March 25, the Fifteenth Day of Lent
March 25, 2011 § 1 Comment
Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back.
-Hebrews 11.14, 15-
Today we will expand on an idea that we introduced yesterday, the idea of “homeland.” Yesterday, we discussed how we, as Christians, anticipate the coming of God’s Kingdom. Until it arrives, we, in a sense, are “nomads and foreigners,” just as Abraham was. Keeping this thought in mind, we look at v. 15 as well.
The author of Hebrews will draw our attention to the qualitative difference between the homeland Abraham left behind and the one that he believes God for; we’ll speak about that in the next verse tomorrow. However, he foreshadows this contrast by pointing out that if Abraham and his descendants wanted to return to the place they left, they certainly could have; nothing was stopping them.
Two responses to this are present within Israel’s story as a nation. We can read of Abraham’s response to this idea in Genesis 24.1-8. When sending a servant off to select a wife for his son, Isaac, Abraham makes the servant promise that under no circumstance will the servant allow Isaac to return to Abraham’s land and live there. He references God’s promise, and lives accordingly. The opposite response can be found in Exodus 16.3-5. The Israelites have left Egypt under Moses’ direction and have been in the wilderness for a month and a half; they remember the good food they had in Israel, and wish that they had never left.
It is interesting to note that in both of these cases, God made provision. Abraham’s servant found Rebekah, Isaac’s wife; God provided manna in the wilderness for the Israelites. In both cases, God gave grace in very tangible ways to enable his people to continue living in the promise. However, no provision was made that would allow them to return to the place that they had left.
Tomorrow we will look at why Abraham clung so tightly to God’s promise, but for today, let’s ponder these things. If we choose to become a part of God’s story, that means that we forsake other stories that are contrary to God’s story. We cannot claim God’s story as our own if we do not live according to the truth and the promises that God’s story contains. God is faithful to sustain us as we wait for the completion and the fulfillment of his story; however, if we reject his promises and the testimony of his work in the world and our lives, such provision is not made to return to the place we left. Grace lies in front of us, not behind.
As we journey through Lent together, may we not look back.
“Dear Lord, thank you for your Word that contains your truth that reminds us of your promises. Forgive me for the times when I have forsaken you. Thank you for grace that not only sustains me where I am but also guides me into what happens next. As I live according to your story, please help me to look forward instead of behind. Amen.”