"Listen to me, my lord. The land is worth four hundred shekels of silver, but what is that between you and me? Bury your dead."
1. On Mount Moriah we find Abraham doing God's will; here we find him suffering it.
I. The PREPARATION for this great grace God and Abraham recognizing each other; the servant called by name, responding with the profession of readiness for obedience.
II. The COMMANDMENT is itself a secret communication, a covenant. Do this, and I will bless thee; follow me in this journey "as I tell thee," and thou shalt see my salvation.
III. The simple, childlike OBEDIENCE of the patriarch is reflected in the quiet demeanor of Isaac bearing the wood of the burnt offering, type of Jesus bearing his cross, inquiring for the lamb with lamb-like innocence and patience. "They went both of them together" (Vers. 6 and 8) - "together" in the beginning of the journey, "together" in the end, in the trial and in the blessing.
IV. FAITH which accepts the will of God and takes up the Divine mission WILL COMMIT THE FUTURE TO THE GRACIOUS PROVISION ON WHICH IT DEPENDS. "My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering" (Ver. 8). Already Abraham was saying, "The Lord will provide." We say it sometimes with a fearful burden upon our heart; but when we go steadfastly and hopefully forward we say it at last with the remembrance of a great deliverance sending its glory along the way of our future.
V. THE TRIAL OF THE TRUE HEART IS OFTEN STRETCHED OUT TO ITS LAST EXTREMITY, that the revelation which rewards faithfulness may be the more abundant and wonderful (Vers. 9, 10). We must take God at his word, otherwise we shall not experience the promised deliverance. "Take thy son, and offer him there" (Ver. 2). "And Abraham stretched forth his hand and took the knife to slay his son." What else could he do? The commandment must be obeyed. The obedience must be "good and perfect and acceptable" as the will of God.
VI. AT THE POINT OF ENTIRE SURRENDER APPEARS THE ANGEL, is heard the voice of relief, the assurance of acceptance, the change in the method of obedience, the opened eyes, the provided sacrifice, THE RETURNING JOY OF SALVATION (Vers. 11-13). There is a blindness of self-sacrifice which leads to a sight of immeasurable joy. Abraham saw nothing before him but the plain path of obedience; he went on, and at last "lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold' the self-sacrifice changed into peaceful offering of an appointed substitute (Ver. 13) "in the stead of his son."
VII. THE CLIMAX OF OUR EXPERIENCE AND OF DIVINE MERCY BECOMES TO US A NEW NAME OF JEHOVAH. We know him henceforth by that knowledge of fact. "Jehovah-jireh (the Lord will provide): as it is said to this day, in the mount of the Lord it shall be provided" (or seen) (Ver. 14).
1. Not before the mount, but in the mount; therefore go to the summit and wait.
2. What the Lord will provide will be better every way than what we could provide.
3. The offering on the mount is the great provision, the whole burnt offering for the sins of the world, by which the true humanity is redeemed and the true "joy" ("Isaac," laughter) is retained.
4. The last name of Jehovah which Abraham gave him was Jehovah the Everlasting; now he adds to that name that which brings the Everlasting into the sphere of daily life - "Jehovah-jireh, the Lord will provide." We name that name when we reach the mount where the great sacrifice was provided - Mount Moriah, Mount Calvary.
5. The end of the great trial and obedience was a renewal, a solemn republication, of the covenant. "God could swear by no greater; he swore by himself" (Hebrews 6:13). On the foundation of practical faith is built up the kingdom of heaven, which the Lord swears shall include all nations, and be supreme in all the earth. The notes of that kingdom are here in the history of the patriarch -
(1) acceptance of the word of God,
(3) faith instead of sight,
(4) withholding nothing,
(5) perseverance to the end. Beersheba became now a new place to Abraham, for he carried to the well and grove which he had named after the oaths of himself and Abimelech the remembrance of the Divine oath, on which henceforth he rested all his expectations. After this the man in whom all nations shall be blessed looks round and finds the promise being already fulfilled, and his kindred spreading widely in the earth. - R.
Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.
I. THAT IN VIEW OF THE AWFUL FACT OF DEATH THE LITTLENESS OF HUMAN LIFE IS SEEN.
II. TO REALIZE THE FACT OF HIS OWN MORTALITY. "I may be the next to go."
III. TO FEEL THAT THERE IS A LIFE BEYOND.
IV. THE SACREDNESS OF SORROW FOR THE DEAD.
(T. H. Leale.)
1. A fellow-feeling of death with the dead.
2. An anticipation of death or a living preparation for one's own death.
3. A believing sense of the end or destination of death to be made useful to the life.
(J. P. Lange, D. D.)
2. Look at Abraham buying a grave; the best man of his age here bargains for burial ground. Ponder well this transaction, and consider that in return for four hundred pieces of silver Abraham gets a burying-place.
3. The behaviour of the children of Heth calls for appreciative notice. They treated Abraham with generous pity and helpfulness.
4. Man's final requirement of man is a grave. In the grave there is no repentance; the dead man cannot obliterate the past.
5. Abraham mourned for Sarah. Consecration to God's purpose does not eradicate our deep human love; say, rather, that it heightens, refines, sanctifies it.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
(J. O. Dykes, D. D.)
I. THE DEATH.
1. Of Sarah, princess. Kings and great men die. "Wealth cannot deliver in the day of his power."
2. The wife of a great man. Derives her chief dignity from this connection. Little expected the honour that would befall her from this marriage. The source of Abraham's joy, as well as the occasion of some of his sins.
3. The mother of the free. The ancestress of Jesus, and those who believe in Him.
4. Died at Hebron = alliance. The alliance with Abraham dissolved, and her eternal alliance with Abraham's God, and one who was before Abraham (John 8:58), now inaugurated. Happy are those who compose the bride — the Lamb's wife; the day of death is with them the day of their espousals. The alliances of earth, abandoned for a better and more lasting one.
II. THE GRAVE.
1. A cave. We are of the earth, earthy. Dust, and must return to dust.
2. Purchased. Abraham selected one that would receive his own remains. ("The family meeting-place" is an epitaph at Pere la Chaise.) Men sometimes think more of their sepulchres than of death; and make greater preparation for the temporary repose of the body than the eternal rest of the soul. It was all that Abraham purchased of the promised land. The country was given to the living. The promised land of heaven for the living is a free gift, and there will be no bargaining for graves there. Man sells a place for the dead, God gives a home for the living.
III. THE BURIAL. "That I may bury my dead out of my sight." The object that once most pleased the eye must be put " out of sight," as a loathsome thing. Life, a fountain of beauty and attractiveness. How glorious that world must be where they die no more, and are never put out of sight. Those who die in the Lord, and are put out of sight, will presently be in sight for ever. The aged man before the grave of his wife. The parting is not for long. A few more steps, and he will be at home with his princess for ever. But with all this Christian hope, the loss of dear friends and the sunderings of long companionships is painful. At such times may we be able to say, "Thy will be done." Learn:
1. The great and good and best loved must die.
2. The earthly dissolution may be the beginning of our eternal union.
3. It is little the world can furnish us besides a place to lie down in at the end of the journey.
4. Happy are those who, being saved themselves, have a good hope of meeting those who are "not lost, but gone before."
(J. C. Gray.)
(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)
PeopleAbraham, Arba, Ephron, Heth, Hittites, Mamre, Sarah, Zoar, Zohar
PlacesBeersheba, Canaan, Hebron, Kiriath-arba, Machpelah, Mamre
TopicsBetwixt, Bury, Dead, Ear, Field, Hearken, Hundred, Listen, Piece, Rest, Shekels, Silver, Value, Worth
Outline1. The age and death of Sarah.
3. The purchase of the field and cave of Machpelah;
19. where Sarah is buried.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesGenesis 23:3-16
7258 promised land, early history
LibraryYet it Follows not that the Bodies of the Departed are to be Despised...
5. Yet it follows not that the bodies of the departed are to be despised and flung aside, and above all of just and faithful men, which bodies as organs and vessels to all good works their spirit hath holily used. For if a father's garment and ring, and whatever such like, is the more dear to those whom they leave behind, the greater their affection is towards their parents, in no wise are the bodies themselves to be spurned, which truly we wear in more familiar and close conjunction than any of …
St. Augustine—On Care to Be Had for the Dead.
Epistle iii. To Januarius, Bishop of Caralis (Cagliari).
Exhortations to those who are Called
Man's Chief End
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