The word of the day is “country.” As we begin a new secular year, hardly anyone of us would like to go back to the difficulties of the past year. We cling to the hope of a better year ahead. This is in keeping with our reading of Hebrews 11:8, 11-16. The apostle writes about those who spend their entire lives in hope. He says, “but now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them (vs. 16).
Our reading begins with Abraham’s call to leave his homeland “to go out to the place where he would receive his inheritance” (vs. 8). It was indeed a venture of faith, for he did not know where he was going (vs. 8).
Go Out of Your Country
The native land of Abraham’s father, Terah, was the prosperous city of Ur of the Chaldeans (Genesis 11:27-32). Ur was a port on the Euphrates River, a crossroads of trade with an impressive ziggurat. But Terah led his family out of the comfort of this civilized city to go to Haran in the Land of Canaan. After Terah died, the Lord called to Abram to “go out of your county, from your kindred, and from your father’s house to a land I will show you (Genesis 12:1) There. In this land of promise, he lived in tents and put his hope in the promise that God would build him a city (vs. 11).
Not once did Abraham look back to think of the luxuries of his father’s homeland. If he had, he would have taken the opportunity to return (vs. 15). But Abraham’s eyes were on his hope, and his trust was in the promise of God. That hope did not allow him to become too comfortable in his circumstances. For a life of ease without hardship soon breeds complacency and one forgets the goal of one’s hope
It is tempting to think that sometime in this coming year, things will go back to normal. We would like to believe that we will recover the comfort of our former life. But the COVID-19 virus should serve as a continual reminder that life is both brief and uncertain. Therefore, like Abraham, we should invest our hope in the “heavenly country” (vs. 16). We should look forward to the kingdom which we are receiving and which cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:38). To that end, we should run with perseverance the race set before us (Hebrews 12:1). As an athlete is not satisfied with his present achievements but sets goals to improve his performance, so we should set some goals for the strengthening of our life in Christ.