Agonizomai: Heb 11 - 08-10 - Christ - Sanctifier of His People

Monday, March 29, 2010

Heb 11 - 08-10 - Christ - Sanctifier of His People

Heb 11 - 08-10 - Christ - Sanctifier of His People

Heb 11:8-10 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

Again we see the manifestation of faith in obedience. Faith acts upon the word of God. But faith itself is the gift of God. {Eph 2:8-10} Before God effectually called Abraham, he was a moon-worshiping idolater, just like his countrymen in the land of Ur. God did not call Abraham because he looked down from heaven and saw a worthy man. Nor did God look down through the mists of time and, perceiving that Abraham would be obedient/believing/faithful, so deem him worthy to be called. It would be heresy to believe these things. God does not call righteous or faithful people - he makes men righteous and faithful as a gift of his grace in Jesus Christ. And this so that all will be to the praise of the glory of his grace. {Eph 1:4-6}

That said, by the mystery of faith Abraham trusted God for promises made, of ends not yet seen - and this trust was characterized by action. God called upon him to uproot himself and go to an unspecified place, and he did this. This is where it gets a bit mystical because the promise to Abraham was not land per se, but a nation of heirs. " a land I will show you. I will make of you a great nation; I will bless you...and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." {Ge 12:1-3} And behind it all we are told that Abraham was looking forward not to Canaan, but “to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. Abraham was not looking forward to Jerusalem, but to the New Jerusalem, and to a mansion not made with hands.” {2Co 5:1, Php 3:20-21}

Nevertheless, Canaan is referred to as "the land of promise," implying that it was intimately connected with the promised intentions of God. There is a duality and a symbolism here, as in much of scripture. Canaan and nationhood were means to God’s higher ends. They were something upon which Abraham could fix his hopes while God trained him and matured him in faith. It was God using His providence, His promise and His preservation to bring Abraham to a fully submitted and trusting disposition by which He would be fitted for heaven. It was a part of God’s means of sanctifying Abraham. He was a sojourner on the earth, though he was not necessarily fully aware of what this meant. But we see that, even in the land of the promise, Abraham and his family dwelt in tents. They were nomads. No fixed address. Wanderers. Ready to pick up and move on at the drop of a hat. That is the state of heart of the saints; we are not attached to land but to a heavenly kingdom, where our hearts and our treasures are.

The writer to the Hebrews’ point is that it was faith alone in God alone, and in the promises of God, not only for earthy things but especially for heavenly things, by which Abraham was found pleasing to God. But please, please note that God was at work all along, calling and fitting Abraham by progressive revelation and sanctification that enabled Abraham to believe and to please God.


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