Dear CSOPC brothers and sisters,
- This Sunday we will gather for worship and Sunday School at our usual times (11:00 for worship and 9:45 for Sunday school).
- We will have a Christmas Eve service at Birkes at 6:00. Come and join us for a time of singing and learning about the glory of the Incarnation from God’s word.
- We will collect the Thank Offering this Sunday.
- Our Angel Tree gifts will be dropped off in Dallas this weekend. Pray for the Lord’s blessings as the gifts are distributed.
- This week’s devotion is a reflection on the burial of Sarah from Genesis 23.
From the Pastor’s Desk
“Location, Location, Location”
Gen 23:4, “I am a sojourner and foreigner among you; give me a property among you for a burying place, that I may bury me dead out of my sight.”
The Bible gives us history – real, historical, events. And specifically, it gives us ‘theological history’ – history with a purpose. For example, the Genesis record of Abraham’s life covers roughly 100 years (he’s 75 years of age in Gen 12 and he is 175 years of age in Gen 25 when he dies). And in that 100 years, only a handful of events are recorded … so we can ask the question, “Why?” Why did Moses, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, record this event or that event, and not that event or this event. Why record Abraham’s negotiations to purchase a plot of land from the Hittites. What could be the significance of the burial of Sarah? In fact, that is exactly what is recorded for us in Genesis 23, the death and the burial of Sarah. In this devotion, I want to consider Genesis 23 under two questions: “What is happening” and “Why is it happening.”
First, what is happening in Genesis 23? Simply put, Abraham is negotiating the purchase of a plot of land to bury his wife, Sarah. For up until this time, although he has been wandering in Canaan for several decades, Abraham did not own one square inch of land. Now Sarah dies at the ripe, old age of 127, in the land of Canaan. And after mourning for his wife (v. 2), Abraham then enters into negotiations for the purchase of place to bury her (vv. 3-16). What is striking, however, is the amount of detail given to the negotiations. After beginning with a general offer in v. 4, Abraham then moves to a specific proposal in vv. 8-9. He desires to purchase “the cave of Machpelah … at the end of the field.” And Abraham offers to pay full price (v. 9b). But Abraham wants to be ‘above board’ in the transaction – he doesn’t want to simply borrow a parcel of land (in which he case he would not own it), he wants to purchase a parcel of land with all the rights attached thereunto. After the transaction is completed, a detailed description of the property is given and the parcel is officially ‘deeded’ to Abraham (vv. 17-20); and the matriarch Sarah is buried (v. 19).
But the question remains, “Why?” Why the detail? Why was Abraham so zealous to own property in Canaan? Could he not simply borrow a place to bury his wife? There are two thoughts we must consider. First, in the purchasing of the land, God was fulfilling his promise to Abraham. God has promised to give Abraham the land of Canaan (Gen 15:7), and this burial plot serves as a pledge to the fulfillment of God’s promise (note the detail in vv. 2, 19 of Hebron ‘in the land of Canaan’). God keeps his promises – his word is sure and true. He has promised his people a great land – a great inheritance. Indeed, the land of promise in Canaan is but a type of the greater land of promise, the greater inheritance that is our in Christ (1 Pet 1:3-5). The ultimate land of promise for the Christian is the New Jerusalem, the New Heavens and the New Earth (Rev 21-22). But secondly, in the purchase of the land Abraham was demonstrating his faith in God’s promise (cf. Jer 32). It is noteworthy that Abraham refers to himself as a sojourner and a foreigner; and will only experience a foretaste of the full reality of his inheritance to come. Abraham walked by faith, and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7). Abraham walked by faith in God’s promise to him (Rom 4:20-22). As Hebrews states in reference to Abraham, “Theses all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth” (11:13). Like Abraham, may we walk not by sight, but by faith in the word of the God who is faithful (1 Cor 1:9).
Rev. Robert Arendale, Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church (OPC), www.csopc.org