Useful Bible Studies > Hebrews Commentary > chapter 11

The life of faith

Hebrews 11:13

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all lived in tents in the country that God had promised to them. They did not establish a permanent home there. They did not rule the country, in fact they did not even own it. Abraham had to buy a small piece of land in order to bury his wife (Genesis chapter 23). That was the only part of the country that the family ever owned. God told Abraham that his promise was for future centuries (Genesis 15:12-21).

So you may ask why the family had to live in that country. It seems almost as if God sent Abraham there too early. His family would not own the land for another 400 years.

The answer is that Abraham did not travel in order to own land. He travelled in order to accept Godís promises to him and to his family. So he and his family were living by faith (active belief and trust in God). They trusted that God would carry out his promises to them. So, they lived in that country; and usually, they lived in a peaceful manner there (Genesis 26:13-22). They did not try to fight for what God had given to them.

All Godís promises are true (2 Corinthians 1:20). So, faith in Godís promises is reality (Hebrews 11:1). The country really belonged to Abrahamís family already, because God had promised it. But they did not have possession of it yet.

The family did not pretend anything that was not yet true. Abraham confessed that he was a foreigner and stranger in the country (Genesis 23:4). He respected that other people had rights in that country. His own rights were in Godís promises to him. And those rights were very important to Isaac and Jacob too (Genesis 26:2-5; Genesis 28:10-15). Godís promises were the most valuable thing that they possessed. And they considered those rights as a real possession (Genesis 25:31-34).

They lived by faith, and they died in faith. Godís promises were a greater reality to them than the situation that was round them. Because of their faith, they knew that God was providing a permanent home for them. It could not happen during their lives, but still they believed.

God had promised, and they had accepted that promise. That was the nature of their relationship with God. And it can be ours, too. Godís promises are for us, if we will accept them.

Next part: Godís promises to Christians (Hebrews 11:14)


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© 2014, Keith Simons.