I am going to be preaching on Genesis 22 this coming week 🙂 so we will skip it and keep moving! So let’s read chapter 23:
23 1Sarah lived to be a hundred and twenty-seven years old. 2 She died at Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep over her.3 Then Abraham rose from beside his dead wife and spoke to the Hittites. He said, 4 “I am a foreigner and stranger among you. Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my dead.”5 The 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.”
7 Then Abraham rose and bowed down before the people of the land, the Hittites. 8 He 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 9 so 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.”10 Ephron 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.”
12 Again Abraham bowed down before the people of the land 13 and 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.”14 Ephron answered Abraham, 15 “Listen to me, my lord; the land is worth four hundred shekelsof silver, but what is that between you and me? Bury your dead.”
16 Abraham 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.17 So 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 deeded18 to Abraham as his property in the presence of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of the city. 19 Afterward Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah near Mamre (which is at Hebron) in the land of Canaan. 20 So the field and the cave in it were deeded to Abraham by the Hittites as a burial site.
This is one of those incredibly beautiful moments where God shows His faithfulness in SPITE of man’s faithlessness. We have been reading about how Abraham has made some major mistakes, and you can assume that these aren’t just isolated instances. Yet in all of this stuff, including Abraham’s sojourning in the land (he was just a visitor), God has created an honorable reputation for Abraham. These people honor him and seem like they truly cherish him and his family. God took someone who was a foreigner, who had no relationship with these people, and produced a beautiful relationship that includes having to almost force the people to let him PAY for the place to bury his beloved wife.
I will often look at the tension between Christ and the world and I assume that everyone in this foreign land we are in will be completely against me. Though this shouldn’t matter, and though this is going to become more and more true as we march further into end times, God graciously gives us a place to be honored by men. God has blessed me, and you as well, with something that the world finds useful, something they find valuable. It may be your work, your talents, your material possessions, something that relates to those around us. Instead of allowing the world to completely persecute us (like their flesh desires) He gives us pockets of honor and love. He cherishes us so much that He will allow us to experience acceptance at times in this world. It is simply our responsibility to NOT put those blessings, those created beings in front of the Creator.
In a world that we are promised persecution and suffering God has allowed the world to look favorably at us periodically. This isn’t a guaranteed response by them, and isn’t constant for sure, but regardless it is a blessing to us by God. We are not promised a favorable outlook from the world and should be thankful for our lack of persecution daily. The darkness wants to destroy the light and we ARE the tool God uses to display light in the world. Now you should evaluate why the world is respecting you… make sure it isn’t because you are not reflecting the light at all, or if it’s a blessing. If it is the later then be super thankful! We should daily rise and thank God for the blessings He has given us in a world that murdered Him. We are called to suffer just like He did, and when we don’t we should be loving Him like crazy for it.
God, I thank You for all the blessings You have given me, including my safety. I pray that I am aware of Your blessings daily and don’t find myself thinking my safety is owed to me.
Remind someone that our safety and respect by the world is a blessing! Scripture tells us that they will hate us just like they hated Him. So, any respect, honor, or love we receive from them is a gift! Let’s be thankful 🙂