She was dead! What a life, what an adventure.
She left everyone, everything she loved and followed her husband on a trek to who knows where because his God had called him out. She lived in a nomad’s tent for all the rest of her life finding pasture for their flocks and herds. One exception was when famine hit in Canaan (the land that God had promised Abraham and his descendants) they fled to Egypt where Abraham passed her off as his sister instead of his wife because he was afraid her beauty would make him a target for death to obtain his wife. She had to have been at least in her 70’s by then! She was immediately taken into Abimelech’s harem where God protected her until the deceit was found out and corrected. She was returned to Abraham with a stern reprimand by the king, but with many financial blessings for them to go back to Canaan.
When the son that God had promised them didn’t appear, Sarah decided to take action and use one of Abimelech’s blessings to help God along – she gave Hagar, her Egyptian maid to Abraham and of course, a son resulted. As so often happens, when we take things into our own hands, the emotional and psychological results are devastating on all concerned. She knew she had made a big mistake! When the Angel of the Lord came to them and announced that a year from that time the promised son would come, she could only laugh – after all, she would only be 90! One year later, Isaac made his appearance on the scene. God kept His promise! She became a wonderful mother, cherishing her son until her death. She got to see him grow up and become a man – the dream of every mother.
It’s interesting to note that she is the only woman in the Bible that her age is mentioned. Hers was mentioned twice – her age at the birth of the promised son and at her death. She was 127 years old when Abraham and Isaac buried her. She was greatly loved and mourned by both men in her life.
He had to make a decision – he had to bury his beloved Sarah and soon! He could ask some of his acquaintances among the Hittites if he could use one of their caves, but something about that did not set well with Abraham. He decided to talk to them about perhaps purchasing a burial cave from them and proceeded to begin the negotiations, which gives us a fascinating glimpse of near eastern bargaining. He located the perfect cave that had a nice field in front of it and decided to approach the owner to discuss it. At first Ephon indicated that he would be willing to just give Abraham a cave to bury his wife in, but Abraham insisted on purchasing the cave. So Ephon delicately slips his exorbitant price into the negotiations. Abraham simply counted out the correct amount of silver and paid for the field with no argument regarding the price. Ephon couldn’t believe his luck! The cave at Machpelah was purchased, including the field in front of it, and the preparations for the burial were begun.
Abraham was called by God, had a covenant with God and was well on in years without the substance of that promise revealing itself. He had the blessing that God had promised – he was a very wealthy man in flocks and herds. But he was still a nomad with no place to call home. But, Abraham believed that what God had promised, He would accomplish. And now, because of Sarah’s death, he owned a small piece of that land – that Promised Land. Sure, it was a place to bury his dead for generations to come – Abraham would join Sarah eventually. Isaac and his wife Rebekah would be buried there, Jacob and his wife Leah would join them many years hence. Abraham was preparing for the future for generations to come.
Did Abraham realize that because of his faith he was buying into the dream that God had instilled in him years before? He was willing to invest an exorbitant amount of money in order to secure a place of his own in the land of God’s promise. He had made a radical decision to leave his homeland, leave everything behind and wander around a land choosing to believe in a God he couldn’t see. He was willing to put his treasure where his heart was! Sarah’s bones now rested in Canaan – testifying to possessing the promise. In Genesis chapter 50, Joseph requested that his bones be carried back to Canaan from Egypt – speaking in faith in Israel’s future. Shouldn’t the Christian’s funeral be an expression of our faith in the future as well as a testament to the past?
Abraham believed and because of his faith, he purchased a piece of the Promised Land. The way we spend our money indicates the reality of our faith. We live in the present in light of the future. Isn’t it strange that hope in that promise, that dream manifested itself in a burial cave! But, really, when you consider the ultimate hope of the Christian faith, it resides in a death and a burial cave! While in that cave, Jesus descended into Hell and took captive the keys of death, hell and the grave. The enemy of death has been defeated once and for all. If that isn’t hope, I don’t know what is! The grave became a symbol of hope in the future! I Corinthians 15:12-26, I Thessalonians 4:13-18
Why do we face our graves to the east? Because one day the risen Lord, the King of all Kings will split that eastern sky and the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we who are alive and remaining shall be caught up to be forever with the Lord! HOPE! Death isn’t the end, but the beginning of an eternity that we can only imagine!