Following In The Footsteps Of Faith Sermon # 17
ABRAHAM GATHERED TO HIS PEOPLE
Genesis 25:5-10 (NKJV)
5 And Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac. 6 But Abraham gave gifts to the sons of the concubines which Abraham had; and while he was still living he sent them eastward, away from Isaac his son, to the country of the east.
Abraham’s Death and Burial
7 This is the sum of the years of Abraham’s life which he lived: one hundred and seventy-five years.
8 Then Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people.
9 And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite,
10 the field which Abraham purchased from the sons of Heth. There Abraham was buried, and Sarah his wife.
These verses record the end of a great life! Abraham was taken from among a pagan people and make the Father of the Faithful. He was taught the harsh lessons of faith and obedience. He suffered for God and he enjoyed the best God had to offer. In the end, his life is concluded by the words “and was gathered to his people.”
As I consider the life of this great man, I realize that there are certain characteristics that were present in his life that need to be found in me (and you) as well this evening.
I would like to point out just a few of those characteristics as we conclude our study of this great man of faith. As we come to the end of this study and to the end of Abraham’s life, I see some similarities with what could have been said about him and what might be said about us when we too leave this world someday.
These similarities are made clear by the characteristics I want to point out this evening. So, while we have this time to look into the Word of God, let’s consider this thought, “Abraham: Gathered To His People.”
When someone dies, three things usually come up at some point during a discussion of the deceased individual’s life. Those three things are:
1.) How they lived their life;
2.) Some of the events surrounding their death; and
3.) Where did they stand with the Lord.
These are the three characteristics I want to talk about this evening.
I. HOW HE LIVED HIS LIFE
A. It Was A Life Of Faith – One of the clearest and most striking things about Abraham’s life is how he lived everyday and took every step by faith in God. His faith was not declared by him, but it was declared years later by the writer of the book of Hebrews – Heb. 11:8.
(Note: This is the kind of life that God wants everyone of His children to live – Heb. 11:6; Rom. 14:23; Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38. If the people of God could ever learn to let go of their lives and leave them in the hands of the Lord, it would revolutionize our lives and forever end the struggles we have with worry and fear, Phil. 4:6-7. Faith is not just for the “super” saints, it is for all genuine believers in Jesus Christ. Even you and me!)
B. It Was A Life Of Following – Heb. 11:9 tells us that the life of Abraham was one lived in the acts of following the Lord. Wherever the Lord pointed him, that was the direction he took. It would seem that Abraham had no life of his own, but that his life was one totally given over to the will of the Lord. Amen!
(Note: A life spent following the Lord is a life that will always end up in the right place! Why? Psa. 37:23! When He leads the destination is assured! Amen! )
C. It Was A Life Of Favor – Because Abraham walked in faith and followed the Lord regardless of where He lead him, God abundantly blessed the life of this amazing man. He blessed him financially, militarily, physically, spiritually and He blessed Abraham’s family as well. Of course, this had been the oft repeated promise that Abraham had been given by the Lord, Gen. 12:2-3; 17:16; 22:17. God had promised to bless him and God did just that!
(Note: I can guarantee you that a life lived for the Lord is a life that will not lack blessing! He may not bless you in the ways you want Him too, but I can guarantee you that He will bless your life in the ways that matter the most! Ill. Eph. 1:3.)
(Note: It is worthy of noting how the life of Abraham flashed out the list of graces that are to characterize those who believe in 2 Peter 1:5-11. He had all of these great attributes in his life and it proved that a work of grace had been done in his heart! By the way, we are to be abounding in these things as well! Why? When we have them in our lives in abundance, they make us fruitful, v. 8; they give us assurance of our salvation, v. 9; they help prevent us from falling, v. 10; they give us a glorious entrance into the kingdom, v. 11.)
II. HOW HE LAID DOWN HIS LIFE
(Note: In his life, Abraham was a wonderful example of what a believer should be, but even in his dying there are precious truths that can be seen in him that should mark all those who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ!)
A. He Laid It Down With Readiness – v. 8 – “He gave up the ghost” – There was not struggling to stay, but a simple releasing of life when it came time to go. He had lived a full and long life, 175 years, but when the time came to make the crossing out of this life into the next, Abraham did so with grace and serenity. Why?
Because he had spent his life looking for a particular city. Not a city that can be found on this earth, but an everlasting city made by the hands of God in Heaven, Heb. 11:10.
Abraham knew that Sarah was waiting on him on the other side. He knew that the only way to reach that city and to be with Sarah again was to give up the ghost. That he did without fear, fretting of fighting. His deathbed scene was one of peace!
(Note: Everyone in this present age has looked beyond the years to a day when we too will make this crossing into the next. It isn’t something we discuss, but it does come to mind from time to time! I have noted that the passing years seem to bring the thought around more often.
However, those who know the Lord have a great assurance when we look at the day of our departure! We have the Lord’s promise concerning that day. For us, it will be a time of laying aside the temporary for the permanent, 2 Cor .5:1.
It will be a time of leaving the land of the dying to enter the land of the living, John 11:25-26.
It will be a time of passing through the veil to stand in the presence of the Lord Himself, 2 Cor. 5:8.
It will be nothing more that a “departure”, 2 Tim. 4:6, from this life and an entrance into a new and better life in that same eternal city Abraham looked for. Abraham knew it before there was even a Bible from which to read it! He knew it by faith (FAITH) and so do I! How about you?)
B. He Laid It Down With Reassurance – The Bible tells us that he was “gathered to his people.” This does not have reference to the grave! No, he was buried with Sarah in Canaan. His people had died in Haran and Ur. Abraham was gathered to those who had died before him in faith! He went to that place where those died in faith were waiting for him, Luke 16:23! They were all waiting for another One Who came into their midst with some glorious news one day! His name is JESUS!
When Jesus Christ died on the cross 2000 years ago, He descended into Paradise with the glorious news that redemption had been purchased for all those who had died in faith! With that news, He lead them out of Paradise and into Heaven in a glorious parade of triumph and victory, Eph. 4:8-10; 1 Pet. 3:19! Somehow, Abraham knew this by faith!
(Note: you and I have a better assurance that even Abraham had! He was to go to Paradise to stay until the price was paid. Neither he, nor anyone else, knew how long that would be! They were looking forward to that event. We look backward at that event this evening! It is finished! The way is opened and all those who died in faith are immediately gathered home to the presence of the Lord in Heaven! Hallelujah!
III. HOW HE LOVED HIS LORD
(Note: A third characteristic of Abraham’s life that is worthy of note is how he loved the Lord.)
A. His Love Was Displayed – All through his life, he simply obeyed what the Lord told him to do! When the Lord said go, he went. When the Lord said do, he did. When the Lord said stay, he stayed. He obeyed even when the command was difficult and costly. He obeyed when every instinct within him told him to do the opposite.
You see, the true essence of love for the Lord is that genuine love always manifests itself in obedience to God, regardless of what He says to do! This was a truth that became crystal clear because of the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ, John 14:15; 21.
(Note: We can say anything we wish about the level of our love for Him, but the ultimate expression of our love for Jesus will be found in how we obey Him in whatever He tells us to do!)
B. His Love Was Declared – As you read the Bible, you see the love of Abraham declared. But, it is never declared by Abraham! Isn’t that strange? There are lots of people who want to tell us how much they love the Lord. Abraham didn’t talk about it, he just did it! There is a big difference!
However, the love of Abraham is declared in the Bible. It is mentioned by a man named Jehoshahat in 2 Chr. 20:7. God Himself talks of this man Abraham and his love for the Lord in Isa. 41:8. Both of these references refer to Abraham as being a “friend” of the Lord. This means “one well beloved by another.”
You may wonder how I can make to learn from Abraham being called a friend of God to his love for the Lord. The answer lies in what Jesus said in John 15:14 and in John 14:15. Taken together, those two passages tell us that one who is God’s friend is one who is obedient (OBEDIENT) to the Lord. And, those who walk in obedience are those who really love Him!
As you consider these characteristics from the life of Abraham, I wonder how your own life measures up. How is your life being lived? Are you ready to lay it down the right way when the time comes? Do you really love the Lord this evening?
These are extremely important questions that need to be addressed in your life and mine this evening. I don’t want to be Abraham, but I do want to look at those areas in my life that could be changed to line up more clearly with what God found pleasing in his life. We should all want to glean the best of Abraham’s characteristics and make them true in our own lives as well! Amen!
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!