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seen them and
exiles on the
Amplified: These people all died controlled and sustained by their faith, but
not having received the tangible fulfillment of [God’s] promises, only
having seen it and greeted it from a great distance by faith, and all
the while acknowledging and confessing that they were strangers and
temporary residents and exiles upon the earth.
Bible - Lockman)
KJV: These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but
having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced
them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the
NLT: All these faithful ones died without receiving what God had
promised them, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed the
promises of God. They agreed that they were no more than foreigners
and nomads here on earth. (NLT
- Tyndale House)
Phillips: All these whom we have mentioned maintained their
faith but died without actually receiving God's promises, though they
had seen them in the distance, had hailed them as true and were quite
convinced of their reality. They freely admitted that they lived on
this earth as exiles and foreigners (Phillips:
Wuest: These all died dominated by faith, not having received
the promises, but having seen them afar off and greeted them, also
confessed that they were strangers, even those who had settled down
alongside of a pagan population upon the earth. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: In faith died all these, not having received the promises, but from
afar having seen them, and having been persuaded, and having saluted
them, and having confessed that strangers and sojourners they are upon
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Hebrews 11 The New Testament
for English Readers
Hebrews Study Guide
Hebrews 11 The Critical
Hebrews 11 Resources
Hebrews 11 Commentary
Hebrews 11:13-16 Desiring a
Hebrews 11:8-17 The
Christian Faith: Our Eternal Glory
Hebrews 11:7-12 Faith and Failure
Hebrews 11 Expositor's Greek
Hebrews 11:8-19 The Faith of Abraham
11:13-14 The Christian Pilgrim
Hebrews 11:8-19 The Faith of
Abraham (Expositor's Bible Com)
How can I get to Heaven?
11:1-3,6-8,13-19,24-26 Exhibit Your Faith
Hebrews 11:17-22 Promises That Inspire
Hebrews 11:8-19 A Life Shaped by Hope
Hebrews 11:8-19 The Faith of Abraham
Hebrews 11:13 The Attachments
and Detachments of Faith
Hebrews 11:14 Seeking The
Hebrews 11:16 The Future
Which Vindicates God
Hebrews 11:7 The Ark
Hebrews 11 Sermons -
by Puritan writer - >1000 page Pdf!
Thru the Bible Commentary
Sarah-Faith in the Faithfulness of God -p 441
Hebrews 11:13 Faith
and Its Pilgrim Spirit -p 445
Hebrews 11:8-16 By Faith, Step
Level Three Faith and How to Get There
Hebrews 11 Word Pictures
Hebrews 11:8-16 By Faith
Hebrews 11:17-19 Incredible
Hebrews 11:13 The Life Of Faith
Hebrews 11:13 The
Practical Efficacy of Faith
Hebrews 11:16 The
Letter to Hebrews -
329 page commentary
Hebrews 11 Exposition
Hebrews 11:16 The Two Pivots
Hebrews 11:15-16 The Pilgrim's Longings
Hebrews 11:13,14 An Inscription for the
Mausoleum of the Saints
Faith Made Visible
Hebrews 11:8-38 The
Activities of Faith
Hebrews 11:8-19 The
Faith of Abraham and Sarah
Hebrews 11:8-12:2 How Faith Works
Hebrews 11: Word
Hebrews Inductive Study Part 2
ALL THESE DIED IN FAITH
WITHOUT RECEIVING THE PROMISES: Kata pistin apethanon (3PAPI) houtoi pantes
me labontes (AAPMPN) tas epaggelias:
(Ge 25:8; 27:2, 3, 4; 48:21; 49:18,28,33; 50:24)
All these (always seek to
All who? Who are these?)
(which is king for interpretation) this reference refers to the
recipients to whom the promises were made, those just
mentioned in He 11:9 10 11 12, specifically the patriarchs
of Israel, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (these
also includes Sarah).
God's promise to Abraham (Abram) was passed to Isaac (Ge 26:2, 3, 4, 5,24) and
from Isaac it was passed to Jacob (Ge 28:10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15).
This interpretation is supported by the fact that the promises began
with Abraham (cf. Acts 7:17; Ro 4:13; Gal 3:14, 15, 16, 17, 18) and were passed on to
Isaac (Ge 26:2, 3, 4, 5,24) and Jacob (Ge 28:10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15). In addition, only those
individuals fit the description in v15 and Enoch did not die. See
He 6:15. These people of faith didn’t know when they would inherit the
promise. They had a life in the land, but did not possess it.
Spurgeon sees "all these"
patriarchs as representative of all believers writing...
“These all died in faith.”
Believers constitute a class by themselves, — “These.” They are the
people that dwell alone, and shall not be numbered among the nations.
We see a great many distinctions in the world which God takes no
notice of: there is neither Jew nor Gentile, bond nor free, in his
sight. But there is a distinction which men think little of, which is
greatly observed of God; and that is the distinction between them that
believe and those that believe not. Faith puts you across the border
most effectually, for it brings you out of darkness into marvelous
light, from death to life, and from the dominion of Satan into the
kingdom of God’s dear Son. It is the most important thing under heaven
that we should know that we believe in God. The Holy Spirit puts
believers by themselves, and speaks of them as “These.”...
Dying In Faith. What does it mean?
Does it not mean that, when they came to die, they had not faith to
seek, but having had faith in life, they had faith in death? I will
pronounce no opinion upon death-bed repentance. I have heard judgments
far too sanguine, I have heard verdicts far too severe. Where we know
little, we had better say little, but this much I may say: I would not
like to lie upon a sick-bed, much less upon a dying bed, and have a
Savior to seek there. (Hebrews 11:13,14 An Inscription for the
Mausoleum of the Saints)
Kent Hughes comments on the
phrase died in faith noting that...
Death is the final test of faith,
and they all passed with flying colors, living by faith right up to
the last breath. The beauty of their dying was that they died in
faith though never receiving the fullness of the universal
blessing that had been promised. The reason they could do this was,
they saw the unseen—they were certain of what they did not see. The
patriarchs could see through the eye of faith the ultimate fulfillment
of the promises, like sailors who become content they can see their
final destination on the horizon. Land ahoy!
R. K. Hebrews: An Anchor for the Soul. Volume 1. Crossway;
Volume 2 or
from apo = marker of
dissociation implying a rupture from a former association,
separation, departure, cessation + thnesko = die) literally
means to die off and can speak of literal physical death (Ro 6:9-note)
but in this context speaks figuratively (metaphorically) of a
believer's death to sin (Ro 6:2-note,
self, Satan, the law (Ro 7:6-note,
Gal 2:19) and the world (Col 2:20-note,
cp Gal 6:14-note
- crucified used instead of died) which was effected
when Christ was crucified and when by faith we believed in Him and in
God's reckoning (albeit a "mysterious" teaching) were crucified with
Him (Ro 6:6-note).
It is notable that as life was
never meant to be merely existence, for indeed death which is
the antonym of life does not mean non-existence. It is important to
note that to die does not mean one is annihilated as some falsely
teach (including even some who classified as "evangelicals"! Be a
Berean - Acts 17:11-note
when you read anything but the Bible -- and this warning applies to
the site you are currently reading!). Everyone who has every been born
will continue to exist, either in the presence of God or to experience
conscious existence in separation from God (see 2Th 1:9).
Gil Rugh applies this
passage suggesting that...
for most of us, there might be some
discontent with God when, after years and years in a foreign land,
none of His promises came true in our lifetimes. Abraham left his
home, and witnessed the death of his wife (Ge 23:1,2) in this foreign
land; but did this curtail his faith? No. He accepted his
circumstance, and continued to trust the Lord and as He 11:13
proclaims, he 'died in faith.' (By
WILL GIVE US
In faith - Literally this
reads "according to faith."
What does this mean?
Vine comments that the idea is that they died "in keeping with
their life of faith." And so they died, as they lived. Wuest
feels that the idea is that "These all died dominated by faith."
That is their strong, persevering faith was a controlling
characteristic of their life.
In faith they lived. It was their
comfort, their guide, their motive, and their support, and in the same
spiritual grace they died, ending their life-song in the sweet strain
in which they had so long continued. They did not die resting in the
flesh or upon their own achievements; they made no advance from their
first way of acceptance with God but held to the way of faith to the
In a sermon on Hebrews 11:16
Spurgeon writes ...
Notice that it is said, “These
all died in faith,” so that they did not believe in God for a
little while, and then become unbelievers; but, throughout the whole
of their lives, from the moment when they were called by God’s grace,
they continued to believe Him, they trusted Him till they came to
their graves; so that this epitaph is written over the mausoleum where
they all lie asleep, “These all died in faith.” Ah! my
beloved brother’s and sisters, it is very easy to say, “I believe,”
and to get very enthusiastic over the notion that we have believed;
but so to believe as to persevere to the end,— this is the faith which
will save the soul.
“He that shall endure unto the
the same shall be saved.”
The faith that many waters cannot
drown and the fiercest fires cannot burn,— the faith that plods on
throughout a long and weary life,— the faith that labors on, doing
whatever service God appoints it,— the faith that waits patiently,
expecting the time when every promise of God shall be fulfilled to the
letter when its hour has come,— that is the faith which, if it be in a
man, makes him such a man that God is not ashamed to be called his God
(Heb 11:16). I put it to every one of you, have ’you a faith that will
hold on and hold out,— not a faith that starts with a fine spurt, but
a faith that runs from the starting-place to the goal? Some of you, I
know, have believed in God these twenty, thirty, forty, or even fifty
years. Just before I came to this service, I stood by the bedside of a
dear brother who is the nearest to Job of any man I ever saw, for he
is covered from head to foot with sore blains (pustules, blisters); I
might almost say, “wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores;” and
yet he is as happy as anyone among us, joyful and. cheerful as he
talks about the time when he shall be “with Christ, which is far
better.” Oh, that is the faith we want! “These all died in
faith,” “wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God.”
He is not the God of apostates, for
He hath said, “If any man draw back, My soul shall have no pleasure
in him.” (Heb 10:38-note) If he has put his hand to the plough, and. looks
back, he is not worthy of the kingdom. (Lk 9:62 -
see comments related to "Remember
Lot's wife") It is the
man who steadily, and perseveringly, resting in his God, and believing
Him against all that may be said by God’s foes, holds on until he sees
the King in his beauty in the land which is very far off. Of such a
man it may be truly said that God is not ashamed to be called his
God. (Read the full sermon
Hebrews 11:16 The Two Pivots)
The writer of Hebrews wrote a
similar description of Noah who acted on God's warning even
though he could not see it at the time it was given and as a result
became an heir of the righteousness
which is according to faith (kata pistis). (Heb 11:7-note)
Comment: In short Noah was
"saved by grace through faith" in the promises of God, specifically
the promise that He would save Noah and his family in the Ark, a
beautiful picture of the "Ark" of our salvation, Christ Jesus. Are you
in the Ark? Don't wait until the flood waters begin to rise before you
try to get into the Ark of Christ, for then it will be too late for
the LORD will close the door (cp Ge 7:16, cp Lk 16:24 25-note,
cp Mt 25:10)
Jesus warned: But of that
day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son,
but the Father alone. 37 For the coming of the Son of Man will be
just like the days of Noah. 38 For as in those days which were
before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and
giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and
they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away;
so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then there shall be two
men in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. 41 Two
women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be
left. 42 Therefore be on the alert (present
= command calling for this to be
one's continual attitude), for you do not know which day your Lord is
coming. (Mt 24:36-42)
W E Vine comments on three
prepositions that precede faith...
In Romans the frequent phrase is “of”
or “from” faith (ek), indicating faith as the
source of righteousness, e.g., Ro 1:17; Ro 9:30; Ro 10:6, and by faith
(dia), signifying the instrument. Here (Heb 11:7) it is
kata, “according to” faith, that is, in agreement with,
or consistent with, faith.
Steven Cole explains that
the idea according to faith indicates that
Faith was the dominant
characteristic of their lives, right up to the point of death. None of
them realized the promise of the land of Canaan, or the promise of
innumerable descendants (eg Ge 15:5 6). They viewed themselves as
strangers and exiles on earth. If they had doubted God’s
promise (Ed: While their faith was not perfect and they had
moments of doubting, they did not manifest a habitual practice of
doubting like James describes Jas 1:6 7-note
they could have gone back to their homeland. “But as it is, they
desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (He 11:16). And so
they died well, “according to faith” in the yet unfulfilled,
unseen promises of God. As such, they are examples of how to live and
die according to faith as exiles on earth, while we pant after a
better country in heaven. Our text makes two main points: (Hebrews
11:13-16 Desiring a Better Country) (Link
to all of Pastor Cole's sermons - recommended)
Beloved, may God grant that we all
live well (according to faith 2Co 5:7-note
He 6:11 12-note)
that we will like the patriarchs "die well", according to faith, even
as did the NT saints like Paul who was confident that "He (the Lord)
is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day." (2Ti
Matthew Poole adds that...
they did not only live according to
faith, walking with, worshipping of, and waiting on God, testifying
against sin, but finished their course by dying according to faith;
by faith, as the instrumental efficient of it; in
faith, as the regulating cause of it; according to
faith, as in the state of believing. Faith was immortal in them as
their souls, making their death a covenant dissolution, Lk 2:29, a
voluntary, hopeful, blessed death, as 2Co 5:8-note
Faith "is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of
things not seen." (He
Faith sees the invisible (He 11:26, 27-note,
2Co 4:18-note) and
believes the impossible (cp Abraham in Ro 4:19 20 21-note)
What long arms faith has! The
promises are afar off, and yet faith embraces them to-night. Embrace
the promises, dear friends, and stretch out your hands by faith to
hands that have gone before.
“E’en now by faith we join our
With those that went before; "
And greet the blood-besprinkled bands
On the eternal shore.”
is synonymous with trust or belief and is the conviction of the truth
of anything, but in Scripture usually speaks of belief respecting
man's relationship to God and divine things, generally with the
included idea of trust and holy fervor born of faith and joined with
it. Ultimately the
faith of the patriarchs was not based on empirical evidence but
on divine assurance, and the same is true of our faith. Faith
can and should be "fed" (Ro 10:17).
is relying on what God has done rather than on our own efforts. It may
surprise you that the word faith is rarely mentioned in the Old
Testament (only 4x in NAS = Dt 32:51 Job 39:12 Ps 146:6 Hab 2:4). The
word trust is used frequently (79x in 78v in NAS). In addition,
and verbs like believe (39x in 38v in NAS) and rely (14x
in 11v in NAS) are used to express the right attitude to God. The
classic example is Abraham, whose faith was reckoned as
righteousness (Ge 15:6 - See word study on Hebrew word for "believe" =
'aman [word study]).
At the heart of the Christian message is the story of the cross:
Christ's dying to bring salvation. Faith is an attitude of
trust in which a believer receives God's good gift of salvation (Acts
16:30,31) and lives in that awareness thereafter (Gal 2:20-note;
cp He 11:1-note).
Maclaren said that
Faith is the hand that
grasps. It is the means of communication, it is the channel through
which the grace which is the life, or, rather, I should say, the life
which is the grace, comes to us. It is the open door by which the
angel of God comes in with his gifts. It is like the petals of the
flowers, opening when the sunshine kisses them, and, by opening,
laying bare the depths of their calyxes to be illuminated and coloured,
and made to grow by the sunshine which itself has opened them, and
without the presence of which, within the cup, there would have been
neither life nor beauty. So faith is the basis of everything; the
first shoot from which all the others ascend...Faith works. It
is the foundation of all true work; even in the lowest sense of the
word we might almost say that. But in the Christian scheme it is
eminently the underlying requisite for all work which God does not
consider as busy idleness...
Although I do not agree with all of
William Barclay's theology, he offers a sound definition of
Biblical (saving) faith writing that...
Faith begins with
receptivity. It begins when a man is at least willing to listen to the
message of the truth. It goes on to mental assent. A man first hears
and then agrees that this is true. But mental assent need not issue in
action. Many a man knows very well that something is true, but does
not change his actions to meet that knowledge. The final stage is when
this mental assent becomes total surrender. In full-fledged faith, a
man hears the Christian message, agrees that it is true, and then
casts himself upon it in a life of total yieldedness. (Barclay,
W: The Daily Study Bible Series. The Westminster Press
The writer of
Hebrews tightly links faith with obedience (Heb
3:18, 19). Do not misunderstand -- Faith alone saves but the faith
that save is not alone.
Swindoll commenting on faith and obedience in John 3:36 concludes
In John 3:36 the one who "believes
in the Son has eternal life" as a present possession. But the one who
"does not obey the Son shall not see life." To disbelieve
Christ is to disobey Him. And logically, to believe in
Christ is to obey Him. As I have noted elsewhere, "This verse
clearly indicates that belief is not a matter of passive
opinion, but decisive and obedient action." (quoting J. Carl
Laney)...Tragically many people are convinced that it doesn't really
matter what you believe, so long as you are sincere. This reminds me
of a Peanuts cartoon in which Charlie Brown is returning from a
disastrous baseball game. The caption read, "174 to nothing! How could
we lose when we were so sincere?" The reality is, Charlie Brown, that
it takes more than sincerity to win the game of life. Many people are
sincere about their beliefs, but they are sincerely wrong!" (Swindoll,
C. R., & Zuck, R. B. Understanding Christian Theology.: Thomas Nelson
version on Logos)
(Comment: This book is recommended if you are looking for a
very readable, non-compromising work on "systematic theology". )
(epaggelia from epí = intensifies verbal meaning +
aggéllo = to tell, declare) originally referred to an announcement
or declaration but in later Greek came to mean a declaration to do
something with the implication of obligation to carry out what is
stated (thus a promise or pledge). Epaggelia was primarily a
legal term denoting summons, a promise to do or give something.
In Acts Luke records this instructive passage...
And we preach to you the good news
of the promise made to the fathers, (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob to whom and
through whom the Abrahamic Covenant passed) that God has fulfilled
this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also
written in the second Psalm, 'THOU ART MY SON; TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN
THEE.' (Acts 13:32-33)
In Romans Paul speaks of the
promise of the Abrahamic Covenant writing...
For if those who are of the Law are
heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; for the
Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, neither is there
violation. For this reason it is by faith, that it might be in
accordance with grace, in order that the promise may be certain
to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also
to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,
(as it is written, "A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU") in the
sight of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead
and calls into being that which does not exist. (See notes Romans
4:14; 4:15; 4:16; 4:17)
Barnes writes that...
The covenants of promise were those
various arrangements which God made with his people, by which he
promised them future blessings, and especially by which he promised
that the Messiah should come. To be in possession of them was regarded
as a high honour and privilege; and Paul refers to it here to show
that, though the Ephesians had been by nature without these, yet they
had now been brought to enjoy all the benefits of them. (Albert
Barnes. Barnes NT Commentary)
Illustration of faith -
was translating the Scripture for
the South Sea islanders, he was unable to find a word in their
vocabulary for the concept of believing, trusting, or
having faith. He had no idea how he would convey that
crucial concept to them. One day while in his hut translating, a
native came running up the stairs into Paton's study and flopped in a
chair, exhausted. He said to Paton, "It's so good to rest my whole
weight in this chair." John Paton had his word: Faith is
resting your whole weight on God. That word went into the translation
of their New Testament and helped bring that civilization of natives
to Christ. Believing is putting your whole weight on God. If God said
it, then it's true, and we're to believe it. (See also
Heaven Born are Heaven Bound or
Illustration of Not Receiving
the Promises - Just after the turn of the century, pioneer missionary Henry C.
Morrison was returning to New York after forty years in Africa. That
same boat also bore home the wildly popular President Theodore
Roosevelt. As they entered New York harbor, the President was greeted
with a huge fanfare. Morrison felt rather dejected. After all, he had
spent four decades in the Lord’s service. But then a small voice came
to Morrison, saying, “Henry… you’re not home yet.”
Spurgeon's devotional from
Morning and Evening - "These all died in faith." Hebrews
Behold the epitaph of all those
blessed saints who fell asleep before the coming of our Lord! It
matters nothing how else they died, whether of old age, or by violent
means; this one point, in which they all agree, is the most worthy of
record, they all died in faith. In faith they lived-it was
their comfort, their guide, their motive and their support; and in the
same spiritual grace they died, ending their life-song in the sweet
strain in which they had so long continued. They did not die resting
in the flesh or upon their own attainments; they made no advance from
their first way of acceptance with God, but held to the way of faith
to the end.
Faith is as precious
to die by as to live by.
Dying in faith has distinct
reference to the past. They believed the promises which had gone
before, and were assured that their sins were blotted out through the
mercy of God.
Dying in faith has to do with
the present. These saints were confident of their acceptance with
God, they enjoyed the beams of his love, and rested in his
Dying in faith looks into the
future. They fell asleep, affirming that the Messiah would surely
come, and that when He would in the last days appear upon the earth,
they would rise from their graves to behold Him. To them the pains of
death were but the birth-pangs of a better state.
Take courage, my soul, as thou
readest this epitaph (a brief statement commemorating or epitomizing a
deceased person or something past).
Thy course, through grace, is
one of faith, and sight seldom cheers thee; this has also been the
pathway of the brightest and the best.
Faith was the orbit in which these
stars of the first magnitude moved all the time of their shining here;
and happy art thou that it is thine. Look anew to-night to Jesus, the
Author and Finisher of thy faith (He 12:2-note),
and thank Him for giving thee like precious faith with souls now in
BUT HAVING SEEN THEM AND HAVING WELCOMED THEM FROM A DISTANCE
AND HAVING CONFESSED THAT THEY WERE STRANGERS AND EXILES ON THE EARTH: alla
porrothen autas idontes (AAPMPN) kai aspasamenoi (AMPMPN) ai homologesantes (AAPMPN) hoti xenoi kai
parepidemoi eisin (3PPAI) epi tes ges: (He
11:27; Ge 49:10; Nu 24:17; Job 19:25; Jn 8:56; 12:41; 1Pe 1:10, 11,
12) (Ro 4:21; 8:24; 1Jn 3:19) (Ge 23:4; 47:9; 1Chr
29:14,15; Ps 39:12; 119:19; 1Pe 1:17; 2:11)
This world is not my home
I’m just a passing through
My treasures are laid up
Somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me
From heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home
In this world anymore
- always ask
like "What is being contrasted?" "Why?" "When?" "How?", etc) These OT
saints of great faith did not receive the literal fulfillment of the
divine promises but (contrast) they saw the promises with eyes
of faith, a good example for who are beloved by God (1Th 1:4-note)
Their faith was
a patient faith, a persevering faith, a faith willing to weather great hardships because they believed
their great God had promised them something better, something greater!
As a result of their faith (and a manifestation of the authenticity of
their faith - cp Jas 2:14-note,
they had no desire to go back to the paganism and idol worship of
Ur of the Chaldees, (See
map = The World of The Patriarchs) but chose to look
forward to and longed for their future home, a new heaven and a new
earth where righteousness dwells (Job 19:25,26; Ps 27:4). Beloved,
what you are looking for will radically affect what you are living
for! If you are looking for satisfaction in the things of this passing
world, that is what you will live for. But if you are continually
seeking the things above (Col 3:1-note),
setting your mind on the things above (Col 3:2-note,
cp Titus 2:13-note),
you will be motivated by love, empowered by the Spirit, to live for
the revelation of your future grace (1Pe 1:13-note)
and your future day of redemption ("glorification", Read Lk
21:28, Ro 8:23-note,
cp 1Co 15:51 52 53 54). These wonderful divine promises to all NT
saints beg two questions...
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING
WHAT ARE YOU LIVING FOR?
Delitzsch (quoted by Alford)
From afar they saw the promises in
the reality of their fulfillment, from afar they greeted them as the
wanderer greets his longed-for home even when he only comes in sight
of it at a distance, drawing to himself as it were magnetically and
embracing with inward love that which is yet afar off. The
exclamation, ‘I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord,’ Ge 49:18, is
such an aspasmos, such a greeting of salvation from afar.
From a distance ("from
afar") - This phrase is not referring to distance, but to time.
They were like pilgrims to the Holy
City who see its towers and spires on the horizon, ecstatically point
to the vision and shout their acclaim. This is all they had during
their earthly lives.
“having seen them from afar and
greeted them”: as seamen wave their greeting to a country seen far off
on the horizon, on which they cannot land.
Abraham rejoiced to see Christ’s
day in the dim distance (John 8:56)
Steven Cole comments that
there are four implications...
(1) We must see God’s promises - Before we can believe in God’s
promises, we must see them. Before we can see them, God must open our
spiritually blind eyes (Mt. 13:11, 12, 13, 14, 15). As Paul explains,
“the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so
that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of
Christ, who is the image of God.” In order for us to see spiritual
truth, the God who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” has to
shine in our hearts “to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory
of God in the face of Christ” (2Co 4:4, 6).
Faith, which is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8, 9-note),
enables us to prove the things not seen (Heb. 11:1-note)
by bringing them into our present experience. In this way, Abraham
rejoiced to see Jesus’ day. “He saw it and was glad” (John 8:56). A
personal relationship with God begins when He opens your eyes to see
His promise in Jesus Christ, that whoever believes in Him has eternal
life (John 3:16). If you have never seen this, read the Gospel of John
with the prayer, “Lord, open my eyes to see the glory of Jesus
(2) We must welcome God’s promises - Having seen God’s
promises, the patriarchs welcomed them. (KJV and NKJV add that
they were persuaded or assured of the promises, but
there is virtually no manuscript evidence for this reading.) They
greeted God’s promises with open arms. They brought God’s promises
into their lives as gladly as they welcomed guests into their tents.
Have you done that? Have
you welcomed Jesus Christ into your life as Savior and Lord? Have you
embraced Him as you would a long lost friend?
If God has opened your eyes to your true condition as a guilty sinner
before Him and to the glory of the Savior who bore the penalty you
deserved, then you rush to welcome Him warmly into your life!
(3) We can only see and welcome the promises from a distance -
What does this mean? It amplifies the opening phrase of the verse,
that these men “died in faith, without receiving the promises.” But,
states, “having patiently waited, [Abraham] obtained the promise.”
Hebrews 11:17 says that Abraham “had received the promises.” So, in
what sense did he not receive the promises, or, receive them at a
The author means that the patriarchs did not receive the total
fulfillment of God’s promises in this life. They only received a taste
of them. Abraham and Sarah finally received the promise of a son in
Isaac. But Abraham died with only two heirs according to the promise,
Isaac and Jacob, hardly an innumerable nation! Isaac owned a few
wells, plus some grazing land for his flocks. But he still lived in a
tent and was not in any significant way the heir of the land. Jacob
died with about 70 descendants, including his sons, who became
patriarchs of the 12 tribes. But they were forced to move out of the
land into Egypt, because of the famine. So the patriarchs had a taste
of the fulfillment of the promises, but they only welcomed them from a
The same is true of all believers. God has promised us eternal life,
and yet, like the patriarchs, we all die (unless we’re alive when the
Lord returns). The world scoffs at an epitaph like Hebrews 11:13: “All
these died in faith”! What a joke! That’s “pie in the sky when you
die”! The world says (with Reverend Ike), “I want cash in the stash
here and now, not pie in the sky when I die!” But, as C. S. Lewis
observed (The Problem of Pain [Macmillan], pp. 132-133):
Scripture…habitually put the joys
of heaven into the scale against the sufferings of earth, and no
solution of the problem of pain which does not do so can be called a
Christian one. We are very shy nowadays of even mentioning heaven. We
are afraid of the jeer about “pie in the sky,”….
But either there
is “pie in the sky” or there is
not. If there is not, then Christianity is false, for this doctrine is
woven into its whole fabric. So, we must see and welcome God’s
promises, although we can only do so in this life from a distance.
(4) Seeing and welcoming God’s promises alienates us from this
world - The reason that Abraham left his homeland and migrated to
Canaan was that he had seen and welcomed God’s promises. If he had
ignored God’s promises, he would have continued to live in his native
land, where he blended in with everyone else. But be-cause he believed
God and obeyed His call, he went out from his family and friends and
“lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land,
dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same
promise” (He 11:9-note).
Seeing and welcoming God’s promises disrupted the rest of Abraham’s
life on this earth. Instead of blending in, he was different now.
People stood and stared at them when they journeyed past the villages
of Canaan, or when they pitched their tents outside of town. “Who are
they? Where did they come from? Why do they look different? Why are
they here? What do they want from us? Be careful around them! They
might be dangerous!”
Have you ever felt like an outsider? Marla and I have felt it when
we’ve traveled in Eastern Europe. You can try to blend in, but you
still stand out as different. You don’t speak their language. You
can’t read the signs or the newspapers. They use different money. You
stand out by your appearance. You don’t share or understand many of
their customs. While the native believers are very friendly and
hospitable, and do everything they can to make you feel welcome,
you’re still a stranger.
As Christians, we’re supposed to feel that way about living in this
We shouldn't fit in!
The world pursues different goals
and pleasures than we do.
The world laughs at jokes and
scenes in movies that we find repugnant.
The world lives for this life only,
but we live in light of eternity.
The world lives as if there is no God, but we live to please the God
Who knows our every thought and motive.
The world should not be able to understand us, because we think, act,
and live so differently than they do. (Hebrews
11:13-16 Desiring a Better Country)
to all of Pastor Cole's sermons -
Spurgeon commented that...
They not only were strangers and
pilgrims, but they confessed it. Confessed faith is requisite. Oh, you
who, like Nicodemus, come to Christ by night, be ashamed that you are
ashamed, and come out, and boldly confess what you are!
A T Robertson
“To reside abroad carried with it a
certain stigma” (Moffatt). But they “confessed” it (Gen. 23:4; 47:9).
Having confessed (3670)(homologeo
from homoú = together with + lego = to say)
literally means to say the same or to agree in one's statement. To
express openly one's allegiance to a proposition or a person. To
acknowledge a fact publicly (eg in reference to sin 1Jn 1:9) To make
an emphatic declaration which can be public (Mt 7:23 Acts 7:17)
They admitted and accepted the fact
with the resignation of faith, and with the assurance of future rest.
Comp. Ge 23:4; 24:37; 28:4; 47:9; Ps 39:12; 119:19, 54.
Homologeo drew on in the
contemporary legal system where confess meant to agree with a charge
brought against one and to acknowledge guilt before the court. Thus
homologeo has strong legal connotations and a person can confess to a
charge in court and thus openly acknowledge guilt. Or one may agree
with a court order and thus make a legally binding commitment to abide
Homologeo - 26x in 23v in
the NAS - Mt 7:23; 10:32; 14:7; Lk 12:8; Jn 1:20; 9:22; 12:42;
Acts 7:17; 23:8; 24:14; Ro 10:9 10; 1Ti 6:12; Titus 1:16; Heb 11:13;
13:15; 1Jn 1:9; 2:23; 4:2 3, 15; 2 Jn 1:7; Rev 3:5. NAS =
acknowledge(2), admit(1), assured(1), confess(6), confessed(4),
confesses(6), confessing(1), declare(1), give thanks(1), made(1),
JUST "PASSING THROUGH"!
before the sons of Heth
I am a stranger (Hebrew =
ger [Lxx =
= someone who did not enjoy rights usually possessed by residents) and
a sojourner (Hebrew = tosab [Lxx =
parepidemois] = temporary resident;
"the temporary, landless wage earner" according to TWOT, Lev 25:23)
among you; give me a burial site among you, that I may bury my dead
out of my sight. (Ge 23:4)
Jacob "confessed" to
Pharaoh regarding his “pilgrimage”
So Jacob said to Pharaoh, "The
years of my sojourning are one hundred and thirty; few and unpleasant
have been the years of my life, nor have they attained the years that
my fathers lived during the days of their sojourning." (Ge 47:9).
Comment: Though God promised
the land of Canaan to Abraham, the iniquity of the Amorites was not
yet full (Ge 15:16), and all the patriarchs were considered as
sojourners there. The majority of their descendants were called by
this term while in Egypt (Ex. 23:9). In fact, Moses named his son
Gershom (meaning refugee, exile) to commemorate his stay in Midian
(Ex. 18:3). He had been exiled from both Egypt and Canaan.
Hebrews 11:13 reminds one of
David's prayer in Psalm 39...
Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give
ear to my cry. Do not be silent at my tears; For I am a stranger
with Thee, A sojourner like all my fathers. (Ps 39:12)
Spurgeon comments: Not to
thee, but with thee. Like thee, my Lord, a stranger among the sons of
men, an alien from my mother's children. God made the world, sustains
it, and owns it, and yet men treat him as though he were a foreign
intruder; and as they treat the Master, so do they deal with the
servants. "It is no surprising thing that we should be unknown." These
words may also mean, "I share the hospitality of God," like a stranger
entertained by a generous host. Israel was bidden to deal tenderly
with the stranger, and the God of Israel has in much compassion
treated us poor aliens with unbounded liberality. And a sojourner, as
all my fathers were. They knew that this was not their rest; they
passed through life in pilgrim guise, they used the world as
travellers use an inn, and even so do I. Why should we dream of rest
on earth when our fathers' sepulchres are before our eyes? If they had
been immortal, their sons would have had an abiding city this side the
tomb; but as the sires were mortal, so must their offspring pass away.
All of our lineage, without exception, were passing pilgrims, and such
are we. David uses the fleeting nature of our life as an argument for
the Lord's mercy, and it is such a one as God will regard. We show
pity to poor pilgrims, and so will the Lord.
Thomas Manton comments: How
settled soever their condition be, yet this is the temper of the
saints upon earth -- to count themselves but strangers.
All men indeed are strangers and
sojourners, but the saints do best discern it, and most freely
Wicked men have no firm dwelling
upon earth, but that is against their intentions; their inward thought
and desire is that they may abide for ever; they are strangers against
their wills, their abode is uncertain in the world, and they cannot
help it. And pray mark, there are two distinct words used in this
case, strangers and sojourners. A stranger is one that hath his abode
in a foreign country, that is not a native and a denizen of the place,
though he liveth there, and in opposition to the natives he is called
a stranger: as if a Frenchman should live in England, he is a
stranger. But a sojourner is one that intends not to settle, but only
passes through a place, and is in motion travelling homeward. So the
children of God in relation to a country of their own in another
place, namely, heaven, they are denizens there, but strangers in the
world; and they are sojourners and pilgrims in regard of their motion
and journey towards their country.
Robert Leighton comments:
Now, in this prayer of David, we find three things, which are the
chief qualifications of all acceptable prayers. The first is
humility. He humbly confesses his sins, and his own weakness and
worthlessness. We are not to put on a stoical, flinty kind of spirit
under our affliction, that so we may seem to shun womanish repinings
and complaints, lest we run into the other evil, of despising the hand
of God, but we are to humble our proud hearts, and break our unruly
passions.… The second qualification of this prayer is, fervency and
importunity, which appears in the elegant gradation of the words,
“Hear my prayer,” my words; if not that, yet “Give ear to my cry,”
which is louder; and if that prevail not, yet, “Hold not thy peace at
my tears,” which is the loudest of all; so David, elsewhere, calls it
“the voice of my weeping.” … The third qualification is faith,
“He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a
rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” Heb. 11:6-note.
And, certainly, as he that comes to God must believe this, so he that
believes this, cannot but come to God; and if he be not presently
answered, “he that believes makes no haste,” he resolves patiently to
wait for the Lord, and to go to no other. (Amen)
David declared: "For we are sojourners (Hebrew = ger)
before You, and tenants, as all our fathers were; our days on the
earth are like a shadow, and there is no hope (David shortly
before he died, asserted that as for humans, their days were without
any hope in this short life - He did not give the
answer for this hopeless state but Paul did describing Jesus as our
"Hope" 1Ti 1:1, cp Titus 2:13-note).
means a foreigner . Xenos describes that when is unfamiliar because it
is unknown (strange doctrine, Heb 13:9, a strange deity Acts 17:18).
Xenos can mean strange in the sense of unheard of or surprising (1Pe
4:12). Xenos refers to Gentiles who are unacquainted with God as
strangers or estranged or without interest in God (Ep 3:12).
Words that use the xen- stem
most often convey the sense of foreign or strange but can also convey
the sense of guest whereas xenophobia is a fear of strangers.
Xenos is used once in the NT
to describe a host (who treats a stranger as a guest) and elsewhere we
note that hospitable
is a derivative which means love of strangers (philoxenos).
William Barclay summarizes
Xenos is the word for a
stranger and a foreigner. In the ancient world the fate of the
stranger was hard. He was regarded with hatred and suspicion and
contempt. In Sparta xenos was the equivalent of barbaros, barbarian. A
man writes complaining that he was despised “because I am a xenos”.
Another man writes that, however poor a home is, it is better to live
at home than epi xenes, in a foreign country. When clubs had
their common meal, those who sat down to it were divided into
members and xenoi. Xenos can even mean a refugee.
All their lives the patriarchs were foreigners in a land that never
was their own.
W: The Daily Study Bible Series. The Westminster Press)
In the ancient world the 'stranger'
had an uncomfortable time. In the papyri a man writes...home to tell
his people 'Do not be anxious about me because I am away from home,
for I am personally acquainted with these places and I am no xenos,
stranger, here.' ....' In the ancient world clubs in which the members
met to have a common meal were very common; and those who sat down
were divided into sundeipnoi, fellow-members, and xenoi,
outsiders, who are guests only on sufferance and by courtesy. A
mercenary soldier who was serving in a foreign army was xenos,
a stranger (Xenophon, Anabasis, 1.1.10). In Sparta the 'stranger' was
automatically regarded as a 'barbarian'. Xenos and bar-bows
meant one and the same thing (Herodotus, 9.11).
William: New Testament Words:. Westminster John Know Press, 1964)
TDNT writes that...
Strangeness produces mutual tension
between natives and foreigners, but hospitality overcomes the tension
and makes of the alien a friend. Historically foreigners are primarily
enemies or outlaws who should be killed. It is then found, however,
that hospitality is a better way to deal with strangers, and they thus
become the wards of law and religion.
G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. Theological Dictionary of the
New Testament. Eerdmans
Xenos - 14x in 14v - Mt
25:35, 38, 43, 44 27:7 Acts 17:18,21 Ro 16:23 Ep 2:12, Ep 2:19 Heb
11:13 Heb 13:9 1Pe 4:12 3Jn 1:5. NAS = host(1), strange(2),
strange thing(1), stranger(4), strangers(6).
Matthew 25:35 'For I was hungry,
and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me
something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;
Matthew 25:38 'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite
You in, or naked, and clothe You?
Matthew 25:43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in;
naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not
Matthew 25:44 "Then they themselves also will answer, 'Lord, when did
we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or
sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?'
Matthew 27:7 And they conferred together and with the money bought the
Potter's Field as a burial place for strangers.
Acts 17:18 And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were
conversing with him. Some were saying, "What would this idle babbler
wish to say?" Others, "He seems to be a proclaimer of strange
deities,"-- because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.
Acts 17:21 (Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting
there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or
hearing something new.)
Romans 16:23 Gaius, host to me and to the whole church, greets
you. Erastus, the city treasurer greets you, and Quartus, the brother.
Ephesians 2:12 remember that you were at that time separate from
Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers
to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the
Ephesians 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens,
but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's
Hebrews 11:13 All these died in faith, without receiving the
promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a
distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and
exiles on the earth.
Hebrews 13:9 Do not be carried away by varied and strange
teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace,
not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not
1Peter 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among
you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange
thing were happening to you;
3John 1:5 Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you
accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers;
Xenos - 9x in the
Ruth 2:10; 1Sa 9:13; 2Sa 12:4; 15:19; Job 31:32; Ps 69:8; Eccl 6:2;
Isa 18:2; Lam 5:2
Then she (Ruth) fell on her face, bowing to the ground and said to him
(Boaz), "Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take
notice of me, since I am a foreigner (Lxx = xenos - because she was a
Moabitess in Israel)?"
Strangers and exiles - They
are not "tethered" to this present world but pressing on toward
another world (Php 3:13-note,
Barclay adds that...
All their days the patriarchs were
strangers in a strange land. That picture of the sojourner became a
picture of the Christian life.
Tertullian said of the
He knows that on earth he has a
pilgrimage but that his dignity is in heaven.
Clement of Alexandria said:
We have no fatherland on earth.
We are sojourners exiled from our
It was not that the Christians were
foolishly other-worldly, detaching themselves from the life and work
of this world; but they always remembered that they were people on the
way. There is an unwritten saying of Jesus:
The world is a bridge. The wise man
will pass over it but will not build his house upon it. (Ed:
And yet the wise man does in fact build his house upon the Rock! Mt
The Christian regards himself as
the pilgrim of eternity.
W: The Daily Study Bible Series. The Westminster Press)
STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT
LONGING FOR THE LIGHT
...OF HIS RETURN
The great Puritan writer Thomas
Manton expounds on the spiritual meaning of a stranger...
(1) A stranger is one that
is absent from his country, and from his father's house: so are we,
heaven is our country, God is there, and Christ is there. (Rev 22:3-note,
Isa 30:18b, 2Ti 4:8b-note
Spurgeon writes: Oh, how
sweet the prospect of the time when we shall not behold Him at a
distance, but see Him face to face: when He shall not be as a
wayfaring man tarrying but for a night, but shall eternally enfold us
in the bosom of His glory. We shall not see Him for a little season,
“Millions of years our wondering eyes,
Shall o’er our Savior’s beauties rove;
And myriad ages we’ll adore,
The wonders of his love.”
In heaven there shall be no interruptions from care or sin; no weeping
shall dim our eyes; no earthly business shall distract our happy
thoughts; we shall have nothing to hinder us from gazing for ever on
the Sun of Righteousness (Mal 4:2) with unwearied eyes. Oh, if it be
so sweet to see Him now and then, how sweet to gaze on that blessed
face for aye, and never have a cloud rolling between, and never have
to turn one’s eyes away to look on a world of weariness and woe! Blest
day, when wilt thou dawn?
Rise, O unsetting Sun!
The joys of sense may leave us as
soon as they will, for this shall make glorious amends. If to die is
but to enter into uninterrupted communion with Jesus, then death is
indeed gain (Php1:21-note,
Php 3:7, 8-note),
and the black drop is swallowed up in a sea of victory."
Thinking about the joys to come moved the renowned English physician
Thomas Browne (1605-1682) to write,
When we begin to talk about life
after death, we're like two infants in a womb discussing the nature of
their future life. The difference between our present knowledge and
understanding of what it will be to share God's glory is no less great
than what exists between unborn babes and a man in the strength of his
days....As Christians, we know it is indescribable and thus we can
rejoice, but it will be even greater than our wildest imagination."
In life's darkest or most joyous
moments, let's never forget that the best is yet to be.
To see His face, this is my goal,
The deepest longing of my soul;
Through storm and stress my path I'll trace
Till, satisfied, I see His face!
The greatest joy
is the prospect of heaven.
(2) A stranger in a foreign country is not known, nor valued
according to his birth and breeding: so the saints walk up and down in
the world like princes in disguise. (1Jn 3:1-note,
(3) Strangers are liable (subject) to inconveniences: so are
godly men in the world. Religion (specifically Christianity), says
Tertullian, is like a strange plant brought from a foreign country,
and doth not agree with the nature of the soil, it thrives not in the
world. (Jn 17:15, 16 Ro 12:2-note)
(4) A stranger is patient, standing not for ill usage, and is
contented with pilgrim's fare and lodging. We are now abroad and must
expect hardship. (1Pe 4:12-note
(5) A stranger is wary, that he may not give offense, and incur
the hatred and displeasure of the natives. (1Pe 2:12-note
(6) A stranger is thankful for the least favor; so we must be
thankfully contented with the things God hath bestowed upon us:
anything in a strange country is much. (1Th 5:18-note
- How possible? Eph 5:18-note,
(7) A stranger, that has a journey to go on, would pass over it
as soon as he could, and so we, who have a journey to heaven, desire
to be dissolved (Php 1:23-note
2Co 5:8 Lk 2:29 30).
(8) A stranger buys not such things as he cannot carry with
him; he doth not buy trees, house, household stuff, but jewels and
pearls, and such things as are portable. Our greatest care should be
to get the jewels of the covenant, the graces of God's Spirit, those
things that will abide with us. (1Jn 2:15-note,
(9) A stranger's heart is in his country; so is a saint's. (Mt
(10) A stranger is inquisitive after the way, fearing lest he
should go amiss, so is a Christian. (Ps 111:10-note,
Pr 1:7 2:5 8:13 9:10 10:27 14:26 27 15:16 33 16:6 19:23 22:4 23:17 2Co
Eccl 12:13, 14 Rev 14:7-note)
(11) A stranger provides for his return, as a merchant, that he
may return richly laden. So we must appear before God in Zion. What
manner of persons ought we to be? Let us return from our travel well
provided. (Mt 6:19, 20-note
Lk 12:33 Moses in He 11:26-note
para = near by and here implies a transitory sense describing
one who passes near but on to something beyond + epidemos =
stranger, epidemos from epi = in or among + demos
= a people) literally means a stranger alongside and so a stranger or
sojourner. This person is not simply one who is passing through, but a
foreigner who has settled down, however briefly, next to or among the
native people. What a picture of the believer in the midst of a
crooked and perverse generation! (Php 2:15-note)
A parepidēmos was a person
who was staying there temporarily and who had his permanent home
somewhere else. Sometimes his stay was strictly limited. A parepidēmos
was a man in lodgings, a man without a home in the place where life
had sent him. All their lives the patriarchs were men who had no
settled place that they could call home. It is to be noted that to
dwell in a foreign land was a humiliating thing in ancient days; to
the foreigner in any country a certain stigma attached. In the Letter
of Aristeas the writer says: “It is a fine thing to live and to die
in one’s native land; a foreign land brings contempt to poor men and
shame to rich men, for there is the lurking suspicion that they have
been exiled for the evil they have done.”
W: The Daily Study Bible Series. The Westminster Press)
describes one who makes a brief stay in a strange or foreign place,
who sojourns (stays as a temporary resident) or who resides
temporarily among a native people to whom he or she does not belong.
The parepidemos did not expect to be regarded as a native of the place
he resided. Beloved are you becoming too comfortable and too familiar
with this evil world system which is "devolving" and corrupting almost
daily before our very eyes (and ears)? Remember that you are an
words (words related by derivation), parepidemeo and
parepidemia, are used in inscriptions in connection with civil
servants who distinguish themselves for exemplary conduct while on
writes that parepidemos refers to
Persons sojourning for a brief
season in a foreign country. Though applied primarily to Hebrews
scattered throughout the world (Ge 23:4; Ps 39:12-[Spurgeon's
parepidemos is used in Greek of both these OT passages), it has
here a wider, spiritual sense, contemplating Christians as having
their citizenship in heaven. (Vincent, M. R. Word studies in the New
Testament. Vol. 1, Page 3-628)
then means to settle down alongside of the pagans. Christians have
always had to live among the pagans, among those whose habitual
practices are dominated by the fallen desires of their
We are living beside them, but we are not to live like them.
Everybody has some metaphor to
describe life—a battle, a race, a trap, a puzzle—and Jacob's metaphor
was that of a pilgrimage. The patriarchs were pilgrims and strangers
on the earth (Heb. 11:13-16), but so are all of God's people (1Chr
29:15; 1Pe 1:1-note;
We agree with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that this world is not our
home. Our time here is brief and temporary, and we're eagerly looking
for our permanent home, the city of God in heaven. (Bible Exposition
Commentary - Old Testament)
A W Tozer...
If we are genuine, committed
Christians, intent upon walking by faith with our Lord Jesus Christ,
then we are continually confessing that we are pilgrims and that we
are strangers! The Holy Spirit, who is the real author of this Letter
to the Hebrews, uses the terms pilgrims and strangers to remind the
early Christians that they were not yet at their final home. The
message still reads the same today. Christian pilgrims are journeying
by faith from an old city that is cursed and under threat of judgment
to a blessed and celestial city where dwells Immanuel!
(cf Heb 11:13, 14, 15, 16; 1Pe 2:11,
BETWEEN THE ETERNITIES - In
the television western Broken Trail, cowboy Prentice Ritter
must provide words of comfort at the funeral of a friend.
Uncomfortable in the situation, he quietly says, "we are all travelers
in this world. From the sweet grass to the packing house, birth till
death, we travel between the eternities."
In a sense, he was right. We are travelers --- pilgrims --- in a world
that offers no lasting peace or rest. And while there is only one
eternity, we travel between eternity past and eternity future, waiting
for promises of a home and a hope that will last forever --- promises
yet to be fulfilled.
In those times of struggle and despair when our pilgrimage of life is
difficult, it it helpful to remember that though we are pilgrims who
travel between the eternities, we have a Savior who is the Lord and
Master of eternity. He has offered us the promise of life with Him
forever and has secured that promise with His own sacrifice. This was
the promise spoken of by the writer of Hebrews 11:13.
We are locked into the moments and hours and days of life, but we look
ahead by faith in Christ. One day, we will experience the promises of
eternity when faith will become sight as we see Him. That hope is what
lifts us beyond life between the eternities to a joy that is eternal.
--- Bill Crowder
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but Thou art mighty,
Hold me with Thy powerful hand.
Modernized Youtube Version)
For time and
Jesus is all we need.
PILGRIMS - As Christians, we
need to think of ourselves as travelers who are just passing through
this sinful world. We are not permanent residents, but pilgrims on a
journey to a better land. Therefore, we need to “travel light,” not
burdening ourselves with an undue attachment to the material things of
life. The more we care for the luxuries and possessions of earth, the
more difficult will be our journey to heaven. The story is told about
some Christians who were traveling in the Middle East. They heard
about a wise, devout, beloved, old believer, so they went out of their
way to visit him. When they finally found him, they discovered that he
was living in a simple hut. All he had inside was a rough cot, a
chair, a table, and a battered stove for heating and cooking. The
visitors were shocked to see how few possessions the man had, and one
of them blurted out, “Well, where is your furniture?” The aged saint
replied by gently asking, "Where is yours?” The visitor, sputtering a
little, responded, “Why, at home, of course. I don’t carry it with me,
I’m traveling.” “So am I,” the godly Christian replied. “So am I.”
This man was practicing a basic principle of the Bible: Christians
must center their affections on Christ, not on the temporal things of
this earth. Material riches lose their value when compared to the
riches of glory. To keep this world’s goods from becoming more
important to us than obeying Christ, we need to ask ourselves, “Where
is our furniture?” -D. C. Egner (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
TRAMPS AND PILGRIMS -
During the Great Depression of
the early 1930s, many men became tramps. They hopped freight trains to
travel from place to place, slept in empty boxcars, and earned a
little money by doing seasonal jobs. When they couldn’t find a job,
they resorted to begging. My mother was a "soft touch" for any such
drifters who came to our door for food. They had lost the comfortable
security of a home.
Like the tramp, a pilgrim may be without the comfort and protection of
a home, but he knows where he is going. His hopes and aspirations are
set upon a goal.
The Christian is to be that kind of pilgrim. In Hebrews we read about
the heroes of the faith, who "confessed that they were strangers and
pilgrims on the earth" (Heb 11:13). They were able to live godly lives
of faith because they looked forward to "a better, that is, a heavenly
country" (Heb 11:16).
The Lord is preparing you and me for eternity, and everything we do is
full of significance. Though this earth is not our permanent place of
habitation, we are not aimless vagabonds. We are to be sojourners who
live responsibly as we travel to our prepared destination. We have a
heavenly Father who loves us and will welcome us into that home made
ready by our Savior. —Herbert Vander Lugt (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
A few more
A few more foes to down,
As pilgrims brave we journey
To win the victor’s crown!
Don’t drive your
stakes too deep.
We’re moving in the morning!
THE ULTIMATE PILGRIM - During the Cold War, I directed several
study tours of Europe. Our itinerary took us from Amsterdam to Berlin,
which meant that we had to go through Communist East Germany. At the
border we had to show our passports, have our luggage examined, and
let the guards check the bus. We waited about 3 hours for clearance.
“Remember,” one official told me, “there is no American Consulate in
East Germany, so do not lose your passports or entry papers.”
Talk about feeling unwanted! The message was clear: We’ll gladly take
your money but we don’t want you. We felt the animosity until we left.
As a Christian, I sometimes feel that way about this world—that I just
don’t belong. The Scripture makes it clear that as believers in Christ
we are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Heb 11:13). We are
citizens of a far better land (Heb 11:16). As much as we may love our
native country, we’ll never feel totally at home down here—and we
How do we cope with being pilgrims who are just passing through? By
looking to Christ and following His example. He was also unwanted in
this world. When He left His home in heaven to enter our humanity, He
became the ultimate pilgrim. One day He will welcome us home.— by
David C. Egner
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,The
Christian life is a pilgrim journey,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but Thou art mighty,
Hold me with Thy powerful hand.
not a sightseeing tour.
BY FAITH - Every day Lisa and David Holden asked God for a
baby. She writes that they prayed "sometimes with bitter
disappointment, sometimes with a confidence that seemed infallible,
and sometimes with frustration and a hurt so deep it ached." Lisa
finally conceived, and 4-year-old Peter now brightens their lives.note),
and the "thorn" remained. Even Christ Himself prayed to His heavenly
Father that the cup of agony awaiting Him at Calvary might be taken
from Him, but He added, "Nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done"
Lisa and David had close friends who also wanted children. They too
prayed fervently about their situation. Eventually they decided to
adopt but were told they were too old. Both couples prayed in faith.
One request was granted; the other was denied.
In Hebrews 11:11-note
we read, "By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive."
But in contrast, when the apostle Paul prayed that his unidentified
"thorn in the flesh" be removed from him, the Lord responded, "My
grace is sufficient for you" (2Co 12:9-
O Lord, whether or not our deepest longings and most desperate prayers
are granted, our faith is in You. Help us to desire Your will above
all else. Amen. -- David C. Egner
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
I prayed -- the answer long deferred
Brought not the thing I sought;
He answered better than my plea,
Yes, better than my thought
When God's answer is negative,
His reason is affirmative.
GOLDEN GODS - God had seized the attention of Pharaoh and the
Egyptians with a series of plagues. Now they were dying to be rid of
their Hebrew slaves. But God didn't want the Israelites to leave Egypt
empty-handed. After all, they had 400 years of wages due them. So they
asked their former masters for articles of silver, gold, and clothing,
and they got them. Exodus 12:36 says that the Israelites "plundered
It wasn't long, however, until God's people fell into idolatry. They
used their gold to make a golden calf, which they worshiped while
Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving God's law (Ex 32:1 2 3 4). This
tragic experience highlights the tension that Christians are required
to maintain regarding their possessions. There is much in our society
that we enjoy, but material things also pose grave dangers when we use
them thoughtlessly. Os Guinness says that we are
"free to utilize" but
We are strangers and pilgrims on the earth (Hebrews 11:13), and
we must not become so enamored with "the riches of Egypt" that we grow
complacent and forget our true calling.
Are we using our material blessings to serve the Lord? Or have we
become slaves to them?—Haddon W. Robinson
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
I have an old
nature that noisily clamors
To satisfy empty desire;
But God in His goodness has sent me a Helper
Who whispers, "Your calling is higher."
Gold can be a helpful servant
but a cruel master
SEEING BACKWARDS - My husband and I rode the train backward
from Grand Rapids to Chicago last summer. Sitting in seats that faced
the rear of the train, all we could see was where we had been, not
where we were going. Buildings, lakes, and trees flew by the window
after we had passed them. I didn’t like it. I’d rather see where I’m
Sometimes we may feel that way about life too—wishing we could see
ahead. We’d like to know how certain situations are going to turn out,
how God is going to answer our prayers. But all we can know is where
we’ve been. That is, if it were not for faith.
The “faith chapter” of the Bible, Hebrews 11, tells us about two
realities that some people in Old Testament times could see by faith.
It speaks of Noah, Abraham, and Sarah, who all died in faith, “having
seen [the promises] afar off.” They “embraced them” and looked forward
to “a better . . . heavenly country” (He 11:13,16). Besides the
promise of heaven, He 11:27 tells us that by faith Moses could also
see “Him who is invisible,” meaning Christ.
While we don’t know the outcome of today’s struggles, believers in
Jesus can by faith see forward to where we’re going: We will have a
heavenly home where we will live with Jesus forever. —Anne Cetas
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
The future is seen in the Bible—The promise of
This knowledge with us God has shared;
By faith we can see the invisible,
The glory that He has prepared.
is our eternal hope.
Outline From Family Times
I. Their confidence (He 11:13). “These
all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen
them a far off were persuaded (assured) of them...”
II. Their witness (He 11:13). “...embraced them and confessed
that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”
III. Their goal (He 11:4). “For they that say such things
declare plainly that they seek a country."
IV. Their discernment (He 11:15). “And truly, if they had been
mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had
opportunity to have returned.”
V. Their security (He 11:16). “God is not ashamed to be called
their God: for He hath prepared for them a city.
Hebrews 11:13-16 from Family-Times)
FOR THOSE WHO SAY SUCH THINGS MAKE IT CLEAR: hoi gar toiauta legontes
(PAPMPN) emphanizousin (3PPAI):
Explains that their confession as "strangers and exiles" (= "say such
things" ~ "confessed" in Heb 11:13) indicated they were heavenly
minded ("seeking a country of their own")
With “for” the writer points
out the fact that this negative confession of being nothing but
strangers and pilgrims involves a great positive thought: For they
saying such things keep indicating that they are earnestly seeking a
Make it clear - They emphasize. They
emphatically tell the world that this world is not their home.
Think of Jesus. Radical Christianity is "emphatic", but it is not
confrontational or "in your face".
from en = in, into + phaino = show, make visible, make
conspicuous) means to make visible, to lay something open to view (clear or plain) so
all can see (Jn 14:22, cp Ex 33:13 = idea is "reveal Yourself to me",
Mt 27:53, He 9:24).
To provide information so as to make clear, to
explain or to inform (Acts 23:22, He 11:14, Jn 14:21 Isa 3:9).
present evidence or bring charges as in a formal judicial report (Acts
24:1, 25:2, Esther 2:22)
writes that in secular Greek emphaniz...
is used basically in the sense of
to manifest, exhibit, and passively to become visible. The word also
connotes the ideas of making plain (Plato, Sophocles), declaring or
explaining (Aristotle). The adjective emphanēs connotes the idea of
visible, open, manifest.
- 10x in 8v - NAS = appear(1), appeared(1), brought charges(3),
disclose(2), make...clear(1), notified(1), notify(1).
Matthew 27:53 and coming out of the
tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and
appeared to many.
John 14:21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who
loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will
love him and will disclose Myself to him." 22 Judas (not
Iscariot) said to Him, "Lord, what then has happened that You are
going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?"
Comment: Judas has a
resurrection, appearance in mind but Jesus is speaking about his
self-revelation in believers when he and the Father come to reside in
them. (cp use of emphanizo in Lxx of Ex 33:13).
William MacDonald writes:
The real proof of one’s love to the Lord is obedience to His
commandments. It is useless to talk about loving Him if we do not want
to obey Him. In one sense, the Father loves all the world. But He has
a special love for those who love His Son. Those are also loved by
Christ, and He makes Himself known to them in a special way. The more
we love the Savior, the better we shall know Him.
Acts 23:15 "Now therefore, you and the Council notify the
commander to bring him down to you, as though you were going to
determine his case by a more thorough investigation; and we for our
part are ready to slay him before he comes near the place."
Acts 23:22 So the commander let the young man go, instructing him,
"Tell no one that you have notified me of these things."
Acts 24:1 After five days the high priest Ananias came down with some
elders, with an attorney named Tertullus, and they brought charges
to the governor against Paul.
Acts 25:2 And the chief priests and
the leading men of the Jews brought charges against Paul, and
they were urging him,
Acts 25:15 and when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the
elders of the Jews brought charges against him, asking for a
sentence of condemnation against him.
For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of
the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the
presence of God for us;
For those who say such things make it clear that they are
seeking a country of their own.
There are 3 uses
in the non-apocryphal Septuagint - Ex 33:13, Esther 2:22, Isa
Now therefore, I pray You, if I
have found favor in Your sight, let me know (Hebrew = yada;
Lxx = emphanizo) Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find
favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people.”
Comment: The sense of
emphanizo in this OT use is that of making known or revealing the ways
Ray Pritchard has the
following comments on Hebrews 11:13-16...
This text tells us three important
facts about why these people did what they did:
1) They understood that they would never be fully at home in
the world. They saw themselves as “strangers” and “aliens.” They were
like “resident aliens” in the world, living here but having their
citizenship in heaven. Therefore, they were not dismayed when the
promises weren’t fulfilled in their lifetime.
2) They openly confessed their faith in God. The text says they
“admitted” they were strangers and aliens. I think this means that
Noah told everyone why he was building the ark, even though he knew
they would think he was nuts. And I think Abraham told everyone who
asked why he was leaving Ur of the Chaldees for parts unknown. Living
by faith means telling others who ask, “This is why I’m doing what I’m
doing,” even though you know they will not understand. It means
speaking up for God at work, in your classroom, in your neighborhood,
and at your family reunion even though you know some people will laugh
3) They never stopped looking forward to heaven. Abraham could
have gone back to Ur, but he never did. The old life had no appeal for
him. Noah could have stopped building the ark, but he didn’t. It was
the same for David and the same for Daniel and the same for the people
of faith throughout the Bible. They always went forward, never
backward. They understood that when God calls a man, he calls him to a
great adventure. He calls him to go forth into the unknown, to face
hardship and difficulty, to venture forth in his name, and to do it
with no guarantees about tomorrow.
This week we were reminded again of
the story of Todd Beamer and the heroes of Flight 93 who on September
11, 2001, decided to fight back against terror even if they died in
the process. When the time drew near to take action, these were Todd
Beamer’s final recorded words: “God help me. Jesus help me. Are you
ready? Let’s roll.” Then he dropped the phone and the men moved down
the aisle to confront the hijackers. The operator heard some screams
and then the line went dead. Ten minutes later the plane crashed into
a field not far from Pittsburgh. Though everyone on board died, the
hijackers’ dream of assaulting Washington, D.C. had been foiled. Todd
Beamer was a Christian, and for him the choice was clear. Those who
knew him said they weren’t surprised because that’s the sort of man he
was. We all come again and again to moments when we have to decide
whether or not to get personally involved. We have to decide whether
or not we’ll move out of our comfort zone. Many times the outcome will
not be certain. In those moments we must say, “God help me. Jesus help
me. Are you ready? Let’s roll.” And down the aisle we go, ready to do
what needs to be done, leaving everything else in the hands of God.
How does God regard those who dare to risk it all for him? Verse 16
tells us two things:
1) He is not ashamed to be called their God.
That’s a stunning
I don’t know of another verse like it in the Bible.
We have heard of “The God of
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” What about “The God of Ray Pritchard?” What
about “The God of _______________?” (Put your own name in the blank.)
2) He has prepared a city for them.
He says to the world, “Take a look at him. That’s my boy. Take a look
at her. She’s my daughter.” And then He says to His children when they
trust Him, “Don’t worry about your future. I’m saving a place for you
in heaven.” (Level
Three Faith and How to Get There)
THAT THEY ARE SEEKING A COUNTRY OF THEIR OWN: hoti patrida epizetousin
(3PPAI): (He 11:16; 13:14; Ro 8:23, 24, 25; 2Co 4:18; 5:1, 2,
3, 4, 5, 6, 7; Php 1:23)
seeking a country - Yes, they were seeking a "land" but
ultimately they were seeking the Lord (and a life with
applies the pattern of the patriarchs to believers...
Ah, but God’s people are not
mindful of that country from whence they came out! They have
opportunity to return; but they have no wish to return. May God’s
grace always keep any of you from turning back; for it is to turn back
unto perdition! Your faces are heavenward to-day; keep them so.
Remember the doom of any that apostatize. It is impossible, “if they
shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance.” “If the salt
have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth
good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of
men.” Lord, keep thy servants! Hold us up, and we shall be safe.
When you fall in
love, you seek to be with your beloved because you desire her company.
These are strong motivational words. I have seen young men in college,
carrying a heavy academic load and working many hours to pay their
bills. They don’t have a minute of spare time. Then, they fall in
love. It’s simply amazing how suddenly they have hours every day to
spend with this gorgeous creature! They seek her because of desire.
We are to seek heaven
because we desire to be with Jesus,
the lover of
If you are not rearranging your busy schedule so that you
can seek the things above, where Christ is (Col. 3:1-note),
you need to examine your heart. You may have left your first love for
the Savior, who gave Himself to secure you as His bride.
(epizeteo from epi = intensifies meaning + zeteo
= try to learn location of something, searching for) means to search
or look for (people [Jesus] Lk 4:42). To seek in order to know
describing an intellectual inquiry (Ac 19:39). To have a strong desire
for and so to wish for (Mt 6:32, Lk 12:30 Ro 11:7). To desire (a sign
= Mt 12:39, 16:4, Lk 11:29). Inquire of (Lxx = 2Ki 1:3). Seek a charge
(Lxx = 2Sa 3:8)
- 13x in 12v - NAS = craves(1), eagerly seek(2), searched(1),
searching(1), seek(2), seeking(3), seeks after(1), sought(1), want(1).
"For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your
heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
Matthew 12:39 But He answered and
said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation craves for a
sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the
Matthew 16:4 "An evil and
adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not
be given it, except the sign of Jonah." And He left them and went
Luke 4:42 When day came, Jesus
left and went to a secluded place; and the crowds were searching
for Him, and came to Him and tried to keep Him from going away from
Luke 12:30 "For all these things
the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows
that you need these things.
Acts 12:19 When Herod had searched for him and had not found
him, he examined the guards and ordered that they be led away to
execution. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea and was spending
Acts 13:7 who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of
intelligence. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to
hear the word of God.
Acts 19:39 "But if you want anything beyond this, it shall be
settled in the lawful assembly.
What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but
those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened;
Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit
which increases to your account.
For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking
a country of their own.
For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the
city which is to come.
- 13x in the non-apocryphal Septuagint - Jdg 6:29; 1Sa20:1; 2Sa3:8;
2Ki 1:2 3; 3:11; 8:8; 22:18; 2Chr 18:6; Esther 8:7; Isa 62:12; Hos
Isaiah 62:12 And they will call
them, “The holy people, the redeemed of the Lord”; And you will be
called, “Sought out (Hebrew = daras = to seek, to inquire; Lxx =
epizeteo), a city not forsaken.”
Comment: Note the three new
names for those in Israel who in the future believe in the Messiah -
Holy people (cp Ex 19:6, Dt 7:6). Redeemed of the Lord. Sought out.
Compare parallel passage of "a city not forsaken" in Isaiah 62:4KJV
where Hephzibah = “My delight is in her”; Beulah = “Married”. These
terms signify restoration of her relationship with the Lord.
Hosea 3:5 Afterward the sons of
Israel will return and seek (Lxx = epizeteo) the Lord their God
and David their king; and they will come trembling to the Lord and to
His goodness in the last
days (cp Jer 23:20)
Comment: See similar
references in Dt. 4:30; Isa. 2:2; Micah 4:1. This passage is a
prophecy of Israel's restoration, when the remnant will .Some would
say this "David" refers to Messiah but other Scripture seems to teach
David himself will reign over the 12 tribes in the
kingdom. Of course
Messiah will be King over King David for He alone is the "King
of kings". References to this concept are found in Jer 30:9 33:15
16 17; Ezekiel 34:2324; 37:2425 with more indirect references in
Isaiah 55:3 4 and Amos 9:11.
Hosea 5:15 I will go away and
return to My place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek
(Lxx = epizeteo) My face; In their affliction (Time of Jacob's
distress) they will earnestly seek Me.
Comment: This will be
fulfilled just prior to the return of their Messiah, in the time of
Jacob's trouble, the
about which the Lord Jesus warned in
Mt 24:21. Then they will respond according to Zech 12:10, and Da 12:10
("Many will be purged, purified and refined...). Jesus Himself
For I say to you, from now on you
shall not see Me UNTIL (expression
of time) you say, 'BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN
THE NAME OF THE LORD!'" (Mt 23:39)
Woods agrees writing that
"The language (of Hos 5:15) would appear to reach into the Millennium,
when the Israelites will indeed repent before God and seek his face
(cf. Isa 1:10,11 2:14-23).
F, Editor: Expositor's Bible Commentary 6-Volume New Testament.
Zondervan Publishing or
Paul pictures the believer's "seeking" this way...
And not only this, but also we
ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves
groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly (apekdechomai
= this is the believer's mindset, our continual attitude which directs
our consequent actions) for our adoption as sons, the
of our body. For in
hope we have been saved ("Past
Tense Salvation" =
Justification), but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one
also hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see,
with perseverance we wait eagerly (same verb and tense as
above) for it (Which motivates
Tense Salvation" =
Sanctification). (Ro 8:23-note,
Ro 8:24, 25-note)
They are not
just seeking a better country, a heavenly one (He 11:16) but a
For here we do not have a lasting
city, but we are seeking the city which is to come. (He 13:14)
Country of their own - "A fatherland" (Wuest). Our "hometown" = the place where
our father Father lives.
A T Robertson
Land of the fathers (patēr), one’s
native land (Jn 4:44). Cf. our patriotic, patriotism.
not just “country” (A.V.),
nor “a country of their own,” but “fatherland,” where one’s
native home is, where one really belongs and is entirely happy. There
is much more in this word than is generally noted. Unlike children of
this world, these persons cannot settle down in some earthly place as
their “fatherland” and feel fully satisfied and content there. They
are born of God, they are children of God, this earth is not their
home, and, although they are compelled to stay here, they constantly
speak only as strangers and pilgrims speak and always show by
this, show even unconsciously, that they are seeking for a fatherland
in which they really belong.
In spite of everything these men
never lost their vision and their hope. However long that hope might
be in coming true, its light always shone in their eyes. However long
the way might be, they never stopped tramping along it. Robert
Louis Stevenson said: “It is better to travel hopefully than to
arrive.” (Ed: And yet one day believers will arrive home!
Hallelujah!) They never wearily gave up the journey; they lived in
hope and died in expectation.
Steven Cole has an
interesting note on the patriarchs who were seeking a country of
their own (i.e., a heavenly country He 11:16)...
A man encountered three young boys and
asked them, “Do you want to go to heaven?”
“Not me,” one said. The other was shocked. “You don’t want to go to heaven
when you die?”
“Oh, when I die? Yeah, sure!” the boy replied. “I thought you were
getting up a group to go right now!”
Most of us probably share that boy’s feelings about heaven. Someday,
it would be nice to go there, but at the moment, we’re not interested.
It’s just too nice here on earth. Besides, if we were honest, we’d
probably admit that heaven seems a bit boring. Gary Larson pictured
this in a Far Side cartoon. A guy with wings, white robe, and a halo
is sitting alone on a cloud, thinking, “wish I’d brought a
But the author of Hebrews counters these disinterested views of heaven
by showing that rather than settling in and feeling comfortable on
earth, believers feel out of place here. They confess that they are
“strangers and exiles on the earth” (He 11:13). And rather than
viewing heaven as a nice extra thrown in after we enjoy the good life
here below, he shows that believers long for heaven. “They desire a
better country, that is, a heavenly one” (He 11:16). Our text teaches us
We who live and die according to
faith are exiles on earth desiring a better country in heaven.
The hymn writer, Henry Francis Lyte put it like this (in F. F. Bruce,
Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews [Eerdmans], p. 306):
It is not for me to be seeking my
And building my hopes in a region like this;
I look for a city which hands have not piled
I pant for a country by sin undefiled.
In our day, our emphasis is far too
much on the good life here and now, and not enough on the
joys of heaven.
Thus many that profess Christ as Savior live with
their minds on the things on earth, rather than setting their minds on
the things above (Col. 3:1-note
Col 3:3 4-note).
They are motivated more by collecting treasures on earth than by
storing up treasures in heaven (Mt 6:19, 20-note). Our focus is on what Christ can do for
us here and now. Heaven is a nice extra, but it does not govern how we
live day to day. But, it should!
As we’ve seen, the first readers of this epistle were tempted, under
the threat of persecution, to go back to their Jewish religion (cp He
10:38 39-note). The
implication of our text in its context is that to go back to Judaism
would be like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob going back to settle
permanently in Mesopotamia. God had promised them a new country, the
land of Canaan. But, being men of faith, they looked beyond that piece
of real estate to the heavenly country that God had prepared for them.
(Ed: They walked by faith not sight 2Co 5:7-note.
They saw their present persecutions as momentary and light compared to
their eternal weight of glory because they viewed their temporal
circumstances with eternal vision. 2Co 4:17-note,
They all died according to faith (the literal rendering of He
Faith was the dominant characteristic of their lives, right up to the
point of death. None of them realized the promise of the land of
Canaan, or the promise of innumerable descendants. They viewed
themselves as strangers and exiles on earth. If they had doubted God’s
promise (cp He 11:6-note), they could have gone back to their homeland. “But as it is,
they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (He 11:16). And
so the patriarchs all died well, “according to faith” in the yet unfulfilled, unseen
promises of God.
they are examples of how to live and die according to faith as exiles
on earth, while we pant after a better country in heaven
a Better Country).
Ed comment: How can one best
imitate the examples of the patriarchs? The simple
answer is by studying their lives so that we know what to
imitate (See the exhortation in He 6:11, 12-note).
Two excellent studies are available from Precept Ministries - the
following links allow you to download the first lesson in each study
to give you an example =
(1) Genesis 12-25 -Study of Abraham - 6 lessons)
(2) Genesis 24-36 - Study of Isaac and Jacob - 4
are links to the complete study -
Genesis Study on Abraham;
Genesis Study on Isaac, Jacob &
comments on those who are seeking a better country which clearly
implies they are patiently persevering in this present world which is
not their home...
You remember Mr. Bunyan’s
description of the two children, Passion and Patience. Passion would.
have his best things now, and he had them; but he soon spoiled them,
misused them, and abused them. But Patience would have his best things
last; and, as Bunyan very prettily says, “There is nothing to come
after the last.” Therefore, when Patience got his best things, they
lasted on for ever and for ever. God, loves not the passion, but he
loves the patience. “The husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of
the earth, and hath long patience for it;” (Jas 5:7KJV) and I would
fain imitate him. “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my
expectation is from Him.” (Ps 62:5KJV-note)
The worldly man lives in the present; but that is a poor way of
living, worthy only of the beasts that perish...To God, there is no
past, present, or future; He sees all at a single glance. And when a
man comes to feel that
he is not living simply in
which will so soon end,
but that he is living in the eternity
which will never end,
when he is rejoicing in the
covenant, “ordered, in all things, and sure,” (2Sa 23:5KJV) made
from before the foundation of the world,— when a man feels that he is
living in the future as well as the present, that his vast estates are
on the other side of Jordan, that his chief joy is up there where
Christ sits at the right hand of God, and that his own heart has gone
up there where his treasure is, for “where your treasure is, there
will your heart be also,” (Mt 6:21-note)
— when the affection is set, not upon things below, but upon things
above (Col 3:2-note),—
that is the man whom God loves, because he has learned how to live in
God’s atmosphere, in God’s own eternity. He has risen above the
beggarly elements of time and space. He is not circumscribed by
almanacs, and days, and months, and years; his thoughts range right
away from that glorious declaration, “I have loved thee with an
everlasting love,” (Jer 31:3) to those endless, dateless periods when
still the everlasting love of God shall be the constant delight of His
people. I see, then, why it is written that “God, is not ashamed to
be called their God,” (Heb 11:16) because they are content to live
without having received the promises, but to keep on patiently
waiting, with a holy, joyful confidence, till the hour of God’s
gracious purpose shall arrive, and the promise shall be fulfilled. (Read the full sermon
Hebrews 11:16 The Two Pivots)
if they had
that country from
which they went
out, they would have
Amplified: If they had been thinking with [homesick] remembrance of that
country from which they were emigrants, they would have found constant
opportunity to return to it.
Bible - Lockman)
KJV: And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence
they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
NLT: If they had meant the country they came from, they would have found
a way to go back. (NLT
- Tyndale House)
Phillips: If they had meant the particular country they had
left behind, they had ample opportunity to return. (Phillips:
Wuest: And if indeed they had been remembering that country
from which they had gone out, in that case they would have had
constant opportunity to bend their way back again. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: and if, indeed, they had been mindful of that from which they came
forth, they might have had an opportunity to return,
AND INDEED IF THEY HAD BEEN THINKING OF THAT COUNTRY FROM WHICH THEY
WENT OUT: kai ei men ekeines emnemoneuon (3PIAI) aph es exebesan
11:31; 12:10; 24:6-8; 31:18; 32:9-11)
If they had been thinking
of that country - This emphasizes that the battle of whether we
live in the world but not of the world is always in our mind.
Lord, keep me
seeking and setting my mind on things above
A T Robertson on if...
Condition of second class
(note [an] in conclusion) with the imperfect (not aorist) in both
conclusion. So it means: “If they had continued mindful, they would
have kept on having” (linear action in both cases in past time).
The meaning here is, that if, in their declaration (He 11:14) that
they were seeking a country, they had called to mind the country from
which they came out, they could have returned thither, so that it is
evident that they did not mean that country.
Had been thinking of
from mimnesko = to recall to one's mind) means to exercise
memory, call something to mind, recollect, to pay attention to
something and so to be warned.
Some things are best not remembered (compare this to
Jesus' call to disciples not to keep looking backwards - see comments
below on Lk 17:32, 9:62). The idea of the
is to be in the habit of remembering and then remembering again, doing
this over and over, again and again (which reminds one of the hearts of
the children of Israel who longed for the leeks and garlic of Egypt,
forgetting the bondage of Egypt! Look what they remembered in Nu 11:5!
Leeks rather than the LORD! That is a sad substitute, an evil exchange!
Are there any "leeks"
in your/my life, forgetting [not remembering!] the bondage those "leeks"
might bring?) their
former country, the pagan land of Ur of the Chaldees (home of Abram),
they could again and again have had opportunity (have is also in the
to return. There Abram and his family could have enjoyed the sensual
comforts instead of the rough tent life (cp the call on all followers of
Christ to live as
- 1Pe 2:11-note,
cp 1Pe 1:1-note).
How clear is this application to all those who have been called out of
darkness and into His marvelous light (1Pe 2:9-note),
and yet how insistent is the old, fallen
seek to lure us back (Jas 1:14, 15-note)
to the passing pleasures of "Egypt" (the
world) (He 11:25-note),
which itself is passing away (1Jn 2:17-note)
as are even it's strong lusts which continually seek to seduce us to
gratify self but which can never satisfy for true satisfaction and
contentment comes only as we seek and surrender to the sweet will our
Gentle Shepherd and Lord, Christ Jesus (Jn 14:27, 16:33, Php 4:6-note,
Php 4:11, 12-note,
Mnemoneuo is used in Jesus' warning in Luke...
= command calling for ready recall to be one's continual attitude.
Keep this historical event constantly on the "front burner" of your
mind!) Lot's wife.
Comment: Jesus is speaking to disciples,
knowing that He is about to go to the Cross. (See Lk 17:22 - genuine
followers, compare the name of the "disciples" in Acts 11:26 - note
that the most common name for believers in Acts was "disciples" - 30x
in 28 verses - eg look at the birth of the Church in Ac 6:1 2 7 9:1
13:52 Note the effect of the preaching of the Gospel - Acts 14:21 22 -
some teach that "disciples" are a separate category of believers -
What does God's Word teach? For a pithy, provocative study of what
Scripture teaches consider
Being a Disciple Counting the Real
Cost) And so
here Jesus warns the disciples to remember Ge 19:17, 26 which
parallels His earlier pithy teaching in Luke 9:62 (where
"looking" is in the
= continually looking back. We all "look back" at the world and our
possessions occasionally but that is not our lifestyle - a believer's
lifestyle is looking forward, fixing one's eyes on Jesus He 12:2-note,
looking for the blessed hope Titus 2:13-note,
loving the thought of His appearing 2Ti 4:8-note).
What did Lot's wife decision reflect? Disobedience. And her
disobedience was a manifestation of her lack of faith (see
relationship between faith and obedience [cp "disobedient" to
"unbelief"] in Hebrews 3:18, 19-note).
And thus if a person professes to follow after Jesus and yet
continually manifests a heart like Lot's wife, they are not genuine
followers of Christ and Jesus Himself declares them not fit for the
kingdom of God (Lk
9:62 - the phrase "kingdom of God" in this verse and the previous one
Lk 9:60, 61 ["proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God"] is equivalent
to or tantamount to salvation because the truly saved [born again] are the only
ones who will "see the kingdom of God" as Jesus' explained to
Nicodemus in John 3:3.).
A TEST OF
Jesus' call to remember Lot's wife
conveys a serious, sobering warning to all who would seek to follow
In a sense His charge to
Lot's wife" serves as a
test of the bent or direction of our heart
Is our heart generally going in
a world-ward or a God-ward direction?
(Note: The latter refers to
direction, not perfection...at least in this
present life!) Are we genuine
followers of Christ, truly disciples, (Jn 8:31) or are we like those who wanted
the physical bread from Christ but did not desire the Bread from
heaven and whose actions of turning back and departing indicated the
true condition of their heart (uncircumcised - see
Circumcision Of the Heart)
are true followers of Christ, we will be like the Patriarchs of old,
who did not seek to go back to the "fleshpots of Egypt" as many of
their descendants desired. In flying there is what is called the
point of no return. When the airplane has reached that point it
cannot go back. Beloved when we have truly become followers of Christ,
we have reached the point of no return. Earth is no longer our
destination. We are pressing on to heaven. It is always too soon to
quit following Jesus. And yet the truth is none of us could follow Him
unless we were enabled to do so by His grace and His Spirit! (cp the
truth of Php 2:13-note
enables the us to fulfill the command of Php 2:12-note
and persevere to the end - Mt 10:22 24:13 Heb 3:6-note
side note - As we make a habitual practice to remember the
truth of God's Word (truths like the tragic outcome of Lot's wife - cp
1Co 10:5, 6, 11 - take a moment and read this entire sobering section
1Co 10:1-13, 14), we
are in a sense practicing a form of "meditation", mulling His truth
over and over in our heart and mind. This is the essence of
Biblical Meditation, a
seemingly lost discipline in the modern church, but one for which
God promises incredible spiritual blessings a truth which by itself should strongly motivate
us to practice pondering! (Joshua 1:8-note,
And as we seek to remember God's Word (especially choosing to
it), we are laying the groundwork to be able then to
on it. (Compare
the association of remember and meditate
in Ps 63:6).
THEY WOULD HAVE HAD OPPORTUNITY TO RETURN: eichon (3PIAI) an kairon
They would have had - The
pictures them as over and over, again and again having opportunities
to "back slide" so to speak. Beloved the same is true of NT believers.
There are many opportunities to go back into the garbage pail of the
fallen, God hating world.
Opportunity to return - God
does not force us into heaven. But if we are not looking forward to
our true home, we will encounter plenty of opportunities to involve
ourselves in this present but passing world.
means a point
of time or period of time, time, period, frequently with the
implication of being especially fit for something and without emphasis
on precise chronology. It means a moment or period as especially
appropriate the right, proper, favorable time (at the right time).
To return (344)
(anakampto from aná = back again + kámpto
= bend) means literally to bend back or turn back and so to return. To
bend back one's course. To bend one's steps back. To
The "bent" of the hearts of the
patriarchs was toward heaven not earth!
Anakampto - 4x in 4v -
Mt 2:12; Lk 10:6; Acts 18:21; Heb 11:15
Matthew 2:12 And having been warned
by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for
their own country by another way.
Luke 10:6 "If a man of peace is
there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will
return to you.
A T Robertson - The peace in
that case will bend back with blessing upon the one who spoke it.
Acts 18:21 but taking leave of them
and saying, "I will return to you again if God wills,"
he set sail from Ephesus.
Hebrews 11:15 And indeed if they
had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would
have had opportunity to return.
A T Robertson - Continual
hankering would have found a way. Cf. the Israelites in the wilderness
yearning after Egypt.
Anakampto - 9x in the
non-apocryphal Septuagint - Ex 32:27; 2Sa 1:22; 8:13; 1Kgs 12:20; 1Chr
19:5; Job 39:4; Jer 3:1; 15:5; Zech 9:8
Steven Cole applies these
truths about the patriarchs forward focus to motivate and encourage
his vacillating Hebrew readers noting that
The author is writing to people who
were encountering hardships in their new life as Christians (Ed:
Or least those who professed to be Christians). They were tempted to
go back to their old religion. So he points out that the patriarchs
could have returned to Mesopotamia if they had been looking for an
earthly inheritance. The living conditions in their former homeland
were probably far more developed than in the land of Canaan. If they
had returned, their family and friends would have welcomed them with
open arms, whereas in Canaan, they were kept at a distance. But they
endured the hardships and didn’t go back because they were
seeking a better country, that is, a heavenly one. (He 11:16)
True, Abraham sent his servant back to the old country to get a bride
for Isaac. But he sternly warned the servant not to take Isaac back
there (Ge 24:6, 8). Jacob fled to the old country for 20 years to
escape from Esau’s murderous intentions. But it was never his true
homeland. He told Laban, “Send me away, that I may go to my own place
and to my own country” (Ge 30:25).
The application is that
as believers, we must make a break from our old life and from the
world. We live in the
world, but we cannot be of the world (John 17:14, 15, 16, 17, 18).
Often, like Ur of the Chaldees, the
world (kosmos) is sophisticated and modern (Ed: And
resolutely, intractably anti-God!). The church seems old fashioned and
out of touch with the latest trends. Therefore when we face hardships
because of our faith, we may be tempted to go back to the world. But
to do so would be to turn away from God’s promises in Christ (cp Jn
6:66, 1Jn 2:19, 2Jn 1:9, Mt 24:13).
But as it is, they
that is, a
God is not
ashamed to be
God; for He has
Amplified: But the truth is that they were yearning for and aspiring to a
better and more desirable country, that is, a heavenly [one]. For that
reason God is not ashamed to be called their God [even to be surnamed
their God—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob], for He has prepared a
city for them.
Bible - Lockman)
KJV: But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly:
wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath
prepared for them a city.
NLT: But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That
is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared
a heavenly city for them. (NLT
- Tyndale House)
Phillips: No, the fact is that they longed for a better country
altogether, nothing less than a heavenly one. And because of this
faith of theirs, God is not ashamed to be called their God for in
sober truth he has prepared for them a city in Heaven. (Phillips:
Wuest: But now as the case stands, they are
reaching out in their desires for a better, that is, a heavenly one,
because of which God is not ashamed of them to be surnamed their God,
for He prepared for them a city. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: but now they long for a better, that is, an heavenly, wherefore God
is not ashamed of them, to be called their God, for He did prepare for
them a city.
BUT AS IT IS, THEY DESIRE A BETTER COUNTRY THAT IS A HEAVENLY ONE: nun
de kreittonos oregontai (3PPMI) tout estin (3SPAI) epouraniou:
(He 11:14; 12:22)
13x in 12v in Hebrews - Heb 1:4; 6:9; 7:19, 22; 8:6; 9:23; 10:34;
11:16, 35, 40; 12:24
used only in
of verb orego)
literally means to stretch out especially with one's hands, to snatch,
to reach out for. It pictures one stretching one’s self out in order
to touch or to grasp something. Metaphorically oregomai means
to desire something, to covet, to long after, to try to gain, to be
ambitious. Oregomai pictures a runner lunging for the finish line.
Originally to stretch forth, to
reach after. Here it implies not only desiring but seeking after.
W E Vine
The verb oregomai, “desire,”
literally means to stretch out the hand, to reach after, expressive of
eager desire....A stronger word, epekteinomai (epekteino),
to stretch forward, is used in Php 3:13-note
indicates this was the way the Abraham (Sarah), Isaac and Jacob continually lived life - with
this "other worldly" mindset.
oregomai is in the
which describes action initiated by the subject who then participates
in the action. It conveys a reflexive sense which could be translated
they stretched themselves out for a better country.
orégō means “to reach out,”
“to reach for.” It is used figuratively for 1. intellectual or
spiritual striving, either generally, e.g., for fellowship, or
philosophically, e.g., rational or irrational aspiration, or, in
Philo, homesickness for the world of ideas; and 2. physical craving,
e.g., for nourishment. (Kittel,
G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. Theological Dictionary of the
New Testament. Eerdmans
commenting on the secular Greek use says...
Like the noun orexis (Plato
onwards) it denotes striving (a) of the heart and mind, (b) of bodily
desire (relatively seldom). The Stoics gave it the special sense of a
striving of the soul, following on a deliberate decision of the will
guided by human reason. When the power and discipline of reason are
removed the striving becomes desire (epithumia).
The highest ideal of life is striving in conformity with one’s own
self (kata physin). Philo sees in orexis the soul’s
homesickness for the world of ideas.
It speaks of the desire of faith
for a better and heavenly homeland, i.e. a home with God. This desire
does not come from immanent impulses in man or from his essential
nature but from response to God’s promise (He 11:9, 13, 15). It
manifests itself in utter reliance upon the promise and the obedience
of faith (He 11:8, 17). This means that it is no inner emotional
feeling divorced from reality. It brings the will into line with a
goal given by God which is expressed in the real things of this world.
Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986.
A derivative orexis
describes this consuming, passionate desire (specifically sexual
desire) gone awry in Ro 1:27-note
where men seek
after men (even blatantly parking their vehicles in local parks in
hopes a "consenting" party will stop by). Turn this desire 180 degrees
the other way and you can see how intense the picture is that writer
of Hebrews is trying to convey regarding the patriarchs desire for
heaven, the home of their faithful covenant keeping God.
Lord give me "oregomai" type desire
for my better heavenly "hometown" deep within my innermost being.
- 3x in the NT - Here in Heb 11:16 and twice in First Timothy. Notice
that the context determines how legitimate is the stretching and
1Timothy 3:1 It is a trustworthy statement: if
any man aspires (present tense
= continually aspires)
to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires (epithumeo) to do. (1Ti
Comment: Webster's 1828
dictionary defines aspire as "To desire with eagerness; to
pant after an object, great, noble or spiritual; followed by to or
after; as to aspire to a crown, or after immortality."
John MacArthur offers an
excellent analysis: The first (oregomai) means “to reach out after.” It describes
external action, not internal motive. The second (epithumeo) means “a strong
passion,” and refers to an inward desire. Taken together, these two
words aptly describe the type of man who belongs in the ministry—one
who outwardly pursues it because he is driven by a strong internal
J.: The MacArthur Study Bible Nashville: Word
1Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of
all sorts of evil, and some by longing (stretching themselves
out to touch it, to grasp it -$$$!
as their [context refers to false teachers but applicable to anyone
who loves manna more than God] habitual practice. They spend their
lives grasping for money and miss the greatest prize of all, abundant
life in Christ Jesus!) for it have wandered away from the faith, and
pierced themselves with many a pang.
D Edmond Hiebert comments: The
connotation in ‘the love of money’ (philaguria) is not the
acquisition of wealth in order that it may be used in prodigal
expenditure but rather the miserly accumulation and hoarding of money
for the very love of it. That which should be a means to support life
is made the end of life itself....The Christian faith which they once
professed has become displaced by their love for money as the chief
goal of their lives. Added to this fateful negative loss is the
positive damage of self-inflicted sorrow, “and have pierced themselves
through with many sorrows.” In their eagerness to pluck the fair
flower of wealth they have pierced and wounded themselves with its
sharp, unsuspected thorns. A condemning conscience assails them and
destroys their happiness, while they suffer under their poignant
Everyman's Bible Commentaries or
commentary by Hiebert is superb and highly recommended).
John MacArthur: Gold
has replaced God for these apostates (See
discussion of apostasy),
who have turned away from pursuing the things of God in favor of
J.: The MacArthur Study Bible Nashville: Word
Thomas Constable: Paul
pictured a person wandering from the narrow path of truth as he
pursues money. He gets caught in thorns that pierce his skin and cause
him great pain (cf. Mt 13:22). (Hebrews Commentary)
Patrick Fairbairn: The
sentiment is, that there is no kind of evil to which the love of money
may not lead men, when once it fairly takes hold of them. (Pastoral
Epistles - Comments on 1Ti 6:10)
Thomas Watson asks...
Are we heavenly in our affections?
Do we set our affections on the kingdom of heaven? Col 3:2-note.
If we are heavenly, we despise all things below—in comparison with the
kingdom of God; we look upon the world but as a beautiful prison; and
we cannot be much in love with our fetters, though they are made of
gold. Our hearts are in heaven. A stranger may be in a foreign land to
gather up debts owing him—but he desires to be in his own kingdom and
nation: so we are here awhile as in a strange land—but our desire is
chiefly after the kingdom of heaven, where we shall be forever. The
world is the place of a saint's abode, not his delight. Is it thus
with us? Do we, like the patriarchs of old, desire a better country?
Heb 11:16. This is the temper of a true saint, his affections are set
on the kingdom of God: his anchor is cast in heaven, and he is carried
there with the sails of desire.... There needs be no exhortation for
us to set our hearts on things below. How is the curse of the serpent
upon most men! " (Lords
writer John Owen encourages us...
Fix your affections upon the things
that are above, and this will enable you to mortify sin (Col 3:5-note).
Heavenly things are blessed and suitable objects—God Himself, in His
beauty and glory; the Lord Jesus Christ, who is 'altogether lovely,'
the 'chief of ten thousand'; grace and glory; and the blessed promises
of the Gospel.
Were our affections filled, taken up, and possessed with these things,
as it is our duty that they should be—and it is our happiness when
they are—what access could sin, with its painted pleasures, with its
sugared poisons, with its envenomed baits, have into our souls? How
should we loathe all sin's proposals, and say unto them,
"Away with you, you
For what are the vain, transitory
pleasures of sin—in comparison to the heavenly glories (Ed: the
better country, the prepared city) which are proposed unto us?
ILLUSTRATION OF DESIRING THE WRONG COUNTRY -
An article in a San Francisco newspaper reported that a young man who
once found a $5 bill on the street resolved that from that time on he
would never lift his eyes while walking. The paper went on to say that
over the years he accumulated, among other things, 29,516 buttons,
54,172 pins, 12 cents, a bent back, and a miserly disposition. But he
also lost something—the glory of sunlight, the radiance of the stars,
the smiles of friends, and the freshness of blue skies. I’m afraid
that some Christians are like that man. While they may not walk around
staring at the sidewalk, they are so engrossed with the things of this
life that they give little attention to spiritual and eternal values.
Perhaps they’ve gotten a taste of some fleeting pleasure offered by
the world and they’ve been spending all their time pursuing it (Eccl
1:14, 12:1, 8, 13,14). But that is dangerous. When God’s children, who
are “seated...with Him in the heavenly places,” (Ep 2:6) give their
affection and attention to a world that is passing away (1Jn 2:8,17
1Co 7:31 Jas 1:10,11 4:14 1Pe 1:24 4:7), they lose the upward look.
Their perspective becomes distorted, and they fail to bask in heaven’s
sunlight. Taken up with the baubles of this world, they become beaten
down by the lusts of this world and end up as defeated, delinquent
Christians. Some like Demas who loved this present world (2Ti 4:10)
proved by their love of this world where their true love lay! Our
temporal affections give a definite clue to our eternal destiny. Do
not be deceived! Buttons, pins, and pennies, but no treasures laid up
in heaven. The apostle Paul would advise you to , “Set your mind on
the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” To live for
the things of this world is to miss life’s best. Let’s set our sights
on the heights!
CORN IN THE BARNYARD - In his book Hurrying
Big for Little Reasons, Ronald Meredith spoke of a quiet spring night
when the silence was broken by the sound of wild geese flying. “I ran
to the house,” Meredith comments, “and breathlessly announced the
excitement I felt. What is to compare with wild geese across the moon?
It might have ended there, except for the sight of our tame mallards
on the pond. They heard the wild call they had once known. The honking
out of the night sent little arrows of prompting deep into their wild
yesterdays. Their wings fluttered a feeble response. The urge to
fly—to take their place in the sky for which God had made them—was
sounding in those feathered breasts, but they never raised from the
water. The matter had been settled long ago. The corn of the barnyard
was too tempting!
AN EAGLE IN THE BARNYARD - The Scottish
preacher John McNeill liked to tell about an eagle that had been
captured when it was quite young. The farmer who snared the bird put a
restraint on it so it couldn’t fly, and then he turned it loose to
roam in the barnyard. It wasn’t long till the eagle began to act like
the chickens, scratching and pecking at the ground. This bird that
once soared high in the heavens seemed satisfied to live the barnyard
life of the lowly hen. One day the farmer was visited by a shepherd
who came down from the mountains where the eagles lived. Seeing the
eagle, the shepherd said to the farmer, “What a shame to keep that
bird hobbled here in your barnyard! Why don’t you let it go?” The
farmer agreed, so they cut off the restraint. But the eagle continued
to wander around, scratching and pecking as before. The shepherd
picked it up and set it on a high stone wall. For the first time in
months, the eagle saw the grand expanse of blue sky and the glowing
sun. Then it spread its wings and with a leap soared off into a
tremendous spiral flight, up and up and up. At last it was acting like
an eagle again. Perhaps you have let yourself be comfortable in the
barnyard of the world—refusing to claim your lofty position as God’s
child. He wants you to live in a higher realm. Confess your sins, and
“seek those things which are above.” You will soon be longing to rise
above the mundane things of this world. Like the eagle, it’s not too
late to soar to greater heights again.
THEREFORE GOD IS NOT ASHAMED TO BE CALLED THEIR GOD
FOR HE HAS PREPARED A CITY FOR THEM: dio ouk
epaischunetai (3SPPI) autous o theos theos epikaleisthai (PPN) auton hetoimasen
(3SAAI) gar autois polin: (He 2:11) (Ge 17:7,8; Exodus
3:6,15; Isaiah 41:8, 9, 10; Jer 31:1; Mt 22:31,32; Mk 12:26; Lk 20:37;
Acts 7:32) (He 11:10; 13:14; Mt 25:34; Lk 12:32; Php 3:20)
of conclusion - always asks "What is it
there for?") - Because they were looking for a heavenly
country which reflected their God seeking heart (Heb 11:6), God was
Vincent explains it this way...
Because they have commended
themselves to God by their faith, so that he acknowledges them as his
own. Comp. He 2:11-note;
Mk. 8:28, 38; Ro 1:16-note;
actually based in sermon on these conjunctions therefore
(wherefore in KJV) and for...
I have been looking into this text
very earnestly, and trying to find out exactly what was the meaning of
the Holy Spirit in it; and I think I have discovered a due in two
words which it contains; first, “Wherefore”: “Wherefore God is not
ashamed. to be called their God;”— and next, “for”: “For he hath
prepared for them a city.” As a door hangs upon two hinges, so my
golden text turns upon these two pivots, “wherefore” and
“for.”...the Lord was not ashamed to be called his people’s God
because they had faith in Him....“These all died in faith.” If a man
believes in God, trusts Him,— believes that His promise is true, and
that He will keep it,— believes that God’s command is right, and
therefore ought to be obeyed,— God is never ashamed to be called that
man’s God. He is not the God of unbelievers, for they act contrary to
His will. They set up their own will in opposition to his; many of
them even doubt his existence, they deny his power, they distrust his
love; wherefore, he is not called their God; but when a man comes to
trust God, and to accept his Word, from that moment God sees in that
man the work of his grace, which is very precious in his eyes, and he
is not ashamed to be called that man’s God. (Read the full sermon
Hebrews 11:16 The Two Pivots)
from epi = upon or used to intensify the meaning of the
following word + aischunomai from aischos =
disfigurement & then disgrace) means to experience a painful feeling
or sense of loss of status because of some particular event or
activity. It describes one's consciousness of guilt or of exposure or
the fear of embarrassment that one's expectations may prove false.
is associated with being afraid, feeling shame which prevents one from
doing something, a reluctance to say or do something because of fear
of humiliation, experiencing a lack of courage to stand up for
something or feeling shame because of what has been done.
- 11x in NAS - Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; Ro 1:16; 6:21; 2Ti 1:8,
12, 16; Heb 2:11; 11:16. In Septuagint 3x - Ps 118:6, Job 34:19, Is
God is not
ashamed of them to be called their God - God referred to Himself as “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and
the God of Jacob” (Ex 3:6; cf. Ge 28:13; Ge 32:9 Mt 22:32).
This is a significant covenant formula whereby an individual or a
people identified with God and He with them (cf. Lev 26:12).
explains what it means that God was not ashamed...
What this means is explained: God
“prepared for them a city.” These patriarchs God acknowledges as His
children, and so He prepared a city for them, this heavenly city being
their true, eternal fatherland. The final word “a city” takes
us back to Heb 11:10 where we are told that Abraham kept waiting for
this wonderful city. It is now entirely clear from the explanation
given in Heb 11:13-16.
To be called their God -
Marvin Vincent writes...
Lit. to be surnamed. Comp. Acts
4:36; 10:5, 18, 32. God was called the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and
of Jacob. See Ex. 3:6.
Steven Cole's offers some
practical implications of desiring a better country...a heavenly
We as strangers and exiles on this
earth have the opportunity to tell others about our homeland...As Paul
explained (Php 3:19-note,
we are not like those “whose end is destruction, whose god is their
appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on
earthly things.” Rather, “our citizenship is in heaven”! Since we come
from a different country, we talk and act differently than the natives
of this world do. When they observe that we are different, we should
be ready to tell them why (1Pe 3:15-note).
Tell them about God’s promise of heaven for all that believe in
Christ, so that they can join us as pilgrims journeying toward our new
country in heaven.....
We who live and die according to faith seek and desire a better
country in heaven, prepared by God for us (He 11:16).
There are four aspects of He 11:16 that I can only touch on briefly:
the better country; the prepared city; the desire that seeks; and, our
God who is not ashamed.
The better country is heaven -
We cannot answer many of our questions about heaven, but we can know
for certain that it will be far better than the best existence that we
can imagine on this earth. Every problem that we face on this earth is
the result of the fall of the human race into sin. In heaven, there
will be no curse, no death, no sorrow, and no pain (Rev 21:4-note).
Think of all of the businesses and jobs that will not be needed in
heaven! No doctors or nurses, no police or armed forces, no locksmiths
or keys, no need for anti-virus for your computer!
Heaven will be beautiful beyond our imagination. Golden streets, walls
and gates made out of precious stones, and the clear river of the
water of life flowing through it are mere earthly pictures to give us
a dim idea of how magnificent it will be. But the best part of heaven
is that God Himself will dwell among us as His people (Rev. 21:3-note)!
There will be no need of sun or moon, because the glory of God will
illumine it all the time.
The prepared city is for us -
The better country and the prepared city are the same thing, viewed
from different perspectives. This is the heavenly city with
foundations, whose architect and builder is God (He 11:10-note;
“made ready as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21:2-note).
Many Christians envision heaven as a beautiful country estate,
secluded in privacy from all neighbors. But the Bible pictures heaven
as a city! We think of cities as dirty, polluted, crowded, run-down
places, with graffiti defacing everything. But the heavenly city will
be pristine and indescribably beautiful. Earthly cities are dangerous,
because of the high crime rate. But the heavenly city will be with-out
sin. In earthly cities, you have to put up with difficult neighbors
and rude strangers. But the heavenly city will be a place of close,
sweet fellowship with those filled with the love of Christ. Since it
will be an eternal city, we will never be pressed for time! Since God
prepared it for us (the same word, prepared, is in John 14:2, 3), it
will be perfectly suited to all of our needs.
The God who is not ashamed of us is our God.
Because these patriarchs desired the heavenly country, “Therefore, God
is not ashamed of them [lit.], to be called their God.” The idea of
God being ashamed is startling! It is a figure of speech, using the
negative to mean the positive, that God is pleased to be called their
God. But even this is startling! When God appeared to Moses at the
burning bush, He said, “I am the God of your father, the God of
Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Ex 3:6; see Mt.
22:32). Even though these men were far from perfect, God was pleased
to be identified with them. In fact, God is most often called the God
of Jacob, who was the least exemplary of the three (Bruce, p. 307).
See how great a love the Father has
bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we
are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not
know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared
as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like
Him, because we will see Him just as He is. [Then he applies these
glorious truths] And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies
himself, just as He is pure. (1Jn 3:1-note,
Jonathan Edwards has a wonderful sermon titled, “The
Christian Pilgrim). I put this quote under the glass on
my desk, so that I can think on it often (p. 244):
God is the highest good of the
reasonable creature; and the enjoyment of him is the only happiness
with which our souls can be satisfied.-- To go to heaven, fully to
enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations
here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the
company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but the enjoyment of God
is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun.
These are but streams; but God is the fountain. These are but drops;
but God is the ocean.--Therefore it becomes us to spend this life only
as a journey towards heaven, as it becomes us to make the seeking of
our highest end and proper good, the whole work of our lives; to which
we should subordinate all other concerns of life. Why should we labor
for, or set our hearts on, any thing else, but that which is our
proper end, and true happiness?
Ask God to open your eyes to the
beauty of the better country, which is heaven. Ask Him to fill your
vision with the beauty of Jesus, so that with the psalmist (Ps. 73:25-note,
you can testify,
Whom have I in heaven but You? And
besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may
fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Discussion Questions -
1. What is worldliness? How can we avoid it? 2. Where is the balance between
being distinct from the world, and yet relating to the world enough to
be a witness? 3. How can we develop a deeper
desire for heaven? 4. What does it mean (practically)
to “seek the things above” (Col. 3:1-note,
Col 3:3, 4-note)?
(Heb11:13-16 Desiring a
Better Country) (Pastor Cole's sermons - recommended)
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