Hebrews – Chapter Eleven XX

by Ed Urzi

“For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:14-16 ESV).

This passage reminds us that the future reality of heaven is something that should influence our daily lives. The individuals we have already met in Hebrews chapter 11 recognized that truth as expressed in the Living Bible paraphrase of this passage…

“If they had wanted to, they could have gone back to the good things of this world. But they didn’t want to. They were living for heaven. And now God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has made a heavenly city for them.”

These verses thus serve as a fitting conclusion that connects our author’s earlier reference to God’s people as “…strangers with no permanent home on earth” (Hebrews 11:13 GW).

It also provides an important reminder to those who are seeking to find their place within this world. If we are not careful to maintain an eternal mindset, it is possible to discover that the opposite has occurred. The well-known author C. S. Lewis alerted us to this danger in observing that, “Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that he is ‘finding his place in it’, while really it is finding its place in him.” (1)

Therefore, we would do well to remember that life is short, eternity is long, and that Christ has gone to prepare an eternal home for His people. The individuals who appear in Hebrews chapter eleven could have turned back from following God in faith. However, they believed that God held a better place for them and were content to live with that future promise during their earthly sojourn.

Thus, as Hebrews 11:6 concludes, “…God is not ashamed to be called their God.” The same is true of those who similarly walk in faith. As one source observes, “They realized that this world was not their final home. They were content to be strangers and pilgrims, refusing the urge to nestle to make themselves comfortable. Their desire was to pass through the world without taking any of its character upon themselves.” (2)

Nevertheless, this passage also presents us with a question: “How could a person living in the Old Testament era find salvation since he or she never exercised explicit faith in Christ?” We find the answer to that question in Hebrews 11:14-16. In the words of one commentary, “Saints in the OT looked forward to the messianic hope and believed in God’s promises, which pointed to the future Messiah, Jesus.” (3)

(1) Lewis, C.S., The Screwtape Letters Copyright© MCMXC by Barbour and Company, Inc. [pg. 143]

(2) William Macdonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary Edited by Arthur Farstad, Thomas Nelson Publishers [pg. 2197].

(3) Ted Cabal et al., The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), 1835.