Our Reality: (Observe)
When you begin a journey, the prospect ahead is often daunting and at times seems impossible. You may think, “How will I ever get there?” But then, before you know it, you look back, and you are amazed to see how far you have come. This is true in our spiritual life as well as our natural life.
Our Responsibility: (Observe, Reflect, Discuss)
We have been following Abraham’s journey and the lessons God has been giving him as he grows in faith and dependence on God. Let’s continue that today and see what else we can learn from Abraham’s journey.
Take a few minutes to read these verses and meditate on the questions below.
- (4) What did Abraham declare about himself regarding where he was living? Why might that be significant?
- (17:1-8) What had God promised Abraham? How much of that had Abraham taken possession of.
- (5) What was the Hittites opinion of Abraham?
- It was a strong cultural value for people to bury their dead in the land of their origin, their native land. So, why was Abraham so set on burying Sarah in Canaan? How does Abraham’s choice to bury Sarah in Canaan relate to his faith in God’s promise?
- (8-16) Why was Abraham so adamant about paying for the cave and the field? What did Abraham learn from Melchizedek in 14:21-24.
Abraham has been growing in faith. From the time God called him out of Ur, God has been slowly giving him lessons and opportunities for him to grow.
- Abraham has learned that God is more concerned about our faith and the potential He sees, than where we are right now. (Gen 15:6)
- Abraham has learned that God does not recognize our efforts on His behalf, no matter how sincerely they have been carried out. He invites us to be the channels of His activity, not the substitute for it. (Gen 16:1-6)
- Abraham has learned that God will keep His word, even when we struggle believing Him. (Gen 17:1-14)
- Abraham found that God is not offended when we wrestle with Him in prayer, in fact He invites us to do so, knowing we’ll grow in faith when we do. (Gen 18:22-33)
- Abraham learned through his wrong choice that there is nothing except what God produces through us that He will recognize as legitimate work. (Gen 21:8-21)
- One of the most difficult lessons Abraham learned, through the sacrifice of Isaac, God doesn’t need our help to keep His word, but He does want us to be available and obedient, so He can work through us.
Abraham is now nearing the end of his life. He has been living in the land God lead him to, the land God has promised to him, for close to 70 years. But, he has no possession in the land. He is still a foreigner and a stranger. Through the lessons he has learned, he has grown in his faith and confidence in God. God has promised to make him a great nation. God has promised him the possession of the land in which he is living. God miraculously provided Isaac, but he is not in possession of anything regarding the land. In the sacrifice of Isaac, God brought Abraham to the place of complete abandon and dependence on Him to fulfill His promise.
As Abraham faces what to do for Sarah’s burial, he now has another crisis in faith. It was important in the culture of the day where people buried their dead; burial was to be done in their native land. Abraham now faced the dilemma whether to believe God for the fulfillment of what he does not see, and claim this land as his “native land,” or take her back to where they were from.
In faith, Abraham chooses to bury Sarah in Canaan. This choice meant there was no going back. Though Abraham was an alien and a stranger among the people (23:4), he operated on the assurance of what he hoped for, the evidence of what he could not see (Heb 11:1). When Abraham bought this cave, he was renouncing Paddan Aram as his native land and stating in a visible way, that Canaan was now his native land, by faith.
Our Response: (Plan, Be Accountable, Act) Restfully Available, Instantly Obedient.
Looking back over Abraham’s journey, I know there were times when he was discouraged. Like in Genesis 17 when he begs God to allow Ishmael to be the fulfillment of the promise. There were times when Abraham struggled with believing God was able to protect and provide for him. Like when he lied to Abilimilech about Sara being his sister.
But, each of these events were opportunities for God to shape Abraham’s faith. And each event built Abraham’s confidence in God just a little more. He was seeing Romans 5:3-5 lived out. The hardships were causing him to depend on God. His dependence built his character and his confidence in God. His character produced a greater hope and the expectation in God’s faithfulness. And now, he operated on the assurance of what he hoped for, the evidence of what he could not see. God’s love for him filled his heart so much that he now lived in absolute confidence in God so much that he was willing to bury his dead in the land God had not yet given him.
As you look back on your faith journey, what lessons has God taught you? Maybe you are in the midst of difficulty and you are discouraged, wondering if God can do what He has promised. Don’t miss out on what God wants to teach you. Don’t short circuit God’s process of growth, moving you from your need to depend on him, to building character, growing in hope, and finally seeing the love of God in a new, deeper way. (Rom 5:3-5) God has begun a work in you, and He promises that He will not stop until that work is complete. (Phil 1:6)
Heavenly Father, thank you for not giving up on us. Thank you for the example of Abraham and how you so graciously and lovingly, worked in his life through the years. You took him from a man who was so self-dependent and self-reliant, and you transformed him into someone who was completely available for you to use. That is what you desire to do in my life. Father, don’t let me miss the lessons you have for me to learn. Continue to shape and mold me into a life that is less of self and more of you. May I one day be able to look back and recognize that I have grown into none of self and all of you!