Abraham is arguably the greatest of the biblical patriarchs. He was an extremely wealthy man who commanded a large household and trained army. The scriptures indicate that kings came and bowed before him. Despite all his power and affluence, Abraham never had a real estate until after his wife died. Subsequently, he bought a piece of land from the local landowners; the sons of Heth (terror).
This article examines the discourse that led to that purchase and its implications to our lives, death and eternity. I have divided it into four parts to avoid posting a very long monologue. I pray that the Most High may illuminate your hearts and inspire your spirit as you read this post.
A burial place at Machpelah
A time to die and be buried
And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying, I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a buryingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight. – Genesis 23:3-5
After living a full and eventful life, Sarah died at a ripe old age of 127 years in Canaan and Abraham wept and mourned for her. He did not have a family cemetery, but he wanted to bury his wife in the land that his Elohim had promised him. He was a renter, so he decided to buy a piece of land from the landowners to convert into a burial place and the scriptures describe the entire discourse leading to the sale.
One thing that struck me immediately was the adamant refusal of Abraham to accept the land as a freebie. In today’s world, we like to buy things cheap and if it is free, that is even better. Most people would say it is a blessing from ‘God’ or a miracle worth giving a testimony about. Imagine getting property for free in today’s world. Indeed, the Most High does bless people with gifts through other people, but we aught to be careful that we do not accept things out of greed thereby ensnaring ourselves to the giver (Ecclesiastis 7:7). Remember a gift can cloud our judgment because of the favors we are indebted to repay.
When I read this passage in Genesis 23, I knew from Abraham’s insistence that there were spiritual treasures buried in this text. After searching for a while, I finally began to see it.
Paying the last respects
And Abraham stood up from before his dead… – Genesis 23:3
In many cultures, past and present, it is customary to publicly announce the passing away of a loved one. We sometimes see the obituaries in our daily papers about people who recently died. It not only serves as a notice, but also to give enough time for acquaintances to pay their last respects. In some cultures it is a time for creditors to state their claims or forever hold their peace. At these announcements, the burial arrangements are revealed to the community.
Abraham stood before the people and declared that he had no place to bury his wife. He had no land of his own; everything belonged to the children of Heth. They had the rights to the land and claim on any produce from the ground. They were very wealthy landowners who taxed everything and everyone within the borders of their property. Their rule over the land was with an iron fist, and they determined the outcome of every major community event. Trade rules in the city, rules of inheritance, education, marriage and property ownership were all set out by them. They were great protectors to their stooges and terror to those who would suffer their wrath. Like the elites of today, these people exercised so much power and authority over the people that their names struck terror in the hearts of all.
I looked up the name Heth in the Strong’s concordance and was not too surprised that it means terror.
The sons of Heth (terror)
The dictionary definition of terror is an intense overwhelming fear. It is an agonizing experience that can be so intense as to stun or immobilize and to render defenseless. Terror is a feeling that provokes panic in its victim. It is so effective that it is often employed as a tool of domination, enslavement and war. The wicked constantly use it to subdue the innocent and weak just as a high school bully picks on smaller kids.
I once watched a documentary about how terrifying stoats are to rabbits in the British countryside. It is claimed that a stoat can simply stare at a rabbit causing such terror that the rabbit drops dead of a heart attack. Terror in humans is also known to induce a heart attack. The Scriptures describe how at the end of times, the hearts of men will fail them due to the terrifying nature of the tribulations they shall face (Luke 21:26). Such is the power of terror, that it affects our actions, health and entire lives.
The wicked will be terrified
Terrors shall make him afraid on every side, and shall drive him to his feet. His strength shall be hungerbitten, and destruction shall be ready at his side. It shall devour the strength of his skin: even the firstborn of death shall devour his strength. His confidence shall be rooted out of his tabernacle, and it shall bring him to the king of terrors. – Job 18:11-14
This passage in Job talks about the future for the wicked. Terror is the firstborn of death. When terror grips a man, he is already in the clutches of death. The Most High will turn terror, the weapon of the wicked on him and use it to pulverize him. The light of the wicked will be put out; terrors will make them afraid on every side. There will be no peace for him; he will be made desolate by destruction and death. In death, he shall be brought before the king of all terrors.
Terror is everywhere
Fear and terror can be seen everywhere around us today. We hear of wars in various countries, violent crimes on our streets and economic uncertainty everywhere. Many of these fears are genuinely understandable due to past experience, a number are based on stories we have heard while some are a pure figment of our imagination.
I remember years ago, going home from work late one night; I came off the bus and prepared to walk the three hundred or so meters to my apartment. There was an Asian lady walking about fifteen meters in front of me, she looked over her shoulder, saw this black guy behind her and sprinted all the way home. The interesting thing was that I was deep in thought and had not even seen her until she started running. At first, I was concerned that she would fall while running and hurt herself, and then I thought about how we fear an imaginary enemy or situation that does not exist.
We all know people who go through life expecting the worst to happen. For them, life becomes a constant cycle of one fearful moment after another. We are afraid of anything we do not have control or authority over and aware that we have very little control over any thing at all.
Terror exists only in the absence of true power
When we feel a sense of powerlessness, terror is able to take a hold of us. The Scriptures in the sixth chapter of Ephesians reveal the existence of powers that rule this world. These powers have not always ruled the world, in fact, man used to rule with absolute authority.
We are familiar with the story of Adam in the Garden of Eden; he was made by the creator to be guardian of the beautiful garden. He had absolute power and authority on earth; second only to the Almighty. He was given so much authority that he named every animal and bird. As far as the earth was concerned, Adam was like a junior partner to the Most High. His thoughts and opinions were greatly valued.
And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. – Genesis 2:19
The Most High brought every animal and bird to Adam to see what he would call them and those names stuck. That was the level of trust that the Almighty had in him, the authority to be involved in naming creation and to have dominion over all creatures. Adam’s first experience with fear was after he sinned.
Terror follows sin
When sin came into the world, it brought with it the fruits of weakness, sickness and death. Adam was banished from the garden and lost his authority, which was taken over by the king of terrors, Satan himself. He has ruled and exercised dominion on the earth ever since. Even the Messiah acknowledged this in John 14:30 referring to Satan as the prince of this world.
Apostle Paul calls him the god of (2 Corinthians 4:4) and the ruler of the darkness of this world (Ephesians 6:12). He is the power that ruled most empires in human history, the architect of every war and crime, the retailer of pain and misery. By his authority, earthly riches are distributed to his stooges and affliction to the righteous. He is the power that steals, kills and destroys. He owns the wicked and is a father to the disobedient. But as far as we are concerned, he must have no dominion or part in us.
The Most High has made an alternate path in life available for His own through the Messiah who is our way, truth and life. Where the thief steals, our redeemer gives; where there is destruction, He restores so the prince of this world will have nothing in us.
Terror afflicts when sin is present, but the people who know the great I AM, they will be strong and do exploits (Daniel 11:32).
The prince of this world must have nothing on us
Knowing the story of the fall of Adam and the rise of the fallen angel Lucifer on earth is essential to understanding the story of Abraham in Genesis 23. Is it a coincidence that the landlords were called the sons of Heth (terror)? Why did Abraham insist on paying a price for the land and not bury Sarah in a sepulcher owned by the sons of Heth? He knew how they terrified the inhabitants of the land.
Their gift would corrupt judgment and he could therefore not risk being in the debt of such men. Though the devil may have acquired the title deeds to the earth and dominion over all creatures through deception, Abraham was going to acquire ownership and authority over the field and cave at Machpelah legally. He was determined to permanently purchase the burial place from them because he could not afford them staking a claim on the land later.
They first offered him their own burial places to bury his dead (Genesis 23:6), then they offered him the land for free. Yet he would not take it for cheap, he wanted no ‘great deal’ or a ‘black friday price’ on it. He insisted on buying it at the market rates, current money with the merchant (Genesis 23:16) so that his children would have it forever.
Current money; legal tender
And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the audience of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant. – Genesis 23:16
Abraham and Ephron agreed on a price for the field and cave, it became official because it was agreed before many witnesses. The sons of Heth (terror), Ephron, Abraham and everyone who went in at the gate of the city bore witness to the deal. Most importantly, it was current money with the merchant. Every one of the witnesses agreed that it was legal tender acceptable to all.
There was no cheating, no scams, no advance fee fraud and definitely no hidden fees. It was an acceptable trade before all, and fair to all the parties involved, legally binding and irreversible.
Symbolically, it foretells of the Messiah who would lay down his life to pay the price for His people, that we might live free of sin and death. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of the Most High is eternal life (Romans 6:23). The Scriptures states that all have sinned and come short of the Glory of our creator. We have all come short of the expectations, regardless of whether they are little sins or big ones.
We all need redemption
Perhaps you are wondering, what about all those good charitable people who have done no harm to anyone. They do not lie, steal, cheat, kill, fornicate or do any evil. They have such good hearts that they would not kill an ant or mosquito even when bitten. What about them, surely they are perfect, even the creator must realize these are good people and not the sons of terror? In answer to that, I will ask, do they have parents, grand parents or great grand parents? Assuming these people are truly flawless (unlikely as it is), chances are their forefathers were not.
Consider Job 14:4, who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one. If your forefathers were unclean, this scripture makes it clear that you are already equally unclean. The psalmist writes: Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me (Psalm 51:5). Note the use of the word conceive which suggests that sin is already there when a man’s sperm fertilizes a woman’s egg. Before conception (impregnation), I was already formed in iniquity. That is the potential to sin was already in me before my mother got pregnant.
The gene for sin
The big question now is how is that possible? What life form is there before conception? It is in the genes. If life and our physical characteristics are programmed via genetic inheritance from our parents, what stops us from also inheriting a programmed sin and death from them? The truth is this, nothing does stop us; the state of sin is transmitted vertically from father to son, just like our X or Y chromosomes are transferred from him. Remember, we are all conceived in sin, and the creator visits the sin of the father unto the son till the 3rd and 4th generations. Interestingly, that’s how long it takes to breed out a genetic trait.
It is due to that genetic inheritance that the Messiah had to have a ‘virgin’ birth thereby avoiding the vertical transmission of Adam’s sin nature/gene to him. How am I so sure of this?
Nature reveals the mystery of the creator’s work
The book of Romans states that the invisible things are declared by the visible. Every physical manifestation reveals a spiritual reality. If the physical human anatomy reveals the spiritual anatomy (1Corinthians 12:12), why shouldn’t genetic inheritance explain spiritual inheritance? Furthermore, He is the Elohim that visits the iniquities of the fathers upon the sons unto the third and fourth generations (Exodus 34:7). Simply put, we are guilty by birth; the sins of our great grandfather are upon us as ours will be upon our great grandchildren if they refuse pardon through the blood of the lamb. The cycle will continue until the curse is broken.
Romans 5:18 teaches that just as through the offence of one (Adam), judgment came on all men, so through the righteousness of one (Yashayah/Yashua), the free gift of justification unto life will come to all. Yashayah (meaning Yah saves) is the gift that will break the cycle of sin and death.
What this all mean is that long before I took in the first gulp of air into my lungs, I was already a sinner subject to the sons of terror. When I woke from my iniquities and acknowledged my redemption price, I became the righteousness of my maker through my redeemer.
In places like Africa, the concept of spiritual inheritance is approached with great seriousness. The traditional religions are full of occult practices and idolatry that have existed for generations. Often, people are given names that exalt some idol or another at baby naming/dedication ceremonies. The hand prints of those ‘gods’ remain in people’s lives till the day they die. After conversion however, new Christians are often encouraged to go for prayers to break those generational covenants and bonds.
You may say that you are not African nor do you have a history of occult in your family or country. If you have heard or come across Satan/Lucifer worship, what do you think that is all about? What do you think that exciting midnight fetish swearing-in ceremony at your college fraternity was all about? Ok, maybe you did not go to college, but have you considered how your family, city, or even country was established? Was it peaceful or is there blood on your hands? Why do we have an ongoing war on terror? We may not have directly shot or harmed the innocent, stolen the livelihood of the poor, nor exploited the weak, we just allow others to do it for us.
We know of cities that were birthed in bloodshed. Innocent blood was spilt on the ground that we walk today and that blood has not been answered for. If the voice of Abel’s blood cries unto his maker from the ground and brought Cain under a curse (Genesis 4:10-11), what do you think the blood of thousands is saying to the Almighty? Blood speaks and we need to pray that generational curses be broken in our lives and nations. Why is this important? Take a look at the curse of Cain:
When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. – Genesis 4:12
The ground will not give its strength; low performance will be the normal. Compare that with the land flowing with milk and honey in Numbers 13:27.
A fugitive does not only mean a refugee, it also means someone who is unable to be what he was made to be. Are you a shadow of what your creator has made you to be? You know His perfect will for your life; you just find it impossible to get there. Perhaps still, you are one of those who do not know what they want to or aught to be in this life? Are you always changing your mind about what you think you are good at? Do you put in so much and the yield is lean? Do the locust and cankerworm destroy all your produce (Joel 1:4-7) and you barely get by? If so, maybe there is an unbroken covenant that needs to be renounced or a curse that needs breaking.
Do not assume that because you are ‘woke’ all curses are automatically gone. Let me ask you, after you came into the truth, do you cease praying for prosperity, grace, health and career? After all, Yashayah died that we may live in obedience, prosper, be in good health and have success. If we still pray for these things, why then should we not pray to break specific covenants and curses when we identify them?
Unforgiveness brings us under a curse
Maybe you have no problems with covenants or curses, maybe for you the problem is just forgiveness. We like to read Mark 11:23-24 about the prayer of faith, but we ignore verses 25-26 on forgiveness. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses (Mark 11:25-26). If we do not forgive we will not be forgiven, if we are not forgiven, our sins remain, and if our sins remain, our prayers will not be heard.
Why am I going to all this trouble about inheritance, forgiveness, covenants and curses? I do not aim to bring you into condemnation, but to draw your attention to a need that you may not be consciously aware of. It is to point out that wherever you are in life, however good your personal situation or background may appear, if you have not repented, then you are under sin. And the scriptures make it clear that the soul that sins, it will die. We were all formed in iniquity, and in sin did our mothers conceive us. To be reconciled to the Most High, we all need redemption; and that comes at a high cost
Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver… current money with the merchant.
Death comes for all
As far as sin and its fruits are concerned, the current money with the merchant is death, physical and spiritual. When the Most High ordered Adam not to eat the fruit of the tree in the center of the garden, He said if you eat of it, you will die. We all know that Adam did not immediately drop dead as he would have had he eaten a poisonous fruit, so the creator must be referring to death in a different form. Death in Scriptures is simply a separation from the Father.
Spiritual death is a spiritual separation from the divine spirit arising primarily through sin. This death is reserved only for the wicked that have rejected the Most High. An understanding of this will free our hearts from the terror of this world. Physical death is when the breath of the creator is no longer in our nostril and we return this earthly body back into the dust from which it came. It is a separation of body from spirit and it’s the main form of death commonly described in the world. As long as the earth endures, we will all pass through this physical death.
The price is right
Rejection of the Most High results in a spiritual separation or death. Death of another is therefore the current acceptable price/wage for sin. It is one life in exchange for ours. If the current wage of sin is death, then by hanging on a tree, separated from the Father, Yashayah paid a price that is current with the merchant; acceptable to the creator and recognized in the kingdom of darkness as legal tender. The Scriptures describe thow Yashayah/Yashua made an open show of the devil and his powers. That is, it was a public event not done in secret, the entire spiritual realm saw, understood and accepted the consequences of the devil’s defeat. By hanging on the tree and dying in our place, the Messiah died that we might live free of terror.
It is the price for our redemption in this life and in eternity. The price was paid at Calgary and we are no longer the property of the sons of Heth/terror, but joint heirs with our redeemer.
A stranger or a Native?
I am a stranger and a sojourner with you. – Genesis 23:4
Many years earlier, the Most High had told Abraham to leave Ur of the Chaldeans and come to Canaan. Since then, he had been to many places including Egypt, had children and amassed a huge fortune along the way. He had riches beyond imagination, trained his own personal army and was regarded as a prince in the land. One thing was still missing, he owned no property in the land of promise, and so he was really no more than a very rich tenant, an alien. The Almighty’s promise to give him the land as far as his eyes can see was not fully fulfilled in his life. He was not a native of the land; he had no claim or heritage in the land at the time his wife died.
A time to buy and sell
Now Sarah was dead and the need to have a possession in the land became more urgent. The vision must not die; he had to establish it before he too was dead. So he got up from mourning his wife and arranged a conference with the landowners, the sons of Heth/terror. Abraham bowed himself before the people of the land even to the children of Heth. He humbled himself and presented his case before the people of the land.
He said to them, make a deal with me, let me buy a piece of land among you, make me a legal landowner among you. Let me bury my dead that her body be not desecrated, let me prepare her for the afterlife. I want to wash her body, wrap her in clean linen and place her in a chamber (Mathew 27:59, Acts 9:37). I know you have your rules; everyone rents from you subject to your terms. I want to bury my wife and when I die, to be buried beside her. Do not lease the land to me; sell it to me at market value.
Abraham was favored and moved from being a renter to a landlord. The creator made a way for him in a strange land; he became an exception to the rule, a stranger who became a landowner.
He always keeps promises
Years ago, when I knew that I would relocate, I did not know how or where I would go. I only had geographical descriptions of what it looked like and the assurance that I would see my Father’s hand on my life. Years later, when I finally boarded the plane, I had two bags and a thousand dollars in traveller’s checks on me. Through almost two decades now, I have never begged for food, always had a roof over my head and never slept a night on a hospital bed. When I was not in school, I always had a job and eventually acquired a graduate degree with no debts attached. I have seen three more continents, ministered in different assemblies and made friends from various cultures along the way. This is the Most High’s doing, and it is marvelous in my eyes.
Never give up
No matter what He has promised you, regardless of how impossible or unattainable it seems, do not give up. The Most High values your life, He has paid market value for it. He will be faithful to get you into the promise because He has called you by your name. When you walk through troubled waters, He will be with you and you will not drown in your problems. When you pass through a hurtful fire, you will not be burned because your maker will keep and protect you (Isaiah 43:2). Your life now may not be perfect, but your place in eternity will be. He will open a door for you when men try to shut it, and lead you into the truth when false prophets try to deceive you.
Where there is no way, He will make one; He will cause the land and the people to create space for us because we are his elect. Two things only does He require of us; that we be willing and obedient, and we will eat the good of the land. Obedient to what? His Laws and statutes.
We must separate ourselves from the children of Heth, and come out from among them to be separate. We must shun the unclean and embrace that which is Holy. Only then shall we begin to live the life that we were born to live. A life free of terror and free to worship our Elohim.
In part 2 we will look at the field that Abraham bought and what it means to us today.