As you read Genesis, you learn of the Promised Land, the land that God had promised to Abraham as part of the Abrahamic Covenant. Remember: blessing, land, and descendants. This Promised Land was eventually inhabited by Abraham’s descendants when Joshua and the Israelites entered Canaan. Nonetheless, Abraham never got to claim the Promised Land—He never got to reside in this area, the Promised Land.
In Genesis 23, we read of the death of Abraham’s wife Sarah, and we read of her burial. Here we read of the patriarch’s wife dying and Abraham attempting to purchase land to bury her. Why did he need land? He had none! Despite God promising him land, there was no land. Abraham was a sojourner. But Abraham negotiates a deal with Ephron the Hittite for a cave and a field to buy and then bury his beloved wife. In making settlement on this land, in purchasing the deed, Abraham was buying a very small piece of the Promised Land.
You may think, why should Abraham have to buy a piece of land that God promised him. God said that land would be his, but it didn’t mean it would happen overnight or even in his lifetime. But as Abraham lost his precious wife, this situation gave Abraham a reminder of what would come. By purchasing this small piece of the Promised Land, he was able to lay down roots in the land that would one day be the land of his descendants. He was burying the first of many of his family, in the land that God promised would all be his. As he was making this purchase, he was trusting in this great promise from God—and declaring His faithfulness.
We don’t know how God will work in a situation. We don’t know the steps, the plan, or even if things will happen during our time on earth. But we do know we have a faithful God and His Word never fails.
“So Ephron’s field in Machpelah near Mamre—both the field and the cave in it, and all the trees within the borders of the field—was deeded to Abraham as his property in the presence of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of the city. Afterward Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah near Mamre (which is at Hebron) in the land of Canaan. So the field and the cave in it were deeded to Abraham by the Hittites as a burial site.” – Genesis 23:17-20 [NIV]
In Nehemiah 10, the people are agreeing to a covenant. A covenant is something we see many times in the Bible. A covenant is also known as a partnership, an alliance. I always like to consider it as a promise which outlines a relationship’s boundaries. When we look at a covenant between God and His people, we can see that it is a spiritual agreement.
The process of entering into a covenant is interesting. It was something pagans participated in, as well as the Jewish people. First, it is important to note the pre-ceremony actions. This is a time when the different sides discussed terms. We see this happening in Genesis 15 between God and Abraham. There is also a time of representative selections. With regard to the Abrahamic Covenant, God and Abraham were the representatives. During the covenant process, there is typically an exchange of belts, weapons, or robes. Then there is the walk unto death part of the process. This is where the people walk around the sacrifice and basically say, “Do so to me as has been done to this animal if I break this covenant.” We see God doing this with Abraham in Genesis 15:17, as the smoking fire pot and flaming torch pass through. There is a pronouncement of blessings and curses, an exchange of names, and a covenant meal to share as part of the covenant sealing process. We cannot forget the seal of the covenant, where we have a sign of the covenant that will be remembered. For Noah, it was the Rainbow. For Moses, it was the Sabbath.
It is awesome to study about covenants, but it is most important for us to understand these covenants with the vantage point of the New Covenant. Remember friends, we entered into a New Covenant. Jesus is our representative (Son of Man), God’s representative (Son of God), and He was the sacrifice (Lamb of God). He took off His robe of glory to come to us, and we now have His righteousness (Philippians 2:5-7). Jesus’ walk unto death was His walk from Gethsemane to the Cross. The sign of the New Covenant is a circumcised heart (Romans 2:28-29). As you share in the Lord’s Supper, and one day as you share in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, you are sharing the covenant meal. Today, thank God for the New Covenant, and most important, for our Representative and Sacrifice, Jesus Christ.
There are moments when God is leading us in a direction and we hesitate because we are uncertain of the direction. The “what ifs” and other questions go through our mind. Many times we experience this type of situation even when we are given clear direction. I can only imagine how it was for Abraham with no direction—only a promise.
The Lord told Abraham, or Abram, to leave his country and his family and go “to the land that I will show you.” So he was going to land that he didn’t even know anything about, not even a name or small piece of information. It was all about trusting God, trusting Him even when the road ahead could not be seen.
Perhaps Abraham did not know where the road would lead, but he had a promise. He had a promise from the Lord. We too might not see the road too far ahead, but we also have a promise. And a promise from God can be taken as truth. He is the ultimate promise keeper. May your faith be strong like Abraham—may you walk forward even when the road is hard to see, trusting that God has a great plan and He is faithful.
“Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.’” – Genesis 12:1 [NLT]