Covenant Father 17: Dying In Faith - Genesis 25:1-11

Genesis 25 makes it clear that Abraham died without receiving the promises, but Hebrews 11 makes it just as clear that this does not mean that God’s promises failed or that Abraham’s faith was in vain. The last and final lesson of Abraham’s life is his testimony that he desired a better country than even a Promised Land filled with his children. What Genesis 25 teaches is that not only are you called to imitate Abraham’s life of faith, but you also need to be prepared to die in faith without having received all the blessings that God promises.

The reason why faith holds on to the promises even in death is because faith believes in the resurrection of the dead. One day, Abraham will see the fulfilment of all God’s promises in the flesh, and if you die in faith, so will you. If you lack this faith, though, when you see that God’s promises aren’t coming true in your lifetime, then you will grow weary and fainthearted, and fall away from the living God. If your hope in God is focused on what you will get in this life, you will be disappointed.

But the example of Abraham is given to us so that we won’t fall away. What God says to you through Abraham’s death is that faith trusts God for something more than this life can give. Abraham believed that God would bless the world through his family, and he died before he ever saw it with his eyes. But he saw it by faith, and he died in that faith, trusting that he would see the promise fulfilled with resurrected eyes.

Learning that lesson sustains your faith so that you can die well like Abraham. Even late in life, after establishing Isaac’s place in the Covenant, Abraham goes on to father more children and be productive right to the end. And while he loves his new wife and children, he never loses sight of the covenant promises through Isaac. He geographically separates these children from Isaac, and sends them off with gifts, while Isaac receives the full inheritance and the promised land. And because of this obedient faith, Abraham dies well. He “breathed his last” and returned his soul to God who gave it. He died not in the crotchety grumpiness of bad old age, but “in a good old age”, “full of years” and satisfied with the long life God had given him.

Then he was “gathered to his people.” Isaac and Ishmael buried Abraham in the Promised Land next to Sarah, so this phrase isn’t referring to his death, the act of burial, or a returning of his remains to his ancestral home. What it means is that Abraham went to be with the faithful departed spirits. God gathered Abraham to his people by taking his soul to be with the other Old Testament saints who are waiting for the great day of resurrection.

Abraham knew that the promises of God were only going to reach complete fulfilment in the heavenly country long after his own death, but he also knew that through the resurrection he would one day see the promises come true. That’s why he was willing to sacrifice Isaac in chapter 22, and why he could die in peace, even though he didn’t see the whole earth blessed, even though he didn’t live to see Isaac’s sons become the twelve tribes of Israel, even though all he owned of the Promised Land was a cemetery. He died in faith because he had been trusting God for a resurrected world the whole time.

If that’s your hope, too, then your life and death will show along with Abraham that faith trusts God for something more than this life can give. The only way to avoid the terrible need to have life satisfy us before we die is to believe that it will satisfy us after we die, after we are raised up to new life in a better country. And so in order to die in faith like Abraham, you must share the faith of Abraham. You need to believe that a better world is coming through the savior that God provides from Abraham’s family, and that God will raise you up to see it.
Abraham enjoyed every bit of the promises that came true in his lifetime, but mostly, he looked into the future and saw the blessings from afar. He spent his whole life believing that no matter what happened, God would keep His Word, and so he lived a life of obedient faith, and when he died, he died in faith, looking forward to a better world to come. May God use His Word to give us the faith of our Covenant Father Abraham.

Posted on Wednesday, August 23, 2017 by CJ Bowen