They did not receive what had been promised but saw it and greeted it from afar and acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens on earth, for those who speak thus show that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land from which they had come, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better homeland, a heavenly one.
As you are all aware I have been on the road a lot this summer with more to come. I remember the old days of traveling with my family to various locales whether to visit extended family or to go to some great park like Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.
Back in those days we measured the distance from our home to where we were going and back in both time (are we there yet) and AAA TripTik pages. It is much like that today. On an airplane you can bring up the flight’s website and see how far you’ve gone and have left to go. Our phones and GPSs tell us much the same thing – and even give us expected arrival times.
The writer to the Hebrews talks about distance and time today. Abraham and the Prophets saw the coming of the Messiah and the ushering in of the Kingdom from afar. Over the span of thousands of years, they likely would have used up all the TripTik pages ever printed and would have worn out technology. The key learning for us is that those afar off did not lose faith nor hope, but rather invested their entire lives in the hope that was pointed to in faith.
Abraham’s journey is used as a prime example. Abraham knew where he came from, Ur of the Chaldeans. In fact, at an absolute minimum, Abraham, his family, and all their herds, livestock, and servants walked 1,551 miles in straight line distances to get to where God directed them. Because there were no straight roads from place-to-place it was much further than that! Knowing where he came from, Abraham could have opted to go back, yet his faith kept leading him forward. He never quit.
Abraham’s faith and hope were focused on the better homeland, God’s promise of heaven to His faithful who stick to His will and carry out His plan.
Jesus encourages us to be like Abraham, resolute in faith and hope. We have the Kingdom present among us. We are its citizens. Jesus asks us to keep our eyes focused on the road ahead. We are to see what is promised to us and await it with hard work and constant expectation.
A great self-check this week is to ask ourselves: Where is my home and my focus? Will I live as a stranger and alien or be at home with how things are? Am I using all given me to be the image of God and a bearer the Kingdom to those who are outside of it? Much is indeed required of us.