Why is the patriarch Abraham considered a giant in the faith of God? Faith means believing having not seen it yet with the eyes.
So what did Abraham not see? Reading his story in the book of Genesis, we understand that Abraham did see many wonderful things. Yes, Abraham was promised that he would become a great nation and that God would bless him and make his name great. And God would bless “all the families of the earth” (12: 1-3). So by faith Abraham believed God’s initial promise to him by faith.
But this did not come to him off the pages of a book or a dream. “The LORD appeared unto Abram” (12: 7). Yahweh appeared to him! “Appeared” is translated from the same Hebrew word rendered “see” hundreds of times in the Bible–as in literally seeing with one’s eyes. So Yahweh made Himself visible to Abram, and He spoke to Him and promised to him the land they were standing on, the land of the Canaanites, the Promised Land. Did Abram own that land at the time God appeared to him? No, but He who promised him stood there and spoke to him. That obviously made it a lot easier to believe.
Then God promised Abraham that he would have a son in his old age. Now that is a miracle, especially considering “the deadness of Sarah’s womb.” And it did indeed take faith to believe God that this miracle would happen. But God appeared several times to Abraham and spoke with him many times, literally, and this made it much easier for him to believe. I am not lessening the faith of Abraham, but, let’s face it; appearances help. No question about it.
Abraham walked in full belief, and so God appeared unto him again and again, making a covenant with him, that he would become the father of many nations (17: 1-8). God would make nations from him and kings. In fact, through the lineage of Abraham, God would bring forth the Lamb of God, Immanuel, God with us.
So for a time, Abraham did walk in faith, and his miracle son of promise, Isaac, did come, all from the appearances of God to him. It did take faith to believe that he at 100 and Sarah at 90 would have a child the next year after God appeared and promised it (18: 1-15). But God was standing right there promising it. It happened and as they held Isaac in their arms, it did not take faith to believe it, for they had the evidence right there. For faith is “the evidence of things not seen.”
What Abraham Never Saw
So what was it that Abraham never saw in his walk with God? What took the most faith for him to believe of God’s promises? He saw miracles, heavenly messengers from another dimension, even the great Creator Himself standing there speaking to him. And once having seen all this, it did not take a great faith to walk in it. What was it that he did not see during his lifetime? What thing did he never see, that remained an ephemeral promise from God that lived as a glorious image in his imagination?
The answer: “Abraham looked for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11: 10; 12: 22). The particular promise to Abraham that touches all of us His children, that is ever so important in these last days, concerns this celestial city. This is where it gets out there. God promised to Abraham that he would be the father of many who would inhabit a heavenly city that would float down out of heaven and land right on the spot on earth that God gave to him and his heirs. And that piece of real estate is Bethel in the land of Canaan, the land of Palestine, the Holy Land.
Abraham saw where the heavenly city of Jerusalem was to sit down in its descent from heaven, but he never saw it on earth.
And so Abraham “sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country” looking “for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11: 9-10).
Now that takes faith. A city built by God Himself in heaven coming down onto earth? And only the people who have faith will dwell with God there? That’s going to take some real strong faith.
Abraham never saw the heavenly Jerusalem in all its glory, but he believed that one day it would be his and his children’s. That one day it would be our city, our literal everlasting habitation!
And so it happens that all the righteous personages that we have read about, with all their triumphs and trials–they “all died in faith, not having received the promises,” and they “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (11: 13).
And we now, like our biblical heroes, seek that same country, that same heavenly Jerusalem. For we, like our fathers in the faith, “desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called our God: for He has prepared for us a city” (11: 16).
The City of God
This city, described by the apostle John is that thing that takes faith to believe in. This is where it is all at. It is heaven on earth, for it “comes down from God out of heaven” (Rev. 21: 2). Those that overcome will live with God in the city.
Everything in scripture points to that day when God will take up His abode in His heavenly city with His children right here on earth. This is what all of the apostles, prophets, and patriarchs looked and longed for–the city of God. This is the fulfillment of this promise: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him” (I Cor. 2: 9; Isa. 64: 4).
In fact, this is the gospel, the good news. This is what all of the teachings and doctrines of Christ is all about–to prepare us to be able to enter into New Jerusalem, the seat of the government and kingdom of God. That is the faith of Abraham. That is the faith of Christ. And that is our faith. Kenneth Wayne Hancock
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