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When A Loved One Dies

By Don Loftis | 10.16.13

Sarah married Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees and travelled with him to “the land that God would show them.”  At the age of 127 the Bible says, “Sarah died in Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan; and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. Then Abraham rose from before his dead, and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying,  ‘I am a stranger and a sojourner among you; give me a burial site among you that I may bury my dead out of my sight.’” The story in Genesis 23 reveals two things that have changed very little in the past 4000 years.

Abraham’s first response was to express grief.  We see that open grief as Joseph’s brothers deceive Jacob into thinking that Joseph is dead.  Joseph grieves for weeks, when Jacob dies.  David mourns the death of a rebellious son, Jesus weeps at Lazarus’ tomb, and the disciples cry at the passing of Dorcas.  Even with a Christian’s astonishing hope, the loss of a loved one in death is a time of sadness and deep personal sorrow.  Legitimate expressions of that grief are normal and healthy.

Like us today, Abraham had to go purchase a cemetery plot.  Despite his wealth and his respect among the locals, Abraham was an alien.  He did not own property, so he paid 400 shekels of silver for the land surrounding the Cave of Machpelah.  (Compare that price to the 20 shekels the Midianites paid for Joseph.) In addition to Sarah, this cave served as the burial site for Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, Leah, and Jacob.  It is fitting that we show respect for the dead and seek to honor their memory.

 


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