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season; and when they are granted, joy and works, to the end of time and for ever. “Cast praise will be rendered to the faithful giver. out the bondwoman and her son: for the son What joy was felt in Abraham's family on the of this bondwoman shall not be heir with birth of the long-promised Isaac! · Abraham, my 'son" (v. 10). This will as certainly Sarah, and all around them, rejoiced in the be verified in a gospel sense, as it was in event! And when was this child given ? At Abraham's household. Are you a despiser of the set time, of which God had spoken to the gospel of Christ, and the service or salvahim. Thus it is that all divine mercies are tion of God? Are you trusting in the works bestowed ; there is no uncertainty, no acci- of the law, and not in Christ alone? If so, dental dispensation, in the dealings of God you belong to Hagar, and not to Sarah. If with his people. All blessings, conversion, so, you are Ishmaels, and not Isaacs. If so, pardon, mercy, grace, and strength, come in you are the sons of the bondwoman, and not the set time. Just as the Saviour himself of the free; and you will be cast out of the was born, suffered, and died on the cross for Church of God at last. (See Gal. iv. 21—31.) our redemption and salvation; so are all But it may not be too late to repent. blessings connected with the life of the soul Hagar came to a better mind, when, as a bestowed in like manner; all come in their wandering outcast, she and her wicked child appointed time, and all will redound to the were driven to the utmost need, and were glory and praise of God.
ready to perish. The tears of the mother, Something remarkable is said about the cir- and the cries of the lad, were seen and heard cumcision and weaning of this child. There by God, who opened her eyes, and supplied can be no doubt that, in both respects, there their wants. Happy will it be for you if your was a solemn dedication of the infant unto the
eyes, in like manner, are opened to see the God who gave him. The character of Abraham, misery you are in, and the mercies you have and the manner in which this child had been despised ;' then will you be no longer mockers given, forbid the supposition of carnal mirth and despisers, but humble seekers, and deand festivity on that occasion. Is it not thus voted lovers and followers of the Lord. that all parents should act with their children? Abraham, however, has more trials yet to Should they not dedicate them to the Lord ? endure. The servants of his friend contend Should they not embrace every suitable with the herdsmen, and threaten to involve opportunity to convince others that such is him in angry contention. But mutual explatheir aim and desire ? How unseemly is nation softens asperity, and "a soft answer worldly festivity when a child is dedicated turneth away wrath.” (Prov. xv. 1.) Thus, in to Christ! How earnestly should you pray
similar cases, learn to act in like manner, at all times, especially on such occasions, and the Lord will deliver you out of all your that God would be pleased to regenerate
troubles. your children with his holy Spirit? But alas ! how seldom is this the case! How few act in this manner! Can you wonder if, as your
CHAPTER XXII. children grow up, you behold them giving
1 Abraham is tempted to offer Isaac. 3 He giveth proof of his
faith and obedience. Il The angel stayeth him. 13 İsaac too plain proofs of their belonging to another is exchanged with a ram. 14 The place is called Jehovah
jireh. 15 Abruham is blessed again. 20 The generation master, and not to God? Oh! that all parents
of Nahor unto Rebekah. might seriously ponder this matter in time,
ND it came to pass after these things, and act from henceforth, as they ought to do, that God did tempt Abraham, and said for the spiritual welfare of their offspring. unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold,
Even in this Abraham had his trials. The here I am. son of the bondwoman was a mocker and 2 And he said, take now thy son, thine despiser; and this led to that separation in
only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get Abraham's family which, we are expressly
thee into the land of Moriah ; and offer him told, was intended to mark the line of dis
there for a burnt offering upon one of the
mountains which I will tell thee of. tinction between those who believe in Christ 3 And Abraham rose up early in the and those who do not, but trust in their own morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of
, ; A
(1) Heb. Behold me.
his young men with him, and Isaac his son, 19 So Abraham returned unto his young and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and men, and they rose up and went together to rose up, and went unto the place of which Beer-sheba ; and Abraham dwelt at BeerGod had told him.
sheba. 4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted 20 | And it came to pass after these things, up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
that it was told Abraham, saying, Behold, 5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Milcah, she hath also born children unto thy Abide ve here with the ass; and I and the lad brother Nahor; will go yonder and worship, and come again 21 Huz his firstborn, and Buz his brother,
and Kemuel the father of Aram, 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt 22 And Chesed, and Hazo, and Pildash, offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and and Jidlaph, and Bethuel. he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and 23 And Bethuel begat Rebekah: these they went both of them together.
eight Mileah did bear to Nahor, Abraham's 7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his brother. father, and said, My father: and he said, 24 And his concubine, whose name was ? Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold Reumah, she bare also Tebah, and Gaham, the fire and the wood: but where is the
and Thahash, and Maachah. alamb for a burnt offering?
(4) That is, The LORD will see, 8 And Abraham said, My son, God will
or, provide. provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering:
(5) Heb. lip. so they went both of them together.
9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an
The whole life of a Christian is a series of altar there, and laid the wood in order, and
trials and conflicts; when one is passed away, bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar others soon succeed. But the trial of our upon the wood.
faith will be much more precious than of 10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand,
gold that perisheth,” and will be “found unto and took the knife to slay his son.
praise, and honour, and glory, at the appear11 And the angel of the LORD called unto
ing of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. i. 7.) Abraham's him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Ilere am I.
faith is spoken of in many parts of Scripture 12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon as an eminent instance of ivine grace; and the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: the trials he underwent prove that it was so. for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing
It was by faith he left his native land at the thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son command of God; it was by faith he sofrom me. 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and
journed as a stranger and a pilgrim in the looked, and behold behind him a ram caught
land of promise ; by faith he waited for and in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went
received the promised seed ; and now by faith, and took the ram, and offered him up for a
at the divine command, he was prepared to burnt offering in the stead of his son.
offer that son as a sacrifice unto God. And 14 And Abraham called the name of that it is the test and manifestation of faith, in place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day,
this particular instance, that we are now to In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.
improve. 15 | And the angel of the LORD called
God did tempt Abraham ; that is, be tried unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,
him; he caused him to exercise that remark16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this
able degree of faith which he had bestowed thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine upon
him. The common occurrences of life only son :
would not suffice for this
Abraham 17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and must be tried on a point in which, if he were in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the unsound at heart, he would assuredly fail. If stars of the heaven, and as the sand which
Abraham loved his Isaac more than the God is upon the sea 'shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
who gave him the child, his heart was not 18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of right. He that loveth father or mother, son the earth be blessed; because thou hast or daughter, more than Christ, is not a true obeyed my voice.
disciple. (See Matt. xi. 37.) Here, then, in
the case of Abraham, God would exhibit to all future generations an example both of what true faith really is, and what a true believer really will do. At the Lord's command all will be given up to his praise and glory.
How painful must this trial have been! What! part with his son ! his only son! his Isaac! whom he loved ! Must he resign him up all at once after having waited so long for him? Must he part with him, too, in such a way ? Must he offer him as a sacrifice unto God ? Must his own eyes view the burning sacrifice, and his own hands perform the bloody deed ? Must he tie, and bind, and slay, the darling of his soul, and see his precious body gradually consume as a burnt offering before the Lord ? Does not nature shrink from the task? Does not the yearning of parental affection cry out against the deed? What will Sarah say, and others around him, if he complies with the divine injunction?
What is it, then, that sustains him? Faith. What enabled him to obey the startling and trying command ? Faith. Yes, faith overcame all difficulties, and enabled him willingly and cheerfully to do that which nature could never have accomplished. He believed, and therefore he obeyed; he believed, and therefore he offered up his dear and darling Isaac
doubt whether he really believes; and he that obeys God only when obedience is easy and pleasing to flesh and blood, has also much cause to doubt the vitality of his faith. True faith will follow the Lord at all times : " though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job xiii. 15); though all my beloved Isaacs are taken one after another, still all is well ; still will I love him; still will I confide in him; still will I obey him. That is the spirit and language produced by true and saving faith. Is such your faith? Is such your spirit and conduct ? Think of the love of God to your soul. Did He not spare his dear Son for you? Did not the blessed Redeemer offer himself a real sacrifice to God for your sins ? And if he thus loved your soul, will he not take care of all your smaller matters ? Learn, then, to trust that Saviour; pray for grace to realise that salvation; live in the enjoyment of that love; and you will be prepared to take up your cross, and honour your Lord by a cheerful, loving, and devoted obedience, after the example of faithful Abraham.
CHAPTER XXIII. 1 The age and death of Sarah. 3 The purchase of Mach
pelah, 19 where Sarah was buried.
that the God who gave him his child at the A and Surehty"years old these neeree the though he were consumed on the 'altar; ! 2 And Sarah died in Kirjath-arba ; the
first could restore him to his arms, even
years of the life of Sarah.
same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and “accounting that God was able to raise him
Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to up, even from the dead; from whence also he
weep for her. received him in a figure.” (Heb. xi. 19.) Nor 3 | And Abraham stood up from before was he a loser by so acting. God, that tried his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, his faith, arrested his arm, stayed the blow, saying, and restored him his son ; and, by an audible 4 I am a stranger and a sojourner with voice from heaven, renewed the previous you: give me a possession of a buryingplace covenant, and confirmed, with the solemnity
with you, that I may bury my dead out of of an oath, the gracious blessing. Thus
5 And the children of Heth answered Abraham lost nothing by the trial; but be
Abraham, saying unto him, came an immense gainer in the increase of 6 Hear us, my lord: thou art 'a mighty his faith, peace, comfort, joy, and assurance prince among us: in the choice of our sepulof salvation.
chres bury thy dead; none of us shall withNow let me ask, are you believers in Jesus
hold from thee his sepulchre, but that thou Christ? Have you the faith that Abraham
mayest bury thy dead. possessed ? Examine yourselves. Are you
7 And Abraham stood up, and bowed him
self to the people of the land, even to the prepared to obey the Lord, and to follow
children of Heth. him fully as he did? He that hesitates in
8 And he communed with them, saying, If his obedience to God has much cause to it be your mind that I should bury my dead
out of my sight; hear me, and intreat for me and that of the wicked ! “ When a wicked to Ephron the son of Zohar,
man dieth, his expectation shall perish" 9 That he may give me the cave of Mach
(Prov. xi. 7) and his soul sink down into utter pelah, which he hath, which is in the end of
But when a believer in Christ has his field; for ' as much money as it is worth he shall give it me for a possession of a
finished his earthly course, all his hopes are buryingplace amongst you.
realised to an inconceivable extent. To him, 10 And Ephron dwelt among the children there is no sting in death; the valley itself of Heth: and Ephron the Hittite answered is lighted up by the cheering presence of his Abraham in the audience of the children of gracious Lord; and the mansions of eternal Heth, even of all that went in at the gate of
blessedness receive his happy soul for ever. his city, saying,
Let us think of this in time. Sooner or later 11 Nay, my lord, hear me: the field give I thee, and the cave that is therein, I give it
death will certainly come. “The wicked" will thee; in the presence of the sons of my be“ driven away in their wickedness: but the people give I it thee: bury thy dead.
righteous hath hope in his death." (Prov. 12 And Abraham bowed down himself be- xiv. 32.) fore the people of the land.
To fix these solemn considerations on our 13 And he spake unto Ephron in the audi
minds, let us contemplate the death and burial ence of the people of the land, saying, But if thou wilt give it, I pray thee, hear me: I will
of Sarah, the beloved partner of Abraham ; give thee money for the field; take it of me,
the affectionate mother of Isaac; and, accordand I will bury my dead there.
ing to the flesh, the honoured progenitor of 14 And Ephron answered Abraham, say- the Messiah, the Saviour and Redeemer of ing unto him, 15 My lord, hearken unto me: the land is
“ Sarah was an hundred and seven and worth four hundred shekels of silver; what is that betwixt me and thee? bury therefore
twenty years old: these were the years of the
life of Sarah. And Sarah died; and Abraham thy dead. 16 And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron;
came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, her” (v. 1, 2), and to bury her. How beautiwhich he had named in the audience of the
fully simple and pathetic is this short narrasons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, tive of Abraham's affectionate sorrow, and current money with the merchant.
Sarah's happy death! We may confidently 17 And the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the
assume that her end was happy, because the
Spirit of God has mentioned Sarah as a field, and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in partaker of the illustrious faith of her husall the borders round about, were made sure band. (Heb. xi. 11-13.) In that faith she
18 Unto Abraham for a possession in the lived; and in that faith she died. And presence of the children of Heth, before all
“ blessed are the dead which die in the that went in at the gate of his city.
Lord.” (Rev. xiv. 13.) In the midst of all 19 And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah
her wanderings, she looked for the “city before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the
which hath foundations, whose builder and land of Canaan.
maker is God” (Heb. xi. 10); and, as soon 20 And the field, and the cave that is there- as she breathed her last, her happy soul in, were made sure unto Abraham for a pos- winged its flight to those bright abodes. session of a buryingplace by the sons of Heth.
Have you Sarah's faith, hope, and salvation? (1) Heb. a prince of God. (2) Heb. full money.
Did Abraham see the day of Christ and
rejoice? So, doubtless, did she; and she THERE is something peculiarly solemn, as might have said, “My soul doth magnify the well as instructive, in the death of a saint. Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God In one respect we see what is the common my Saviour." (Luke i. 46, 47.) end of all men ; in another, we behold that Observe the care taken of her last remains. passage through which all believers must go It is the last token of love and respect; and before they enter into glory. But how vast the Abraham pays it in the most pleasing manner. difference between the death of the righteous And we must not forget to imitate him, when
(3) Heb. ears.
placed in similar circumstances. Mark the calm composure of the venerable saint. Deeply was he touched by the solemn separation; but he sorrows not as “ others which have no hope.” (1 Thess. iv. 13.) To be assured of the happy state of our departed connexions and friends, is one of the best preservatives from worldly grief and overmuch sorrow. They are gone a little before us; soon shall we follow; and, if we have the same faith and hope in Jesus, we shall join them in his immediate presence before the throne.
At the same time, see what death does. “Bury my dead out of my sight” (v. 4). Alas! the most beloved objects soon become loathsome when invaded by corruption; and, however desirous of keeping them with us whilst they are living, the wish is soon felt to commit them to the earth when the spirit is fled. Thus, the sentence is fulfilled, “ Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." (Gen. iii. 19.) Thus surviving relatives and friends have their last sad offices to perform in the decent interment of the departed.
But mark the generous and upright demeanour of Abraham and Ephron on this interesting and solemn occasion. May we not see here a pattern of the genuine Christian; and trace the lovely effects of vital godliness in the common transactions of life? Might not all classes do well to copy these bright examples? Here is no bargaining, over-reaching, or fraud. The one gives his word as a man of principle and honour; and the other acts upon it accordingly. What a happy change would it be for all, if buying and selling were always conducted in this manner! And still more happy will that time be, when we shall have done with the evils and anxieties of this life, and enter upon that happy state, where “ sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” (Isaiah xxxv. 10.)
2 And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh :
3 And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell:
4 But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.
5 And the servant said unto him, Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son again unto the land from whence thou camest?
6 And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again.
7 | The LORD God of heaven, which took me from my father's house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence.
8 And if the woman will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt be clear from this my oath: only bring not my son thither again.
9 And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter.
10 | And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed; * for all the goods of his master were in his hand : and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor.
11 And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even the time 3 that women.go out to draw water.
12 And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham.
13 Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water: 14 And let it come
to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also : let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master.
15 | And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah,
CHAPTER XXIV. | Abraham sweareth his servant. 10 The servant's journey :
12 His prayer : 14 His sign. 15 Rebekuh meeteth him, 18 fulfilleth his sign, 22 receiveth jewels, 23 sheweth her kindred, 25 and inviteth him home. 20 The servant blesseth God. 29 Laban entertaineth him. 34 The servant sheweth his message. 50 Laban and Bethuel approve it. 58 Rebekah consenteth to go. 62 Isaac meeteth her. ND Abraham was old, and 'well stricken
in age: and the LORD had blessed Abra· ham in all things.