A daily devotion for June 27th
7 Then Abraham rose and bowed down before the people of the land, the Hittites. 8 He said to them, "If you are willing to let me bury my dead, then listen to me and intercede with Ephron son of Zohar on my behalf 9 so he will sell me the cave of Machpelah, which belongs to him and is at the end of his field. Ask him to sell it to me for the full price as a burial site among you."
10 Ephron the Hittite was sitting among his people and he replied to Abraham in the hearing of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of his city. 11 "No, my lord," he said. "Listen to me; I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. I give it to you in the presence of my people. Bury your dead."
12 Again Abraham bowed down before the people of the land 13 and he said to Ephron in their hearing, "Listen to me, if you will. I will pay the price of the field. Accept it from me so I can bury my dead there."
14 Ephron answered Abraham, 15 "Listen to me, my lord; the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver, but what is that between me and you? Bury your dead."
16 Abraham agreed to Ephron's terms and weighed out for him the price he had named in the hearing of the Hittites: four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weight current among the merchants.
17 So Ephron's field in Machpelah near Mamre—both the field and the cave in it, and all the trees within the borders of the field—was deeded 18 to Abraham as his property in the presence of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of the city. 19 Afterward Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah near Mamre (which is at Hebron) in the land of Canaan. 20 So the field and the cave in it were deeded to Abraham by the Hittites as a burial site.
And he said to Ephron in their hearing,Listen to me, if you will. I will pay the price of the field. Accept it from me so I can bury my dead there.(Genesis 23:13)
The supreme lesson here is to show us the thorough independence of the man of faith. Abraham will not consent to own one foot of ground without paying for it. He courteously insists on taking nothing from the world, though he is ready to take everything from God. He shows a great independence here; he will not allow the world to make him rich in any degree. God had promised him this land, and no stratagem of the enemy, no temporary expedient, will satisfy his heart. At the end of his career, although he owned the land by promise, the only part he actually possessed was the field and a cave where he buried his wife.
There is a great dearth of rugged individualism in our world today. What is the secret of it? We learn from the life of Abraham that the secret is essentially fixing our eye upon another place and not being satisfied with anything that earth offers. Then we can be quite indifferent to the appeals, the claims, and the pressures that come from every side. If our hearts are really wrapped up in this scene down here, we are sitting ducks for all the pressures that come, in whatever form. If our eyes are fixed upon the city that God alone builds, where the person of faith looks, then we can be very independent here.
The letters of Samuel Rutherford are a wonderful treasury of the devotional life of the heart that is enthralled and captured by Christ. He was a great, sturdy man. I remember reading about how when he lay dying in prison in St. Andrews, Scotland, the king sent a messenger to summon him to appear in court in London to answer to the charges of high heresy. When the messenger came in before the old man and announced that the king had ordered him to appear in court, he said to him in his Scottish fashion,
Gane and tell yere master, I have a summons from a higher court, and ere this message reaches him, I'll be where few kings or great folk ever come. It was a stirring rebuke to a man of earth who thought he could summon a man of faith.
Abraham owned a burial cave in the end. That was all. It is a reminder to us, and to all men and women of faith in all times, that all we can ever really own down here is a burial ground in which we may lay to rest all the hopes and expectations of this life. All we hope for and all the fine things we hope to have someday, all the experiences we would like to live over again, all these expectations are buried in the grave.
We are made to be creatures of eternity. The book of Ecclesiastes says that God
also set eternity in the hearts of men (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We are not made to be creatures of time. We are not made to be satisfied with this brief period of life and then to pass into the endless, silent realms of death. God has set eternity in our hearts. But the great tragedy is that we can so easily lose sight of the goal. We begin to be wrapped up in the problems of time, and we lose the broad view of eternity.
Lord, teach me to live with the same kind of independence as Abraham, who fixed his eyes on those things that no person could take from him.
Life Application: Are we held hostage to the things that relate simply to this time warp? Do we live each day as creatures of the values and hope of eternity?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.