“I will bless those who bless you , and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” -Gen 12:3
When I was 137 years old my beloved Sarah took sick and died. I can’t begin to describe the loss I felt. We had been together through so much. After all she’d been my wife for over 100 years and she was still as beautiful and alluring to me as when we’d first met. If I hadn’t been sure we’d be together again in Heaven, I couldn’t have gotten through it.
We were living near Hebron at the time so I arranged to purchase some land there to bury her. Since we were what you call Nomads, I didn’t really own any land although the LORD had given me practically all the area West of the Jordan River and North of Egypt. I didn’t want any future problems to disturb Sarah’s final resting place so even though Ephron the Hittite asked an exorbitant price for the field he thought was his, it contained a cave suitable for burying and I bought it for Sarah. Later I was buried there and after that Isaac, his wife Rebecca, their son Jacob and his wife Leah were all buried there as well. (Jacob’s second wife Rachel is buried just outside Bethlehem, about 20 miles to the North.)
400 years later, when my descendants finally took possession of the Promised Land as the LORD had told me they would, Hebron was designated a City of Refuge. It was, a place where the wrongly accused could find justice and protection, and for a time King David reigned over Israel from there as well. Today our burial place in Hebron is called the Tomb of the Patriarchs. A big Mosque covers the cave, and the whole city is hotly contested between the Israelis and the Palestinians, the scene of much violence. It’s one of the ironies of history that a former city of refuge has become known for its intolerance and injustice.
A few years after Sarah’s death I decided it was about time I got a wife for Isaac. He was 40 years old and missed his mother terribly. According to the custom of our day, I sent my chief servant Eliezer to the land of my relatives in what you call Iraq, after making him swear that he wouldn’t get a woman for Isaac from among the Canaanites. I wanted to keep our family line pure.
The sequence of events clearly foretells the story of the Messiah and his church. The LORD led Eliezer to a well where he met Rebecca, the virgin daughter of my brother Nahor, and the one the LORD had chosen for Isaac. Eliezer’s name means “the comforter” and in a role strikingly similar to the Holy Spirit’s role with the church, he asked her to leave her world behind and journey to a far place to become Isaac’s bride. Though she had no idea he was coming and only a few minutes to decide, she agreed. He immediately bestowed lavish gifts upon her to bless and equip her. He then escorted her on the long journey through the wilderness extolling the virtues of her soon-to-be husband all the way until she came to know and love him though she’d never met him. Finally, near a place called Beer Lahai Roi, the Well of Living Water, he introduced her to Isaac and for the first time she laid eyes on her betrothed. They were married in Sarah’s former tent and she was a great comfort to my son, giving meaning to his life.
So it has been with each of you. Though you didn’t know he was coming, the LORD sent the Holy Spirit to find you and ask you to become the bride of His Son. Saying yes required you to leave your old life behind and agree to a long journey through the spiritual wilderness of this world to the place where your future husband awaits. As soon as you agreed, you received lavish spiritual gifts from Him, gifts that have not only blessed you but have also equipped you for service. The Holy Spirit has continually instructed you concerning your betrothed as He escorts you through the remainder of your life on Earth, and though you’ve never seen His face, you’ve come to know and love Him. Finally, when your journey is over, you’ll be introduced to the Son of God and for the first time you’ll lay eyes on your betrothed. You’ll be married in the Tabernacle in Heaven and give meaning to His life on Earth. After all, He died for you.
As for me, at the ripe old age of 140, I took another wife and together we had six sons. Truly I was becoming the father of many nations, just as the LORD had promised. Finally at age 175 I died. Isaac and Ishmael buried me in the cave at Hebron next to my beloved Sarah.
It had been 100 years since Sarah and I had set out from Haran and started this incredible adventure. Along the way I had become one of the richest men of my time with wealth that surpassed many of the so-called kings of my day. But by far my greatest treasure was my relationship with the LORD. As you read the words the LORD has had men write to memorialize His dealings with His creation, I believe you’ll find that in all the Old Testament I’m the only one He called “friend.” That was worth more to me than all the wealth.
But before you start envying me, remember you’re His betrothed. All the inheritance the LORD gave to His Son is yours, and you will rule and reign with Him in His Kingdom forever. What’s more you and I will also meet someday soon. I’ll be at your wedding. Look for me among the friends of the groom. Shalom.