Agonizomai: Heb 11 - 13-16 - Christ - Source, Journey, Destiny<br>[A Good Friday Post]

Friday, April 02, 2010

Heb 11 - 13-16 - Christ - Source, Journey, Destiny
[A Good Friday Post]

Heb 11 - 13-16 - Christ - Source, Journey, Destiny

Heb 11:13-16 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

The "these" who all died not having received the things (plural) promised are Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Jacob. Enoch, for example did not die, but was taken up to heaven.

There were numerous promises that were made to Abraham by God, involving the literal Canaan, seed/heirs, a great nation, the Messiah coming in the flesh, and a glorious resurrection to a heavenly Jerusalem. Only one of these was fulfilled before the patriarchs died. At the time of going down into Egypt there were only about 75 souls in the household of Jacob. That is not, by any standard, a great nation. And it is certainly not a nation in possession of a land. And that deals only with the earthly aspects of the promises. The heavenly aspects of a coming Messiah and a heavenly resurrection were even further removed.

What the writer is pointing out here is the nature of enduring faith. It is a faith that holds fast to the end - including past the veil of death. "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him," was the heartfelt cry of Job’s faith, and it is the attitude of all the faithful because they see in part, by the grace of God in His promises to them, an eternal God of omnipotent power and unmoveable faithfulness. We have an anchor that holds fast within the veil. That veil is death to our flesh, but is open to all who are in Christ by the Spirit.

Enduring faith sees beyond this life. Its treasure is in heaven. It hopes in what God has promised - some of which applies here and now to practical matters of living, and some of which applies to the hereafter, but which has profound effects on the way we live now.

But once more we are reminded that the dominant attitude of believers is that we are strangers and exiles on earth. In the world but not of it. Sojourners. Temporary residents. Just passin’ through. Holding all things lightly. Loving not the world, nor the things of the world. Fixed upon a heavenly destination toward which we journey because our hearts are already there.

Notice the statement that these ancient saints "saw" the fulfillment of the promises "from afar". That is faith in action. Hope and faith go arm in arm, looking to God to be faithful and relying upon Him to the end, no matter what befalls.

See how, amazingly (to me, at least), the Old Testament saints and patriarchs are depicted not as being focused so much on the earthly fulfillment of the promised land, but upon the heavenly city to which they were journeying, or the fulfillment of promises after their own death. It may be that they came to this as they approached the end of life, realizing that some things were not going to be fulfilled in their lifetime. Perhaps it was in the dark face of their own mortality that clarity was reached and they fully understood the transience of life. We are not told when, but that they thought in this way.

One hears stories about faithful mothers praying for their unbelieving sons and going to the grave in the hope that God would eventually save them. And some of them were indeed saved, we hear. To trust God as we sink into the darkness of death is a great calling. To be trusting as our flesh dies that our spirit will survive, that sorrows and evils are left behind and there will be joys forevermore at the Table of the Lord - this is the ultimate fruit of the Spirit. Endurance from a living hope and faith.

God owns His people. Not only in the sense of possession, but in the sense of acknowledging them when He sees faith at work. Whenever people are looking heavenward towards the God of the promise and have died to the things of earth as far as their affections are concerned, then they are exhibiting Christ and are beloved in Him. He has, from eternity been preparing a place for all who would be given genuine faith and would, thereby, endure to the end. It is amazing that God gives to us what he loves in us. This He has done with all the saints through the ages.

They will hear "Well done thou good and faithful servant," when they know that, of themselves, they were neither good nor faithful. They will not hear, "Depart from me you workers of iniquity, for I never, ever knew you." And that is because they were known in Christ from the foundation of the world and destined to be in Him for eternity.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is food for thought. My prayer for my children is that they all be saved, AND in my lifetime. I'm pondering whether I have the sure faith that hopes and believes, even though I may not ever see it come to pass. I'm going to listen and study this one again. There is such wisdom in it that i can't absorb it all in one listen.

3:24 pm  
Blogger agonizomai said...


I know that you know that there's nothing wrong with prayers like yours. I think the post is more about trusting God, and what our hopes and expectations might look like in doing that - especially when God delays - or even says "No". It is indeed, food for thought.



4:30 pm  

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