Care For Your Family In Light Of God’s Promises (Genesis 23)

R. Dwain Minor   -  

Genesis 23 is a chapter that is a little confusing. We see Abraham being incredibly insistent to purchase a property that is offered to him for free. And we are tempted to just say Abraham didn’t want a handout and move on. But that is not what was happening here. Abraham was insisting upon a burial site for his wife in the land that he’d been promised. He was insistent upon caring for his wife by doing everything he could for her to be in the land of God’s Promise.

Hebron is the site in which all this takes place. It is a city located 20 miles south of Jerusalem. You still hear about it in the news today, it is part of what is called “The West Bank”. And the cave discussed here is called The Cave of Machpelah. It is the location of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Rachel, and Leah’s burial. So, it is oftentimes called “The Tomb of the Patriarchs”.

Though the situation of Abraham’s care for his wife is her burial, there is a lesson here that applies to both death and throughout our entire lives. We are to care for our families in light of God’s Promises.

There is a temptation, at all times, to disregard the promises of God. Life is hard and it would be far easier to just live life making all of our decisions based upon right now, but that won’t do for us. We don’t make our decisions based on what is easy or what is happening in this moment. We make our decisions based upon God’s promises and that includes the care we always give to our family. Care for your family in light of God’s promises.


Caring In Death In Light Of God’s Promises

We do have an obligation toward loved ones who pass and we see that here in how Abraham behaves toward Sarah in her passing. He seems to go through a good bit of trouble to ensure that Sarah’s burial spot will be both where it should be and in a place that could not be taken away. He simply would not allow for the fact that someone could bother her grave and he not be able to do anything about it. He had to purchase the spot.

We take care to honor the person, as Abraham did. We work to do that well. That is the good and right thing to do. And we are given a great example of this in Abraham.

He may have messed up in a few other ways earlier in life, but he did well here.

We also remind ourselves and our loved ones of the great and meaningful promises of God that come to us through Christ. Abraham was given promises by the Lord and he was basing his life upon those promises and even the decision to bury Sarah here, in the Promised Land, was a decision based upon God’s promises to him.

“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. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”” (Genesis 12:1-3 ESV)

This is not simply a burial spot. He is burying Sarah in the land that God had promised. God showed to him the boundaries of the land promised and Abraham wanted Sarah to be there.

We see that very evidently put to us in Genesis 15.

“Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”” (Genesis 15:13-16 ESV)

This is placing Sarah in the land that God had promised the family would return. God had promised his family would return. Abraham trusted the promises of God and negotiated hard to get a burial spot in that place.

As Christians, on this side of the Resurrection of Christ, we understand that the whole world is our inheritance. We understand that anywhere we bury our loved ones is burying them in the land that is promised to us. These promises given to Abraham were later expanded, and we understand that the whole world is our inheritance.

The expansion of the Promised Land is seen in the Old Testament in passages such as Isaiah 65:17-25; 66:22, Micah 4:1-5, and in the New Testament it becomes most clear in Romans 4:13, Hebrews 11:10, and even in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus expands the land promise to be the entire Earth as He quoted Psalm 37:11 and instead of saying land He says, “earth”. Here is what Paul said in Romans 4:13,

“For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.” (Romans 4:13 ESV)

By Paul’s writing, it was so understood that the inheritance expanded to take in the entire world that he just says that the promise to Abraham and his offspring was that “he would be heir of the world”. And if we are going to care for our loved ones in light of God’s Promises, then we take this into consideration as well.

We were rebel sinners who deserved God’s wrath and justice. We earned for our selves the opposite of an eternal inheritance. We earned for our selves the just wrath of God. But God had a plan to redeem a people for Himself. It began with a call to Abram. God chose a people for Himself through whom redemption would come. Through the lineage of Abram all nations of the world would be blessed, and we read in Galatians 3:16 that this happens through Jesus Christ. Through this lineage of Abraham, God the Son would take on human flesh through the miracle of a virgin birth. He was the perfect Godman, 100% God and 100% man. God the Son took on human flesh and dwelt among us. He lived a perfect life and fulfilled all righteousness and died on the cross and paid the punishment for sin. Those who trust in Him are united to Him by faith. The one united to Christ receives forgiveness of sins and His perfect righteousness because of what He did in His life and His death. The believer’s sins are placed upon Christ and He paid for them on the cross as God’s justice was poured out upon Him. The believer is credited with the perfect righteousness of Christ. And that means that the one who is united to Christ by faith is both sinless and perfectly righteous in the eyes of God. They are Abraham’s offspring by faith and they inherit the glorious promises of the renewed world.

When a loved one passes who is a believer then we care for them in light of the wonderful and glorious promises of God. We rejoice in the fact that they have passed from death to life, therefore they are with the Lord. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). Therefore, we rejoice in that fact. But we also rejoice in the fact that they will one day return to this world, the New Heavens and Earth as inheritors of the land they were buried in. The whole Earth is our inheritance and there is coming a day when every single person whom God has ever brought to Himself, who has ever believed will rejoice together and celebrate the victory of our Lord over all earthly powers together. We will all feast with the Lord together with those who we knew in this life and those whom we did not. We will be there at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb with people of every tribe nation and tongue celebrating that victory of our Lord over all the Earth.

So, we have sorrow, and oftentimes this sorrow will be part of our lives for the rest of our earthly existence. But we do not mourn as those without hope. We rejoice as those who have hope. We will rejoice as those who have hope because of the salvation that Christ has accomplished and is will assuredly deliver to us (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

We have seen in week’s past that our decisions concerning our lives are to be based upon God’s promises. It is no different when discussing death. As believers, we entrust our selves to the Lord. We trust His promises and make our decisions appropriately.

But this care in light of God’s promises for our family is not only for the grave. It is for our whole lives. As believers, our entire lives are to be based upon God’s promises. And here we see an example of Abraham caring for his family in light of God’s promises.


Caring In Life In Light Of God’s Promises

People don’t just learn how to be caring suddenly. That is not the normal pattern of things. It is a behavior that existed prior and continues. And that is to be the way we care for our families. We care for them as much as we can for as long as we can. And because we have a lot of young families in this congregation, I want to spend time thinking through how this applies to a young family.

We are to treat our family as people that will live forever either in Heaven or Hell. They are not creatures that we sluff off and get easily annoyed by. These people that surround you are people that will live forever.

Consider our spouses. They are our closest companions in the world. And we work together, with them, to raise children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. We are united to them in marriage. We are building something beautiful with them in our families. And we work together with them to build a household of faithfulness to the Lord built upon the hope of God’s promises.

Our children will live forever. Their days will have no end. And we need not ever lose sight of that. Our society has lost sight of that, but we must not. They are of utmost importance. But today, everything is supposed to outrank our children. They are considered a burden, let it not be that way among us. When God brought you and your spouse together to create a family, God was creating a person in His image who would live forever.

This leads us to ask questions of our selves and of our parenting. Are you prioritizing the raising of your children? Are you prioritizing other things in life over them? It is something that we, as parents, must ponder. What is our motivation for the decisions that we make concerning their lives? Are we being selfish or are we prioritizing them? Are we prioritizing raising our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord?

I can do without a lot of things if it means if it means that I am faithfully carrying out the task of raising my children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

Are you delivering the gospel to your children? Are you telling them of God’s glorious promises?

Are you teaching your children how to live in this world that God has created? The world is not going to teach that to your children. Are you?

Are you teaching them how to raise your grandkids and great grandkids? Are you instilling in them a heritage of faith in the Lord? So many people have viewed life in a very narrow way. They have not understood that part of their task is raising up the next generation of believers. I believe it is because they have viewed the end as being almost here and not planned for the future. Deliver to your children a heritage of faithfulness in the Lord and let that be passed down throughout the generations to come.

All of this comes down to this. What are we prioritizing as a family? Do you prioritize God’s promises over the things of this world? When we prioritize God’s promises in the caring of our family everything sort of falls into its proper place. We have discussions about sports and church attendance, recreational activities such as TV, phones, and teaching our children God’s Word. But when we are caring for our families in light of God’s promises these things just seem to fall into their proper places.



I’m going to make an admission to you today. I needed to preach this message to myself as much as anyone else here needed to hear it. I can get lazy with thinking through these things in my life. Summertime can become a time where things get put on the backburner that should have been at the forefront all along.

But that is the beauty of a moment like this. We understand where we’ve failed, we repent, we seek the forgiveness of the Lord, and we move forward and do what we should’ve been doing all along.

Work to build your life on God’s promises. And where you have not been, begin to do so. And by God’s grace you will come to the end of your life seeing the blessings of fulfilled promises in your life.


R. Dwain Minor