Hebrews 11:9-10–Abraham

101_6475Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Abraham: Hebrews 11:9-10

9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

As I studied these two verses, I was struck with the patience that faith requires.  The faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob required much patience–here were three generations that were promised by God that they would receive the land they walked upon; however, none of them saw the fulfillment of that promise!  Yet they all still believed in that promise even though they lived in tents as nomads.  In fact, they engrained in their children this promise of God.  Joseph made his sons promise that their descendants would carry his bones out of Egypt when they left it to go back to the land of promise!  Do you know that we are like Abraham and his descendants in this same way?   If we have placed our faith in what Jesus did for us on the cross, then He has promised us a better life:  an eternal home in heaven.  But we haven’t seen the fulfillment of that promise–we are still traveling through this life believing in the future fulfillment of that promise.  We must have the same patience that God will fulfill that promise even though this pilgrimage on earth might experience many difficulties such as  tribulation, distress,  persecution, famine, nakedness, and peril. (Romans 8:35)

Abraham’s patience is aptly described in this reprinting of Our Daily Bread.  It describes Abraham, Isaac, and Jacobs as plodders:

“Plodders  For God – In the Bible, the life of faith is often described as a walk (Genesis 17:1; Psalm 84:11; Micah 6:8; Romans 8:1; Galatians 5:25). For most of us, our Christian pilgrimage involves plodding, a pace that sometimes feels unspiritual and unproductive.  My dictionary defines plodding as ‘making one’s way slowly and perseveringly.’ Two of God’s earliest plodders, Abraham and Sarah, trusted God’s promises even though they had to wait many years for those promises to be fulfilled (Hebrews 11:8-12). Another example of productive plodding is William Carey. A shoemaker by trade, Carey became a scholar, a linguist, and the father of modern missions. He lived by this motto: “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” In old age, he made one thing clear, however: ‘If, after my removal, anyone should think it worth his while to write my life, I will give you a criterion by which you may judge of its correctness. If he gives me credit for being a plodder, he will describe me justly. Anything beyond this will be too much.” Then he added, “I can plod. . . . To this I owe everything.’    Are you fulfilling your God-given responsibilities patiently by faith,  or do you feel like giving up? God wants you to be a purposeful plodder.” — Joanie Yoder

This made me think:  Do I plod, or do I give up?  When I don’t see results when I think they should come, do I just stop living a life of faith and move onto something else?  Be a plodder!  Don’t give up on the promises of God!

What gave Abraham and his descendants the fortitude to be plodders?  What did they set their gaze upon in those moments when life was hard?  Verse 10 gives us the answer.  He kept a heavenly perspective.  He was looking forward to his heavenly city.  For him, the ultimate destination, the ultimate promise, was heaven.  Even if he never saw the fulfillment of the earthly promise, he knew he would one day see the heavenly promise, and that was enough for him,  His mindset, which should be an example for our mindset, was that of a pilgrim.  He was just a-passin’ through.  Temporal, material possessions were not a priority to him.  He had opportunity to take the best land–to move back toward a city.  But he let his nephew Lot take it, and he kept his focus on God’s promises and his goal:  his heavenly home.

His focus was evident towards those around him.  Abimelech in Genesis 21:22 says to Abraham, “God is with thee in all that thou doest.”  Melchizedek blesses “Abram of the most high God.”  (Genesis 14:19)  When we are truly pilgrims, our mindset becomes different than those who are tied to this earth, and this different mindset is evident to those around us.  We live differently; we talk differently; we dress differently; we think differently; and our priorities are different.  The souls of the lives around us are more important than the money we could make.  Serving God in our local church assembly is more important than our hobbies or fun activities.  Taking time to talk to our children about the things of God and loving them is more important than making us our house and our outside appearance beautiful.  MacArthur in his sermon says, “You know, it’s better to spend Saturday making a Christian man out of your son than making $10,000 for your bank account.  It’s better to spend Sunday morning teaching little girls about Jesus than shopping for the newest fashions and spending money and time for leisure vacations.  Would you buy that? Sure.  Order your priorities, work for the stuff that really matters.”  And we would all agree–but do we do it consistently?  I know my priorities get out of whack, and it takes constant attention (and sometimes a knock over the head) to get those priorities straightened back out!

So this study has once again been a challenge to me:

  • to believe God’s promises
  • to have patience
  • to keep plodding
  • to have the right priorities
  • to keep a heavenly focus

I hope it is a challenge and blessing to you as well!

My favorite quote about these verses:

Day by day perform your mission,
With Christ’s help keep at your tasks;
Be encouraged by His presence—
Faithfulness is all He asks. —Bosch

The world crowns quick success;
God crowns long-term faithfulness

Here are some verses that could be studied more in connection with these thoughts on the faith of Abraham. I will try to come back on the Hebrews 11:9-10 page to comment more on the verses.

Galatians 6:9–be a plodder!

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Hebrews 12:1–have the right priorities and run with patience!

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

James 5:7-8–Jesus will come back! Work with patience until He comes.

Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.

Colossians 3:2–Keep your heavenly focus; you’re a pilgrim!

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

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