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A Topical Study of GENESIS 25:9

Pastor Jon Courson

“Then Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people. And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, the field which Abraham purchased from the sons of Heth. There Abraham was buried, and Sarah his wife.” Genesis 25:8-10 (NKJV)

Genesis is a foundational book, for in it lies every foundational principle of spiritual life. The text before us is no exception, for embedded in it we find the foundation, the basis, the bottom line of reconciliation. From the day Ishmael and his mother were sent away, he and his half-brother, Isaac, would remain estranged from each other — to be reconciled only at the grave of their father.

While it’s sad that it took the death of their father to bring them together, I’m glad it took that, for in their story we see that if there is ever to be reconciliation between you and the son or daughter who is estranged from you, between you and the mother or father who doesn’t understand you, between you and the friend who betrayed you, between you and the spouse who hurt you — someone has got to die. There is no other way.

We see this principle most powerfully in our relationship with our Father. Because of sin, we were estranged from Him.

“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

God reconciled us to Himself through His own death. Then, once we were reconciled, He gave us the ministry of reconciliation — to reconcile people to God as we share with them the Good News of the Gospel — and also to reconcile people to each other.

So big is Jesus on reconciliation that He said something quite shocking when He said, “If, while you are at the altar worshiping the Lord, you become aware that something is not quite right with someone you know or once knew, leave the altar and reconcile yourself to the one who is offended” (see Matthew 5:24).

The Greek word translated “reconcile” is diallasso — a word used by tailors and garment-makers with regard to alteration. Thus, Jesus was saying, “If, at the altar, you realize a relationship doesn’t fit right, get it altered.” In other words, the ill-fitting garment is not to be discarded, taken to GoodWill, or stuffed in the back of the closet and forgotten. “If a relationship isn’t right,” Jesus declared, “I want you to deal with that matter before you continue in worship.”

How will reconciliation happen practically? There’s only one way: Someone has got to die. If there’s to be reconciliation with your wife, your husband, your daughter-in-law, your boss, your coach, your neighbor — you have to die.

“I don’t want to die,” we protest. “How come she can’t die? It’s his turn to die. I’m sick and tired of dying. Why does it have to be me?”

For several hours last night, Tammy and I talked with two people we think the world of. He’s been a pastor for years; she’s a godly woman with a passion for Jesus. But they’re on their way to divorce. And it’s a tragedy. There’s no real issue — just irritations that have grown over the years. Both argued their points, yet as the hours passed, all we could say is, “One of you has got to die, or there will be no reconciliation.”

Their answer? “Why me? It’s his turn. It’s her turn.”

Many couples drove out to church this morning in virtually the same situation. As the husband sat behind the wheel, his words were few, but his thoughts many. “Why is she so cold?” he wondered. “Why doesn’t she see my needs? I’ve been good to her. I’ve been faithful. I’ve provided for her. I’ve tried to be helpful. But months and years have passed, and I’ve had enough.”

Meanwhile, as she sat on her side of the car, hugging the door handle, she thought, “Why is he so demanding? Why doesn’t he understand I’m not a thing to be used? Why can’t he see me and love me the way the Bible says he ought to?”

And the silence is deafening — broken only by the sounds of construction on the wall between them which grows higher and higher every day. And they come out to church and lift their hands and worship — when the Lord would say, “If you’re bringing your gift to the altar and you remember that he or she has something against you, don’t even continue worshiping until you alter the hurtful situation.”

Why should you be the one to die?

Three reasons…

Reconciliation Delights Our Father

Every parent knows the delight of reconciliation. When I hear one of my kids say to another, “It’s your turn. You go first,” all I can say is, “Glory hallelujah! The age of miracles is not over! These kids are working it out. They’re dying to self. They’re letting the other have his way!”

If you are fortunate enough to have a child who goes out of his way to be a peacemaker, you know the place he has in your heart. Any one of us who says, “I’m going to die so that there can be reconciliation” brings a great deal of joy to the heart of the Father.

Reconciliation Defeats Our Foe

Satan has one tactic he’s used from the very beginning: division. As the worship leader of the angelic chorus, Lucifer persuaded one-third of the angels to see things his way. They joined his rebellion, and are now demons, destined for eternal damnation. Because Satan’s strategy remains the same, he who says, “I will die before I allow separation between me and another” deals a death blow to Satan.

The person who binds Satan is not the one who loudly declares, “I bind you, Satan.” The person who binds Satan is the one who dies to self and reconciles with another person. The binding of Satan comes about not through a statement we make verbally — but through a choice we make actively.

Reconciliation Destroys Our Flesh

The reason we’re depressed, the reason for the gnawing ache within us is found in one word: flesh. We think if we could indulge or pamper our flesh, we’d be happier. The opposite, however, is true. Jesus taught that the one who loses His life will find it (Matthew 10:39); that the one who follows Him must deny himself and take up his cross (Matthew 16:24).

The cross you are to bear is not getting the flu or losing your job. It’s not even divorce or death in your family — as tragic as those events are. The cross is not something that comes uninvited. Rather, it’s something we choose to do which causes pain and agony to our flesh. The cross is what Jesus endured when He prayed, “Not My will, but Thine be done.”

“I’m tired of being married to her,” or “I’m tired of my dad treating me this way,” or “I’m tired of my in-laws. Nevertheless, Lord, not my will but Thine be done. And Your will is that there be reconciliation, which means I must die” — that’s the cross.

The Roman soldier knew Jesus had died when he stuck a spear in His side and there was no reaction, other than the blood and water that flowed forth. So, when that person with whom you’ve had a hard time pokes you yet again and you don’t respond, you don’t react, you don’t retaliate — you’ll know you’ve died to your flesh.

Designed to be the most tortuous death possible, crucified victims often hung on a cross for two or three days before they died. Jesus hung on the cross for six hours. He was in a hurry because He knew the sooner He died and completed the Work of redemption, the sooner Easter Sunday would come. What if He had decided to struggle hour after hour, day after day? Easter couldn’t happen until He died. That’s why He said, “If you deny yourself, you’ll have life. But if you seek to hang on to your life, you’ll only prolong your misery.”

Precious people, it’s not that we have to die. It’s that we get to. Will you be the one today who loves God so much that you will delight Him by dying to your rights, your way, your self?

If so, reconciliation is sure to follow as you race towards resurrection day.


This was written by Jon Courson, pastor at Applegate Christian Fellowship. You can visit his website here.

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