Friday, October 12, 2012

Looking by Faith for a 'Better Country'

Hebrews 11 is a chapter sometimes called The Hall of Faith. Over thirty men and women are named by the writer of Hebrews as examples of people possessing deep faith in God, faith that never wavered, even in the midst of difficult and troubling times for them. During their lives, these people of faith never became settled in this world. They were sojourners and pilgrims (v. 9) in this life, and they considered themselves foreigners and strangers (v. 13) to this world. For this reason, they never got too down when things were tough, nor did they get to high when things were good. Hebrews 11 is a great chapter for people of faith to study, particularly those of us who live in the very polarized and politically charged United States. The writer of Hebrews makes it clear that believers "seek a better country" (v. 16), a country having"a city with foundations, whose Builder and Architect is God" (v. 10). Further,  people of faith declare openly and plainly to those around them that they are "seeking this country" (v. 14).

The word translated "country" in Hebrews is the Greek word patrida. The Greek word pater, the root word of patrida, means Father. Patrida is best translated Fatherland.  Our eternal home is the land of our Father. This land is alternately called His Kingdom, Heaven, or the earth where the curse has been reversed.  When Jesus said "The meek will inherit the earth," He was describing that time when people of faith enter the Fatherland.  All of history is moving toward that time when the Kingdom of God within me becomes the Kingdom of God around me. Christ reigns in my heart today by faith, but one day I will be living in a land where Christ reigns by sight. This is the country to which we should keep our eye of faith focused upon.

The Germans misused and abused the term Fatherland. The enemies of God are always producing counterfeits, and Hitler's vision of a Third Reich is a corrupt and twisted application of the beauty and simplicity of Christ's eternal reign in the Fatherland. Faith in the Fatherland is what allowed Abraham to live in a tent for seventy-five years (v. 9). Faith in the Fatherland helped Moses forsake the riches of Egypt (v.26). Faith in the Fatherland allowed Joseph to order his bones not be buried in the pyramids of Egypt, but carried to the Promised Land of Canaan, which is a type of the Fatherland (v. 22). Faith in the Fatherland helped people of faith endure torture and not accept deliverance (v. 35), experience beatings, imprisonment, and cruel mockings with triumph (v. 36), and find their lives ending in stoning, hanging, or by the sword (v. 37).

The writer of Hebrews closes by saying "this world is not worthy of them." (v. 38).

Next time you get bent all out of shape because somebody opposes your political viewpoint, or next time you read a book that convinces you that the world is going to financially collapse in the next five years, or next time you take a look around and see that you don't have a great deal of possessions accumulated from your decades of living in this world, remember Hebrews 11 and remind yourself that it is far better to store up for yourself treasures in the Fatherland (selfless love in all your relationships and intimacy with God), than it is to get too disconcerted about the things of this life.

A 'better country' is coming.


Christiane said...

this post reminds me of the last verse of an English hymn:

"I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

And there's another country, I've heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.

Words by Sir Cecil Spring-Rice

Greg Mills said...

Very well stated. In this day of age of the polarization of America, it is great to be reminded of where our true home will be.

God Bless.

aletheia said...

Yes, but in seeking in the Father and praying, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven"...don't you find your heart called forth with these Words?
"And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets--who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in way, put foreign armies to flight. women received back their dead by resurrection..."

I fear...not so much the outcome of this physical life, but, as C.S. Lewis said, to effect, that God finds our passions not too strong...but far too weak.

Aletheia said...

And Wade: I just "happen" to read in Jeremiah 25 about judgments...(vs.33), so of course I wonder...and thought to check out what it means.

A bit of Mathew Henry:

We have, in these verses, a further description of those terrible desolations which the king of Babylon with his armies should make in all the countries and nations round about Jerusalem. In Jerusalem God had erected his temple; there were his oracles and ordinances, which the neighbouring nations should have attended to and might have received benefit by; thither they should have applied for the knowledge of God and their duty, and then they might have had reason to bless God for their neighbourhood to Jerusalem; but they, instead of that, taking all opportunities either to debauch or to disturb that holy city, when God came to reckon with Jerusalem because it learned so much of the way of the nations, he reckoned with the nations because they learned so little of the way of Jerusalem.