Preparing for the future by faith can be a challenging concept in our Christian walk. Sometimes Christians will suggest that walking by faith means we must not make any plans for the future. The point is that any planning on our part suggests that we are not putting our lives in God’s hands and trusting in him. Others will deny this and will say that you have to make your own plans and faith has nothing to do with planning in this life. In this lesson we are going to examine the end of Abraham’s life and we will see how faith and planning for the future work together in our walk with God.
Abraham Buys Land (23:1-20)
Genesis 23 opens with the death of Sarah at 127 years old. The rest of this chapter is about Abraham buying land from the Hittites in the land of Canaan. Abraham buys a cave with a field for 400 shekels of silver, which is an exorbitant price. But Abraham buys the land without any negotiation, which would have been expected in this transaction. Why does God record this event for all people to read for generations? So what that he bought some land! Why do we need to know this?
Consider what Abraham has done. First, it would have been far easier to go back to Ur or go back to Haran and buried her on the family land that they had left behind when God called them. Remember that Abraham had left the family inheritance when he goes to this land that God would show him. But Abraham does not do that. Abraham does not take Sarah back to the land where they were from. Abraham does not do this because he is believing in the promises of God. God repeatedly told Abraham that this land of Canaan would be possessed by Abraham’s offspring (Genesis 12:7; 13:15, 17; 15:18; 17:18). That is why you buy a field and cave for your family’s remains. You know that your offspring are all going to buried in this land. Even though Sarah is dead and Abraham only has one son, what faith we see that purchase the cave of Machpelah. This cave became a monument to the faith of Abraham. Also think about what we have seen in this transaction: Abraham is beginning to possess the land. It was a small piece of the land of Canaan, but it was the beginning of receiving the inheritance that God had promised. Abraham is preparing for the future by faith.
The principle we see exhibited from the life of Abraham is that God’s people believe that God’s promises extend beyond this life. Just because Sarah died did not mean God’s promises were no longer active. Just because Abraham only has one son did not mean that his offspring would not possess the land. God’s promises continue even after our death. God’s promises continue beyond this life. Listen to what the writer of Hebrews says about the life of Abraham.
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. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. (Hebrews 11:9–10 ESV)
Notice that the writer of Hebrews says that Abraham was “looking forward.” The decisions he made were based on looking forward to the city that has foundations. The choices he made were based on the promises God had made to him. This is what we see with Abraham purchasing this cave. The decision he made to spend an extraordinary amount of money on this cave was based on God’s promise that this was going to be his family’s land one day. Therefore, Abraham takes a small piece of it in that hope. We make physical decisions today based on the spiritual realities, instructions, and promises God has made. Let us look at Genesis 24 to see that the author illustrates this point again with the life of Abraham.
Choosing A Wife For Isaac (24:1-67)
Abraham has another concern that is for his son. Abraham does not want Isaac to marry a woman from among the Canaanites. Rather, Abraham instructs his servant to go back to the land of his family where Abraham is from to find a wife for Isaac from there. Abraham makes the servant swear that Isaac is not taken back to that but remains here in Canaan because of God’s promise, “To your offspring I will give this land” (24:7-8). Abraham’s concern is that Isaac would not marry a worldly woman from among the Canaanites. No doubt his concern is that Isaac’s heart would be turned away from the Lord. So Abraham does not leave this situation up in the air but instructs his servant to go find a woman from the family who will agree to come back to Canaan and be Isaac’s wife. The servant goes to the city of Nahor and prays to the Lord that a woman will agree to these terms. A young woman named Rebekah comes out and draws water for the servant and for the camels (which was a massive undertaking). Rebekah returns with the servant and becomes the wife of Isaac.
Notice that we see Abraham making decisions today based on the promises of God. Abraham is faithful to God’s command about his family. I am impressed that Abraham does not simply hope that his son will be faithful to the Lord. Abraham does everything he can to see his son up for success. He buys a piece of land to become a monument to his family that this is their land and this is where they must stay because he and his wife will be buried there. He continues to try to set his son up for success by finding a wife for him. He does not want his son to marry a local woman but one that would be suitable for his to continue to promises of God.
As parents we must do similarly. We must show our children the way of the Lord and steer them away from the way of the world. We must teach what is important in this life. We cannot merely communicate to them that this life and this world is what matters. We must show them by our actions and teach them through our words that God is everything. We must show our children that we live in the light of the promises of God. We show our children that the decisions we make are not based upon right now but upon the spiritual realities, instructions, and promises God has made. We must teach God’s way to the next generation. We must never sit back and hope that they just get the information. We are to be the instruments of building their faith. This is the most important thing you can do as a parent. We must never forget that this is the most important thing we can do for our children but to set them on the path of righteousness in the way of the Lord.
The decisions we make as parents in teaching, training, discipline, and life must all be based on spiritual decisions and spiritual promises, not what we want in this physical life. This teaching starts when our children are infants and never stops as we continue to teach, train, and point our children to Jesus. When our children are toddlers, we are teaching them about authority, following the rules, and obedience. We do this not only so that they will listen to us so that we can teach them but that they will understand authority so they will listen to God. As our children grow older we can teach them about faith and doing things God’s way. We show them that our decisions are always based on loving God, not loving this world. We show them that we will sacrifice comforts and pleasures so as to be faithful to the Lord. We do this by skipping Little League games, Girl Scouts, or anything else that conflicts with doing the will of God or worshiping God with our spiritual family. School is not more important. Nothing is more important. We teach them that this spiritual family in Christ is our family and means everything to us. My father taught this to me by showing me that we never missed and were never late to worship. Ever. Nothing was going to stop us from worshiping. Even if we were on vacation we were worshiping God. Then they become more independent for high school and college and we do everything we can to set them on the right path for spiritual success. It is not financial success, or athletic success, or academic success that is our concern. Spiritual success is everything! I watched so many of my friends go to college and spiritually crash and burn because the decision for college was not based on spiritual goals, but financial goals. It was a cheaper school. Or it had better academics. But their faith was corrupted and their soul was lost. Was the money saved worth it? No. Was the better education worth it? No. Could my friends have remained spiritual strong while attending these universities? Yes, but that is not the point. Isaac could have found a wife from his family. But Abraham was not going to hope it would happen. Abraham set things in motion to do all he could to point Isaac in the right direction.
When I was 18 I said that I wanted to go to the University of San Diego. My dad said that this is fine but you are paying for it. If you want your school paid for, you will go to Florida College first. I balked at it. I was unhappy about it. But I was broke so I did it. My father was right and I was wrong. He did all he could to push me the right way spiritually, looking at what was good for my faith, not by what was closer, cheaper, or some other worldly metric. Parents, are we preparing for the future by faith? Are we teaching and showing God to be supreme? Are we teaching and showing our love for God that far outweighs anything else? We must teach and show our faith to our children.
Isaac, the Child of Promise (25:1-18)
After Sarah’s death, Abraham marries Keturah and has numerous children with her. Are these children a threat to the promise God made to Abraham? Not at all. Abraham still has full faith in the word of God. While Abraham was still alive he sent those sons away from his son, Isaac, because Isaac is the child of promise (25:6). Abraham is not going to let his children fight it out when he dies. Abraham makes it clear who is the child of promise and through whom his offspring will come. Abraham again prepares for the future by faith.
Are we also preparing for the future by faith? I want us to see that living by faith does not mean that we do not make plans for our future and the future of our family. Rather, we do what we can to ensure spiritual success in our family, as much as depends upon us. Do we live in a way that shows that this world is not our home but our home is with God? Do we communicate that to our children? Do we prepare the future spiritually for our family so that the road is easier for them to choose to serve the Lord? Do we make it clear that we believe in the promises of God and put our full faith in them? Think about what you can do today that will communicate faith and the supremacy of Christ to your family and to the world. Live the life of faith every day. Let us walk in the footsteps of faith of our father Abraham (Romans 4:12).