Genesis 23: Abraham is All In

Genesis 23

Abraham is All In


Nothing tests our sense of “calling” like devastatingly hard hits.


Call is a synonym for vocation. Both have their roots in “vocatio” to summons.


Call is sort of the external / created summons, and vocation is more of the execution of that summons.


God had summoned/called Abraham and Sarah from Ur and their “gods” to himself and this land which would be the launching pad for God’s mission to the nations and the vocation that would entail.




While Abraham and Sarah are pursuing God’s call through all the vocational necessities, they continually face all the challenges and tests that come with it that tempt them to run away from the call and thus the actions that go along.


Today, in our text, Abraham and Sarah (they are one flesh, so they face it together) have to face down the coldest and most ruthless of what we’ll all face. Death.


What do we see in our text today?

Sarah dies having not received the promise v. 1-2

Hebrews 11:13 (ESV) These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.


Sarah’s faith was never rewarded with the finished product.


Sarah’s faith was a struggle from beginning to end.


Abraham’s faith is deepened through having to mourn his bride’s death and work to secure her an honorable burial.


Abraham acts according to his faith. v. 3-20


He puts his money where his mouth is.


Hebrews 11:9 (ESV) By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.


Abraham, by committing to bury Sarah in the middle of the ground God had promised, is sold out seeing the work through. He is making future plans by faith not fear or dread.


“’The legal action of a purchase was a full investment in a promise against the present circumstance’ (Brueggemann).1His beloved wife’s body entombed in Hebron, the center of the land, was his public stake in God’s promise—against all present appearances.”[1]


  • By doing through this elaborate process of buying this field from Ephron, Abraham was committing to staying, by faith, in the land never to return to what used to be “home”. Abraham and Sarah were home now. v. 10-18


  • Abraham does what it takes to stay where God’s promise is at.



  • Abraham positions himself in line with God’s word to him.

There was more to come in what God promised Abraham (to make him a great nation), and Abraham positioned himself and his descendants to receive God’s promises.


  • Strategic Observation: Abraham wisely works within the system that was present and did not take steps to alienate himself from the inhabitants. Rather, Abraham honored them and worked within their system.


The time would come when the systems of God’s kingdom would triumph, but for now, Abraham needed to be shrewd as a serpent and innocent as a dove.


  • God’s goodness to Abraham and Sarah was not for this life only. Abraham buried Sarah in faith that all of God’s promises will be kept for the family, the people, and the future, whatever it looked like. v. 19-20


  • Buying land and burying Sarahshows us Abraham’s forward-looking faith producing faithful actions in a grieving hope not a devastated despair. Abraham buried Sarah in hope. The LORD is God of the living Sarah. Sarah’s body gave way to the curse, but she’s just with the Lord.


Matthew 22:31-32 (ESV) And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 32 I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.”


Jesus speaks of the state of the “fathers” as presently alive. The curse of sin has killed the physical body, but the person is still living. They will be raised with a new body on the Lord’s day of restoration.


  • Sarah was not done. Her body was dead, but God’s promises to her are not finished, and Abraham had to act on that by burying and burying in the land.


  • Future generations of the promise are going to be buried here. Genesis 49:28-33.


What do we do with our text?

  1. Set our aim on the future grace of the kingdom fully come. Don’t expect to “get it all” now. Our best life is yet to come.

Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV) Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.


Enjoy all the graces present now, but know there is more and better to come.


The fullness of God’s faithfulness may not be experienced on this side of our own resurrection.


Hebrews 11:13-16 (ESV) These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.


Colossians 3:1-3 (ESV) If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.




  • We live by the promise of future grace. In living for future grace, we imitate Jesus!


Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.


The death of Jesus is our great hope. Even the Son of God took on death with future grace in view.


We have benefits of our salvation now in Christ, but we have future grace stored up for us and we act on the surety of such future grace.


We refuse to sell out the promise for some temporary relief.


This truth should create:

  • Perseverance / Joy / Peace / Hope


  1. Position yourself to receive all the good that God has promised us in Christ.
  • Devour Scripture…learn to hear.
  • Prayer…private, two-way conversation with God.
  • Thinking deeply on God, his word and what you are hearing.
  • Practice instant and literal obedience to what God says. Be completely God’s ambassador every moment.
  • Serve and be a humble learner in your service.


  1. When we lay our loved one’s in Christ to rest, we do so in a grieving hope that the awful day is not the end.


Our actions in processing death show where our hope lies.


Our bodies will give in to the curse, but make no mistake, they live on and will be raised to life!


  1. Death is our servant to complete Jesus’ work on this side of the restoration of all things.


  • We mourn at death, and it hurts, but death does not define God’s faithfulness.
  • Death will be the last work of Jesus making us more like him.
  • Let’s learn to live well, but have an eye toward dying well…full of the Spirit.



1Walter Brueggemann, Genesis, “Interpretation” (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1982), p. 197.

[1]R. Kent Hughes, Genesis: Beginning and Blessing, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004), 309.

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