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THEME:  Abraham, the Friend of God
TOPIC: Till Death Do Us Part
TEXT: Genesis 23: 1-20

Rev. (Dr.) Stephen K. Awoniyi



                In one of the books written by Ray C. Stedman titled: Till Death Do Us Part, I viewed that book as a horrible and sorrowful day when a man buried his faithful, honest, obedient, and beloved wife or when a woman buried her faithful, honest, obedient, and beloved husband.  In today’s sermon we will focus on the sorrow of the man Abraham, when he buried his beloved wife Sarah.  The Scripture did not tell us how long they married, nevertheless, the Scripture narrates that Sarah lived for one hundred and twenty-seven years (127 years) before she died.  Before Sarah’s death she had no child until the Lord said she would have a son who will be called Isaac.  And to God’s glory, Sarah gave birth to a son and named him the name the Lord said the boy would be called, that is, “Isaac.”  The Scripture narrates it thus:

God’s Covenant with Abram

1. After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” 2. But Abram said, “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3. Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!” 

4. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” 5. Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”  6. And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness (Genesis 15: 1-6 (NKJV). 

Isaac Is Born

1. And the Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had spoken. 2. For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.         3. And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him—whom Sarah bore to him—Isaac.           4. Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him.    5. Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. 6. And Sarah said, “God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me.” 7. She also said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? For I have borne him a son in his old age.”

Hagar and Ishmael Depart

8. So the child grew and was weaned.  And Abraham made a great feast on the same day that Isaac was weaned (Genesis 21:1-8 (NKJV). 

In today’s sermon we will focus on the following topics:

(A). The Depths of Grief or Sorrow

                The Depths of Grief or Sorrow could be explained thus:  After the death of a child, or a wife, or a husband, a person falls into a great grief or sorrow.  In order words, it will be very hard to believe such a person will ever be happy again because he or she is overwhelmed with a great sorrow and grief.  According to the tradition of the Middle East in those days, the body of Sarah, Abraham’s wife, must be put in a tent.  Abraham then went alone into the tent, wept and mourned over the body of his dearly beloved wife.  Although the Book of Genesis did not indicate when both of them got married, nevertheless, they lived together in the Ur of the Chaldeans.

                Imagine the depth of sorrow and grief you would go through at the graveside of the person who had been your beloved spouse and your companion for many years.  Compare that with the man Abraham as he bowed and wept over his faithful and obedient wife, Sarah.  The lady Sarah was known to be a beautiful bride, a loving wife, a homemaker, and a person nursing her new born son, Isaac.  Abraham and Sarah had seen triumphs, failures, joys, and sorrows.  Both of them endured many hardships in their journey together.   But now, their journey from Mesopotamia to Egypt, then to the promised land of Canaan had come to an end.  Sarah had now gone to eternity to rest with her Lord.  Now that Abraham was in a depth of grief and sorrow, he thought his own life was over also, but the Almighty Father still had important work for him to do.  That is, his adventure of faith would continue because the Lord had a duty for him to accomplish.

                Beloved, we are living in the world of sorrow and grief and when your wife or husband died, you think your life is over also.  But, give it a second though.  That is, do not hang or kill yourself because the Almighty God has a great duty for you to accomplish.  That is why a Yoruba song says, “Eku le pe titi ale, sugbon ayo nbo lowuro.”   That is, “Weeping may last to the night, but joy is coming in the morning.” 

(B). An Alien and a Stranger

                What does an Alien and a Stranger really mean?  This could be explained in many ways, such as:

  1. A person with whom one has had no personal acquaintance or relationship with.
  2. A newcomer into a great and pleasant town, city, or place.
  3. A stranger in a beautiful and pleasant town or home
  4. A person who does not belong to any family, group, or community.  That is, an outsider.
  5. When the people in a city or a town show hospitality or kindness to a stranger.
  6. A foreigner with a different language, custom, and background in a new environment.

The man Abraham had lived as a pilgrim in a foreign land for many years and he did not have a place to bury his beloved wife, Sarah.  He saw a city whose architect and builder is the Almighty God, then he got up beside his wife and said, “I am an alien and a stranger among you.”   Abraham knows that there can never be a shadow without a light.  That is why he said,

I am a stranger and a sojourner among you; I don’t seek a permanent sense of satisfaction here on earth.  My eyes are fixed on the light of the city to which God is calling me (Ray C. Stedman, Page 203).

Ray C. Stedman continues saying;

Many people, upon losing a loved one, seem to give up on life.  Their hearts were closely bound to       the one they have lost.  That’s understandable.  But the loss of a beloved one is not the end of life.  It’s not the end of the adventure God has planned for us.  Like Abraham, we must lift our eyes beyond this present shadow to the light from the city beyond.  Like Abraham, we must remind ourselves that this world has never intended to meet the deepest needs of our hearts.  We are pilgrims.  We are strangers passing through (Page 203). 

Beloved, whenever a shadow comes into your life, it is an indication that somewhere a light is shining.  Do not give up but stand still for the Lord is your protector.  The Scripture says;   

3 Then Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying, 4 “I am a foreigner and a visitor among you.  Give me property for a burial place among you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” 5 And the sons of Heth answered Abraham, saying to him, 6 “Hear us, my lord: You are a mighty prince among us; bury your dead in the choicest of our burial places.  None of us will withhold from you his burial place, that you may bury your dead.”

7 Then Abraham stood up and bowed himself to the people of the land, the sons of Heth. 8 And he spoke with them, saying, “If it is your wish that I bury my dead out of my sight, hear me, and meet with Ephron the son of Zohar for me, 9 that he may give me the cave of Machpelah which he has, which is at the end of his field.  Let him give it to me at the full price, as property for a burial place among you.”

10 Now Ephron dwelt among the sons of Heth; and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the presence of the sons of Heth, all who entered at the gate of his city, saying, 11 “No, my lord, hear me: I give you the field and the cave that is in it; I give it to you in the presence of the sons of my people.  I give it to you.  Bury your dead!” 12 Then Abraham bowed himself down before the people of the land (Genesis 23:3-12 (NKJV).

19 And they said, “An Egyptian delivered us from the hand of the shepherds, and he also drew enough water for us and watered the flock.” 20 So he said to his daughters, “And where is he? Why is it that you have left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread.”  21 Then Moses was content to live with the man, and he gave Zipporah his daughter to Moses. 22 And she bore him a son. He called his name Gershom,[a] for he said, “I have been a stranger in a foreign land (Exodus 2:19-22 (NKJV).

“Hear my prayer, O Lord, And give ear to my cry; Do not be silent at my tears; For I am a stranger with You, A sojourner, as all my fathers were.  13 Remove Your gaze from me, that I may regain strength, Before I go away and am no more” (Psalms 39: 12-13).

22 And you shall sow in the eighth year, and eat old produce until the ninth year; until its produce comes in, you shall eat of the old harvest.
Redemption of Property

23 The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with Me (Leviticus 25: 22-23 (NKJV).


                Dearly beloved, listen again to what Abraham asked for.  He said, “I am a foreigner and a visitor among you Give me property for a burial place among you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” What you and I think we can never own on earth is what Abraham owned, that is, a burial ground in which our remains may rest until the day of resurrection.  If all what you and I should live for in this world is the pleasure of wealth, fame, and earthly power, we are then doomed to lose everything.   Therefore, do not set your heart on things that do not last, but do it in reference to the word of the Apostle Paul that says;   

Not Carnality but Christ

1. If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.  2. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.  3. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  4. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory (Colossians 3: 1-4 (NKJV.