Hoekstra’s Day by Day by Grace (October 27th)
Abraham’s Patient, Heavenly Pilgrimage, by Faith
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seenthem afar off were assured of them, embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. (Hebrews 11:13-14)
We looked at Sarah’s testimony in Hebrews previously (in the meditation on God’s promises on August 8). Now, we will move on to consider a strategic facet of Abraham’s testimony regarding his obedient, earthly sojourn, by faith. Therein, we saw him traveling through life on earth as an alien, a stranger (in the world, but not of it). Now, we will see Abraham’s patient, heavenly pilgrimage, by faith. His previous testimony concluded with this pilgrimage theme: “For he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God“ (Hebrews 11:10). Early in the present continuing testimony, the two themes are coupled. “They were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”A stranger (sojourner) is one who does not belong to the given locale. The pilgrim is one who is marching toward a given spiritual destination.
Abraham and his family (Sarah, Isaac, and Jacob) were promised the land flowing with milk and honey. “These all died in faith, not having received the promises.” They did not personally possess the promised land. Yet, they lived with a sense of guaranty that God would fulfill His promises: “but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them.” They fully accepted the certainty that the Lord would some day give that land to their seed. Meanwhile, they confessed that they were content to live as strangers concerning this world and as pilgrims anticipating the world to come: “and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”
Now, the pilgrimage aspect of Abraham’s testimony (and his family’s) is emphasized. “For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.” As the years passed and the promised land was not given to them, their hearts yearned for a true, lasting, eternal homeland. “For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.” God wants to develop this perspective of heavenly pilgrimage in our hearts as well. “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11). The Lord wants us to set our daily course toward heaven, rejecting earthly cravings that diminish spiritual vitality.
Father God, You have fulfilled so many promises for me here on this earth. I praise You and thank You for such loving grace. Still, my heart yearns for that which heaven alone can provide. Thus, I press on as a pilgrim, bound for my homeland above.