Questions for Littles: What did Abraham do “by faith” in v8? What did he not know? What did he do by faith in v9? With whom did he dwell in tents? What was he waiting for (v10)? What did Sarah receive by faith in v11? What did she, by faith, come to judge about God? Who was the first to use the phrases in the second half of v12 (cf. Gen 15:5; Gen 22:17)? What happened to all of these people, in faith (v13)? What had they received? Of what were they sure? But what was their condition on the earth until death? What do those who confess themselves strangers on earth plainly say that they are seeking (v14)? What country was not the country that they were referring to as their home (v15)? What is the better country of which they were citizens (v16)? What is God not ashamed to be called?In the coming sermon’s text, we see something about the “when” of faith’s hope, something about the “where” of faith’s hope, and something about the “who” of faith’s hope.
First, we see something about the “when” of faith’s hope. Abraham lived his entire life without receiving the promised land. Sarah lived her entire life without receiving the promised land. Isaac lived his entire life without receiving the promised land. Jacob lived his entire life without receiving the promised land.
These all died, still believing. Where they disappointed? I wonder if you or I would be disappointed if we lived a very long life, hoping in a promise, and came to our deaths, still not having received it. Faith clings to an eternal, all-powerful God. It does not worry if a long time—or even this entire life—has passed, and we still haven’t received all that we hope for.
Second, we see something about the “where” of faith’s hope. And that “where” is not here. If there’s ever been a promise that seemed this-life-earthy, it would have been the land promise. People still refer to Palestine as the “promised land” or the “holy land.”
But we discover in this passage that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were looking forward to a land that they would not receive in this life. In fact, they were looing forward to what we now call the New Heavens and the New Earth—in which they would inherit not just Palestine, but the whole world.
Are you looking forward to inheriting the whole world with them? Biblical faith doesn’t view one set of promises for the Jews and another for the Christians. It is not particularly interested in the tract of land belonging to the current nation-state called “Israel.” Rather, it looks forward to inheriting the New Heavens and New Earth, and all that they contain—which we will do right alongside those who have gone before (cf. v38-39).
Finally, we see something about the “who” of faith’s hope. In the end, the “when” of eternity, and the “where” of the New Heavens and New Earth comes down to the “who” of God Himself. A big part of biblical faith is “judging Him faithful” (cf. v11).
v16 is the most extraordinary part of God’s promises to which biblical faith clings. “God is not ashamed to be called their God.” It’s not just that God is building a dwelling for us to call our own. It is that God is preparing to dwell with us, and that He Himself is now called our own!
As we have seen before: one of the most important parts of biblical faith is coming to the conclusion that God Himself is His own best gift to us. He is our shield and our exceedingly great reward!
What blessings had you hoped for from God that you have not yet received? How do they compare with the eternal, universal, and personal promises to which biblical faith clings?Suggested Songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly I Am with You” or HB126 “In Sweet Communion”