This earth is not our home.
Most Christians know this. But how many actually live this way?
Abraham did. The writer of Hebrews said of him,
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. (8-10)
For Abraham, the land he would receive as his inheritance was Canaan. For us, it is a new heavens and new earth.
Abraham made his home in Canaan, even though it really wasn’t his yet. And until its “transformation” into the land God promised him, he lived there as a stranger in a foreign country. In a land that was filled with paganism and sin, he lived a life that was pleasing to God.
In the same way, this world we live in now will someday be transformed and we will inherit it as God’s children. But until that day, it is filled with sin and the worship of things that are truly not gods. So here we live, not as citizens of this present world, but as strangers in a foreign country, looking forward to the day when all things will be made new.
So how should we live? We should live doing all that God asks us to do even if we don’t see all the results in our lifetime.
For Abraham, God promised to make him a great nation and to give him many descendants that would inherit the land of Canaan. And so Abraham left his father’s household and his very country to go where God directed him. But when he died, he only had one son and the small plot of land he had purchased in order to bury his wife Sarah.
The same could be said of Isaac, except he had two sons.
And the same could be said of Isaac’s son Jacob, except he had twelve sons, and he died in Egypt where God through his provision kept him and his family alive in a time of famine.
Each of them followed God’s will. But none of them saw the promises completely fulfilled. And the writer of Hebrews says of them,
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.
People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.
If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country–a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (13-16)
God always keeps his promises. He did make Abraham into a great nation. And though nations have come and gone over the millenia, Israel still stands. And the day will come when all Christians, both Jews and Gentile will stand as one great nation, pointing to Abraham as our father.
But until that day, do the things God has asked of you. You like Abraham may not receive everything God has promised in your lifetime. But you will see his promises realized in the end. And even on earth, your children and your children’s children will reap the benefits of your faithfulness.
Moreover, remember that this world is not your home. If you’re always looking back at your old life, you will have opportunity to return. But in doing so, you’ll lose all the good things God had planned for you. So keep longing for your heavenly home and be faithful, knowing that God has prepared a city for you, and that one day he will come back for you and make all things new.
Remember what Jesus told his disciples,
In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:2-3)
Amen. Come soon, Lord Jesus.