Useful Bible Studies > Hebrews Commentary > chapter 11

Citizens of heaven

Hebrews 11:15

In the country called Canaan, Abraham considered himself a foreigner (Genesis 23:4). There were two places where he could have considered himself a citizen: Ur and Haran.

It was from the great city called Ur that Abraham began his journey (Genesis 11:31). After he left Ur, we never read about that city again. It is clear that Abraham did not still consider himself a citizen of that place.

But we do read about Haran again. Many members of Abraham’s family lived in that town. And Abraham wanted his son Isaac to marry a woman from that place. However, Abraham insisted that Isaac must not return there (Genesis 24:6-8). He did not want Isaac to start his family away from the country that God had promised to them.

However, Jacob did return to Haran. He intended to remain there only for a short time, but in fact, he stayed there for 21 years (Genesis chapters 29 to 31). It was very difficult for him to leave Haran, but Jacob always wanted to go back to Canaan. Jacob did not want to be a permanent citizen of Haran.

The family left those places because they wanted to be citizens of a better place. They wanted to have their homes in the country that God has established. They wanted to be citizens of the city that he has prepared. They did not find that city in Canaan, so they considered themselves foreigners there. They lived there because God had sent them there. But no country or city on this earth satisfied them. They were citizens of heaven, because God was the ruler of their lives.

Jesus spoke often about ‘the kingdom of heaven’. That phrase means ‘the country that God rules as king’. And that was the only country where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob considered themselves citizens. God had promised Canaan to them, but he was not ruling there yet. Until he had established his rule there, they were foreigners in that country.

Paul taught that Christians should have a similar attitude (Philippians 3:20). Although they respect laws and governments in this world, God is their king. Their real home is in the place where he rules.

God does not disappoint his people who trust him. So he is not ashamed to be called their God. And they are glad to be his people. None of his good promises ever fails (Joshua 23:14).

Next part: God is not ashamed! (Hebrews 11:16)


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© 2014, Keith Simons.