“By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”
By faith. Isn’t it difficult sometimes to follow the Lord when it’s not popular? I know from experience that peer pressure can make it difficult to abstain from activities I know aren’t godly. It can feel so discouraging at times, almost like we’re walking alone on our path of conviction. I feel this way on occasion!
But I read this section in Hebrews a few weeks ago, and it jumped off the page at me in a way it hadn’t before. First, some background.
God promised that Abraham’s numerous descendants would possess the land he was living in (Genesis 15:7, 18-21). But at this point, Abraham didn’t even have any children! Yet, he believed what God had said. And so, during all his years of waiting, he diligently served the Lord and waited for the fulfillment of His promise among people who, for the majority, were not following God. God later used the Israelites under Joshua to drive out all these evil nations, so it is safe to think that Abraham wasn’t living in a closed compound of other believers! So how does this relate to us today?
Hebrews 11:8 says, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” If you have accepted Christ, you have been redeemed out of the kingdom of darkness and rescued into God’s kingdom (Colossians 1:13). In a sense, we are like Abraham! Being a Christian is not an easy path. It is often fraught with difficulty, and it requires that we follow where the Lord leads us. Just as Abraham did, we are following the Captain of our salvation, Jesus Christ, not knowing all the little places He’ll lead us through but confident that He will bring us to His Kingdom.
And this verse leads to the rest of this section of Scripture in Hebrews 11!
“By faith, he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country…for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:9-10). As Christians, we are commanded to be different. We are commanded to be salt in a flavorless world. We are commanded to be light in a pitch black environment. And this is so hard because it goes against the grain, not only of our sinful nature, but also of the culture we are immersed in. It can feel so lonely and hopeless at times.
Yet, how awesome that Abraham, a giant of faith in the Old Testament, endured the same thing? How awesome that we can draw encouragement knowing that Abraham experienced what we have! So, how did he persevere through that struggle?
He dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country. This earth is not our final destination. Verse 10 says that Abraham was waiting for something better, a city built by God. Verse 13 says that these heroes of the faith embraced God’s promises and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on earth. We are in the same boat. This is not our final home.
This world will be full of struggles because it is a world in rebellion towards and rejection of God. It is not easy to truly follow the Lord- the convictions His Word calls us to are in direct opposition to many principles of this world. Yet, just as Abraham who came before us, we are accountable for living the way Christ wants us to live. This is the essence of being alive in Christ and abiding in Him: we are not just saved from our sin…we are saved to a whole new life in Christ. We live like this by faith.
What the Lord showed me through this passage is that it takes faith to walk with Him in this world. By faith, Abraham lived how he did. Let it be said that by faith, Christopher…and Macy…and Callie…and Sara…and ______ lived as light in darkness and as salt amidst flavorlessness, waiting for the city built by God.
“For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.” -Hebrews 11:14