The Attitudes and Goal of Life for a Stranger on Earth                        


“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one.” (Hebrews 11:13-16)


God called Abraham to leave Ur of the Chaldeans and go to the land of Canaan. The Lord promised to bless him, make his descendents as numerous as the stars in the sky and receive the land of Canaan as his inheritance. He believed in God, and God credited it to him as his righteousness. In his old age, Abraham had a son, and later saw the birth of two grandsons. Until the day he died, he was still living as a stranger in Canaan. The author of the Book of Hebrews shows us the attitudes of life and ultimate goal of Abraham. The children of God should live by the same attitudes and goal.


1.     Different point of view: Because their livestock and servants were becoming too numerous, Abraham and his nephew Lot had to separate and each find a place to settle down. According to what he thought was good, Lot chose the whole plain of the River Jordan, and gradually moved towards the city of Sodom. From the point of view of expansion and habitable conditions, that might have been a wise decision. But from God’s point of view, that place was most sinful. Abraham was always close to the Lord, and knew the way the Lord looked at sin. So he did not live near that place his whole life. The children of God should have a heavenly point of view when looking at the world’s prosperity and bounty, and not be influenced by its trends and iniquities. The basis of all of our choices in life should be by the word of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.


2.     Different aspiration: After Abraham defeated the four kings and rescued Lot, the king of Sodom offered all of the goods of the city to him according to the rights of the victor at the time. But he adamantly refused to accept it, saying, “I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, 'I made Abram rich.'” This was an indication of the growth of Abraham’s spiritual life - by giving up the benefit to what was rightfully his, and solely looking to and relying on the providence of God, so that the glory of success may all be returned to God. The longer we have believed in the Lord, the deeper should be our spiritual training and knowledge of God. The decision governing our choice of things should not be whether they benefit us, but whether God receives the glory. Sometimes for the sake of the Lord, we are willing to give up rights that even the world considers to be reasonable and equitable, so that we can please God.


3.     Different goal: The act of Abraham offering his son Isaac showed that his love for, faith of and obedience to God had reached a pinnacle. He loved God to the point of offering his only son to the Lord; he trusted God to the point of absolute certainty that the Lord could raise people from the dead; he obeyed God to the point of not negotiating with the Lord. The pinnacle of maturity of Abraham’s spiritual life was his hope for a better country in heaven. He envied being with God forever. All whose spiritual lives are mature have the longing to be with God forever as their ultimate goal. What they hope for is to leave this earth for heaven. In his old age, Moses composed a poem saying, “Lord, you have been our dwelling place through all generations.” (Psalm 90:1), and in Psalm 23, David ended by saying, “and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.”



By: Daniel To