God Pleasing Faith, Faith Sojourners, Lesson 10, Hebrews 11:12-16
I love Godís word for Godís word fits together like a fine glove fits the hand for every finger finds its rest in a place individually fitted to it.
God speaks of faith in Genesis and God speaks of faith in Colossians and all fit together without fray or tear.
For in Colossians 3:1,2, we of faith are told for what to seek:
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
In our faith study we have spoken of the dreams and aspirations of our fellow citizens but Paul reminds us here and puts us in a category different from citizens of the earth and desires us to remember that we be risen with Christ.
And as such we are to live a life of faith which looks for the things afar off and what a difference that vision will make in your daily life.
And therefore as Jesus Christ told his disciples in Matthew 6:19-21, we are to:
Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
Men and women of faith, whether they be of Abrahamís time or our time do not put much emphasis on the good life, a life of comfort and pleasure, but their minds occupy thoughts of higher things.
But think about how you spend time.
It is all on the now and now?
We live in a trying time in our country where we often find ourselves griping and complaining about the state of things.
It is easy to find subjects that are controversial that when discussed can almost make our blood boil.
But think about these things, things we think so important, with regard to faith for we have seen in the life of Abraham that he was a man who looked afar off, whose gaze was toward something that God was preparing for him.
Abraham, our father of faith, was a pilgrim and did not get himself tied emotionally to the issues of the day but was looking for a city whose builder and maker was God.
God, throughout his word brings us to focus on things above for things beneath are not fit for living an eternal life with God
We are so prone in this image conscious day to take pictures of everything but God gives us a better picture by giving us his word and in his word he calls us to see that great city:
the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, 11 Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.
So the message to people of faith is that faith is given to look afar off to see the promises of God fulfilled.
God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations and Abraham, a man of faith looked distantly and did see the promise as good as fulfilled.
And therefore on this side of Abraham we can read in Hebrews 11:12-16,
12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. 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.
God is good for we are able to see this side of Abraham and the promise of many nations fulfilled.
God promises both for now and forever.
We see Godís promises fulfilled in our life but many are still afar off.
But whether they are fulfilled today or tomorrow is not relevant for God is true and never lies and always brings about what he promises.
We are told that the faith of these heroes carried them even to death for they all died in faith not having received the promises.
But their life of faith communicated to others that they were strangers and pilgrims to the things of the earth for they never satisfied themselves with that which only fed the flesh for they were of the spirit of God.
God, in his marvelous word, gives us pictures of these heroes that we who walk by faith may also see ourselves as strangers and pilgrims for unless you see yourself that way your whole existence will be for the present day.
Abraham only owned his burial place and when he purchased this plot for Sarah he said as recorded in Genesis 23:4, to the sons of Heth, I am a stranger and a sojourner with you.
And Jacob, his grandson continued to live the life of his grandfather, to live the life of faith and also saw his life as a sojourn.
To sojourn is to dwell or live in a place as a temporary resident, or as a stranger, who does not consider the place as his permanent habitation.
So Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, men of faith saw themselves as travelers who desired 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.
So, given to see that city, their lives were always toward that city for the city was promised by God.
But in order to follow Godís promises we must see Godís promises as did the patriarchs and for that it takes eyes of faith.
An immediate consequence of Satanís deception of Adam and Eve was to blind their eyes.
All they were left with was eyes to see the things which catered to their flesh for their spirit was dead.
Read of this in II Cor. 4:4, In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
Notice the cure for this blindness has to do with belief for Satan has blinded the minds of them which believe not.
Faith is the victory for it opens the eyes to the promises of God.
The Apostle Peterís eyes were opened by faith and he reminded those of faith in:
I Peter 2:9, But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
Faith, which only God can give, brings change so drastically as to make those things that are afar off seem to be as present things.
Abraham, in looking for the city, saw the day of Jesus and was glad, for Jesus said to the faithless Pharisees: Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day.
We are born sinners, sinners blind to the things of God.
But Jesus Christ has come to open eyes that we may see the promises of God through eyes of faith.
He has said that whosoever believes in Him has eternal life and believing in him changes the blind into the seeing.
Your first birth brought you into this world a sinner with blinded eyes to the promises of God.
But God, a loving God has made a way, and that way is called Jesus Christ who will bring you sight by being born again into his family moving you from the faithless to the faithful, from having blinded eyes to eyes that see.
There is a hymn that expresses the heart of the faithful for it expresses the heart that moves by faith.
It calls on God to:
Only God can bring this about, only God can give sight to the blind, only God can bring sight to see his promises.
And oh how clear those promises were for we are told that having seen them afar off they were persuaded of them and not only that they embraced them.
They too were of the hugging generation but what they hugged, what they embraced was Godís promises.
What a joy it was for them to contemplate what God had planned for them.
What a joy it was for them to spend their lives knowing that their journey to God would bring them one day into his presence.
Just think of them singing our hymns of faith such as the hymn,
Standing on the Promises of Christ my King,
Through eternal ages let His praises ring,
Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,
Standing on the promises of God.
Men of faith, women of faith stand on Godís promises as their sure foundation and embrace them with outstretched arms for they are life to them.
But they are available only through Christ, only available to those who believe that God is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
And they are not afraid to speak plainly that they seek a country, confessing that they are strangers and pilgrims on the earth
And we learn by our passage that the promises were never forgotten for they died still in the faith, without receiving the promises.
Yes they tasted of the promises.
Abraham saw the beginning of the nations in Isaac and Jacob.
Jacob saw further down the road as the nation began to form in Egypt and his family enlarged.
But theirs was a life of the pilgrim, theirs was a life of sojourning.
Still seeing the fulfillment of the promises from a distance for that is the plan of God, that is the plan of faith.
Believing God that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him for faith pleases God and God will maintain faith for faith will bring him glory.
And faith continues to see the fulfillment of the promises from a distance.
I have eternal life now but unless I hear the trumpet sound and rise to meet the Lord in the air I, like most believers, will die in faith not having received the fulfillment of the promises in this life.
Here too is Godís plan that the world not see anything of the promises without faith.
God laughs at those who ridicule what they call our dream like faith.
While looking for the call from God we, from their perspective, all die and are buried just like those who think that death is the end all of life.
Every one dead looks the same.
But God does not operate according to the rules of unbelief instead operating according to the rules of faith.
And a rule of faith is expressed in Abrahamís life where he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
Abraham saw, Abraham welcomed, Abraham embraced Godís promises, but God required that he do so in this life only from afar.
And another rule of faith is separation and alienation from familiar things, customs and traditions and the way of the world dwelling with heirs of the same promise.
Abraham believed God and forsook his family and friends and things became different for him as the things of the world lost their luster for with eyes of faith he saw true and eternal value.
Walking in faith is walking in light.
Faith reveals to us this evil world.
Faith gives us eyes to see somewhat what God sees.
Faith shows us that the aims and purposes of those who live apart from God are vain and short lived.
Faith brings to our heart the desire to walk the narrow way apart from the broad way that leads to destruction.
Faith tries on the world and tells us that it does not fit.
Faith tells us that as we continue to look for the promises of God we will be different from the world and for this the world will hate us.
The faith world and this world will never co-exist and never have dťtenteí.
For one is of God and the other is of the devil.
The operating manual of one is Godís word only, but the operating manual of the other constantly changes with new editions and revisions issued daily.
One is letting all things be done decently and in order and the other is letting all things be done in confusion.
Live by faith and you will not fit in with this world.
When you are around worldly things you will desire to flee for that is a world without God for the world lives as if there is no God.
God says My ways are not your ways and my thoughts are not your thoughts.
But as God conforms those of faith to his son, Jesus Christ, something happens to those of faith for Godís thoughts and Godís ways begin to become their thoughts and their ways.
And in this they can be sure that the world will reject them for it, as they did the Lord of Glory, Jesus Christ.