Genesis Day 41: Showing Honor
There is a mental exercise that personal coaching consultants perform with their clients. They usually show an emotional video about a life-well-lived, and then they ask, “When you die, what do you want written on your tombstone?” Or a variation such as, “What would you like said about you at your funeral?”
Depending on the skill of the coach, and the emotiveness of the video, the exercise can be a powerful moment in the life of many people.
Most of us want to be remembered well, especially by those we love.
As a pastor, I have officiated at many funerals. I have heard many eulogies. Some are quite memorable. I remember most the ones from my own family services.
I also remember the services. Some were small. Some were ginormous. All were meant to honor.
I am not sure what you think of Sarah.
I know what Abraham thinks of his wife; he honors her, and in a big way.
Consider the length he goes to in order to provide her a proper burial.
Abraham is a foreigner. Buying land is not an easy thing to do. Yet the text shows us how esteemed he is by the Hittites (v.6). The story starts as a classic middle eastern negotiation, but Abraham cuts it short. He pays an exorbitant price. The customs of the day would have involved some haggling back and forth. Abraham will have no such haggling for Sarah’s tomb—he is going to honor her.
In fact, because he paid such a large price for the field, some scholars speculate that even the Hittites would tell of the foreigner who loved his wife so much, that he overpaid! (Which, of course, perpetuates the story.)
You can see the site that many today believe is the actual location. It has some amazing history. Here is a link.
It is easy for my historical curiosity to take my mind down all sorts of paths when I read the Bible. However, one good question I ask myself is, “Beyond learning ‘head knowledge’ about these historical roots, what am I learning about God, about myself, and about my relationship to him?”
It is passages like the one we read today where I need to remind myself of this question.
So, where is God in this passage? God is in Sarah’s life—and death. Beautiful, and barren, Sarah. We meet her as she first faithfully follows her husband out into the wilderness. She is by his side in feast and famine. (Although in famine we have those weird episodes of her playing the role of sister.) We see her all-too-humanness, in her jealously of Hagar. In the midst of this very human life, we see God with her.
Perhaps Abraham is too much of a giant for you. Perhaps you think you could never be like Abraham. Perhaps. If so, look at the life of Sarah…for the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is also the God of Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel.