"The Thing Is Established By God"

by Kenneth J Price

"Now the LORD had said to Abram: 'Get out of your country, from your kindred and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you . . . '" (Genesis 12:1). When God called Abram from Ur of the Chaldees, He commanded him to go to a land that HE WOULD SHOW HIM. God at that time did not actually name the land; He did not reveal His intention to give it to him either, but later, and at various times, the Lord told Abram that He would give the land to him and to his seed, his descendants, for ever, and each time He made an addition to the previous promise.

"So they came into the land of Canaan . . . then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, 'To your descendants I will give this land'" (Genesis 12:5,7). Here the land was specifically named.

"And the LORD said to Abram . . . 'Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are – northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants for ever. And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered. Arise, walk in the land through its length, and its width, for I give it to you'" (Genesis 13:14-17), And here the scope of Abram's inheritance was given by God as well as the promise of innumerable descendants.

"On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: 'To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates . . . '" (Genesis 15:18). This additional revelation was given after he had separated himself from his nephew Lot, "and Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom" (Genesis 13:12).

"Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God" (Genesis 17:8). And in case there was any misunderstanding as to whom the land would belong, and for ever, God further narrowed the line of Abraham to his son Isaac rather than Ishmael. "Then God said 'No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly . . . and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year'" (Genesis 17:19-22).

We read that at the very first, when God spoke to Abram, and before his name was changed to Abraham, "there he built an altar to the LORD who had appeared to him."

Now after these repeated promises Abraham bought and paid for a field to use as a burying-place, firstly for his wife Sarah. "So Sarah died in Kirjath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan . . . then Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying, 'I am a foreigner and a sojourner among you. Give me property for a burial place among you that I may bury my dead' . . . and Abraham weighed out the silver for Ephron which he had named in the hearing of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver . . . so the field of Ephron which was in Macphelah . . . the field and the cave which was in it, and all the trees that were in the field, which were within all the surrounding borders, were legally transferred" (Genesis 23:2-4,16,17).

Once again we find repetition. "So the field and the cave that is in it were legally transferred to Abraham by the sons of Heth as a property for a burial place." This repetition is important in the Scriptures, particularly as we remember that repetition occurred in a later record in the life of Joseph in Egypt. Joseph was called to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh, and he said to Pharaoh: "And the dream was repeated to Pharaoh twice because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass" (Genesis 41:32).

"The Thing is Established by God"

The promise of the possession of the land, of course, was repeated and confirmed by God to Isaac and Jacob in later years. To Isaac God said: "Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father" (Genesis 26:2,3). To Jacob God said: "I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you" (Genesis 28:13-15).

As for the burial place of the patriarchs, the remains of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob and Leah now lie in the cave of Machphelah in Hebron, and this one fact is significant. We remember that the harvest is in the seed, and the oak is in the acorn, and nothing can frustrate the purposes of God. "I know you can do everything, and that no purpose of yours can be withheld from you" (Job 32:2).

Thus it is that when Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their descendants possess again the land as an everlasting inheritance the promise will be fulfilled and stand as a clear testimony to all that "The Thing is Established by God" .

"He has remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded for a thousand generations, the covenant which he made with Abraham, and his oath to Isaac, and confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel for an everlasting covenant, saying, 'To you I will give the land of Canaan as the allotment of your inheritance'" Psalm 105:8-11.