by Rev Jason Phua
Readings: Genesis 23:1-24:51; Psalms 5:1-12
READ (verse chosen for meditation)
Genesis 23:16 “Abraham listened to Ephron, and Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver that he had named in the hearing of the Hittites, four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weights current among the merchants.”
We are not quite sure about the current value of 400 shekels of silver. Nevertheless, most researchers concur that the agreed price for the cave of Machpelah was exorbitant. According to Hittite laws, the negotiation which took place was the norm; and not because Ephron was faking generosity. According to M. Lehmann, a scholar who did extensive research on this passage, it seems that the Hittites did try to dissuade Abraham (a non-Hittite) from burying Sarah in their lands by quoting the exorbitant amount. Such an amount did not dissuade Abraham. He paid for it right away; having gained confidence perhaps from an earlier encounter with God which promised Abraham that He will surely be blessed (Genesis 22).
This passage brings to mind the time when I sensed God’s call for me to be equipped in full time ministry. This means that I would have to quit my job in the marketplace, enter into full time studies, give up the car and try to raise a family with a simple token of allowance from church. Back then, Belinda made the decision to stay home to raise the two children as she also sensed the Lord’s call for her to do so. We know that by the world’s standards this is foolishness. Yet the Lord gave confidence as we sought of Him to show the way.
Hence, by the time I graduated from seminary, a big part of our savings were wiped out. Yet, as I relate to God’s Word for us today, I cannot help but once again be amazed and grateful that during those days, none in the family was left hungry. We have a nice place to call home and even get to enjoy simple holidays once a while. It was also a faith journey with the Lord that our family will never forget. Yes. When the Lord calls and we obey, He will not put us to shame. 400 shekels might be a big sum of money; but once we understand what God’s call and grace really is, it is really not such a big deal after all.
Help us Lord, to learn more about your majesty, grace and timely provisions. Help us to know that You did only what You did because You want us to grow in You. Amen.