Life & Death

Last week we walked with Abe on a journey that took us to Mount Moriah, where we were filled with the mulling over of questions, then awed by the wonder of the Lord, how God wanted to reveal Abe’s heart. Yes his mountain-top experience with God proved to be the naming of provision, Jehovah Jireh, God my provider. Like Abe, we can’t stay on a spiritual mountaintop forever, Valleys are the fat of the land because we can’t have mountains without valleys. In Genesis 23, we find Abe in the deep valley of despair. Some of you have been there on tour and even rented a home for a season. This season of Abe’s life gives us three principles to help us during traumatic times, this is Life and Death: Grieve. 

Grieve Biblically (Genesis 23:1-2). Death takes loved ones from all of us, and Abe will now experience that very traumatic time of life. For some 60 years, Sarah and Abe have been on a journey into purpose. Sarah at 127 years old (23:1). Time again fast forwards for about 20 years since Father Abe offers Isaac on Mount Moriah. Therefore, they could have moved several times, before finally arriving at Hebron. Genesis 23:2~And Sarah died at Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went in to mourn (סָפַד caphad) for Sarah and to weep (בָּכָה bakah) for her. (ESV) Hebron is in the very heart of the Promised Land, it’s about halfway up the dead sea, and halfway to the coast, about 30 minutes due south of Jerusalem. 

However, neither Sarah nor Abe will live to see their descendants possess it. She was the first among many who died in faith, not having received the promises Hebrews 11:13~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, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. (NIV) When Sarah dies, Abe goes to mourn and weep for her (23:2). This is the first time we read of Abe crying, and the Holy Spirit goes into great detail to show his deep grief and sorrow. The Hebrew word translated mourn (סָפַד caphad) means to lament or wail loudly. While the word (בָּכָה bakah) or weep refers to the many tears Abe shed. When a loved one dies, we may grieve and cry like Abe but listen to Paul’s exhortation in 1 Thessalonians 4:13~Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. (NIV) 

Faith that has…

Wherever the Lord guides, God will provide. I don’t know where you are on your journey through life and faith but, you need to know that the Everlasting God is the one who will provide for everything that He has planned and purposed for your life. Matthew 6:33~But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (NIV) When life seems Strange: and it doesn’t make sense, we must Go where the Lord guides, Trust the Lord to provide, and learn how to Reside in His promises like Abe. As you stand with me, Saints, I want you to know that God rewards faithfulness. What do you need to place on the altar today? Come give to the Lord.

Reside in God’s promises like Abe. God rewards us in several ways when we live faithful unto Him. First, Abe gets a fresh word from the Lord. Where God tells Abraham He will multiply his descendants. Genesis 22:17~I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies (ESV). This promise would later be fulfilled during Israel’s conquest of Canaan. In Joshua’s farewell address just before he dies, he says to the Israelites in Joshua 23:14~Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. (NIV) 

Abe is also rewarded by news from the East about his family from whom he has not heard from in more than a quarter century. Learning that his brother Nahor has many children Genesis 22:20-24~Now after these things it was told to Abraham, “Behold, Milcah also has borne children to your brother Nahor: Uz his firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel the father of Aram, Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel.” Bethuel fathered Rebekah. These eight Milcah bore to Nahor, Abraham’s brother. Moreover, his concubine, whose name was Reumah, bore Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah.

At this point, Abe is experiencing the truth of Psalm 37:4~Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (NIV) Saints when we learn to live and walk by faith we are learning to live in God’s provisions, to trust the that the Lord sees and knows all and He has a purpose-filled plan for our lives and those who are near us. That’s right God sees the lives of seven-plus billion people and is working all things out for our good and His glory. When life seems to be getting Strange: and it doesn’t seem to make sense, do these three things: Go where the Lord guides, Trust the Lord to provide, and Reside in the promises of God.

Trust God

Trust the Lord to provide (Genesis 22:9-14). After building the altar, binding Isaac to it, Abe stands over Isaac at the craggy cliff of decision clutching his knife poised at the height of extension ready. It must have felt as though there was no assuaging this moment any longer. When a little ditty began to build. In response to the music, Abe’s heart would have cried out, do you hear what I hear, looking up another verse would no doubt have rolled off his tongue, Ringing through the sky, do you see what I see? As the angel of the LORD then calls out to him by name saying in Genesis 22:11-12~…Abraham, Abraham! And he said, Here I am. He said, Do not lay your hand on the boy …(ESV) From God’s perspective, Abe’s already offered Isaac, because He sees our heart.  1 Samuel 16:7~But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (NIV). 

When the Lord looks at your heart, what does He see? For God saw all He needed in Abe’s and so He intervenes. When Father Abe gets caught in this moment he witnesses God’s provision. Genesis 22:13~ And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. (ESV) In this experience, Abe sees something no person would ever see or understand until the life of JC. Jesus says about Abraham in John 8:56 ~Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad. (NIV) 

When Abe is about to sacrifice Isaac on Mt Moriah, he is witnessing a Father offering His only begotten son in place of you and me. Abe is a believer that the eternal Everlasting God is able to raise the dead some 2,500 years before He raises His only son Jesus Christ the Messiah, who is the ultimate sacrifice for sin, from the dead. That’s why Jesus says Abraham saw His day and was glad. Are you glad that today is a celebration of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? 

I love how the gravity of the moment doesn’t escape Abe’s grasp, for at this moment Abe calls the name of this place: Jehovah Jireh. Genesis 22:14~So Abraham called the name of that place, The Lord will provide as it is said to this day, On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided. (ESV) It was on the mount where they built the Temple to sacrifice to God all they had in hopes that one day at the appointed time God would send us a once for all sacrifice. The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world to shed His blood for me. (Revelation 13:8) That I wouldn’t have to have my life consumed with sin, but that I could in an intelligent act of worship climb on the altar of scarce and say here am I. Take my life and use it for your glory. This is at the heart of the prayer of salvation. Use me for your purpose of Great God. 

When Abe says Jehovah Jireh he is using a transliteration of the Hebrew name for God, it’s in the future tense, revealing Abe is not merely thinking of his own experience, but that the Lord will provide for the needs of all His people. Again we hear the promise given in Genesis 22:18~and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed as because you have obeyed my voice. (ESV) It is Jesus Christ who fulfilled the Law (Matthew 5:17), it is Jesus Christ who carried all our sins away (1 Peter 2:24), It is Jesus Christ who removed our separation from God (Matthew 27:51). Sin could not bind Him, the grave could not hold Him, John 1:4~In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. (NIV) Jesus Christ is our hope, our future, and our reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:8~All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation (NIV) Jesus is the greatest provision that God, Jehovah Jireh has ever provided to or for us. 1 John 2:2~And he is the propitiation (atoning sacrifice) for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. Like Abe, we will be required to offer up our everything, making a clear commitment that God is our number one in life.