Rebuild & Renew: The Post-Exilic Books
Beginning the Journey (for new Christians).
1, 2, and 3 John
1 & 2 Thessalonians
1 & 2 Timothy
2 Peter, Jude
7 Last Words of Christ
Christ Powered Life (Rom 5-8)
David, Life of
Glorious Kingdom, The
Jesus and the Kingdom
Lamb of God
Names of God
Names of Jesus
Sermon on the Mount
11. Death of Sarah and Abraham (Genesis 22:20 - 25:1-11)by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
"Burial of Sarah" by Tom Lovell (American illustrator (1909-1997), for Everyday Life in Bible Times (National Geographic Society, 1967), p. 104-105. Larger image.
Unlike most of Abraham's story that we have considered thus far, this chapter adds little to our understanding of Abraham's faith and character. Nevertheless, to complete our study, we'll study it by reading the text and highlighting a few points. In this section Abraham is tying up loose ends and making arrangements to provide for Isaac's marriage and to protect his inheritance.
- Hearing of his Relatives in Haran (22:20-24)
- Purchasing a Burial Plot for Sarah (chapter 23)
- Procuring a Wife for Isaac (chapter 24)
- Marrying a Concubine and Protecting Isaac's Inheritance (25:1-6)
- The Death and Burial of Abraham (25:7-11)
Then we'll conclude by summarizing the main elements of Abraham's faith.
Abraham's Relatives in Haran (22:20-24)
A genealogy is introduced in order to prepare the reader with Abraham's knowledge of his relatives back in Mesopotamia.
"Some time later Abraham was told, 'Milcah is also a mother; she has borne sons to your brother Nahor: Uz the firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel (the father of Aram), Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph and Bethuel.' Bethuel became the father of Rebekah. Milcah bore these eight sons to Abraham's brother Nahor. His concubine, whose name was Reumah, also had sons: Tebah, Gaham, Tahash and Maacah." (22:20-24)
The important names here are Bethuel and Rebekah.
Sarah's Death and Burial (23:1-2)
"1Sarah lived to be a hundred and twenty-seven years old. 2She died at Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep over her." (23:1-2)
Abraham had encamped at various times at the trees of Mamre, near Hebron (here referred to Kiriath Arba). This is the place where Sarah dies at age 127. Abraham "went in" (NRSV) to Sarah's tent to mourn for her.
Can you imagine the loss of a spouse with whom you have lived for 90 or 100 years or more? No where do we see an indication that Abraham loves Sarah romantically, though he respects and defers to her on several occasions. It is possible that by now Abraham has acquired another concubine, Keturah (see 25:1). Nevertheless, Sarah's passing is a huge loss for Abraham and he mourns. His love for her is real and he grieves.
For your review, here are the main events in Sarah's life:
- Marries half-brother Abraham (11:29-31; 20:12)
- Is barren (11:30)
- Emigrates to Canaan (12:4-5)
- Is Abducted by Pharaoh (12:10-20)
- Gives Hagar to Abraham (16:1-4)
- Abuses Hagar (16:5-6, 9)
- Has her name changed from Sarai to Sarah, promised to be mother of nations (17:15-16)
- Laughs at promise of conceiving (18:9-15)
- Is abducted by Abimelech (20:1-14)
- Gives birth to Isaac (21:1-7)
- Drives away Hagar and Ishmael (21:9-14)
- Dies and is buried (23:1-20)
- New Testament reflections (Hebrews 11:11; 1 Peter 3:5-6)
Q1. Take some time to review Sarah's life and legacy. What were her
strengths? Her weaknesses? Where did she show faith? Where did she lack faith?
Purchasing a Burial Spot from the Hittites (23:3-20)
Now in the midst of his grief, Abraham must make burial plans.
3Then Abraham rose from beside his dead wife and spoke to the Hittites. He said, 4"I am an alien and a stranger among you. Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my dead."
5The Hittites replied to Abraham, 6"Sir, listen to us. You are a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will refuse you his tomb for burying your dead."
Abraham begins by asking Hebron's leaders to sell him a burial place. He acknowledges that as a resident alien he must ask this as a favor, not as a right. Probably, resident aliens had no property rights whatsoever. But the town leaders graciously acknowledge him as a "mighty prince," Hebrew nāsī’, "prince, captain, leader, chief, ruler." After all, when he was younger, Abraham had led allies from Hebron to victory over the Mesopotamian army. They remember.
7Then Abraham rose and bowed down before the people of the land, the Hittites. 8He said to them, "If you are willing to let me bury my dead, then listen to me and intercede with Ephron son of Zohar on my behalf 9so he will sell me the cave of Machpelah, which belongs to him and is at the end of his field. Ask him to sell it to me for the full price as a burial site among you."
10Ephron the Hittite was sitting among his people and he replied to Abraham in the hearing of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of his city. 11"No, my lord," he said. "Listen to me; I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. I give it to you in the presence of my people. Bury your dead."
12Again Abraham bowed down before the people of the land 13and he said to Ephron in their hearing, "Listen to me, if you will. I will pay the price of the field. Accept it from me so I can bury my dead there."
14Ephron answered Abraham, 15"Listen to me, my lord; the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver, but what is that between me and you? Bury your dead."
16Abraham agreed to Ephron's terms and weighed out for him the price he had named in the hearing of the Hittites: four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weight current among the merchants.
This is a formal negotiation. Abraham realizes that he cannot accept the land as a gift or actual legal title will not pass to his heir, so he must pay full price. And the city elders must approve of the transaction, since selling land to a resident alien is an exception to their normal property laws.
Ephron, the owner of the land, is a shrewd bargainer. First, Abraham wants only the cave, but Ephron offers him the adjacent field with the land, probably forcing him to incur the full property taxes for the parcel according to Hittite law. Second, Ephron offers to give Abraham the land, knowing that the property will probably revert to him upon Abraham's death. Third, when Abraham insists on paying full price, Ephron asks for a small fortune -- 400 shekels of silver -- perhaps 10 to 11 pounds of silver! Centuries later, David pays only 50 shekels to purchase the temple site in Jerusalem from Arunah the Jebusite (1 Samuel 24:24). Abraham is in no position to negotiate the price, however. He accepts the price and completes the transaction.
17So Ephron's field in Machpelah near Mamre--both the field and the cave in it, and all the trees within the borders of the field -- was deeded 18to Abraham as his property in the presence of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of the city. 19Afterward Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah near Mamre (which is at Hebron) in the land of Canaan. 20So the field and the cave in it were deeded to Abraham by the Hittites as a burial site.
Later Abraham will be buried here (25:9), as well as Isaac (35:27-29) and Jacob (49:30; 50:13).
It is ironic that Abraham is paying such a high price for a small piece of land in a territory that God has promised him time and time again as his possession. The writer of Hebrews sees this irony as an emblematic of Abraham's faith.
"By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise… All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth." (Hebrews 11:9, 13)
Q2 (23:3-20) What is the significance of Abraham's faith in God's promises
at the same time as he pays dearly for this small property? What does this tell
us about faith?
Abraham Seeks a Wife for Isaac (24:1-67)
1"Abraham was now old and well advanced in years, and the LORD had blessed him in every way.
Abraham's life is now winding down. Sarah has been buried. If you could find one or two words to describe Abraham's life, "blessing" would be one of them. "Faith" would be another. He has wealth, long life, and a child who will be his heir. Now Abraham must look to providing a wife for his son Isaac.
2He said to the chief servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, 'Put your hand under my thigh. 3I want you to swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, 4but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.'
5The servant asked him, 'What if the woman is unwilling to come back with me to this land? Shall I then take your son back to the country you came from?'
6'Make sure that you do not take my son back there,' Abraham said. 7'The LORD, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father's household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, "To your offspring I will give this land" -- he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there. 8If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there.' 9So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore an oath to him concerning this matter."
This chief servant's name isn't given, but it is possible that he is Eliezer of Damascus (15:3). This servant is the oldest and most trusted of Abraham's servants.
"Thigh" here is a euphemism for genitalia, since Genesis 46:26 and Exodus 1:5 say a man's children come from his thigh. The Hebrew noun yārēk (translated "loins" in these verses in the KJV) "stands for a man's foundation and for the source of life." Though we don't know the exact significance of this custom, it occurs twice in Genesis: here and when Jacob makes his son Joseph promise under oath to bury him with his fathers in Canaan (47:29-31). This solemn custom places Abraham's servant and Joseph under oath to faithfully execute the last wishes of these two elderly patriarchs on family matters.
The servant is asked to swear by "the LORD (Yahweh), the God of heaven and the God of earth" (24:3). It's pretty obvious that Abraham believes Yahweh's power is limitless and extends from the earth to all the heavens, unlike the gods of the Mesopotamians and Canaanites who had limited powers.
Abraham is too old to make the trip to Mesopotamia himself, so he exacts two promises from his servant:
- Isaac is not to marry a Canaanite wife, and
- Isaac is not to return to the family homeland in Mesopotamia.
He doesn't want Isaac to marry a Canaanite wife, but wishes instead an endogamous marriage with his own people. This isn't based upon them being Yahweh worshippers, for it turns out that Rebekah's brother Laban is a practicing polytheist (31:19, 33-34). Hamilton concludes: "If Isaac is to inherit the land, he must not marry among those destined to disinherit the land. Nor must Isaac disinherit himself by repatriation to Mesopotamia."
Abraham is trusting God for this trip. He has obviously been in prayer about it, and perhaps in conversation with God, for he says, "The LORD ... will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there" (24:7). Later, the LORD sends his angel to be with Moses and the Israelites during the Exodus and Conquest of Canaan (Exodus 23:21-23; 33:2), called by Isaiah, "the angel of his presence" (Isaiah 63:9).
The Servant's Journey to Aram Naharaim (24:10-11)
10"Then the servant took ten of his master's camels and left, taking with him all kinds of good things from his master. He set out for Aram Naharaim and made his way to the town of Nahor. 11He had the camels kneel down near the well outside the town; it was toward evening, the time the women go out to draw water."
The presence of domesticated camels prior to the twelfth century BC is considered by some critics to be an anachronism. However, we find references to domesticated camels earlier -- in Turkmenia (3000-2600 BC), Egypt (3100-2890 BC), Mari and Nippur (25th to 24th centuries BC), Palestine (1900-1500 BC), and Byblos (18th century BC). The use of camels by the patriarchs should also be treated as evidence of pre-twelfth century domestication, and not dismissed as a later insertion.
The Servant's Prayer (24:12-14)
12Then he prayed, "O LORD, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. 13See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. 14May it be that when I say to a girl, 'Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,' and she says, 'Drink, and I'll water your camels too'--let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master."
Some have criticized the servant's prayer as too little, too late. Essentially he asks Yahweh that the girl he asks for water be the one -- confirmed by her willingness to water his camels. Perhaps the prayer is presumptuous, but Abraham has prayed and God has promised an angel to guide the servant. This is an illustration of the proverb:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Q3 (24:12-14) What do you think of the servant's prayer and test of God?
Did the servant find the right girl on the basis of his hasty prayer? If not,
Rebekah Is the LORD's Answer (24:15-27)
"Abraham's Servant Meets Rebecca" by James Jacques Tissot (French painter, 1836-1902). Larger image.
The LORD answers his prayer abundantly.
15"Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah, who was the wife of Abraham's brother Nahor. 16The girl was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever lain with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again.
17The servant hurried to meet her and said, "Please give me a little water from your jar."
18"Drink, my lord," she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink.
19After she had given him a drink, she said, "I'll draw water for your camels too, until they have finished drinking." 20So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels. 21Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the LORD had made his journey successful.
22When the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold nose ring weighing a beka and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels. 23Then he asked, "Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room in your father's house for us to spend the night?"
24She answered him, "I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son that Milcah bore to Nahor." 25And she added, "We have plenty of straw and fodder, as well as room for you to spend the night."
26Then the man bowed down and worshiped the Lord, 27saying, "Praise be to the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the LORD has led me on the journey to the house of my master's relatives." (24:15-27)
The servant has learned faith and worship from Abraham. So he bows down and then prostrates himself before the LORD with praise. He sees the answer to prayer as an indication of God's kindness (hesed) and faithfulness to Abraham. "Worship" is the Hebrew verb hāwâ, "to prostrate oneself, to worship." Prostration was quite common as an act of submission before a superior. Here the servant unashamedly prostrates himself on the ground near the well, without caring who sees him. He is worshipping!
The Servant Is Shown Hospitality (24:28-32)
28"The girl ran and told her mother's household about these things. 29Now Rebekah had a brother named Laban, and he hurried out to the man at the spring. 30As soon as he had seen the nose ring, and the bracelets on his sister's arms, and had heard Rebekah tell what the man said to her, he went out to the man and found him standing by the camels near the spring. 31'Come, you who are blessed by the LORD,' he said. 'Why are you standing out here? I have prepared the house and a place for the camels.'
32So the man went to the house, and the camels were unloaded. Straw and fodder were brought for the camels, and water for him and his men to wash their feet." (24:28-32)
The Servant Shares His Mission and Its Fulfillment (24:33-49)
The servant is so excited and overcome that he insists on sharing his story before eating. He had come all this way to convey Abraham's message and its urgency surpasses even eating.
33"Then food was set before him, but he said, 'I will not eat until I have told you what I have to say.'
'Then tell us,' Laban said.
34So he said, 'I am Abraham's servant. 35The LORD has blessed my master abundantly, and he has become wealthy. He has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, menservants and maidservants, and camels and donkeys. 36My master's wife Sarah has borne him a son in her old age, and he has given him everything he owns. 37And my master made me swear an oath, and said, 'You must not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live, 38but go to my father's family and to my own clan, and get a wife for my son.'
39'Then I asked my master, "What if the woman will not come back with me?"
40'He replied, "The LORD, before whom I have walked, will send his angel with you and make your journey a success, so that you can get a wife for my son from my own clan and from my father's family. 41Then, when you go to my clan, you will be released from my oath even if they refuse to give her to you -- you will be released from my oath."
42'When I came to the spring today, I said, 'O LORD, God of my master Abraham, if you will, please grant success to the journey on which I have come. 43See, I am standing beside this spring; if a maiden comes out to draw water and I say to her, 'Please let me drink a little water from your jar,' 44and if she says to me, 'Drink, and I'll draw water for your camels too,' let her be the one the LORD has chosen for my master's son.'
45Before I finished praying in my heart, Rebekah came out, with her jar on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water, and I said to her, 'Please give me a drink.'
46She quickly lowered her jar from her shoulder and said, 'Drink, and I'll water your camels too.' So I drank, and she watered the camels also.
47I asked her, 'Whose daughter are you?'
She said, 'The daughter of Bethuel son of Nahor, whom Milcah bore to him.'
Then I put the ring in her nose and the bracelets on her arms, 48and I bowed down and worshiped the Lord. I praised the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right road to get the granddaughter of my master's brother for his son. 49Now if you will show kindness and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so I may know which way to turn.'" (24:33-49)
This Is from the LORD (24:50-54a)
Though Laban and Bethuel are polytheists, they do acknowledge Yahweh and His hand in this matter.
50"Laban and Bethuel answered, 'This is from the LORD; we can say nothing to you one way or the other. 51Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master's son, as the LORD has directed.'
52When Abraham's servant heard what they said, he bowed down to the ground before the Lord. 53Then the servant brought out gold and silver jewelry and articles of clothing and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave costly gifts to her brother and to her mother. 54Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night there." (24:50-54a)
The Servant Is Eager to Return (24:54b-61)
The servant is now eager to return to Abraham, so he can report "mission accomplished." But Rebekah's family isn't ready to part with her yet.
"When they got up the next morning, he said, 'Send me on my way to my master.'
55But her brother and her mother replied, 'Let the girl remain with us ten days or so; then you may go.'
56But he said to them, 'Do not detain me, now that the LORD has granted success to my journey. Send me on my way so I may go to my master.'
57Then they said, 'Let's call the girl and ask her about it.' 58So they called Rebekah and asked her, 'Will you go with this man?'
'I will go,' she said.
59So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham's servant and his men. 60And they blessed Rebekah and said to her,
'Our sister, may you increase
to thousands upon thousands;
may your offspring possess
the gates of their enemies.'
61Then Rebekah and her maids got ready and mounted their camels and went back with the man. So the servant took Rebekah and left." (24:54b-61)
Isaac Marries Rebekah (24:62-67)
62"Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev. 63He went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. 64Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel 65and asked the servant, "Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?"
'He is my master,' the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself.
66Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. 67Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death." (24:62-67)
Isaac has been living in the Negev desert in southern Palestine, near Beer Lahai Roi, the "Well of the Living One Who Sees Me," that had been named by Hagar years before (16:14).
The word translated "meditate" (NIV, KJV), "walk" (NRSV), or "roam" (Hamilton), the Hebrew verb sûah, is used only once in the Old Testament, so its meaning isn't clear. If it is a form of the word sîah, then its meaning is "pray, meditate." Rebekah sees her intended husband and veils herself as would befit a bride in the presence of her husband.
"Married" (NIV) or "took" (KJV, NRSV) in verse 67 is the Hebrew verb lāqah, "take, marry (take a wife)," especially "take in marriage."
As mentioned earlier, we have not indication of much affection between Abraham and Sarah, but here the narrator tells us of Isaac and Rebekah that "he loved her," using the Hebrew verb ’āhēb, "love, like, be in love," a word that has a breadth of meaning nearly as great as our English word "love." The word describes the affection between Abraham and Isaac (22:2). Later it is used between Jacob and his son Joseph (37:3). Here it is the love of a man for a woman, also demonstrated by Isaac covertly caressing his "sister" Rebekah in Gerar (26:8).
The narrator also talks about how Rebekah filled an emotional void in Isaac's life, an emptiness felt since his mother had died. "Comforted" is the Hebrew verb nāham, "be comforted." Isaac would have been 37 when Sarah died. Three years later, he is 40 years old when he marries Rebekah (25:20). When the servant brings Rebekah to Isaac, Abraham is not present. Perhaps he is still living near Hebron. We know that Abraham lives on for another 38 years (25:7).
Abraham Marries Keturah (25:1-6)
Now the narrator returns to Abraham's story. Just when Abraham marries again, we're not sure. It could have been while Sarah was still living.
1"Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. 2She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah. 3Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan; the descendants of Dedan were the Asshurites, the Letushites and the Leummites. 4The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah.
5Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. 6But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east."
Keturah is technically a concubine, according to 25:6 and 1 Chronicles 1:32. The Hebrew noun is pilegesh, "a true wife, though of secondary rank." The concubine was not a kept mistress, and did not cohabit with a man unless married to him.
As Abraham sent Ishmael away, so he sends his sons by Keturah away, to protect Isaac's inheritance. But he sends gifts to "the sons of his concubines," which would include both Ishmael as well as Keturah's sons.
The Death of Abraham (25:7-8)
And now we come to Abraham's death.
7Altogether, Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years. 8Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people. (25:7-8)
Abraham would have been 140 when Isaac and Rebecca were married, 160 at the birth of his grandsons Jacob and Esau (25:26), and lives on for another 15 years after that. But even though he is still living, the baton has been passed now to his son Isaac. Abraham lives on quietly, probably in Isaac's care.
The scripture describes him as "full of years. This is the Hebrew verb sābēa‘, "to be sated, satisfied, satiated, surfeited, to have in excess," usually in the sense, "to be satisfied by nourishment," then fullness in other areas of life, such as fullness of days. Abraham's life has been long and full -- blessed by God in many ways.
Abraham's Burial (25:9-11)
9His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, 10the field Abraham had bought from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah. 11After Abraham's death, God blessed his son Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi.
Isaac and his estranged brother Ishmael now join in burying their father. They carry the body -- probably from Isaac's encampment in the Negev -- to the burial place that Abraham had purchased 38 years before and where Sarah's body lies. They place is body in the cave, seal the entrance again, and return to their separate lives. Isaac lives on in the faith of his father, but there is an emptiness now, since the old man is gone. Abraham, the "friend of God" (2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23), is now at rest in the presence of his Friend -- Yahweh himself (Matthew 8:11; 22:32; Luke 13:28; 16:22-31).
Summary of Abraham's Faith and Achievements
Of course, Abraham is a fallible human being and in him we can find lapses and weaknesses. But his strengths inspire us! How does one do justice to the contributions of Abraham to the faith of Israel and to the faith of Christians? They are immense!
Abraham pioneers monotheism. He rejects the multiplicity of gods of the Mesopotamians and Canaanites. Instead he called God Yahweh, God Most High (El Elyon), Almighty God (El Shaddai), the Eternal God (El Olam), and Jehovah-Jireh (The Lord the Provider). He is the God of heaven and the God of earth. He is El-Roi, the God who Hagar names "The One Who Sees Me." He is not many gods, but One God.
Abraham hears God's voice and talks to God personally. For so many, many people -- before and after Abraham -- God is formal, far off, distant. But for Abraham, God is intimate. With all my heart I believe that this is the way God wants to relate to you and me. He wants us to know him and hear him and talk to him intimately, as friend with friend. We are given that gift of intimacy with God through the mediation of Jesus Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Not to take advantage of this privilege would be a tragedy indeed.
Abraham believes God. The more he listens to God's words to him, the more he believes. It is this trust in God -- even when God asks the hardest thing of sacrificing Isaac his son -- this faith that God counts to him as righteousness. He is truly the "father of faith" for us all.
Abraham obeys immediately. No matter how hard, when God speaks to Abraham, he obeys quickly -- immediately, "early the next morning."
Abraham worships. He doesn't let his familiarity with God get in the way of his reverence for God's awesome holiness. He worships through prostrating himself, through planting a tree, through building an altar, through sacrificing to God from his flock, through prayer.
Abraham surrenders everything he values to God. Abraham offers one tenth of the spoils of war to God, but his commitment doesn't stop with the tithe. He surrenders his most valued possession to God -- his son Isaac.
Q4. Which of Abraham's achievements inspires you the most? As you reflect
on his life, what stands out for you?
Available in PDF and Kindle formats.
I could go on. But those stand out in my own mind. Abraham is probably God's earliest true disciple who sets his mind to follow Yahweh, wherever that path takes him. It takes him from Ur to Haran to Canaan and finally to the top of Mount Moriah. But God walks the path with him, and in the process comes to know God. That journey is both the process and the joy of discipleship.
I encourage you, too, to journey the path of discipleship with Abraham as your example and Jesus as your Leader.
Father, Abraham's full-bore faith inspires me. Help me to walk with you, too. Help me to be faithful to you to stay on the path. Help me to trust you as Abraham did and to come to know you better. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
|Q5. Now that you're finished with the Faith of Abraham, what did you
get out of this study of Abraham's life? How would you evaluate the study?
What can be improved?
"Praise be to the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the Lord has led me on the journey to the house of my master's relatives." (Genesis 24:27)
Common Abbreviations http://www.jesuswalk.com/abraham/refs.htm
- The extremely common verb bô’, "go, arrive, go in, enter a house" (Elmer A. Martens, TWOT #212).
- Walter C. Kaiser, TWOT #1421b.
- Hamilton (Genesis 2:130) cites the Hittite law code, sections 46 and 47.
- Hamilton (Genesis 2:139-140, footnote 14) cites an article "Touching the sexual organs as an oath ceremony in an Akkadian letter (Vetus Testamentum 37 (1987) 491-92). Also John E. Hartley, TWOT #916a.
- Hamilton, Genesis 2:140, who cites Sternberg, Poetics of Biblical Narrative, p. 134.
- Paul J.N. Lawrence, "Zoology," DOTP 917; Julius Zarins, "Camel," ABD 1:824-826.
- Edwin Yamauchi, TWOT #619. The verb hāwā is found exclusively in the Eshtaphal stem from its cognates with Ugaritic. Formerly it was analyzed as a Hithpael of shāhā.
- Hamilton, Genesis 2:160, footnote 3.
- TWOT #1124; Hamilton, Genesis 2:159; BDB 543.
- Robert L. Alden, TWOT #29.
- Marvin R. Wilson, TWOT #1344; BDB 636-637, Niphal, "comfort oneself, be comforted."
- TWOT #1770.
- BDB 959; Bruce K. Waltke, TWOT #2231d.
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