“Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people.” (Genesis 25:8)
ith the words of our text, Abraham ended a life of faith, having walked in such close fellowship with God that “he was called the Friend of God” (James 2:23). But when he died at 175 years old, his standing in the world from a human perspective might not seem to have warranted his nomadic life of sacrifice and faith. He had sojourned in the land given to him by covenant, but he had not taken possession of it in any real sense. Although he had gained a measure of worldly possessions (Genesis 13:2), he had evidently given up a stable and satisfying life of luxury among his people to follow God into the land of promise. Once there, his nephew, Lot, had deserted him, taking the fertile land as his own (13:10-11). Abraham had seen war (chapter 14), famine (12:10), compromise (12:13; 20:2), fighting between his two wives, and had not had children until his old age (chapters 16 and 21), had lived in poor relationship with his neighbors (chapter 20), and had eventually lost his dear wife, Sarah (23:2).
But when Abraham died, Scripture says he died completely satisfied, the literal meaning of the word “full” in our text (the words “of years” added by the translators). He had learned to measure time by eternity, to weigh the value of earthly things by the Spirit. “For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). He had “believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3).
The fullness of Abraham was that of a wealth that death could not touch. The seeming fullness of those who walk by sight, and not by faith, is emptied in death. Men and women of faith carry their fullness with them. When the time comes, may we all die as Abraham died—full. JDM