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Tag Archives: Death

Buying The Cave Of Machpelah

“So Abraham bought the plot of land belonging to Ephron at Machpelah, near Mamre. This included the field itself, the cave that was in it, and all the surrounding trees.” (Genesis 23:17 NLT)

What a peculiar situation we find Abraham in as the 23rd chapter of Genesis unfolds. The man to whom God had promised the entire land of Palestine (Genesis 15:18) now stood negotiating with the sons of Heth for a burial plot in which to inter his beloved Sarah. His descendants had been given by God all the land from the Wadi el Arish river of Egypt to the mighty Euphrates; yet Abraham did not actually possess so much as a parcel of land the size of a burial plot! He indeed possessed great wealth, we know this (e.g, Gen. 13:2, 24:35), but his feet trod upon ground which, at the time, belonged to others.

“Here I am, a stranger and a foreigner among you. Please sell me a piece of land so I can give my wife a proper burial.”(Genesis 23:4 NLT)

I am a foreigner and an alien among you, Abraham honestly says to those who currently occupied the land. He was living in a country which he had immigrated to, a land wherein he had no natural inheritance. The only One Who really does own any part of this Earth (Psalm 24:1) had deeded the land to Abraham and his descendants, but Abraham was not to take it by force. So, he negotiates to purchase a piece of the land which he really already owns. Verse 9 of Genesis 23 shows us that Abraham already had in mind a specific section in which he desired to bury Sarah: the Cave of Machpelah. It belonged to a certain man named Ephron, andyours it would be from him that Abraham must purchase it.

The generous gesturing of the sons of Heth, even Ephron himself, which is described in Verses 6-16, might leave us quite impressed by the absolute magnanimous offerings which they present to Abraham. “Bury your dead in the choicest of our graves”, they tell him (v. 6). It appears that these most noble gentlemen are proposing that Abraham take from them whatsoever he wishes, no charge attached. But those familiar with the customs and commercial protocols of the Oriental marketplaces, ancient and modern, tell us that such ostentatious pretense is a mere formality with no such actual intention of a one-sided transaction occurring at all. Take it, it’s yours, even though it is worth 400 shekels of silver, Ephron says. The price has been stipulated, a price that is agreed by those familiar with the culture to be grossly exorbitant. Nevertheless, the price has been stated and Abraham can in no way accept this piece of land without rendering the amount; lest his honor and reputation be forever damaged.

Verse 17 defines the parameters of the property in question, even mentioning the trees and specific borders that would differentiate the limits of the field from its environs. No doubt about it that this chapter of Genesis was to serve as a perpetual legal document articulating that the Cave of Machpelah, the resting place of the Patriarchs, had been acquired with all propriety.

So, what can be learned by examining such a relatively mundane chapter of Scripture? What applicable truths can the modern child of God glean from this description of Abraham’s purchase of the Cave of Machpelah? First, we see that there is a dignity with which the servant of God should behave in all of his dealings with those of this world. Any other man in that assembly would have doubtlessly haggled and dickered over the amount quoted for the field, as was likely Ephron’s expectation and reasoning for setting the initial price so high. But Abraham refrains from doing so, silently agreeing with Ephorn’ assertion: What is 400 shekels of silver between me and you, indeed. The price was unfair, but in Abraham’s economy it was no great loss. Any attempt to secure a lesser amount could have later been construed as duplicity on the part of Abraham. I wanted 400 for it, but that silver-tongued Abraham talked me down to 250, Ephron might have claimed. Since Abraham paid the exact price requested, no such dishonesty could ever be attributed to him. It is certainly not a violation of God’s will to be shrewd in our business dealings, but we must always bear in mind that God is the One upon Whom we rely and we are merely stewards of any finances which come our way. Our character is of far greater importance than our treasure; for we cannot serve God and money.

The paradoxical nature of Sarah’s burial was not likely lost on Abraham. For it was only in her death that he had actually acquired even one small portion of the Land of Promise. He would later join her there (Gen. 25:10) and it would only be then that he would cease to be a stranger and foreigner and would take up permanent residence therein. It really is not much different for us. God has promised unto the Christian blessings in heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3, 2:6), the fullness of which we will not see in this lifetime. Those blessings were secured by Christ through His death, and it is only after our own death that we shall enjoy them completely. Like Abraham, we have those promises now, but until we pass from this life to the next, we shall remain strangers and sojourners in a land that is not our own.

“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. (1 John 3:2)

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published April 5, 2010]

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

Scriptures marked (CSB) are taken from the Christian Standard Bible  (CSB) Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.

Scriptures marked (NLT) are taken from the New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible,New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scriptures marked (KJV) are taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible, Public Domain.

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The Book Of The Generations Of Adam

"And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died." (Genesis 5:5)

“So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years, and he died.” (Genesis 5:5)

What type of feelings do you associate with a graveyard? Sadness, fear, regret? Cemeteries often elicit a very powerful emotional response because of what they represent and what they remind us all of, that is, that this life will end someday for every one of us. Regardless of what a person believes concerning the afterlife, people of all beliefs recognize that this life will one day end.

Chapter 5 of the Book of Genesis is really a graveyard right in the middle of the story of the beginning of mankind on the Earth. We are given little more than a list of names, their children, and how long they lived. And the final words given in regards to nearly every single name on the list are: “And he died.” He was born, he had children of his own, and then he died.

This is the cold and sorrowful tale that a headstone relates. Most often, a tombstone tells noting more than the name, date of birth, and date of death of the individual buried beneath it. It has been said that most people will not be remembered at all beyond the third generation that comes after them. For the vast majority of us, we will be utterly forgotten within 20-30 years after we have passed on. Oh, that we might have a better perspective of the ultimate meaninglessness of the busy activities into which we pour so much of our time and strength!

“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—” (Romans 5:12)

Chapter 5 of Genesis is a stark reminder of the consequences that sin brings. While these people mentioned who lived before the Flood had remarkably long lifespans, they all still died. And so it is with every generation, save for the last one which will witness the return of the Lord. This life will end one day for all of us.

The Good News is that we will not remain in the grave! For those who are trusting in Jesus Christ, this life is but a preface to the true life that is to come. Indeed, the moment that these bodies cease to be alive, we will be forever present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). Though we pass through this solemn graveyard of the Fifth chapter of Genesis, may we all be reminded of the words declared by the Apostle Paul:

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”(1 Corinthians 15:55)

The consequences of sin brings death to the body, but the Grace of God brings life to the spirit.

“So that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:21)

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published September 29, 2009]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

Jacob Mourns Joseph

"And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him." (Genesis 37:35)

Something is strangely familiar about the scene of the sons of Jacob presenting the blood-stained coat of many colors to their father. A deliberate misidentification, a tricked father, even the scent of goat that lingered on the coat. The incident bears a striking resemblance to the deception of Isaac by Jacob himself carried out so many years prior, and recorded in Genesis 27. This time, Jacob is on the receiving end of the deception and he is the one being tricked into believing his own son has been killed by wild animals. The Scriptural law of reaping and sowing is a recurring theme throughout the Book of Genesis. Jacob had dealt dishonestly with his father, and now his sons are dealing the same way with him. That no one ultimately gets away with their sinfulness is a lesson in this book that cannot be missed. 

Before moving on to Chapter 38, we notice the condition in which Jacob is left after hearing the news of Joseph’s supposed demise. “For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning“, he laments. He is obviously absolutely devastated by the report of his dearest son’s death and remains completely inconsolable.

The loss of a child is an incomparable tragedy for any parent to go through. Regardless of the age, no parent is ever prepared to outlive their own children. Those who have endured such a horrific loss can certainly sympathize with what Jacob must have been going through. Yet it is at times such as these that we are all reminded of the hope that we have in the Lord. Paul encouraged the Church at Thessalonica:

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14)

This is not to say that grieving does not have its place, but we are not to grieve as the world grieves. Of course it was appropriate for Jacob to mourn the loss of his son, but to conclude that his own life was now without worth seems to be grieving like those who are without hope. We all may feel such a sense of devastation to one degree or another, especially when the wounds of our loss are still new. But the time comes when we must lay the burden of our grief in the loving hands of our precious Savior. The time comes when we must look to Him to show us the way to carry onward; to continue to live the life that He has called us to live.

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