【Bible Study】Genesis 23: You Are A Mighty Prince Among Us

Pastor Samuel Sharing

Brother William Sharing

Bible Study: Genesis


Good morning, everyone. Let’s look at Genesis Chapter 23 today. I would like to draw your attention to verse 6 in this chapter.

“Sir, 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)

By this time, Abraham had built up his reputation and became well-known in the land of Canaan. Abraham was a mighty prince among the people and had a very good relationship with the local people. How did Abraham build up his name? You need to think about your own reputation. Are you someone who likes to take advantage of others? That is a typical question that we need to bear in mind when we are reading Genesis Chapter 23. People might think: “Oh, isn’t this chapter talking about the death of Sarah?” Yes, Sarah passed away, but the key point is after the death of Sarah, Abraham had to find a burial site for her.

Be generous and build your reputation

I am not going to talk about why Abraham needed to buy a piece of land to bury the dead. What I want to draw your attention to is how people build up their reputations. If you are someone who loves money, you will have a reputation as a money lover. If you are a selfish person, when you build up your name, you will become a selfish person. If you are not grateful when people give you something, you will be known as an ungrateful person. I need to let you know how important the name and reputation are. If we go back to Genesis Chapter 12 and see what the Lord had promised Abraham.

“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. (Genesis 12:2)

From Genesis Chapter 12 to this chapter, Abraham was cautious about his name and reputation because God was also concerned about name and reputation. How can God make your name great if you are a selfish person who likes to take advantage of others? When someone gives you something for free, you just take it for granted, your reputation and personality will be untrustworthy to the people around you. In this chapter, we can see how Abraham was dealing with the people in the land of Canaan. Abraham needed to buy a piece of land to bury his wife Sarah.

If you were to ask me: “There is a whole piece of land, why don’t you just find a place, dig the hole, and bury the dead, who knows?” That probably works if there is vast land available. I am not sure why Abraham wanted to buy a piece of land to bury the dead. What I am saying is when Abraham decided to buy a piece of land, people in the land of Canaan told Abraham that he was a mighty prince among them and Abraham could take any piece of land for free.

Then Abraham rose and bowed down before the people of the land, the Hittites. He said to them, “If you are willing to let me bury my dead, then listen to me and intercede with Ephron son of Zohar on my behalf so he will sell me the cave of Machpelah, which belongs to him and is at the end of his field. Ask him to sell it to me for the full price as a burial site among you.” Ephron the Hittite was sitting among his people and he replied to Abraham in the hearing of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of his city. “No, my lord,” he said. “Listen to me; I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. I give it to you in the presence of my people. Bury your dead.” (Genesis 23:7-11)

If you were Abraham, you might think: “Oh, how nice it is to have a piece of land for free.” But Abraham did not take it.

Again Abraham bowed down before the people of the land and he said to Ephron in their hearing, “Listen to me, if you will. I will pay the price of the field. Accept it from me so I can bury my dead there.” Ephron answered Abraham, “Listen to me, my lord; the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver, but what is that between you and me? Bury your dead.” (Genesis 23:12-15)

If you read this dialogue carefully, was Ephron trying to test Abraham? I think so. Did Ephron the Hittite know what kind of person Abraham was? Yes, Ephron knew Abraham was a mighty prince and he never took advantage of others, Ephron wanted to give this piece of land to Abraham for free. The relationship between Ephron and Abraham had been strengthened.

Ephron was a generous person and he knew Abraham would refuse his offer as Abraham was willing to pay for the land at full price. That was the relationship between Ephron and Abraham. What about us? Many years ago, when I was reading this chapter. I said to myself: “I am also looking forward to becoming a mighty prince.” People know that I am a generous person and I can give you many examples.

Being as generous as you can

There was a time when I rented a house with 6 rooms, the rental fee was a heavy burden to me.

Before I moved to this place, I had donated a lot of money and had only a few hundred dollars left in my bank account. Many people came to visit me, some of them were much richer than me. They stayed in my house for free so they could search for jobs etc. These people did not know that they could also help me out with the rent.

During this period, a lot of people became petty and were not willing to buy daily necessities like detergents and toilet paper. I have been dealing with people who like to take advantage of others. Do you know what kind of reputation these people had? A bad reputation had been built up and all people around would know it. When I left the place, my co-workers were having problems with these people, such as complaining that we did not treat them with respect.

The question is why should people treat you with respect? It was simply because you were not a respectful person after all. You were selfish and stingy; you didn't make any contribution and didn't even bother to clean up the place. I said to myself: “Oh my God for having this kind of people, but never mind, I will continue to be a generous person.” I called the person and provided counseling to change their minds. This kind of people needs to rebuild their name as they have been living in this kind of manner for years.

But never mind. That kind of person will build a bad name. They have been living in this kind of manner for years. Now, the question is: if you build that kind of name, will you have a good relationship with people? No!

Ephron knew Abraham, that's why he said, “I give it to you for free.” It can be real, but Abraham didn’t want to take advantage. Then Ephron answered: listen to me, my Lord, the land is worth 400 shekels of silver.

I don’t know how much 400 shekels of silver was worth.We would never understand whether it was overpriced or underpriced. Probably overpriced. Abraham agreed and never even bargained with him. So he paid 400 shekels of silver.

Do you understand why Abraham behaved this way? Do you understand why Abraham was willing to pay the price? He could have got it for free, but he still paid the price simply because Abraham cared about his name. Abraham had been doing this all along. He would never take advantage of other people. He became rich purely because God was with him, not because of taking advantage of others. Because the Lord was with him, he built his name. He had a good reputation and brand. Then he would have a lot of opportunities.

Build your name and reputation

You should think twice about your name. Now let me give you an example: when you buy designer clothes, you have peace of mind because you trust the brand. You open a can of soft drink with a brand, you have peace of mind to drink it because they are reliable. Their name is the brand, the name is the reputation and the reputation is the brand. That's why they build the brand up. So many of those agencies have a department called Brand Management, dedicated to managing the brand.

For example, Coca-Cola is the brand when you want to buy a soft drink. The company is very cautious about the product. The name was not built up in one day, it takes years and years to build up their brand name. I'm not promoting Coca-Cola, I'm just using this as an example to say how serious it is to build a name up. Coca-Cola has a rule: if any can of their drink has a defect, they would throw it away. They would not give it for free to the workers of the factory. They will demolish the product, never allow it to go out of the factory. But for many other factories, if the product has defects, they will sell it at a lower price. In the end, the brand will be tarnished.

Do you have a brand? Are you a branded person? That is very crucial. Abraham was known as a mighty prince. The name didn't come easy. During the past years, Abraham never took advantage of people, even when he saved his nephew Lot in captivity. He fought the battle and took back all the belongings from the four kings. When the king of Sodom and Gomorrah asked him to take whatever he got, he didn’t do it. Abraham said:

With the raised hand I have sworn an oath to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, 23 that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich. (Genesis 14:23, NIV)

Abraham had the right to take a share after fighting the battle. But he did not take anything.

It’s very important to build your name up. Abraham had been doing this all along. What about you? What kind of brand do you have? Are you being branded as a stingy person? Taking advantage or not, the brand is crucial. Abraham became great and God made his name great. Why? He needs to be a blessing for many people. Can you imagine what God says:

I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:3)

If you are a stingy person, how can you become a blessing to many other people? You must be a person who gives. God made me rich after giving away. I give away a lot. It is not because of others, it's because of the importance of the name. Carefully build your name. When you are young, you may not know that name is worth much more than money. They call it brand value. The logo and the brand are very important properties. Have you ever been concerned about your name? Have you ever done anything to build your name up?

Don't be a money lover

When I deal with people, I try to figure out what is in their mind, what he is thinking. Then I know if he is a stingy person or a grateful person, and what kind of person he is. But I never thought, “Oh, I do not want to bless them.” I will continue to bless them without any hesitation. But I will know what kind of person he is, then I know what I am going to do next.

Being stingy, selfish, or money-loving is going to cause damage to your reputation and your name. Trust me, your name and your reputation are directly related to what you have in your mind. If you think money is very important to you, you will aim for money, not for reputation. Looking at the whole world, you need to be careful. Whether it is a county or a person, when money has become the most important thing, they are looking for money. I’m sure money will build the name up. They would be known as money sharks who have the money anyway. That is the nature of the human being. Watch carefully and you will see the consequences of the money lovers. God will go against these people and curse these people. These people will have problems and have a sad life.

This chapter is teaching us how Abraham was dealing with people after Sarah’s death. It was recorded in the Bible because it is very important. If you want to take advantage, you may probably take it once or twice, but in the future, you may not have the advantage to take of anymore. Although Abraham had plenty of opportunities, he never took them. Would he be poor if he was so generous? No. Abraham became rich simply because God made him rich. God built his name up. God made him into a great nation. God would make him a blessing for many people.

Don't take advantage, but be a blessing for other people

You know, a blessing is simply giving away. If you are not generous, you don't have this kind of mind. But you will eventually see the result. God would not bless you but the devil will come and destroy you. This will be the worst thing ever in life. So this paragraph is teaching us not to be a person that takes advantage, which is very important. Money was worth nothing in the eyes of Abraham. A few days ago, I was ministering to a sister, I told her: “ you are still a money lover.” She said, “no, I don't love money anymore.” I said she was a money lover, but she disagreed. Do you know why?

Everyone thinks of themselves as generous. Nobody, even the selfish person, would not think he is selfish. Then we should ask ourselves a question: how often do we bless other people? If the answer is never, then how can you be a generous person? How can you be a person who doesn't love money? Quite often I have people work for me, I will pay for their training. They will be trained up properly to do their job. I got to work on them so hard. That’s why Apostle Paul said that he worked so hard to feed himself and his co-workers. I will give myself such a comment as well. I work extremely hard, much harder than others. I'm positive, why? I want to bless other people. The meaning of life is not measured by how much I own, the meaning of my life is measured by how many blessings I can give out. And that's my core value. The value of mine is not measured by how much money I earn, It is measured by how much I have pleased the Almighty God, the Lord of mine and God will make my name great.

Over the years, people surrounding me know how I deal with people. One day, a very poor sister came here to work. She had a phone that was so old. It happened that I had another phone which was much better than the one she got, so I gave it to her. It was quite a good phone and she was using it. It worked out well, she was very happy. She did not have a computer, my coworker got her a computer. But do you know what? She was not Abraham. If she was a female Abraham, she would have said:" No, I'm not going to take it for free. How much shall I pay for it?" No, she happily took them off us for free.

I was not asking for money because I never thought of selling it to her. But taking advantage is never going to be an advantage. Are you with me? Your name is very important. The value in your mind is very important. What you want to achieve in life is very important. If you have a mentality of poverty, you will live in poverty for the rest of your life. If you have the mentality of Abraham, you will live like Abraham becoming a mighty prince.

I hope this will have given you something to mull over. How are you going to build your name up? What do you want to be known for?

I will end here, thank you for all of you listening to me!

May the Lord bless you!


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