Abraham and the Promised Land

The author to the Hebrews makes some important statements regarding Abraham’s relationship to the promised land in Hebrews 11. In verses 9-10, he writes, “By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” And in verses 13-16, we read, “All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.” Couple these verses with the mention in 12:22 of “Mount Zion…the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (cf. Gal. 4:25-26) and the declaration in 13:14 that “here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come,” and I would argue that the promise land of the Old Testament was a type of the heavenly city to come (cf. Rev. 21:10), and thus we ought not to affirm any spiritual or eschatological significance to the physical city of Jerusalem today. That city is still in slavery with its children (Gal. 4:25), and needs the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ in order for its citizens to become true children of Abraham. The church of Jesus Christ, made up of believing Jews and Gentiles, is the Israel of God (Gal. 6:16; I Pet. 2:9; Eph. 2:19ff.). Even those who entered into the promised land under Joshua and those who lived in Israel before the coming of Christ Jesus “did not receive what was promised, because God has provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect” (Heb. 11:39-40). Therefore we anticipate our great reunion on the last day, we have a foretaste of it each Lord’s Day (Heb. 12:23), and we live in the light of the presence of our forefathers in the faith. Maranatha! Come quickly, Lord Jesus!



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