Faith Obeying (Hebrews 11:8–10)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

It is almost impossible for a modern day Christian to consider the matter of faith without at some point bringing Abraham into the discussion. It would have been completely unthinkable to a Christian Jew, especially in the first century. And so, as the writer to the Hebrews proceeds in his explanation of faith, by means of several illustrations, he now highlights the walk of faith as exemplified in Abraham, the Father of the Jews. In fact, more verses are dedicated to Abraham in chapter 11 than to any other Old Testament character (vv. 8–12, 17–22).1

In this study, we will examine vv. 8–10 as we begin to see how faith operated in the life of the one who is the father of all who are likewise faithful (Romans 4:11). But before we begin, we need to pause to understand the overall contextual theme in which these verses fall.

A Word about Waiting

So far in our studies we have noticed a progression, as it were, concerning this matter of faith.

The life of faith begins with confidence in God’s Word. Faith is inseparable from the conviction that God has spoken and that His Word is true because God is true. Our definition of faith is “acting upon God’s Word because of a confidence in God’s character.”

We believe in things not yet seen and are assured of them because God said so (vv. 1–2). In fact, we believe that the things that we do see are because of the one whom we do not see. As v. 3 makes clear, we “understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God.

So, the Christian life begins with faith in God’s Word. Faith and God’s Word are inseparable.

But the logical next aspect of faith is worship. Faith and worship are also inseparable. We take God at His Word (and this submission itself is an act of worship) and therefore we approach Him in the manner prescribed by His Word. We see this in the example of Abel (v. 4).

The third aspect of faith is illustrated by Enoch: Faith walks. The one who takes God at His Word becomes a worshipper who embarks on the eternal journey of walking with God. We walk with the as-of-now unseen God and we do so in accordance with His Word.

Previously, we studied the fourth aspect of the life of faith as exemplified in the life of Noah: Faith works. Having submitted to God’s Word, thereby making us worshippers of God, we then walk with God in the works that God has ordained for us (Ephesians 2:10). And as we walk in these works, we become witnesses for the one we worship.

Now, in v. 8, we discover the fifth and final aspect of faith in the life of the disciple of Jesus Christ: Faith waits. If ever there was an example of such patient perseverance, it is Abraham.

The dominant theme, the “big idea,” of the rest of the chapter is with reference to the reality that faith anticipates what has been promised without necessarily experiencing it in one’s lifetime. And this, in fact, is why this chapter exists (10:35–36ff).

Several verses in the remainder of the chapter highlight the issue of waiting. For example, v. 13 reads, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises,” and then again v. 39: “And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise” (i.e. in their lifetime).

The chapter closes with these words of explanation: “God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.” What does this mean? Simply, that these Old Testament saints looked forward to God’s gospel promise (Genesis 3:15) yet died before it came into actual space-time history at the incarnation. In other words, all of these examples, especially from v. 8 onward, emphasise that these believers so trusted God that they died believing that they would one day eventually see what they had not yet seen. And because they had faith in God, they were willing to wait.

The faith that accepts God’s word is the faith that worships, walks, works and waits. It patiently perseveres. Such faith lives as if the “not yet” is in fact the “already.” Abraham is the example of this par excellence.

Relevance?

This was a vital matter for these readers to grasp. They, of course, lived on the other side of the gospel promise to which saints mentioned in this chapter merely anticipated. Yet they were likewise being called upon to wait.

Like Noah, they were waiting for the “de-creation” of their world (Jerusalem) and the subsequent creation of the new world (the new heavens and earth) (Revelation 21:1–2). They were awaiting the arrival of the city of God (Hebrews 12:22–28; 13:14). At present, things looked pretty dismal, yet they had God’s Word on the matter (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; and perhaps even the Revelation).

They had the promise of the Lord Jesus that He was bringing His kingdom to earth. They were called upon to believe this. Like Abraham and the many that followed him, they were to wait “for the city which has foundations [lit. “the foundations”], whose builder and maker is God” (v. 10).

And Us?

But of course, this is most relevant to us as well. The Lord Jesus did bring to pass His promise, and when Jerusalem was destroyed, the New Jerusalem (the church) began to be established. In fact, the kingdom has come and yet is still coming. It is not nearly yet all that has been promised, but with eyes of faith we continue to worship, walk and work as we wait for His Word to be fully fulfilled.

This will be our theme as we continue our journey through Hebrews 11. But if we will faithfully wait, then we need to be equipped to do so. We need to examine these remaining examples with a view to embracing their lifestyle, their worldview, and then emulating this as we wait. In this study, we will see the first aspect of faith that waits: such faith obeys. The life of Abraham illustrates this early on in history, but it remains as relevant today as ever.

Like Abraham, those whom God graciously saves are called to follow Him in Christ. We are called to obey in faith (see Romans 1:5; 16:26; 1 John 4:20). Let’s look at what is involved in this call.

The Call to Relocate

Abraham was called, first of all, to relocate. “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” (v. 8).

The story of the life of Abraham (which we know from his age of 75 until his death at 175) is remarkable at several points. As believers in Jesus Christ we are blessed to identify with him as our “father” with reference to our faith (Romans 4:11; Galatians 3:7–9, 26–29; James 2:21). And so, what was true of Abraham most certainly has parallels in our lives. The first parallel concerns God’s call to Abraham to relocate. We read about this in Genesis 12:1–9.

Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy- five years old when he departed from Haran. Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan. Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh. And the Canaanites were then in the land.

Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. So Abram journeyed, going on still toward the South.

(Genesis 12:1­–9)

The Lord communicated with Abraham and commanded him, “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.” God was authoritatively calling him to leave behind all that he knew and to follow Him—to a place that only God knew. Abraham was, as it were, in the dark about the location, but he was very much in the light concerning the directions. In other words, though he did not know the where, he was most certain about the whom” Abraham was called to leave the familiar for the unfamiliar, but because he judged God to be faithful he forsook all and followed Him. This is precisely what the author is exhorting these believers to continue to do—and this is precisely what we are called to do.

The call to be saved is the call to relocate from one sphere of life (the dominion of darkness) to another (the kingdom of light, the kingdom of God’s dear Son). It is a call to leave behind relationships that will hinder our worship, walk and work for the Lord. And sometimes, as with Abraham, this can be quite dramatic and even painful (Luke 14:25–27; Matthew 10:34–39). As we recently heard, the call to follow Christ is a serious call that must be taken seriously. Remember the brother from Iraq who upon fleeing ISIS was asked why? He said, “Jesus Christ commanded us to forsake and all and to follow Him. So we did.” Truly, a child of Abraham!

Those who have been saved are constantly called to relocate. We are to daily take up our cross and follow Christ. And this means a daily willingness to leave behind family and friends, and even fortunes if need be, in order to be faithful. But as Abraham learned, as he was assured of, the Lord is worthy of such loyalty.

Let’s note some aspects of this call to relocate, some characteristics of Abraham’s faithful obedience.

God’s Initiative

Abraham’s obedience was preceded by God’s gracious initiative. The revelation that God gave to Abraham was completely by the sovereign grace of God. Abraham did not earn the right to this revelation, to this divine communique; rather, God chose to graciously give it. Andrews comments importantly, “Without the call, Abraham would have lived out his life in Ur of the Chaldees and we would never have heard of him. Everything began when God spoke to the patriarch.”2

One needs to remember that Abraham, prior to God’s gracious salvific intervention, was an idolater. Joshua 24:2 makes this very clear: “And Joshua said to all the people, ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel: “Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the [Jordan] River in old times; and they served other gods.’” We can assume that this included Abraham. Yet God graciously intervened and saved him. Abraham turned from serving idols to worship and to serve the true and living God (see 1 Thessalonins 1:9). So it was with these Hebrew Christians, and so it is with you and me. It is solely by God’s sovereign grace that He has revealed the truth of the gospel to us. Our obedience is not because we are so wonderfully faithful; it flows, rather, from the reality of God’s great and gracious faithfulness. But perhaps we are getting ahead of ourselves. We need to ask just what it was that God communicated to Abraham. Genesis 12:3 provides the answer. God graciously revealed the gospel.

Don’t miss that: It was the gospel that provided the motivation for Abraham to relocate! When God said to Abraham that he was to leave all and go to a land that he, as yet, did not know, the Lord provided a rationale. He said, “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

All too often people quote these verses to drive home a geographic or political point, but in doing so they miss the point. The apostle Paul did not. In Galatians 3:8 he writes, “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed.’” Do you see that? God’s call to Abraham came in the context of the gospel. In fact, Jesus said in John 8:56, “Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” This is so important, for it would have helped these first-century believers in their own challenges. They were being told that Abraham, their esteemed “father of the nation,” was willing to sacrifice and to suffer for the sake of Christ. So should they be.

Of course, the same applies to you and me. Because of God’s gracious initiative, the gospel of Jesus Christ has been revealed to us (Matthew 11:25; 16:17; Romans 1:16–17; 1 Corinthians 2:7–10, 14­–15; 2 Corinthians 4:5–6; Ephesians 2:1–6; 1 Thessalonians 2:13). Our worshipful response is to obey this revelation and to come and follow Him. We respond with the obedient outlook that says, “Wherever and whatever, here I am. Relocate me as You will.”

Immediate Submission

If the call was a gracious initiative then we might refer to the response as a grateful immediacy.

Commentators are right to point out that the text, both in Hebrews 11 and in Genesis 12, emphasises the immediacy of Abraham’s response. William Lane writes, “Abraham … exemplified faith by responding immediately with obedience even as he was being called: ‘as he was being called, Abraham obeyed by departing.’”3

This is what the gospel does in the lives of those who are faithful. Those who deem God to be faithful with His gospel promise are quick to gratefully and immediately respond in obedience. In fact, we can say that such obedience is the proof of saving faith. F. F. Bruce points out that Abraham “would not have obeyed the divine call had he not taken God at His word; his obedience was the outward evidence of his inward faith.”4

When you grasp the enormity of your problem, and at the same time grasp the grace of the offer, you will immediately submit. This is what the faith that obeys looks like. Let me rephrase that: This is what the faith that truly saves looks like. “I am Yours, O Lord, I have heard Your call. Here I am; send me.”

We can illustrate different responses to the gospel by the illustrations of Paul and the rich young ruler. When confronted with Christ’s expectations, the rich young ruler left saddened, loving his possessions more than Christ (Matthew 19:16–22). Paul, on the other hand, when confronted by Jesus, immediately cried, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” (Acts 9:1–9).

When our vision is directed by the voice of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ then we are more than willing to embark on whatever venture the Lord has for us. Perhaps this is what many of us need: a proper gospel vision. Well, listen to the voice of God in His gospel and your vision of God will be such that relocation from your sin, and even from your present location, will become very palatable to you.

What are you waiting for? This is an important question. Sometimes I almost despair of those who listen to the gospel week in and week out and yet refuse to obey the Lord. Why delay when you could die this very day and face eternity under the wrath of God? Today is the day of salvation. Tomorrow indeed may not be.

And what of professing Christians who have not been baptised. Let me remind you that this is not a suggestion from the Lord but a commandment. There are far too many unbaptised Christians in churches, and the result is not healthy.

And what of church membership? Why the delay? Why the disobedience? Listen to the voice of God and obey. Don’t delay. Immediacy is the expectation.

There are many areas we could address, such as tithing, serving the Body, putting off the sinful deeds and wicked habits of the old man. Be like Abraham. By faith, obey.

Perhaps there are some reading this who need to literally be relocated. Perhaps the Lord is calling you to serve the Lord in a vocational capacity or in a missionary capacity. As the Nike motto says, “Just do it!”

An Agnostic Believer

One of the issues raised in v. 8, which relates to Abraham’s keenness to obey, is that “he went out, not knowing where he was going.” God promised him an inheritance, but in point of fact this was not revealed until after he “went out.” Only in Genesis 13:14–18 did God reveal this promised inheritance.

Please don’t miss this: For Abraham, knowing and following the Lord, not a piece of real estate, was the issue. Even though he apparently was a wealthy man (see Genesis 13:2), nevertheless it is clear that once the Lord saved him was not a trace of materialism in his being. Rather, he simply followed the Lord, believing the gospel and believing that this gospel would do wonders in the world. He was willing to risk all to follow the Lord. “There is something particularly attractive about a quality of faith which sees stability in other than material things.”5

This is precisely how we are to live. The inheritance that Abraham sought was not material but primarily spiritual. The Lord, not the land, was the priority in his life. And by the way, in a very real sense, he ended up with both. We will explore this more thoroughly under the next heading, but for now we simply need to observe the important principle that, when God saves us, we are in for a great adventure! We have no idea what the future holds, but at the risk of sounding trite, we do know who holds the future.

My wife and I can testify that we have often marvelled at the opportunities and experiences that the Lord has granted us. It has been a painful adventure at times but never a boring one!

I think that this was an important point for these readers to grasp. They were heading for unprecedented territory. They knew that judgement was coming upon Jerusalem and that that would turn their world upside down. But, as with both Noah and Abraham, they were being encouraged to obey and to trust the Lord with the future.

And What of Us?

Think for instance of what the future holds for you. Will our future include increasing restriction on the gospel?

What will following Christ cost you? And what of death? You have never passed that way before. And yet you have not merely Abraham but also the example of the Lord Jesus who has gone that way, and He tells us “Let not your heart be troubled” (John 14:1). He has conquered death and so we need not cower from it (Hebrews 2:14–18).

The Call to Reevaluate

The second aspect of Abraham’s call was a call to reevaluate: “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” (v. 9).

When the Lord spoke to Abraham, he responded with immediate obedience, and this would change the direction of his life forever. He would leave his idol-worshipping family and become the head of the nation of Israel. More so, he would become the head of a family of faith because, through him and his seed, the promised Seed would come. Jesus Christ, the promised Saviour of the world, would come for sinners.

Abraham believed this good news. This gospel would completely reorient his life and cause him to reevaluate his life in this world.

These readers needed to understand this aspect of the faith walk. And so do we. Verse 9 gives us a glimpse into this reorientation and reevaluation.

When he arrived in the land of promise6 (that is, Canaan) Abraham dwelt there, though he in fact never really settled here.

Alien Resident

Again, Abraham was not following the Lord for what he could get out of the deal. He simply went forth, quite literally, for the gospel’s sake. He forsook all and followed the Lord because of his conviction concerning Genesis 3:15. But as Jesus said, those who leave all—including land, home and family—to follow Him will be blessed with land, houses and family (Matthew 19:28–30). So it would eventually be for Abraham.

But at this point, though Abraham “dwelt” (lit, “to make one’s home”) in Canaan, he lived there simply as a resident alien. The land was his, but those living there did not quite understand that. In fact they thought that it was theirs!

The verse tells us that Abraham lived in “tents wit Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise.” According to the biblical chronology Jacob and Esau would have been about fifteen years old at Abraham’s death, while his son Isaac would have been 75. Yet even by then the land was not in their possession, and in fact it would not be in the possession of Abraham’s heirs for more nearly 500–600 more years. What is this fact meant to teach us?

Viewing Life through the Lens of the Gospel

Fundamentally, they (and we) needed to learn to see life in terms of the gospel rather than in any other way. Life is all about the gospel. We are to eat, sleep and drink the gospel. The gospel reorients our values therefore it reorients our life. The gospel causes us to reevaluate priorities and then to evaluate all challenges to that priority.

For example, many South Africans express the desire to emigrate to a country of “better opportunity” and “safety” for their children. But perhaps viewing life through the lense of the gospel will cause a Christian to stay in South Africa for the sake of gospel ministry.

Viewing life through the lense of the gospel will change the way you spend your money. You will find yourself investing in gospel opportunities rather than selfish pursuits. It will change the way you pray, so that you pray more for God’s name to be hallowed, His kingdom to come, and His will to be done than you do for your own desires. It may change the way in which you are steering your children vocationall, as you begin looking at how they can be more effective with the gospel for the sake of the kingdom rather than how they can best attain financial security. It may change the way that you plan for retirement and the things that you plan to do when you are retired.

What is your motivation as you pray for your nation and your government? Do you want fair taxes, more financial security, swifter justice? Or do you pray for the government to permit more freedom for the spread of the gospel?

The apostle Peter seems to take a page from Abraham’s biography when he exhorts believers, “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honourable among the Gentiles” (1 Peter 2:11–12). But in what sense are we to understand this admonition?

It is important to understand that clearly the Lord did give to Abraham the promise of the land. His seed would (and eventually did) possess it. But Abraham does not seem to have been bothered about staking his claim. It was enough that the Lord had promised, and when the time was right he was sure that the Lord would make good on the promised inheritance. It is because of this that he seems to have been so meek as he encountered the inhabitants of the land. But as Jesus taught, the meek will inherit the earth. We can learn from this.

This is our Father’s world and, as His children, we are heirs to it. But the fact is that we are not ready for it and neither is it ready for us. We are not spiritually equipped at this point in history to inherit it. One day we will be, but not now. We need a further transformation of mind before we can handle the responsibility. This is perhaps why the Lord has not yet sent us the awakening that we say that we so badly desire. Think about it.

Do you really think that we have enough Christians in South Africa with the spiritual maturity and doctrinal, gospel apprehension to be able to govern as Christians? Just listen to the average Christians attitude toward authority and their supposed “righteous” solutions to our problems. Though I do believe that God’s law should rule our land, I seriously doubt that most Christians are wise enough to implement and administrate those laws properly.

In fact, we are far too prone to be just like the world as we cave in to the fleshly desires that war against our souls. Until we take God’s Word seriously enough to reorient our thinking, we will need to be especially circumspect to live as strangers in this world.

We dare not try and wage warfare with carnal weapons, but that seems to be our emphasis: We call it politics. Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). Note that He never said that His Kingdom is not in this world. It very much is. However His kingdom does not operate under the rules of the world. He has His own rules. We need to learn them, submit to them and then live them. We need to be ruled by the gospel.

Let us work at being transformed by the renewing of our minds. We need to overcome our deep attachment to things material and political. Then, and only then, will the time be right for us to inherit the land. This brings me to the last point.

The Call to Remain

Finally, after Abraham stepped out, he stayed put, “for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (v. 10).

Verse 10 is a commentary on v. 9. There was a very significant reason why Abraham was not uptight about inheriting the Promised Land in his lifetime. Simply, this was not his major goal. Rather, his major pursuit was a place that was as of yet nowhere to be found in Canaan. The writer here refers to it as “the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Abraham was not about to settle for second best. So, what was that city?

Most will comment that this seems to be an obvious reference to heaven. The idea is that Abraham was not too concerned about inheriting the Promised Land because, after all, what was that compared to heaven? Therefore he “waited for” that eternal “city.” At a fundamental level, I do not have a problem with that interpretation—as long as the idea of heaven is a biblical one.

All too often this passage is presented as Abraham thinking about “going to heaven” rather than what he was really focused on: heaven on earth. Abraham was eagerly expecting the eventual establishment of heaven on earth through the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The “city” for which he was waiting was the city of God. We saw something of this in our recent study of Psalm 46. We need to pause here to understand this vital truth.

The Church, God’s Unshakeable City

It might be suggested that the reference here is to Abraham’s waiting for Jerusalem, the earthly city of God. The suggestion is that Abraham did not “settle down,” as it were, in Canaan, for it was a long way from being established as the Promised Land where the physical city of Jerusalem would be established. But that is not the case. We know this for at least three reasons.

First, the verse describes this city as unique among all cities in that it “has foundations.” Literally this could be translated as “the foundations,” implying that it is the only city which really has foundations. Obviously the geographic city of Jerusalem had earthly foundations so this rules out that interpretation. As Morris says, “The city is well based—i.e., a ‘city with permanent foundations’ (TEV). It is eternal, more lasting than earth’s ephemeral edifices.”7

Second, the phrase “whose builder and maker is God” also mitigates against Jerusalem as the city here identified. These two terms are only used here in the New Testament and they refer accordingly to one who designs and actually creates. Though, of course, God was very much behind the establishment of Jerusalem as the city of God, nevertheless it was designed and built by men—David and Solomon being two of its more significant “architects.” But this city is of divine design and divine development.

Third, parallel references in the book of Hebrews show that this must refer to something other than the city of Jerusalem.

In Hebrews 12:22–28 and 13:14, it is clear that the city referenced is the heavenly New Jerusalem of Revelation 21. That is, it is the church of the living God. It is the church in her fullness as she encapsulates the kingdom of God. We might say that it is the church in her fully consummated state; when the Lord returns at the end of human history as we know it. We are now back to where we began in our study: the already and not yet. As Richard Phillips notes,

This presents a classic picture of the life of faith. We have great promises from God which belong to us now, but by and large have not yet been manifested in our experience. Abraham went to the land promised to him, but when he got there it did not yet belong to him. This shows us the “already–not yet” character of the life of faith.8

Abraham was waiting patiently for the full fulfilment of the promise. He saw beyond the physical and the immediate to the eternal and ultimate. Yet keep in mind that this city is physical. It is made up of people who live this physical world. Yet, like Abraham they have an eternal perspective.

Abraham believed God in Christ. He believed that one day Christ would come and establish His kingdom. Though I doubt that Abraham understood all that this would involve, he knew that God through Christ was going to crush the serpent’s head and that righteousness would reign on earth through Christ.

Abraham truly believed that heaven would come to earth: that God’s name would be hallowed, that His kingdom would come and that His will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. This was the city for which he so eagerly waited. He remained in the Promised Land not because he desired a piece of land but rather because he desired the Lord who would come to the land, conquer the god of this age and establish His everlasting kingdom (see Isaiah 2; Daniel 2).

This is precisely what these Hebrews were being called to. They were called to remain faithful to the Lord because of the promise of the “city” which He designed and which He builds stone upon stone (see Matthew 16:18; 1 Peter 2:1–9).

The city of Jerusalem would soon be shaken and totter and fall. After all, it had no real foundations and therefore it could not continue (13:14). So rather than focusing on this city and its temple with all of its religio-cultural history, they needed to look to the same city for which Abraham waited.

Soon that city would begin to be established in an even greater way than its beginning in Acts 2. They needed to expect this. They needed to remain faithful to Christ in spite of the seen that surrounded them. Like Abraham, they needed to look forward and trust God for the full establishment of His city on earth. They needed to stay put and stay faithful. And so do we. The words of Edgar Andrews give us a proper perspective when he notes, “Although this city is still under construction, it already exists in its full perfection in the mind and purpose of God.”9

We live in much better times than those of Abraham and the early church. So much advancement has occurred in Christ’s kingdom. Yet there is a long way to go. We are to therefore remain faithful and labour for the further advancement.

Short Term Versus Long Term

Practically, this must motivate us to remain faithful. It must motivate us to abide in Christ and to expect the fruit which flows from such a relationship. Jay Adams has captured this so well when he writes,

Because [Abraham] knew what the ultimate destination was he was able to operate so trustingly on the short term. He knew what eternity held; because of that he could go anywhere and do anything God required of him in this life…. Because the eternal question was settled, the earthly one didn’t have to be.10

Only with such an eternal perspective will we be able to handle the difficulties that we face in this world. But God’s word empowers us to wait.

Practically, we must look beyond the immediate and trust God for the ultimate. We are to remain faithful in our worship, in our walk and in our work as we wait for the final trumpet when the city which has foundations will fully come.

Practically, we must stay true to Christ in the midst of opposition. We must trust our Maker who, through Jesus Christ, really does make all things new. So keep obeying the one who has graciously called you.

Church member, keep worshipping, keep working and keep witnessing. Church, keep sacrificing and keep sending. The city has arrived and will continue to arrive until the day that it completely arrives. Hallelujah, what a Saviour! By faith remain loyal to Him. By faith, obey.

By faith, like Abraham (better yet, like Jesus!), answer the call to relocate and reevaluate as you remain steadfast as God’s builds His city.

Show 10 footnotes

  1. The writer also mentioned Abraham and God’s covenant with him in 6:13–20.
  2. Edgar Andrews, A Glorious High Throne: Hebrews Simply Explained (Darlington: Evangelical Press, 2003), 360.
  3. William L. Lane, Hebrews: Word Biblical Commentary, 2 vols. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991), 2:348.
  4. F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews: The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), 295.
  5. Donald Guthrie, Hebrews: Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 1983), 234.
  6. This is the only reference in the Bible to the phrase “land of promise.”
  7. Leon Morris, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 12 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), 12:119.
  8. Richard D. Phillips, Hebrews: Reformed Expository Commentary (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2006), 439.
  9. Andrews, A Glorious High Throne, 366.
  10. Jay E. Adams, Hebrews, James, I & II Peter, Jude: The Christian Counselor’s Commentary (Woodruff: Timeless Texts, 1996), 109–10.