November 19: By Faith
In Genesis 12:7, we read: “The Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your offspring I will give this land.’”
Then, we wait.
In Hebrews 11, the chapter on which the song By Faith is based, we see Abraham (Abram) believing God’s promise. God had told him to leave his country, people, and family, and he “went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:8-10).
We also see Joseph, a foreigner in Egypt. He has become a prominent leader, and he and his family enjoy health and prosperity. But Joseph longs to return to the land God promised his people.
We see Moses, leading God’s people out of Egypt after they have become enslaved. Moses chooses to align himself with God’s people despite great personal risk, loss, and hardship. But despite God having made the promise to Abraham many years ago, Moses and the people wander for many years in the desert before we see Rahab welcoming the spies into Canaan.
So how did all of these people continue to live by faith, even when they didn’t see God’s promise come to fruition?
Verses 13 through 16 give us the answer:
“They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”
Wow, to think that Abraham and those who followed after him already looked forward to a heavenly city, with foundations built by God. I want to have that kind of faith–faith that understands God’s revelation, recognizes his work, and trusts in his promise and power.
God made the promise of a perfect and permanent homeland to Abraham and his descendents, and, as we noted two weeks ago, we are now Abraham’s descendents in God’s sight–by faith. Romans 2:16-17 says, “The promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring–not only to those who are of the law but also those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: ‘I have made you a father of many nations.’ He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed.”
By faith, we are “children of the promise.” We are foreigners in our nations and strangers in the world, longing for our better home. Like our father Abraham, we are anticipating God’s holy city–prepared for us by God himself!
Now, we wait.
For Reflection: Read Revelation 21:1-4, 22-27, and 22:1-5 for a description of our promised perfect and permanent home. Then read Hebrews 10:35-39. Ask God to help you to persevere and wait in confident faith.