“I am a sojourner and foreigner among you; give me property among you for a burying place, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” Genesis 23:4
One of the biggest hindrances to moving on from past losses, disappointments or failures is their painful image embedded in our subconscious. These recurring remembrances can produce a paralyzing cycle of grief and regret. This cycle, with its accompanying fear and negativity, blocks those who experience it from forging a renewed, hopeful and purposeful future.
In this verse we find Abraham negotiating to purchase a beautifully situated piece of real estate in the hill country near Hebron, which he intends to dedicate as a cemetery for his wife Sarah. It appears this is an important topic because an entire chapter in the Bible is taken up with this singular business dealing.
Ironically this piece of property, named Macpelah, would become the only actual deeded foothold the patriarchs would have in Canaan, the land of promise, until its conquest by Joshua over 500 years later. It became the resting place of not only Sarah, but Abraham himself as well as Isaac and Rebekah and Jacob and Leah. (Genesis 25:9 & 49:31)
Abraham’s conversation reveals something about himself which is very instructional. He tells the Hittites that the reason he wants a burial place is so “I can bury my dead out of my sight.” That is a very intriguing statement and one from which we can learn a valuable lesson.
We need to understand that not only has he just lost his lifelong companion, but he is also on the verge of failing to realize the fulfillment of God’s promises as he nears the end of his own life. For Abraham, time is critical and he is determined, with all due respect to Sarah’s death, to get on with the business of living. He has gone through the grief process and is now ready to move on.
Abraham realizes that the best way to move on at this stage in his life is to not allow himself to become fixated on Sarah’s death. He wants to remove from his consciousness the image of death so that he can focus on life.
When death, disappointment or past failures occupy and terrorize our thoughts we forfeit our future. Like Abraham we need to bury those things out of our sight. Sometimes there is nothing better than to conduct a funeral service for our losses, give them a proper burial and then purpose to move on.
After burying Sarah out of his sight Abraham moved on with a fixed determination. In the next chapter we find him immediately getting on with the important business of finding a wife for Isaac. Abraham wants to insure that a godly heritage is preserved by providing a wife for his son from among his own relatives. Abraham therefore calls his servant Eliezer, gives him strict instructions to avoid looking among the Canaanites and tells him to return to his own country to find Isaac a wife.
In the next chapter, we find Abraham continuing to get on with his life by marrying a woman named Keturah. God blessed that union with six more sons. Abraham was wise however in insuring that Isaac received the full inheritance of everything he owned. While he was still living he made all the arrangements while giving gifts to his other sons and sending them away to live in another land. (25:1-6)
Are there things in your life that you need to bury out of your sight? Sometimes, God in His redemptive grace can use even the burial process to give you a foothold in your long awaited promise. Macpelah became for Abraham and his descendants the earnest of the promised inheritance. In death there was a glimpse of the life that was yet to come. Failures and griefs must sometimes of necessity pave the way for success and joy.
I welcome your observations, comments and additions to this conversation.
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