remembered well!
In light of the fact that most woman don’t like to mention their age with Sarah it appears to be an honor. What was significant about Sarah was not her outward beauty (though we are told she was quite attractive) but rather her inward beauty. We live in a beauty obsessed society in which young girls seek to emulate their movie, music and model stars. In my opinion we teach young women far too much about outward beauty and not enough about the beauty that does not fade. Too much time and money is spent on packaging while what is inside is ugly! We need to encourage our daughters to become like Sarah and our sons to marry Sarah’s! Recent insurance actuary tables indicate that pastors, their wives and employees live longer than the rest of the work place. In other words spend time on the inner beauty of the heart and not only will you look and feel better you will live longer.
Vs. 2 Sarah died in the city of Arba better known as Hebron the “city of treaty”. They had been absent from this location for some 40 years, although some believe they lived in two locations the other being Beersheba (22:19). This is the first time we are told in scripture that a man wept. He was not afraid to show the loss he felt for a loved one. Every time we weep over the loss of a believer we show three things:
- That love is a gift and a privilege we have had in sharing it with another
- That death is an enemy which will one day lose its sting
- That the reason we are temporarily separated is because of sin
With that sad our weeping is not as the world which weeps with at hope but rather as only a temporary loss awaiting a greater reunion. Paul wrote to the Thess. 4:13-14 “I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.”
Vs. 3-4 Though we are told that Abraham wept his sorrow did not go beyond his understanding as he takes care in finding a place where her body can be placed. He tells the sons of Heth that he is a foreigner and a sojourner among them. That is he lived as a person with no fixed habitation, living on land that which in the worlds eyes belonged to someone else. Yet in requesting a burial place he is indicating that this is the home for his descendant’s. This becomes the second piece of land in which Abraham purchased, (the first being the well in chapter 21). Scripture indicates that 6 people would be buried their including the bones of Joseph that he requested the nation to take with him when they left 400 years after coming to Egypt. Yet prior to Joshua coming back with the nation the only people who lived on owned land were those that had died. What a great picture this is for us who like Abraham are “waiting for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” We two may be laid to rest in a plot of ground, which is not our final destination. Jesus told us as much in John 14:1-3 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
Vs. 5-9 The sons of Heth first offer the land for free, which was a normal way of bargaining. This was rejected then an inflated price was then offered to which the bargaining began. Yet notice that Abraham does not bargain and offers to pay full price. The Christian ought to do business the way in which Abraham did so:
- Vs. 7 Politely “bowed himself to the people of the land”: Remember that Abraham was a wealthy and powerful man yet he dealt with the world in a manner of humility. Manners cannot be underestimated in our dealings with the world as they are watching us all the time. Having spent many years in the Jewelry business I can tell you that by far and away the worst customers I dealt with as far as rudeness were always church goers.
- Vs. 8 Prudently “If it is your wish that I bury my dead out of my sight, hear me, and meet with Ephron the son of Zohar for me”. Abraham was not wishy washy his yes meant yes, he was man that honored his word. Again I need to say that this was not my experience with many of those that said they were believers.
- Vs. 9 Properly “Let him give it to me at the full price, as property for a burial place among you.” Finally Abraham was willing to pay full price. I just hear Christians say to fellow believers “Hey brother since I go to Church why not give me a deal?” My response was always; “Since you go to Church I go to Church why don’t you may pay me double?”
One of the greatest witnesses to the fact that we live in a fallen world is seen in that people have title deeds to cemetery plots. People own a patch of dirt in which to receive our dust. Grace has something far greater then a place to place our bones. Abraham purchases land not just to house Sarah’s remains but for a future for his descendant’s. The cool thing for a believer is that all we end purchasing is an empty whole in the ground.
III. Vs. 10-20 Possessing a promise
Vs. 10-13 The sons of Heth continue to try to bargain even though Abraham has already offered full price. He again bows himself before them in an act of humility taking the low road instead of the haughty one. His way of doing business is not the way of the world but rather in the way of faith. We ought not to ask to pay less then what something is worth.
Vs. 14-16 Ephron does not ask to be paid the price but rather states the amount that the land is worth and says not to worry about it. Still Abraham believes that you can’t out give the Lord and when you think about it 50,000 for the nation of Israel was a small amount to pay. I can only imagine the amazement of the sons of Heth as Abraham only weighs out the amount. Notice that it as in the currency of the merchants, which was a higher standard then what other would pay.
Vs. 17-18 The completion of the sale has happened and Abraham now owns by title what by faith was already his. This was not for him but for those who would live after him. I love this because we are told in Eph. 1:13-14 that we too “were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”
We are told the details of what was included in the land that it was insight of Mamare the place of “vision”. So Abraham would look out his tent door to where Sarah’s body rested and by faith he knew that this was not where she was.
Vs. 19-20 Abraham lived 60 years in the land of promise as a nomad, but before he dies he gives a gift to all who would follow him as a sign the he possessed the land already by faith that one day God would bring it to fruition. We read of Joseph in the 2nd to last verse of Genesis speaking to the children of Israel concerning his burial, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” And sure enough in Exodus 13:19 we are told that “Moses took the bones of Joseph with him”. Finally in Joshua 24:32 we are told that “The bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel had brought up out of Egypt, they buried at Shechem, in the plot of ground which Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for one hundred pieces of silver, and which had become an inheritance of the children of Joseph.” It would take hundreds of years for all of this. We too wait for our Joshua to take our bones to the land of promise, the land of our inheritance. All we can say is what the apostle John said in Revelation 22:20 “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”