Genesis 23 may not have as many actions and drama as the previous chapters, but it is practical and relevant. The plot is straightforward—Abraham's wife Sarah died, so he wants to purchase a tomb for her.
But is that all for this chapter? We have to understand that Bible authors will not waste any space for anything insignificant. Everything written in the Bible is worth exploring. When we encounter a passage in which the meaning doesn't seem obvious, spend some time to reflect on it while asking the Holy Spirit to open your heart and give you the understanding of this passage. Genesis 23 is a proper example of this practice. On the surface, it was just about the negotiation between Abraham and the Hittites on purchasing the burial site. The significance of this event is that this piece of land was the first property he bought in Cannan. Let me repeat, since leaving Ur when he was seventy-five until a hundred and thirty-seven (he is ten years older than Sarah); he finally owns a piece of property in Cannan, the land that God has promised him. You might ask, why did Abraham insist on paying when Ephron and other Hittites offered to give him the property for free? Probably because that purchasing a property gives firmer ownership than receiving it as a gift. Nonetheless, this purchase fulfills another part of God's promise to him.
But there is more. We reflected on trusting God to fulfill His promises in one of the Genesis 15 devotions; I also warned you about the danger of trying to accomplish God's works in our own terms when we studied Genesis 16. You may ask, by insisting on paying for the field instead of receiving it for free as it was offered, isn't Abraham trying to do it his way, not God's way? This chapter provides an opportunity to look at some of the principles of human involvement in God's plans. The first principle is that God usually expects our participation in His works. The second one is crucial. As much as God wants His works done, He will not allow us to do anything that is against His character and words. In chapter 16, when Sarah and Abraham tried to fulfill God's promises "for Him," the things they did not fit with God's nature. Therefore, when we consider our involvement in God's ministries, knowing who God is and what He does is critical. The more we know Him, the more we know when to involve and what actions to take.
Have you ever done something that helps a ministry thrive because you know that was what God wants you to do? Share the experience with your devotional partner. Pray for each other that we will know more and more about who God is and what He does, so we know how to participate in His works in the right way and at the right time.