PATHS In Bible Chapters

Genesis 23
Theme: The Other Side Of Faith
Key Text: Verse 2


            We have all heard the little line, “There is always more than one side to a story.” This is even true with biblical principles. Here, for instance, we are confronted with the other side of faith. In the previous chapter, Abraham seemed to mount up like an eagle in a storm. In the hour of crisis, he experienced God as “Jehovah-jireh!” But, now, like an eagle in the molting season, we find him mourning over the death of his dear wife, Sarah. This is the other side, the flip side of the faith- life. And, although God is not even mentioned in the whole chapter, the patriarch shows us that the God of the mountain is also the God of the valley.


1. The Dark Side
            The story before us reminds us again that there is, as wise Solomon stated, “a time to die” (Ecc. 3:2). Sooner or later, it happens! It’s an appointment that we all must keep! (see Heb. 9:27). It is “the way of all the earth” (Josh. 23:14). It happens to the best! The great pass this way, also! At this time, the family of Abraham, the great father of faith, must walk through this vale. “And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan” (23:2). Let us notice, too, that death even comes to those who live in the Canaan land. However, it is much better to die in the land of victory than to die in the wilderness of defeat.


2. The Desperate Side
            When death comes, it always brings its close companions, sorrow and grief. Abraham was introduced to them as he viewed the lifeless frame of his once beautiful wife. “And Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her” (23:2). It is true that believers should “sorrow not, even as others which have no hope” (1 Thes. 4:13). Yet, no one is exempt from the heaviness and distress that accompanies death. The saints can only anticipate a brighter day, when “God shall wipe all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying” (Rev. 21:4).


3. The Dutiful Side
            In spite of his grief, Abraham had to carry out some uncomely responsibilities. First, since he was “a stranger and a sojourner” (23:3), he humbly approached his neighbors about the need of a burial plot (see 23:3-7). Then, he chose a certain field for the burial (see 23:8-11). And, although the owner was willing to give the land to the patriarch, to free himself from future conflict, Abraham purchased the property (see 23:12-16). No doubt, the most difficult procedure was when he “buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre” (23:19). All these duties are heavy burdens, even in the faith-life.


            Due to space exploration, and special trips to and from the moon, man has learned much about its features.  However, because it exhibits what scientists call “synchronous rotation” (it follows the same rotation each month), the moon always keeps the same side facing the earth. Although there is a beautiful side, which reflects the brightness of the sun, there is a dark side to the moon, another side that we cannot see. There is also a side to the faith-life that some folks never see. They see the blessings, but they overlook the hard times. However, in spite of the difficulties of life, may we continue to reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus.