Believing in God’s Promised Land
In Hebrews chapter 11 the writer first describes what faith is (v 1-4). From verse 5 onwards, he gives examples of people who have shown great faith in their lives, in order to provide us with examples of how to live by faith. Verses 8 to 16 describe Abraham and Sarah’s faith in God’s promises. The details of the story are described in Genesis 12. Abram was called by the Lord to leave his land and his family to travel to an unknown place that God promised to give to him and to his descendants. Abram obeyed God and took his wife Sara, and his nephew Lot. He should not have taken Lot because he was commanded to leave his family, and he and Sara made some serious mistakes along the way which led to serious consequences that you can read about in Genesis chapters 13 to 16.
Nevertheless, God was merciful to Abraham and kept his promises to him. He made a covenant with Abram to make him the father of many nations, and He renamed them Abraham and Sarah. By faith Abraham made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents like Isaac (his son) and Jacob (his grandson). For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God (v8-9). In a sense, all Christians live like strangers in a foreign land because although we are in this world, we are not of the world because we belong to God’s kingdom which is our eternal promised home. God’s city with foundations is our eternal home that is securely established by God.
Our focus should be on God, because our future belongs to Him. Abraham and Sarah held onto God’s promise that they would have a son and an eternal home sometime in the future. They had to wait many decades for their son Isaac, and they never saw the promised land during their lifetime. God told Abraham that for four hundred years his descendants would be strangers in a country not their own and they would be enslaved and mistreated there, but God would punish the nation they served as slaves and afterwards they would come out with great possessions (Genesis 15:12-14). This was a long time to remain faithful for.Abraham and Sarah have provided us with an excellent lesson in faith. Hold on firmly to God’s promises and keep walking in faith for however long it takes, until you have finished the journey and arrived in the promised land. Abraham and Sarah, did not receive the things promised in their lifetime. However, they saw them in faith and welcomed them from afar, admitting that they were foreigners on earth (v13). If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return (v15).
This reminds me of the hymn that says, “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back. The cross before me, the world behind me, no turning back, no turning back.” Once we have taken up the cross and made the decision to follow Christ, there is no turning back. We have to keep going in faith and keep our trust in God’s promises and in His wisdom. It is up to Him how he chooses to fulfill His promises, but He will do what he says he will do.
The cornerstone of our faith is that we are saved by Jesus’ resurrection. For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). If we do not trust God’s promises, we are essentially making Him out to be an unreliable liar! Therefore, we must stay on guard and keep our faith in Him strong, because we know that our promised land is a heavenly country that God has prepared for us. Then God will not be ashamed to be called our God (v16). He will be delighted to welcome us home when our time comes.
Our country has just entered another time of social restrictions in the midst of a second COVID-19 infection wave. It can feel like we are living in a frightening and strange land when we are facing a pandemic. We will not be able to meet others as we would like to. It is likely that we will have to deal with this for some time. We need to make sure that we stay firm in our faith and continue to study the Word and to pray. We should keep encouraging each other in our walk with God. I pray that we will be able to hold onto God’s promises and remain faithful to Him throughout.
Almighty God, thank you for your word that has shown me how to live by faith. Thank you for your
encouragement and wisdom. Thank you for Your faithfulness. Thank you for preparing an eternal home for me where I can live in Your presence, in fellowship with others who have also remained faithful to You. I am so grateful Lord for your love. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.