Genesis 23:4 and Death

The Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

The Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

Abraham was a sojourner and stranger in Canaan most of his life.  It is only at the end of Sarah’s life that he actually purchases a piece of property, the beginning of receiving the Promised Land.  When Sarah was 127 years old she died, and Abraham goes to the city gates of Hebron and says,

“I am an immigrant and a temporary resident with you. Give me some property for a burial plot among you so that I can bury my deceased wife near me.”

This is the beginning of the fulfillment to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob of receiving the land promised to them by God.  And it is a graveyard.  The first fruits of the Promised Land is a tomb.  This is because the Old Covenant is subject to death and decay.

Throughout Genesis prosperity and material wealth are seen as God’s blessing on people.  This is because death overshadows everything.  Even the Promised Land is a place of death, as evidenced by the first portion of it being a tomb.  And the Old Covenant can never get past this fact, or overcome death.

The New Covenant, however, has conquered death and is no longer overshadowed by it.  It gives, not material blessing and land (which still has death in the background), but eternal life and an existence free from fear.

Later in the Old Testament the Promised Land is described as a land flowing with milk and honey, all of the good things in life, but the Hebrews brought with them the bones of Joseph to be buried in this very tomb.  Even then death overshadowed the covenant and the promise.

One of the greatest gifts of the New Covenant is that death is no more and has no sting.  Our Promised Land is a place of healing, wholeness, and holiness.  Death has no place there.