DESIRING A BETTER COUNTRY
But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
(Heb 11:16 NASB)
God has prepared a city for us. We cannot see it, yet this city is real – it belongs to a country and is ruled by a King, (Phil 3:20; Ps 2:6). Even though we have to wait for it, the reality of this Kingdom should affect our present worldview; moreover, we need to keep our focus on the future, yet glorious appearance of the King who will rule from this Kingdom over the earth for 1,000 years, (Rev 20:4-6).
It is clear that this aforementioned perspective affected the faith of so many Believers who were willing to suffer for their faith, and die without receiving the promises; in fact, these faith heroes ‘confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth,’ (Heb 11:13). It seems, though, that as time progressed, the majority of those who are redeemed through their faith in Christ Jesus, have lost this very significant and important understanding. First of all, it appears that ‘organized Christianity’ developed the notion that one can ‘belong’ to a church denomination and continue ‘life as usual.’ This cultural setting is acceptable in many communities, incorporating church as part of their weekly activities. Secondly, as time passed, mockers appeared on the scene, saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation,’ (2 Peter 3:3-4).
Tradition and time laps have thus severely affected the very essential ‘expectation’ of our coming Kingdom. Let us go back to the chapter on the faith heroes in Hebrews 11, for it states that these men and women (who walk by faith) consider themselves, ‘strangers and exiles on the earth,’ and, ‘that they are seeking a country of their own,’ (Heb 11:14). The Word of God cannot be altered, what was true to those who walked by faith in the ancient history of the Old Testament (Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Rahab, etc.), and countless other believing saints who sacrificed everything for what they believed, should also be true to those who live today.
Let’s go back to the Scriptures. We are without doubt accepting Jesus Christ as Saviour to redeem us from sin and to acquit us from eternal damnation, (Rom 3:23-26; Rom 5:9) – it is indeed the gospel! Yet, accepting this gospel truth without the understanding that we are also transferred into another Kingdom (Col 1: 13-14), will have dire consequences in the way we continue in our faith. Not only are we transferred into another Kingdom, the passage in Colossians actually states that we are transferred from one domain into another domain. The word “domain,” is the Greek word “exousia,” meaning, ‘authority, jurisdiction, power, right,’ and indicates ‘one subjected to authority.’
This is a phenomenal truth. The faith heroes in Hebrews 11 understood that even though they were born into a certain race and culture, they were to consider themselves ‘citizens’ of another country, (Heb 11:13-16; Phil 3:20-21). They did not join a denomination, they became citizens of an unseen spiritual Kingdom ruled by the eternal King. This affected their daily lives tremendously, for they were ‘seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness’ in everything they did, (Mat 7:33); and their way of thinking was thus influenced by the authority of a Kingdom which overruled their customs.
We should return to this very essential understanding if we want to prepare ourselves for the imminent return of the King who will reveal and establish this very Kingdom on earth, (Heb 12:25-29). We are warned by Messiah to watch out for the “leaven” of the Pharisees which is the sin of ‘hypocrisy,’ (Mat 16:6; Luke 12:1). The word “hypocricy,” in Greek is, “hupocrisis,” and means, ‘a feigned part,’ and was used to describe a role player or artist partaking in a play. If we fall into the sin of religious acts and succumb to traditions, we will also fall into the tendency to ‘act religious.’ It might be very convincing and even have the outward appearance of holiness, but there is no power in hypocrisy, it will lead to ‘a form of godliness,’ but the power and authority of God’s Kingdom will be denied, (2 Tim 3:5).
Let’s avoid this error! Let us consider that we are ‘strangers and exiles,’ and develop a Kingdom perspective as a way of life, seeking to obey the King by ‘taking every thought captive’ in obedience to His Word, and choose to renew our thinking, not according to traditions, but according to TRUTH, (2 Cor 10:5-6; Rom 12:1-2).