Finish Strong

This weeks Torah Portion is from Genesis 23-25 dealing with the end of Sarah’s life and Abraham’s servant finding a wife for Isaac. Here are my notes as we apply God’s word to our lives.

James 1:2-8, My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces [a]patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be [b]perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Genesis 23:1, “Now Sarah’s life was 127 years—the years of Sarah’s life.”

Why does the Torah repeat itself in this passage? The Torah repeats the phrase “the years of Sarah’s life” to teach us that the years of her life “were equal in goodness.”

“Although Sarah experienced difficult years during her lifetime, she paid them no attention, but accepted everything graciously and with good cheer—the bad along with the good. This is what Rashi means by ‘equal in goodness’—even the bad she accepted lovingly”

  • Sarah was barren
  • She was held captive by Abimelech and Pharoah

In Hebrew thinking when experiencing good news or bad news this is the prayer:

 “Blessed are you Hashem our God, King of the universe, who is good and who bestows good.” Upon receiving terrible news, like the death of a loved one, we say, “Blessed are you Hashem our God, King of the universe, who is the true Judge.”

This is what Job teaches us, , “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21/ESV).

In the book of Job we learn that Satan wanted Job to lose everything. But to Job God was His everything!

Although Sarah had a significant amount of difficulty in her life, she accepted everything that happened with joy because she believed in God’s goodness and sovereignty. The Apostle and Rabbi Paul, who suffered greatly for Messiah’s sake, also knew this secret. Absolute joy rests on the belief that “all things work together for good to those who love God, and who are the called according to His purpose. (Rom 8:28/NKJV). If, like Sarah and Paul, we sincerely believe this, then we will also live a positive, joyous, faith-filled life worth emulating. Then it will be said of us like it was of Sarah, that all our years were equal in goodness.

Some Thoughts:

  • Unlike Noah, who’s faith diminished at the end of His life.  Abraham’s faith remained strong and vigorous.
  • for long-term success (Gen 25:1-6). God’s people don’t retire from faithfulness.
  • The Promise to Abraham for a child and land in Genesis 12 did not materialize until at the end of his life.
  • God promised Abraham land, but in Genesis 23, we read that “Ephron’s field that is in Machpelah next to Mamre [that is, in Canaan] …was handed over to Abraham as a purchased possession” (vv. 17-18)
  • The purchase we read about was only a tiny portion of Canaan (not the full promised possession). This moment was the beginning of the story rather than its conclusion.
  • Abraham’s purchase of a cave to bury Sarah was a seed, a first fruits, a deposit of the promise of the fulfillment of the Promise Land.
  • The name of the cave, “Machpelah” literally means double or double blessings.

Four Thousand years later The Gospel informs us, “And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth. And he laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock” (Matt 27:59-60 emphasis added). Abraham and Joseph of Arimathea each invested themselves in acquiring a tomb. Abraham’s investment came to maturity nearly 500 years later when Joshua led the Children of Israel back into Canaan. The second tomb has brought both immediate and future blessings to the entire world. First, we experience newness of life by faith in the One who occupied Joseph’s tomb: “we were buried together with Him through immersion into death—in order that just as Messiah was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:4). And second, we have confident hope that our physical death will not be our end: “But now Messiah has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also has come through a Man. For as in Adam all die, so also in Messiah will all be made alive” (1 Cor 15:20-22).

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