To: en & others
From: Su Min
Subject: Sarah Departs
My dear children
Today we look at Gen 23, the death of Sarah.
We look and see how it is to be dignified in mourning, that mourning is an acceptable expression of grief, even for Christians who rejoice in everlasting life: we grieve at the temporary parting, but we rejoice that the dearly departed now rests with God.
There is nothing sure in life except life and death and income tax! It struck me that there must be some spiritual parallel between the pains of childbirth and the agony of the death of a loved one: although the life process seems to be in reverse from a human point of view, from potential life into real life in the first case, and from life to death in the second, from the Christian perspective we see a progression in death, from life on earth, temporary and temporal, to eternal life, if we have made the right choice: pressing on towards the goal to win the prize (Phil 3:13,)to gain the a crown of glory (James 1:12):
Back to Gen 23. Sarah dies. Abraham mourned and wept for Sarah. Gen 23:2. He negotiates for the purchase of a burial site for Sarah.
We learn from bible commentary that there is great bargaining going on in this deal: Abraham asks that a plot be sold to him: Gen 23: 4
The Hittites offer to "give" tomb space, and by custom we expect a price will be paid for that.
But Abraham needs more than just tomb space and he asks to buy a cave (Gen 23:9)
The Hittite does not only want to sell the cave but also the field adjacent, This he offers to "give" (Gen 23:11) but by tradition we know it is an offer to sell.
We understand that Abraham did not really want the field at first, but it was cave and field or no field with no cave: nothing: so he accepts and grovels (Gen 23: 12) and offers to pay whatever the going rate is, and the deal is sealed at 400 shekels: This field of Machpelah near Mamre at Hebron becomes the first land to be owned by the Hebrews (Gen 23:19,20), and God's promise of a promised land begins to develop as a legal entity, even in the eyes of man. What a God!
Sarah lived 127 years old and dies. Will we reach that age? God only knows.
But length of life is not as important as quality of life, and through the book of Genesis we have learned that God wants us to walk before him and be blameless. I am going to die, and you are going to die. That is for sure. Will it be, that when we stand before the great white throne, the Master will say "Well done thy good and faithful servant (Matt 25:21)?" I aim to study the word of God and live as God would want me to live, being a faithful steward to the talents put in my charge. I trust my faith and action will let me hear him say to me "Well done thy good and faithful servant."
We know that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Romans 3:23 And we know that we are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Free gift! Gift of eternal life. Yours and mine for free: No need to pay: Jesus paid the price already! This same Jesus says: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matt 11:28. The invitation is open. Come. Jesus says: Behold I stand at the door and knock. Rev 3:20. Will you open the door of your heart to invite Him in? He will come in and dwell in you and you in him both now and forever more.
Let us close with words from Psalm 115: Not to us O Lord not to us, but to your name be the glory because of your love and faithfulness (vs 1)
It is we who extol the Lord both now and forever more. Praise the Lord. (vs 18) (Do read the rest of this psalm)
For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min
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