Anyone can begin a marathon, but only a few can finish. Anyone can sprint away from the starting line, but only the best will still be running when the race comes to an end. Abraham was a man who began well and finished well.
Near the end of his life, Abraham did something that demonstrated his devotion to God. He buried his wife in the land of promise.
Soon after this, Abraham heard that Milcah, his brother Nahor’s wife, had borne Nahor eight sons. The oldest was named Uz, the next oldest was Buz, followed by Kemuel (the ancestor of the Arameans), Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel. (Bethuel became the father of Rebekah.) In addition to these eight sons from Milcah, Nahor had four other children from his concubine Reumah. Their names were Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah. (Gen 22:20-24 NLT)
Why did Moses include these verses in his account of the life of Abraham? Notice that scripture says, “Abraham heard that Milcah, his brother…” The Bible doesn’t tell us how long it had been since Abraham had heard from home. At the very least it had been years. Now, in the twilight of his life, his heartstrings are touched once again and old memories are stirred. Many times, people who near the end of their life, want to return back to where they were raised and rekindle old memories. “Returning to our roots”, some call it. Most likely the news from home was a great test for Abraham and that’s why we’re given this information in scripture. But rather than packing up and heading home, Abraham does something remarkable that reveals his commitment to be God’s friend.
When Sarah was 127 years old, she died at Kiriath-arba (now called Hebron) in the land of Canaan. There Abraham mourned and wept for her. Then, leaving her body, he said to the Hittite elders, “Here I am, a stranger and a foreigner among you. Please sell me a piece of land so I can give my wife a proper burial.” (Gen 23:1-4 NLT)
Someone weaker in their faith might have said, “This living as a stranger in a foreign land has gone on long enough. It’s time to go home.” But Abraham didn’t. Because God had promised it to him, the foreign land was his home and to prove it, he buried his beloved Sarah there.
In the Bible I use to prepare these devotionals, there is a title given to a particular portion of scripture – The Cost of Following Jesus. Consider carefully what the Lord says about being one of His disciples –
As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.” But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.” He said to another person, “Come, follow me.” The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.” Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.” But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62 NLT)
The Lord is not nearly as interested in those who begin the race as He in those who finish it. He is looking for disciples who will have a life-long commitment. Stay focused my brethren and keep running. We still have more race to run.