March 18, the Ninth Day of Lent

March 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.

-Hebrews 11.9-

In this verse, we stay on the topic of Abraham and how he lived by faith. The previous verse mentions Abraham packing up and leaving his homeland, traveling to a place that God would show him later. This verse speaks of his nomadic lifestyle. Genesis mentions several times that Abraham and those with him traveled with tents and did not set up permanent residences. For examples of this, look at Genesis 12.8; 13.3, 18; and 18.1.

Much of Abraham’s wealth was based in livestock, which could help explain why it seems like Abraham and the people with him were always on the move. If you have livestock, you must have land to graze. If the land becomes unsuitable, then you have to move the flocks somewhere else. We see an example of this in Genesis 13.5-12: Abraham and his nephew Lot had been traveling together for some time, but they had so much livestock between them  that it became impossible for them to continue on together; the land simply could not provide for both of them. This may help explain why Abraham never seemed to settle down.

There may be another reason as well. There were city-states around the area where Abraham traveled; if he had desired, he could have befriended local rulers and become integrated with people already living there. Certainly, kings would have liked to have Abraham and his riches on their side. However, Abraham lives as though he is a foreigner; his descendants, Isaac and Jacob, do as well.

Here we see the continued faith-full living of Abraham. Living for an extended period of time in a land that is not one’s own requires just as much faith as leaving one’s own country to begin with. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob must have been thinking of the promise of God in Genesis 12.1-3: “When does this become our land? When will we become a great nation?”

More will be said about this tomorrow as we look at v. 10, but we know from this verse that Abraham and his descendants waited for God to uphold his promise. Perhaps some of us can relate to this experience; at God’s leading, we have entered a situation in which we are uncomfortable, perhaps even unwelcome. Now that we are here, we feel “stuck” as we wait for God to reveal his will and continue working. We can take encouragement from the example of Abraham given here; though we may be foreigners, we can live by faith in the land to which God has called us.

As we journey through Lent together, may we realize our dependance upon God for the completion of his plan.

“Dear Lord, thanks for the encouragement of your word. I ask that you would help me live in faith even though I feel like a foreigner where I am. Thanks for guiding me this far and sustaining me. Help me remember Abraham’s example as I grow in patience and wait for your timing. Amen.”

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