A King Without A Kingdom, Yet
GENESIS 22:19 to 23:20
THEME / LESSON: We must trust in and patiently wait for God’s promises even if they are a long way off.
INTRODUCTIONHere is the outline for today’s lesson:
I. 22:19. Opportunity to talk about Abraham, the Great Father.
II. 22:20-24. Rebekah’s family line.
III. 23:1-2. Death of Sarah.
IV. 23:3-4. Abraham the stranger and sojourner.
V. 23:5-20. Abraham purchases a cave for Sarah’s tomb.
Reading through this list it could be tempting to say, “Oh, this is all that historical stuff, it doesn’t apply to me. It’s not like this is the book of Revelation.” But my friends, like many Old Testament stories, these things are types and shadows of what is to come. Not only that, but there are moral lessons as well as prophetic and spiritual teachings that could easily be overlooked. We are even going to see a type of Jesus in chapter 23, of how He, like Abraham, was a king without a kingdom while living His days out on the earth. As a matter of fact, you too, are kings without a kingdom, yet.
Let’s get into the Word:
THE GREAT FATHER - ABRAHAMGenesis 22:19 So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.
Abraham- אַבְרָהָם ab-raw-hawm’; means father of a multitude or father of many nations.
Since it is Father’s Day today, it is a perfect opportunity to talk about Abraham a little. Before the H or הָ was added to Abram’s name, his name אַבְרָם meant “exalted father”. And Abram אַבְרָם comes from the root word אָב “Ab”, which simply means “father”. Abraham wasn’t just any father. He was the model father. He was a great man, a great dad, and a great leader who cared deeply for his offspring. So much so that God said, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him” (Gen. 18:19), that he would “become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him” (Gen. 18:18).
A good father will command his children and his household to keep the way of the LORD, like Abraham did.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 God says, “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”
Instead of having a commanding presence in the house today, like Abraham, unfortunately so fathers have become timid and weak, or just plain apathetic. They’ve forgotten what it means to be a father resulting in our nation falling away from God. No one is teaching them. And in rare instances when a father does step up to be a godly man, to lead his house, he is now looked upon as a “dangerous” hateful bigoted man by liberals in society. But if you are a weak effeminate man, they will honor and celebrate you. Figure that one out.
Now when God uses the word command here, this doesn’t give fathers an excuse to be a cruel dictator or to rule his household as an oppressor. It means to teach the truth in love, and at times exercise discipline to make sure the family is headed in the right direction. I tell my wife that I may be a dictator but I’m a benevolent dictator who loves his family :).
Moreover, as fathers, we should think of our children like Abraham did. He didn’t just count down the days until they were 18 so he wouldn’t be responsible for them anymore. No. He strived to set them up for the future. They would stay together and grow together as one people. One family of God. They didn’t forget their heritage or their family name.
We could use some more Abrahams today.
Beersheba- בְּאֵר שֶׁבַע Beer-sheba means the well of an oath or the well of the sevenfold oath. It was named that because of a peace treaty Abraham made with Abimelech king of the Philistines. It would later be on the southern boundary of Judah (2 Sam. 17:11).
REBEKAH’S GENEALOGYHere we’re going to be given the genealogy of Rebekah, Isaac’s future wife and mother of the great Patriarch Jacob — Israel.
Genesis 22:20 And it came to pass after these things, that it was told Abraham, saying, Behold, Milcah, she hath also born children unto thy brother Nahor;
Genesis 22:21 Huz his firstborn, and Buz his brother, and Kemuel the father of Aram,
Genesis 22:22 And Chesed, and Hazo, and Pildash, and Jidlaph, and Bethuel.
Genesis 22:23 And Bethuel begat Rebekah: these eight Milcah did bear to Nahor, Abraham's brother.
These eight- In Biblical numerology 8 means “new beginning”. Interestingly, the great matriarch Sarah is about to pass away and Rebekah will take her place as the new mother of the promised seed when she marries Isaac. The torch is going to be passed and there will be a new beginning. Dr. Bullinger illustrates this by saying, “one sun rising before another sets” (The Companion Bible).
Rebekah- Abraham’s brothers son’s daughter. The woman who would end up marrying Abraham’s son, Isaac.
Genesis 22:24 And his concubine, whose name was Reumah, she bare also Tebah, and Gaham, and Thahash, and Maachah.
And his concubine- If you add Nahor’s 8 sons by his wife to these 4 by his concubine the total number of his sons equal “12”, a number that means governmental perfection. Probably a shadow of things to come, i.e. the birth of the Twelve Tribes of Israel that would come through Rebekah’s son, Jacob.
DEATH OF SARAHGenesis 23:1 And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah.
Years of the life of Sarah- Sarah being 127 years old is the only woman whose age is mentioned in the Bible. She was 90 when she gave birth to Isaac and still got to enjoy 37 years of his life before she died.
Genesis 23:2 And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.
Mourn for Sarah- Ecclesiastes 3:4 says there is a “time to weep”. This is Abraham’s time. No doubt He loved Sarah deeply. And she was a beautiful woman. So beautiful that Abraham feared for his life when traveling abroad thinking that powerful kings would kill him in order to steal his wife. Surely it wasn’t only her beauty that Abraham mourned for, he was mourning the loss a faithful spouse, and a godly woman with whom he shared so much with. She was his other half.
Now Sarah’s name means princess and was perhaps the most blessed woman in all of scripture. There is more said about her than even Mary the mother of Jesus. In Galatians 4:26 Sarah is likened to Jerusalem above, or Heavenly Jerusalem, she being the mother of all the children of promise. And the author of Hebrews commended her for her heroic faith (Hebrews 11:11).
In Isaiah 51:1-2 God says: “Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you.”
Here God says Sarah is the mother of all who are righteous. In fact, she is your mother if you are a Christian. She was also the model wife. 1 Peter 3:6 says, “Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord; whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well.”
While Abraham was the model father, Sarah was the model mother. Together they are the model couple. Abraham was the “father of many nations” but Sarah was the “mother of many nations” (Gen. 17:16). She was the only woman in scripture to have her name changed by God, from Sarai to Sarah—meaning princess. Indeed, a special woman without a doubt.
Kirjatharba- Numbers 13:22 says this is the same as Hebron.
STRANGER AND SOJOURNERGenesis 23:3 And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying,
Sons of Heth- Heth was a son of Canaan and father of the Hittites. Thus, the sons of Heth were Hittites (Genesis 10:15). They were pagans.
Genesis 23:4 I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a buryingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.
Stranger and sojourner- Though God had promised this land to Abraham’s seed (Gen. 15:18-21), for now he possessed no land or permanent dwelling. He dwelt in tents wandering around with his family and his livestock. He was a king with no kingdom, yet. For his seed would not inherit this land until “the iniquity of the Amorites” was full (Gen. 15:16).
Just as Abraham was a stranger in the promised land,
JESUS A STRANGER IN HIS KINGDOM:He was the rightful King, but others were ruling. Jesus told Pilate “My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36). Meaning, though He was the rightful king it wasn’t His time yet to reign. Jesus will not set up literal His kingdom on earth until “the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are to come to full” (Dan. 8:23, 2 Thess. 2), after the Antichrist has ruled for 3 ½ years. It will be then that Jesus will come down leading His armies to establish His Kingdom on earth (Rev. 19:11-21).
It was about 400 years before Abraham’s seed received the promise and it’s been about 2,000 years so far since the kingdom was promised to Jesus. But rest assured just as the promise to Abraham was fulfilled, the promise of Jesus’s coming Kingdom will also be fulfilled.
ARE WE STRANGERS AND PILGRIMS?In 1 Peter 2:11 Peter addresses the early Christians as “strangers and pilgrims” in this world. However, as Americans things are a little different for us. We have a country. We live in a nation that was founded upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We live in a Christian Nation (See America In Prophecy). Upon reaching its shores the early pilgrims looked at America as the new land of promise, the new world, and the new Jerusalem. They viewed the king of England as the Pharaoh, the Atlantic Ocean as the Red Sea, and the Indians as the Canaanites.
President Thomas Jefferson said, "I shall need, too, the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our fathers, as Israel of old, from their native land and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries and comforts of life."
So, it cannot be entirely true that we are kings without a kingdom like the early Christians were, or even like Abraham. Our Constitution states that the kings and rulers of America are “WE THE PEOPLE” and our nation’s motto is ONE NATION UNDER GOD. I believe the pilgrims were right. I believe America is the second land of promise foretold of in Revelation 12.
“And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days (vs. 6)…And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent (vs. 14).
At the same time, our kingdom is still not fully realized, yet, and will not until our Lord Jesus Christ returns to set up his worldwide millennial kingdom. Then it will come to pass that we will reign “with Christ a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4) in His Kingdom.
ABRAHAM’S LAND PURCHASEGenesis 23:5 And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him,
Genesis 23:6 Hear us, my lord: thou art a mighty prince among us: in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead; none of us shall withhold from thee his sepulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead.
A mighty prince- In the Hebrew it says, “Prince of God”. No doubt Abraham was well respected among these Hittites. They seemed to know he was God’s man. These may have been heathens, but they were heathens who lived at peace with Abraham. In fact, at one time Abraham fought a battle with the Hittites and were confederate with them (Gen. 14:13, 24).
We can learn something from this. While in the world, we should strive to get along with non-believers we come in contact with, whether that be in business dealings, at the work place, or in our community.
If Abraham was a rude shady character, he would have not had the same response.
Now there is a time and a place for everything. It’s not always possible to get along with non-believers, nor should we always want to. There were times when Jesus purposely provoked the Pharisees to open spiritual warfare, and there are times when we need to declare spiritual war against non-believers or hypocrites. A little common sense and discernment go a long way.
Genesis 23:7 And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth.
Bowed himself etc.- Notice the respect Abraham showed to the people of the land. He didn’t abuse their kindness. They were letting him dwell in their land as a stranger, so he respected their customs. Today we have strangers and sojourners (illegal aliens) and other immigrants who come to America and trample upon everything that this country has stood for.
This is not the example Abraham set for us. Nor is it Biblical that America has to put up with such disregard for our customs and laws.
Below was an interesting quote I found from Matthew Henry’s Bible Commentary on this verse. He says:
“With a tender of the best of their burying-places. Note, Even the light of nature teaches us to be civil and respectful towards all, though they be strangers and sojourners. The noble generosity of these Canaanites shames and condemns the closeness, and selfishness, and ill-humour, of many that call themselves Israelites. Observe, These Canaanites would be glad to mingle their dust with Abraham's and to have their last end like his.”
Genesis 23:8 And he communed with them, saying, If it be your mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight; hear me, and intreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar,
Out of his sight- No doubt Abraham wanted her body buried out of his sight to help alleviate the pain of missing her.
Genesis 23:9 That he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which is in the end of his field; for as much money as it is worth he shall give it me for a possession of a buryingplace amongst you.
Machpelah- The word means: Double Cave
The likely reason Abraham wanted to buy this specific piece of land for her grave was that it was near where the promises were made to him (Gen 13:18, Gen 14:13, Gen 18:1), obviously making it very special place for him. The place where he talked with God.
Genesis 23:10 And Ephron dwelt among the children of Heth: and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the audience of the children of Heth, even of all that went in at the gate of his city, saying,
Gate of the city- In Bible times at the gates of the city is where the town’s leaders assembled and where business transactions took place.
Genesis 23:11 Nay, my lord, hear me: the field give I thee, and the cave that is therein, I give it thee; in the presence of the sons of my people give I it thee: bury thy dead.
I give it thee- Kindness shown, and kindness received. Here the guy respects Abraham so much that he is just willing to give him the land. What a great example of civility among those with different belief systems.
Genesis 23:12 And Abraham bowed down himself before the people of the land.
Abraham bowed down- Again showing respect and civil courtesy.
Genesis 23:13 And he spake unto Ephron in the audience of the people of the land, saying, But if thou wilt give it, I pray thee, hear me: I will give thee money for the field; take it of me, and I will bury my dead there.
I will give thee money- Perhaps Abraham wanted to make sure his legal rights to grave site would not be challenged sometime in the future had the land just been given to him. This way Abraham has a title deed to the property that was fairly and legally purchased.
Genesis 23:14 And Ephron answered Abraham, saying unto him,
Genesis 23:15 My lord, hearken unto me: the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver; what is that betwixt me and thee? bury therefore thy dead.
Four hundred shekels of silver- Abraham pays 400 shekels for a small piece of land that his seed would conquer in war 400 years later (Gen. 15:13). Coincidence? Probably not. Numbers have significance in the Bible. It’s a language all in itself.
Interestingly, the year 2020 will mark the 400th anniversary of the founding of America by the pilgrims aboard the Mayflower. A lot has changed since then. We know that 40 days or 40 years in the Bible is symbolic of probation or testing. 400 is the same thing, it’s just a longer period. Could it be that some major change will come to America in 2020? Will God judge or bless us on our 400th anniversary? I don’t know. But my prayer is that we can rediscover our nation’s roots and live out the purposes they laid out for our Great Nation—to be a city upon a hill and a light unto the world.
What is that betwixt me and thee- No doubt, Ephron was a rich man like Abraham so this must have seemed like a pretty insignificant transaction though and important one to Abraham.
Genesis 23:16 And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the audience of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant.
In the audience of the sons of Heth- This was an official transaction with multiple witnesses present.
Shekels- This is the first time that the word “shekel” is used in the Bible. Shekels of course were small coins made from precious metals. Not worthless Federal Reserve Notes that we use today.
Genesis 23:17 And the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field, and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the borders round about, were made sure
Genesis 23:18 Unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city.
Unto Abraham for a possession- 1st piece of promise land legally acquired! Could this be symbolic of laying claim to his land?
Genesis 23:19 And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan.
Genesis 23:20 And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a buryingplace by the sons of Heth.
Buryingplace- Known today as the “Tomb of the Patriarchs”. It is said that Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob and Rachael are all buried there.
CONCLUSION:My friends, we have been promised a kingdom. But just like Sarah, many have come and gone without having seen these promises fulfilled. Don’t let that shake you. The Bible warns us in 2 Peter 3:7 that scoffers and mockers would come in the last days saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”
Let us remain faithful. All of the promises in the Bible will come to pass. It wasn’t until 430 years after the promise given to Abraham that his seed left Egypt and began their journey to the promised land. It’s been 2,000 years now since Jesus left. And some of us might come and go before he comes back, but He will come back.
One more thing in closing. Among scholars and prophecy students, you hear terms such as pre-millennialism, post-millennialism, amillennialism, and preterism. The fact that both Abraham and Jesus were kings without an earthly kingdom, yet, witnesses to the validity of the pre-millennial viewpoint. That is to say, that Jesus’s earthly 1,000 year reign is still yet to come. Just as there was a gap of time from the promise God gave to Abraham until his seed received the promises, there is a gap of time from the time Jesus promised us a kingdom until we receive the kingdom. For at “the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt” (Exodus 12:41).
God bless and be a Christian Overcomer!
Pastor Ben Heath