These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from which they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he has prepared for them a city. (Heb 11:13-16 KJ2000)
As some of you might have observed, there has been a great struggle of gaining true faith in Christ and His kingdom within me. How many of us are truly “strangers and exiles” on this earth? We Christians, especially here in America, still have our hopes in a land where we can find our city. We still hope to get a secure place here on earth and this delusion is probably greatest in “the land of the free.” Our founding fathers thought that they had finally found that secure place on this earth. Many of them had fled Europe because of persecution for their faith. They worked hard to make America secure, not only for them, but for us. But in this present hour we are watching all their hard work and all our “securities” evaporate before out eyes; our 401k retirement plans, our property values, our family ties, world peace and safety, even our so-called Constitutional rights they fought so hard to secure! All that we relate to as “security” in this world is evaporating before our eyes and there is panic in the air.
The above passage is from the great “faith chapter” in Hebrews. There we find a list of people who put their trust in God. All these saints of old had one thing in common… not one of them ever found a secure place in this world, but their hopes were in something far off, “a heavenly.” Is that where we have our only hope? Is God “not ashamed to be called our God”?
Americans are about the richest people on earth, but our riches have deceived us. They have made us put our hopes in things that are temporary and transient. In His parable of the sower, Jesus warned, “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that hears the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful” (Mat 13:22 KJ2000). We American Christians hear the words of Christ and His gospel and we think that we are thus “saved,” because we once made a “decision” for Christ. But what happens after that? How many of us go out and get all wrapped up with the cares and concerns of this world after Jesus sets us free? Jesus said that where a man’s treasure is, there will his heart be also. The hearts of many are waxing cold for fear of what is coming upon this country and the world. Many Christians are even taking up arms and are willing to kill to save themselves and what is theirs. Have we not learned from the example of Peter with his sword? Jesus said, “He who finds his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for my sake will find it.” Thorns – the cares of this world, choke out faith and can kill our relationship with God.
In Romans we read,
For the earnest expectation of the creation waits for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who has subjected the same in hope, Because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, that is, the redemption of our body. (Rom 8:19-23 KJ2000)
Glorious liberty! Are we truly the Sons of Liberty? Our founding fathers thought they were. I think we are in the process of being freed in the truest spiritual since. We have been born into vanity and futility as sons of Adam. We are in bondage because we think that our continuing city, our “peace of the rock” is to be found on this earth. I can see why Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor.” They have a lot less “thorns” in their lives to be released of.
We give lip service that Jesus is our Rock, the Rock of our salvation, but are all our hopes and dreams founded on that Rock alone? So, as we watch all our earthly securities being vaporized, God is hoping we get the picture! HE has subjected us to lives of vanity here on earth in hope that we will finally see that being totally IN Christ is our only hope. HE alone is that which can not be shaken while everything else is shaking and falling apart (see Hebrews 12:26-29). Our hope and our lives must be IN Him or we will suffer great loss as the waves of tribulation come crashing in upon us.
Paul wrote, “For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.” He is talking about the labor pains of a woman. You see, the earth is the womb we are in. It is rumbling and pushing and being stressed to its limits. Why? So we who are Christ’s would dig in and hold on for all that we are worth? So we would fight to hold this existence together to our dying breaths?
Jesus defined some of these “birth pains” as wars, earthquakes, natural disasters, famines, pestilence, and such. Men cry “Peace! Peace! And there is no peace.” This age is coming to an end and the whole creation is giving birth, actually pushing us out of this world and all that pertains to it. Is it any wonder that everything we cling to as “security” in this life is failing?
I think a baby must feel a great deal of rejection in the birthing process. All of a sudden the walls of his world are closing in on that once warm and comfortable place that was its whole life and reality. Its whole known world is pushing it out as if it is unwanted! Then that blast of cold air and the bright lights. Oh, the trauma! No wonder they come out crying. But what is next? The mother takes the child, wraps it in a blanket and puts him on her breast. The crying is over. There is no more of a peaceful sight than a baby nursing at its mother’s breast. This is all a parable from God. We should take hope in what is ahead, dear saints. “Travail lasts for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”
Paul continues, “We ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, that is, the redemption of our body.” The redemption of our body… what does that mean? He is speaking of our being caught up into that eternal city whose builder and maker is God whose Foundation is Jesus Christ, God’s own Son. For here we have no continuing city. There is a groaning within us, those who are His, to get out of here and get on with REAL Life… that eternal life we have had a foretaste of in Christ!
“For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that has made us for the same thing is God, who also has given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord” (2Co 5:4-6 KJ2000).
Our redemption has been sealed by the Holy Spirit within. He is the “earnest money” of the agreement we have made with God when we first surrendered to Jesus. Next came the “down payment.” We gave all we had to get that house. We surrender ALL to Him in this life process. Then comes the closing and we finally get the keys to our house and we get to move in. And guess what? Once we are moved in we find a note on the kitchen counter that the rest of the loan is paid off! The house is totally ours because Jesus paid the full price after all.
Lord, open our eyes to what a great salvation you have given us. Free us of the thorns that seek to choke out our faith in your Son. Raise us up as joint heirs with Christ and let us see that we NOW live in heavenly places as we put our trust in Him alone. Amen.