Monday, January 11, 2010

for Carolyn (and others) --

Thanks for your comment about my "heaven" post. Here's Carolyn's comment:

"I was just reading Gen 15 and 16 tonight and wondering why the offspring promise is easier for Abram to believe and the subsequent land promise is the one he asks for confirmation of and God seals with cutting the covenant. It seemed backwards, since the promise of the son is ultimately fulfilled in Christ, surely more significant than the land of Canaan. Yet if the promise of the land has a heavenly fulfillment, that gives it a much deeper importance than I thought. Hmm. Must meditate further."

I found this fascinating and new. I'd never read that closely and realized that Abraham believed the promise of descendants easily (in spite of Sarah's barrenness) -- "Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness" -- but that the promise of LAND was hard for him to accept -- "O Lord God, how may I know that I shall possess it." The cutting of the covenant (in which God Himself passes between the cut animal portions, putting upon Himself the responsibility of making the stipulations of the covenant agreement happen) is God's answer to Abraham.

Still, wasn't Abraham actually just thinking about the land he wanted on THIS earth? We may see this as a type for heaven, but he didn't, did he?

Adam reminded me of Hebrews 11, and these words also had very fresh meaning for me. Look how they tie in:

v. 9 - "By faith [Abraham] lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land ... for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God."

Abraham, when God was showing him Canaan, was thinking of heaven.

v. 13 - "All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own .... 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."

These are familiar verses. I always just looked at them as descriptions of people who lived long ago, and of their relationships with God. Abraham is a man who talked directly with God. Can you imagine such a thing? We sometimes suppose that those patriarchs must have been SO in the dark, regarding theology. How could they possibly see a Messiah in the distance? Did they have very clear understanding of God's plans? Well, YEAH. They got to speak directly with Him.

Did Abraham need land then? Sure; he'd left everything. But God made sure that he understood this promise was an eternal one. Land forever. An everlasting covenant. Will it be this same Earth, in eternity? Yes. Will it be a New Earth? Yes. Remade, redeemed (which is what God is all about, anyway).

How could Abraham be "an alien in the land of promise"? It was HIS land; how can he be a stranger there? Just as we are. We're aliens, strangers and sojourners on THIS Earth. But God has promised this Earth to us-- remade, redeemed, perfected -- and we won't be strangers then. We'll fit right in.

Okay, that was rambling, Carolyn. Sorry :)

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