As I was reading this chapter, it dawned on me that the first part of Canaan that Abraham possessed with a burial plot. That seems rather odd, doesn't it, given what God said in Genesis 15:18-21? "On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, 'To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates: the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the Jebusite.'"
God had promised the land to Abraham and his descendants. In fact, in the text, He doesn’t say, "I will give you this land..." He says, "I have given you this land." As in, it’s a done deal.
So it’s interesting, then, that when Sarah dies, Abraham goes to Ephron (a Hittite) and purchases a burial plot. God told Abraham that He was going to give the land to Abraham. So, why was it taking Him so long to fulfill His promise?
It might seem like Abraham was, once again, disregarding God’s promise since he went about buying what God was going to give him. On the contrary, though, I think Abraham’s purchase of the burial property was like an investment in God’s promise.
Abraham had finally come to the place where he trusted God, where he believed that God would do what was right by him, even if he couldn’t see the big picture or know how God was going to fulfill the promise. I think the experience with Isaac on the mountain really drove the lesson home to Abraham that, in every situation, God "already has the ram in the thicket," that even when everything looks hopeless, God has a way to make a way.
So, in this chapter, when Sarah has died without seeing God’s promise fulfilled, Abraham doesn’t think that the "Promised Land" is a lost cause. In buying a family burial plot, he decided to invest in Canaan. He decided to "cast his vote of faith" on the side of God’s promise and bury Sarah (and eventually himself) at Machpelah, believing that God was going to follow through on His promise to give Canaan to his family.
God’s promises are sure because God is trustworthy. Therefore, just like Abraham, we can be sure that God is working out what He has promised, even if it looks like things could never work out like God said. God’s timing is often different than ours, but let’s remember that His timing is perfect! Even when it looks like the things we are waiting for will never come to pass, we can trust God to make good on all His promises.