Parasha Chayei Sarah (Life of Sarah)
Genesis 23:1–25:18; 1 Kings 1:1–31; Matthew 1:1–17
“Sarah lived [Chayei Sarah] to be a hundred and twenty-seven years old. She died at Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep over her.” (Genesis 23:1)
Last week, in Parasha Vayeira, Abraham entertained angels who appeared to him as men after he received the covenant of circumcision. One of the angels announced to him that Sarah would give birth to a son in a year.
Parasha Chayei Sarah (Life of Sarah) begins with the death of Sarah in Kiriath Arba (Hebron) at the age of 127 and ends with the death of Abraham at 175. So the lives of the great matriarch and patriarch of our faith come to an end.
Both are buried in the Cave of Machpelah (Cave of the Patriarchs), which Abraham purchased as a family burial site from the sons of Heth for the full price of 400 shekels of silver, even though he had been offered the land for free.
“Listen to us. You are a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will refuse you his tomb for burying your dead.” (Genesis 23:6)
This week’s Haftorah (reading from the Prophets) echoes the theme of the end of an aging ruler of Israel—one of the greatest men of God of all times, the man after God’s own heart—King David.
“King David was now old, advanced in years; and though they covered him with bedclothes, he never felt warm.” (1 Kings 1:1)
And so, in this portion of the Word of God, we are confronted with the transitory nature of life and our own mortality.
Although God is Eternal and His Word is forever, Scripture actually compares our existence to a flower or a blade of grass.
“All men are like grass… The grass withers and the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:6,8; see also 1 Peter 1:24)
It also likens us to a vapor in the wind that is here today and gone tomorrow.
“You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14)
Chayei Sarah reminds each of us that our brief time on this earth will come to an end (Ecclesiastes 3:1–2).
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)
Death and Eternal Life
“But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, for He shall receive me.” (Psalm 49:15)
It’s only when we face the certainty of physical death, that we can be comforted by the truth that heaven is our true home. We are only passing through this fallen world as pilgrims and strangers.
And while our forefathers ate manna in the wilderness but still died, Yeshua (Jesus) said He was “the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die.” (John 6:50)
He boldly proclaimed Himself to be ‘Lechem Chayim’ (Bread of Life) and promised that whoever would eat this bread would live forever (John 6:58)!
God has promised us that whoever believes in His Son Yeshua will never perish but will have eternal life (John 3:16). Just as the tomb could not hold the Son of God, we will also be raised to new life in Him.
What a glorious and freeing revelation – that death has lost its sting!
“Oh death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)
This is our hope and our assurance from the Word of God which removes from us the fear of death.
A quote from a movie aptly puts another spin on death. In Tuck Everlasting, one character encourages another saying, “Do not fear death, but rather the unlived life.”
Despite the reality of death, or because of it, we should embrace life and live it fully, meaningfully and with joy to the best of our ability.
Bride Out of Babylon
“…the ever-shining ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great price in the eyes of God.” (1 Peter 3:4)
In this Parasha, Abraham undertakes to find a suitable bride for his son, Isaac. He sends his servant on a mission to find her from amongst his relatives.
Abraham made his servant swear by the Lord God of heaven and earth that he would not take a bride for Isaac from among the Canaanites, who had been cursed by Noah (see Parasha Noach).
Abraham’s servant found Rivkah (Hebrew for Rebecca) in Babylon (Mesopotamia–city of Nahor), the place God had called Abraham to leave.
He prayed to God that Isaac’s bride would be revealed to him by her providing water for him and also, of her own initiative, his camels. Imagine the time and effort it took to draw enough water from the well to quench the thirst of ten camels!
“A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.” (Proverbs 12:10)
The bride is revealed through her compassion and kindness, especially towards animals, the weak and defenseless in life and by diligence and willingness to ‘go the extra mile.’
Rivkah’s outward physical beauty reflects her inner beauty and character. It’s this gentle and quiet spirit that is precious in the sight of God (1 Peter 3:4).
Rivkah also reveals that she is the one by her willingness to follow Abraham’s servant out of Babylon into unknown territory in order to marry Isaac.
She is asked, “Will you go with this man?” She answers, “I will go.”
Rivkah doesn’t shrink back in fear, but she is bold and courageous. She strives to bring comfort to others by her love and good character.
Each disciple of Yeshua must decide within his or her own heart whether they are willing to follow the Messiah and submit to going where the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) leads them on a daily basis.
Sometimes the Holy Spirit will take us out of our comfort zone, our familiar home, and ask us to follow Him to a place that He will show us.
We don’t always see the whole plan or the big picture, and that can be scary.
But remember, we don’t travel alone. God promises to be with us wherever we go; He upholds us and He will never leave or forsake us.
We must strive to embody Rivkah’s diligence, servant heart, beauty, purity, willingness, kindness, courage and faith, in order to be the Bride of Messiah that the Lord is waiting for.
Lives That Count
“The end of a matter is better than its beginning.” (Ecclesiastes 7:8)
For the Jewish People, the day of one’s death is more significant than the day of one’s birth.
We remember the anniversary of a loved one’s death with a candle being lit and special prayers recited about the holiness of God called Kaddish.
While Kaddish is commonly called the “mourners prayer,” the words are not actually about death or mourning. Instead, they are a public proclamation of God’s greatness. Even in the anguish of the loss of a loved one, we can rise above our circumstances by offering praise to God for who He is.
When we are born, our whole life lies ahead of us like blank pages in a book. But when we die, the story of our lives has been written and comes to a conclusion.
At death, we see whether or not our lives counted for anything.
It’s interesting to realize that while we know the time of Yeshua’s death (Pesach/ Passover), we cannot be sure of the time of His birth. This issue has been the source of some controversy.
While most Christians celebrate Yeshua’s (Jesus) birthday as December 25th, many Biblical scholars place the time of Yeshua’s birth in the fall, probably at Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles).
Leaving a Legacy
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:5–16)
Abraham and Sarah’s lives exemplified love and devotion to God, for one another and for their neighbor.
King David’s life exemplified the love of God, submitted ambition, and so much more.
The stories of the passing of Sarah, Abraham and David should cause us to carefully consider our own lives.
What will we leave as a legacy? Each of us wants to know that we’ve made a difference in some way, and that our life has counted for something positive and good.
Nevertheless, all too often, we get so caught up in the myriad cares and concerns of everyday life that we fail to ponder whether we are fulfilling our God-given destiny. Are we living intentionally and with purpose?
Life is not a dress rehearsal. We should make the most of the gift of life every single day.
But we mustn’t fail to have balance, either. Some of us live empty, unsatisfying lives without direction or focus, and completely miss fulfilling our God-given destiny.
Others are so goal and achievement-oriented that they miss that which is truly most important–loving God and loving people.
Whatever we do during our lifetime, may it bring honor and glory to God and His Kingdom.
One thing we can all do is continue to support the Messianic Prophecy Bible Project which is making a difference now, during our lifetime, and also for Eternity.