The two covenants
Abraham Looked For a City ‘B y faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.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: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Hebrews 11:8–10) Scripture teaches us that faith is mandatory in order to be pleasing to God (Heb.
11:6). We are able to have faith because of the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). We are able to be instructed in doctrine because of the Word God has given us (2 Tim.
3:16-17). But, what type of faith should we possess, what type of faith can we receive from God’s Word, what type of faith are we instructed to have? May we look at Abraham, and the faith he possessed in order to answer these questions.
Abraham was a man that received commands from God. Scriptures teach us that during the time of the patriarchs (those that lived before the Law was given to Moses), God spoke directly to man (Heb. 1:1-3). God spoke directly to Abraham and instructed him to leave his home and go to a land that God would show him (Gen.
12:1-3). Abraham’s faith was first established upon what God instructed him. His faith was like the faith that we read of in Romans 10:17.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”
Abraham was a man that acted upon the commands he received from God. God instructed Abraham to leave his father’s country, away from his kindred, into a land that God would show him, and after we read the command given to him, we read “so Abram departed …” (Gen. 12:4). Hebrews 11:8 adds that Abraham went “not knowing whither he went.”
Abraham’s faith was a faith that believed God would do as He said, although he had not yet seen the land promised to him. We do not read of Abraham receiving any type of confirmation from God, nor any signs from God, but only hearing the command to leave and his obedience to that command.
Abraham was a man that continued to follow the commands of God. “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” (Hebrews 11:9 KJV). Abraham continued to “sojourn” in the land. He lived in the land of promise as a stranger and a pilgrim in the land.
He never had possession of any of the land but continued to journey through the land. From the time Abraham heard the command to leave his father’s house and go to the promised land, and the time when Joshua would lead the Israelites into the Promise Land to possess it is a period of roughly 790 years. Abraham, Issac, Jacob, and many more to follow would not be able to live in the Promise Land.
Bondage in Egypt would take place, escape through the Red Sea, receiving the Law in Sinai, and an entire generation dying in the wilderness would take place before the descendants of Abraham would inhabit the land. All of this illustrates the type of faith that we should have. Abraham heard the commands and acted upon them, and man today can be justified by our faith when we hear the commands of God found within His Word, and act accordingly.
Abraham was a man that looked for the heavenly city.
“For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10 KJV). Abraham “looked” for a city, which indicates that he was “expecting” a city built by God. Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). Hope has been defined as “expectation coupled with desire” which is what is said of Abraham’s faith. He desired the heavenly city but also expected to be in that city someday.
One more observation about Abraham and the promise given to him, Abraham was promised that through his seed “all families of the earth will be blessed” (Gen. 12:1-3). All nations of the earth are not blessed because of the land promise of Canaan that was given to the Israelites, but rather, all nations of the earth are blessed through Abraham’s seed in that the Christ was delivered through Abraham’s seed line. We are told that when we act upon the commands found within Scripture, being baptized into Christ, then we are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise (Gal.
3:26-29). When we possess the type of faith Abraham had, we too can look for the heavenly city, whose builder and maker is God.
Jeremy Thornton is Minister of Highway 77 Church of Christ in Marion, Arkansas.