Genesis 23:9 … the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which is in the end of his field…
At the end of the field is a cave that served as a burying place. It is no secret that at the end of life here on earth is death and the grave. Hebrews 9:27 states that it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment. Our life here in this world is therefore just for a very short time. When compared to the time we will spend in eternity, it is almost insignificant. Its main worth is its ability to determine where and how we spend eternity. This eternity offers us only two options; resurrection unto life with our Messiah, or eternal damnation in the lake of fire with the devil and his agents.
Where or how we spend eternity has been the subject of debates throughout human history. Various groups believe in a paradise on earth while others believe it’s in heaven. Some believe in a perpetual cycle of life and death till a state of perfection is reached. However, most people agree that we live this life and are ushered into an eternity where there is no death.
Life in the grave
What happens after this life is mostly unknown and as humans we generally fear what we do not know.
Fear of death is a common experience to all people whether rich or poor perhaps due to its irreversible nature. Furthermore, we are conscious of the fact that it is a line from which we cannot return once crossed. So, we make elaborate preparations for it. The fear of this irreversible line causes us to flee war zones and ensures that we adopt healthy lifestyles. But it also fascinates us in part because it is one of the few things that we cannot really manipulate.
Indeed the wise preacher stated that no matter how different our lives may be, one thing remains common to all; the experience of death (Ecclesiastes 2:16). Whether we be wise or a fool, rich or poor, all will return to dust and be forgotten. He then asks of what use are all our struggles and travails in life? What then is the value of all the injustices we practice? Are they merely to accumulate a wealth that we cannot even carry with us to the grave?
The quest for immortality
In todays’ world, every nation spends a large part of their resources to reduce their mortality rates. We spend fortunes battling crippling diseases and delaying the effects of ageing in our populations. Agreed, these measures are primarily driven by economic reasons rather than a love for the people. But as individuals, we will do anything to extend our lives even if it is just by a single day. Though we may have it tough and perpetually complain about our lot in life. Yet, we will take every evasive action should our life come under any threat.
Qin Shi Huang
There is the story of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. After the death of a friend, he was allegedly motivated to start searching for the cure to death. He therefore recruited healers and magicians to make him all kinds of potions and sent ships in search of immortals wherever they may be. Realizing that he may never find the cure, he thereafter prepared for the after-life. He had a clay army in battle formations built in an underground cave; in the hope of conquering the after-life as he had done China.
When he died, he was buried in the underground cave. Buried along with him were his living servants, wives, and the terracotta warriors. He was hoping to continue the good life wherever he goes after death.
This is an example of the level of fascination and fear death has always had for us.
In the world today, we are often so focused and consumed by this fear. We look for ways to beat death and spend very little time living the life we have. Fear of death and what follows is what drives some into religion while others deny the existence of God himself. Yet, for many others, the theory of evolution is therefore the perfect answer to the meaningless cycle of life and death. We come into this world, live, die and return to the ground to nourish the plants and feed other animals. If we can prove that there is nothing after life, then there is no need to fear death.
The Scriptures teaches that this life is just a phase in man’s entire existence and the shortest phase at that. What happens to us after death is directly linked to how we spend the time living now. Though we know very little about eternity as we call it, we do know that it can be spent either in hell with Satan or on a new earth-heaven with the Most High and our Messiah.
The New Testament is full of parables spoken about the end of life and eternity. We read about good and bad seed, sheep and wolves, heaven and hell. These all help us to understand the eternal plans of the creator. Our Messiah describes the existence of mansions in his fathers home (John 14:1). He even talks about eating and drinking in paradise. However, only overcomers will partake of the various blessings enumerated throughout the book of revelation.
Eternity is tangible
These all suggest that eternity is real and tangible, not an illusion, as many scientists would make us believe.
I have often come across professors who tell me that having any form of ‘religion’ makes me stupid or at best a simpleton. They cite the violent history of the Church as an example of how religion clouds judgment leading to insanity. They express disappointment that an educated guy can hold fast to ‘religion’ and the existence of ‘God’. I am often therefore considered unworthy to ‘sit at the table’ with them. They elaborate on the infallible theory of evolution and how life is about being fit to survive or perishing into oblivion.
But I have seen and heard so much. I have tasted the power of His Glory and therefore convinced beyond any doubt that an eternal creator is real. As many as have seen or tasted of the Glory and Power of the Almighty know that He was, is and forever will be. There is no controversy about it; the Most High lives, and we will all answer to Him for the life we live in this world.
Death is but a transition
Physical death for us is just a transition. It’s a bus stop at which we board the next vehicle on a new journey. It is not our final destination, but a road we must pass to enter into eternity. Think of it this way. We have a house that is old and worn out by reason of use. To build a new one where it stands, the old must first be torn down. Only then can a new and magnificent one be erected in its place. The Scriptures make it clear that this earthly body is merely a tabernacle (house). The real man is the inner being that was created by the Almighty and who lives in this body. He is the one that the creator is primarily concerned about in salvation.
The dead will rise again
The book of Thessalonians and Revelation talk about us getting a new and glorious body that will not know pain, sickness or decay. For most people, the transition between the old body and the new one designed for eternity is through death. According to Scriptures however, not everyone will taste death (1Thessalonians 4:17). This passage summarizes it all; do not be ignorant nor afraid, the dead will rise again unto eternal life.
Consider this, if the Most High raised the Messiah from the dead on the third day, will He not be able to raise the rest of us as well? In Revelations 1:18, the Messiah states:
I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
The power of life and death is in His hands
He now has power over hell and death. We should take comfort in knowing that even when death comes, we are still in the Father’s powerful hands.
Abraham Understood this when he was told to sacrifice his only son on mount Moriah (Genesis 22:2). It symbolically prophesied about the Father’s sacrifice of His own son on the same mount later called Golgotha (Mark 15:22). Even Jerusalem with its temple is built on that very mount Moriah (2 Chronicles 3:1).
There is an ancient tradition first mentioned by Origen (185-253 A.D) that suggests that Adam the first man was also buried on Moriah. It was said that Adams skull was found there hence the name “the place of a skull” (Mark 15:22). It is an interesting coincidence that the fist Adam, the promise of and sacrificial offering of the second Adam have all been linked to the same mount.
Death should be a crowning asset
Hebrews 11 makes it clear that Abraham was convinced that the Most High would raise Isaac from the dead. If Abraham over 4000 years ago knew that, then we living in 2018 aught to be convinced beyond any doubt. The early Disciples got it, their understanding of death and eternity equipped them for persecution and the coliseum. Even today, especially in Islamic societies, there are those who converted from Islam and paid a price with their lives. They knew their reward awaited them with the master. Death to us should not be a reason to fear, rather, it should be our crowning glory, our seal of victory in this life.
The Cave is at the end of the field
The cave was at the end of the field, to get to it, we must walk through the field. There are no shortcuts; to live in eternity, we must live a godly life now. We must pass through that field that Abraham secured. It is a very narrow path, and few will find it; most people will take the broad way that leads to eternal destruction.
It is worth noting here that in subsequent years, this cave became the burial place of not just Sarah, but also Abraham. It also became the tomb of Isaac, his wife Rebekah, for Jacob, and his wife Leah (Genesis 49:31 and Genesis 50:13). Rachel was however buried at Bethlehem because she died under the curse of an Idolater (Genesis 31:32, 35:19).
There is no question about it. If you are walking in obedience and living righteously, you will live again in eternity. This life and the death that comes at the end of it is secured for our Father by Yashaya’s (Yahshua) death on the tree. Any life that is placed under the covenant in His blood is insured.
It is this final redemption that Abraham prophetically looked forward to. For that reason, he bought not just the field, but also the cave at the end of it.