Thoroughly Equipped: Death Was Arrested

Today’s reading is Genesis 24:52-26:16, Matthew 8:18-34, Psalm 10:1-15, and Proverbs 3:7-8; but I confess my studying is still in Genesis 23.  There, we find Abraham in a sad moment.  Sarah, his beloved wife, the mother of his child of promise, had died.  They were in the land of Canaan when it happened, specifically at Hebron.  Hebron is mentioned 87 times in the Bible, and is the world’s oldest Jewish community.  We find out in Joshua 21 that Hebron was given to the Levites, the priests, and later God Himself gives Hebron to king David as the capital of his kingdom (2 Samuel 2:1).  Hebron is also known as one of the cities of refuge, a place where one could run to safety if they accidentally killed a man.

It was there Abraham mourned.  This is the first recorded moment in the Bible in which a man shed tears.  He mourned for the one he loved and it was right for him to do so.  It is right to mourn when we lose those things that are precious to us.

He went to the leaders of that area and said, “Here I am, a stranger and a foreigner among you.  Please sell me a piece of land so I can give my wife a proper burial.”  Abraham had earned a reputation of respect throughout the land.  The leaders replied, “Listen, my Lord, you are an honored prince among us.  Choose the finest of our tombs and bury her there.  No one here will refuse to help you in this way.”

But Abraham refused.  He did not refuse out of pride.  He bowed low before them, indicating his respectful stance.  Scholars have many opinions as to why he refused.  Some say it was because he was a wealthy man and it was right and just for him to pay the full price.  He would not accept a handout when he had the ability to pay. In the end, Abraham paid an exorbitant price, 400 pieces of silver—the full price of the land and the cave in which he buried Sarah.

Abraham’s insistence upon paying the full, outrageous price could also have been another moment of realizing he could not be beholding to the Canaanites, lest they rule over him.

Matthew Henry points out that this was the first piece of property Abraham owned in the land God had promised.  He is referred to as a foreigner and stranger until this moment of purchase, but never after.  When you own land in a region, you earn the right be a legitimate part of the area.  He had finally invested in the land God had promised him.

Keith Krell, an associate professor at Moody Bible Institute, had this to say:  “It took a death for Abraham to begin possessing God’s promises. We possess the riches of God by our death with Jesus Christ (Eph 2:3-7). We must live daily with a view of death (Gal 6:14; Luke 9:23).”

It takes death to tap into the promises of God.  It is ironic that Abraham had to buy that which was already his.  In fact, the whole land was his—promised and given by God.  And yet, his buying what was already his is reflective of what God did on our behalf.

Colossians 1: 16 tells us, “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible…”  If you create something, it is rightfully yours.  The whole earth and everything in it is rightfully God’s. And yet, He bought back what was already his with the greatest payment of all—the blood of Jesus.  And once that payment is applied to His people, nothing can snatch them away.  It is rightfully His.  We are rightfully His when we place our trust and faith in the blood of Jesus and his resurrection–the full, outrageous payment.

Yes, it takes death to tap into the promises of God.  God promised in Genesis 3:15 that a Savior would come to crush the head of Satan.  But it took a death to tap into that promise.  The death of Jesus.  We, too, can tap into the many promises of God, but it will take a death on our part—dying to sin, dying to self.

Sometimes it takes a death to fully understand the promises of comfort and strength and peace that passes understanding.  If we don’t understand our need of those things, we can’t fully experience them.  Reach out to God in your grief, whether large or small grief.  You will find Him faithful.  Jesus died so you may experience this and all the promises of God.

Tapping into these promises during your days of death, when you are walking in the shadow of the valley of death, is an investment in your spiritual future.  You will know where to go when other griefs come.  You will own the promises and can go back and tap into them time and time again.

Abraham now owned a tiny piece of the land promised to him.  And this ownership would grow over time, throughout the generations.  It was in this land Abraham was also buried.  It was in this land Isaac and Rebekah and Jacob and Leah were buried.  The most important patriarchs and matriarchs of our faith were buried in that tiny plot of land that Abraham paid full price for.

Our faith, especially when we are walking in the valley of the shadow of death, is an investment into our future generations.  Just as a seed is buried before it can grow into a fruitful planting, so in every grief, God can bring about great glory, great fruitfulness for the future.

It is appropriate that our patriarchs of faith were buried in Hebron, the city of refuge.  For it is by faith that we, too find our refuge in Christ alone.  We, too, are guilty of manslaughter, as our sins killed Jesus.  And yet, He has paid the exorbitant price to save us and be our refuge.

The beautiful lyrics of Death Was Arrested, by North Point Insideout, sum up the truth and joy of Christ has done for us:

Alone in my sorrow dead in my sin

Lost without hope with no place to begin

Your love made a way to let mercy come in

When death was arrested and my life began

Ash was redeemed only beauty remains

My orphan heart was given a name

My mourning grew quiet my feet rose to dance

When death was arrested and my life began

Oh your grace so free

Washes over me

You have made me new

Now life begins with you

It’s your endless love

Pouring down on us

You have made us new

Now life begins with you

Released from my chains I’m a prisoner no more

My shame was a ransom he faithfully bore

He cancelled my debt and he called me his friend

When death was arrested and my life began

Our savior displayed on a criminal’s cross

Darkness rejoiced as though heaven had lost

But then Jesus arose with our freedom in hand

That’s when death was arrested and my life began

That’s when death was arrested and my life began

Oh we’re free free

Forever we’re free

Come join the song

Of all the redeemed


Yes we’re free free

Forever amen

When death was arrested

and my life began


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