The Promised Land But A Strange Country

Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 13 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 earth. 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16 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.

The Bible is carefully and intentionally worded to help us. The Bible is simple, not hard to grasp. We get into trouble when we get in the way and try to make our own interpretation. What the Bible says to one, it says to all. People in other cultures look different and act differently. Not everyone acts and looks like we do. We cannot Americanize everyone. The Bible reaches out to all, the Jews and the Gentiles. Paul reminded the Hebrews that God was Savior not just of them but to all including us in America. Aren’t you glad of that! That’s why we have a kinship with Abraham. It’s not a certain nation’s blood that counts; it’s the blood of Jesus Christ.

People ask where is the city of God? Where is heaven? It is far beyond the known universe? I’ve been asked this. The only direction I know to heaven is through Jesus for he is the way, the truth and the life. Wherever heaven is physically we don’t have a real reference point. We’re told there will be a new heaven and earth. Let’s not worry about the details of where.

We are like Abraham in our world. This isn’t a promised land. It doesn’t really tolerate Christianity. But by faith we read that Abraham trusted God. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles. He lived in tents. He believed and trusted God. He obeyed God and left his home in Ur of the Chaldees. This fertile crescent was the dawn of civilization. He was prosperous and there was no reason for him to move. How could he have found a better place to live than this fertile land? God told him to leave it all. He packed up his family and possessions and left to never come back again. There was a land to the west that God would lead him to. By faith we can remain in Christ until we reach that better country. God can make our place a promised land.

When Abraham arrived he didn’t see angels. He saw other tribes of people. God told him this land belonged to him. This promised land was not talking about heaven. It was the country God took for him because he left the land of sin back at Ur. We live in a violent, sad world but we’re not part of the world. When Abraham and Sara got to the promised land it was strange. There were no harps, no throne of God, no streets of gold. It wasn’t a perfect land. God said it was a strange land but it belonged to Abraham. When we got saved, for the first time in our life, our life belonged to us. Satan was dragging us around in sin, controlling us. We called on the Lord and he brought us out. We may live in the same old town but now it’s a promised land. Wherever we are in this world it will be strange ground. But God keeps his promises and we can stand on them in this strange land.

Abraham and Sara weren’t perfect, but God made a promise he intended to keep. Sometimes things didn’t go right. His nephew Lot gave into the wooing of Sodom and left his uncle to go there. Once Abraham even had to go fight to get him out of trouble. We don’t have to dwell in the Sodom’s of the world anymore than Lot did. He chose to go there and his life was a wreck. Abraham kept believing God and he was carrying him through.

One of the towns Abraham went through was Salem, what would one day be Jerusalem. Jesus would die there for our sins. We don’t have to wait to enjoy life. We can do it now. The priest came out and blessed them. Abraham worshipped God. We have a High Priest in Jesus Christ; he has no beginning and no ending. We can give it to him. No matter how strange the land gets, there is still a Salem, a High Priest that we can turn to.

Abraham got down at times. The years went by and the promised son didn’t come. In spite of it all, God fulfilled the promise. Well over the age to have children Sara conceived and had the son. She laughed at the news; that’s why he is called Isaac; it means laughter. It was still the land of promise even when it didn’t look like it. God was still keeping promises. He won’t let us down! It may not seem like it. It may not feel like it. But never give up on God. He comes through for us every day we live.

Abraham didn’t live in a nice house like we do yet I don’t read where his tent leaked or infested with anything. God took care of him. I’m glad there’s a better country! All this world and everything in it will be gone. Live like we’re in the promised land. It kept Abraham going.

Can we have victory this week? Sure we can! We don’t know what we’ll face but God has made a promise. Let’s take our days as children of the promise until we reach the city whose builder and maker is God.

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