"By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise,
as in a foreign land,
dwelling in tents
with Isaac and Jacob,
fellow heirs of the same promise..."
Do you ever feel like I feel that we are living as aliens in this land of promise? as in a foreign land? That this is an awkward thing? That this is a good thing? That it is normal to be an alien and a foreigner here on this earth? We are sojourners. If we want to put roots down, it will be in heaven, not here on earth.
"It is remarkable that Abraham did not acquire any right in Canaan, except that of a burying place; nor did he build any house in it; his faith showed him that it was only a type and pledge of a better country, and he kept that better country continually in view: he, with Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs of the same promise, were contented to dwell in tents, without any fixed habitation." (Adam Clarke)
"The promise was made before, Genesis 12:1-3, 7
"Now the Lord said to Abram,
'Go forth from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father's house,
To the land which I will show you;
And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing;
And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed...
The Lord appeared to Abram and said,
'To your descendant I will give this land.'
Not just Abraham lived this way as a sojourner, but so did Isaac. So did Jacob. " Jacob was born fifteen years before the death of Abraham: the joint heirs of the same promise...Isaac did not receive this inheritance from Abraham, nor Jacob from Isaac, but all of them from God."
Think of Abraham' nephew Lot to whom he gave a choice where to live. He chose Sodom and Gomorrah. How did that work for him? He got to get out of his tent and live in a house in a real city. Creature comforts didn't last. He had to get out of Dodge fast. His wife disobeyed and looked longingly back at her old home and turned into a pillar of salt, kind of like those frozen in time at Pompeii.
His call, the promise of a country, of a son, of a seed--all is distinctly divine, above all sense and reason. It is only when the soul looks steadily at the really supernatural things God is to do for us and in us and through us, that its faith will rest entirely on the power of God, and obey any cost."
You can put your tent stakes down in that! If the great God of the universe wants to plunk His own Son down in a manger in a cow shed or sheep shed or camel shed, don't you think He can require His children to live in tents? When He wants to do something divine, He kicks out all the human props. Mary and Joseph had to leave their home--actually Mary might have been stoned to death if she stayed. Herod threatened to kill God's only begotten before He could cut His teeth on a chicken bone. Jesus spent three years as an adult being threatened, walking this earth without a place to lay his head, worse off than a fox with its own hole to live in or a bird with its own nest. He must have felt pretty homeless about then.
But God Has the long view. He has heaven in mind whenever we get a little clingy to things here below. How do you think it makes it feel when He's been up there for 2,000+yrs preparing a place for us as He promised, when we get a little overly concerned about the housing market. So being a sojourner is a reminder that this is not all there is.
Did you know that the Jews had a holiday just for camping? They were told to celebrate the festival of tents once a year to remember how the Hebrew children wandered in the wilderness and God took care of them. Yep. You know what happened when we went camping when I was growing up, what happened when we took our kids camping as they were growing up, we slowed down? We appreciated God's nature and time with each other at a slow-down-and-smell-the-roses pace.
Actually I'm kind of glad that I'm an alien. There are so many things in our culture that I am uncomfortable with and there are no more new countries to escape to like our forefathers did. We can continue to go into the boxing ring to try to throw a knock-out punch to the antagonistic Godless opponents who try to put the squeeze on us to fit us into their worldly mold, but our victory is promised in the future. It's not that we have to lay down and let the world walk over us and insult the blood of Christ, it's just that we have to realize we will win when we cross the finish line.
Are you a happy camper? Happy trails to you!