“By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left he had no idea where he was going. By an act of faith he lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents. Isaac and Jacob did the same, living under the same promise. Abraham did it by keeping his eye on an unseen city with real, eternal foundations—the City designed and built by God” – Hebrews 11:8-10
It’s interesting to note that God promised Canaan to Abraham, and yet Abraham never inherited Canaan. He was a wanderer to the very end and could stake no real claim on the land. Even the tomb for his dead had to be bought. This is what the text states quite candidly: By an act of faith he lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents . He dwelt there in tents-in changeful, movable tabernacles-not permanent habitations; he had no home there. A Campervan, not a Castle.
The point recurs in Acts 7:5 “He immigrated to this country where you now live, but God gave him nothing, not so much as a foothold. He did promise to give the country to him and his son later on, even though Abraham had no son at the time.”
It’s astonishing that Abraham never complained about all this! In fact, I think, he seems even grateful for the non-fulfilment of the promise. He doesn’t seem to have expected its fulfilment: he did not look for Canaan, but for “a city which had foundations;” in fact, his faith appears to have consisted in disbelieving the letter, almost as much as in believing the spirit of the promise.
And here’s the point, which, if you think carefully about it, creates quite a powerful insight to the way we live. God’s promises are never fulfilled in the sense in which they seem to have been given. Life is a deception; its anticipations, which are God’s promises to the imagination, are never realized. They who know life best, and have trusted God most to fill it with blessings, are ever the first to say that life can seem a series of disappointments. And in the spirit of this text you have to admit that it is a wise and merciful arrangement which orders it this way.
Those who think most clearly and deeply would not wish it otherwise; and wisdom consists in disbelieving its promises. Remember, we are here to live and die; in a few years it will be all over; meanwhile, what we have to do is to try to understand, and to help one another to understand, what it all means-what this strange and contradictory thing, which we call life, contains within it.
We are all strangers in a strange land, longing for home, but not quite knowing what or where home is. We glimpse it sometimes in our dreams, or as we turn a corner, and suddenly there is a strange, sweet familiarity that vanishes almost as soon as it comes.
- two unchangeable things about God (walterbright.org)
- The Challenge of Waiting (vincemichaelongblog.wordpress.com)
- Gods promise to Abraham (mychristianreport.wordpress.com)
- Living by Faith in an Uncertain World (wholovesya7.com)
- Why does God take so long to fulfill His promises? (924jeremiah.wordpress.com)
- Faith (ipcfaithcenterchengannur.wordpress.com)
- Song – Hebrews 11:8-10 “By faith Abraham…” (johnmooy.wordpress.com)