Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Strangers in a strange land

In my daily reading I notice this small connection:

And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan. (Gen 37:1).

By faith he lived in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: ‬For he looked for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. ‬(Heb 11:9,10).

We too are strangers in this world, living in tents until the day we see the city of God.

And all these, uthough commended through their faith, udid not receive what was promised, ‬since God had provided something better for us, vthat apart from us they should not be made perfect. (Heb 11: 39,40).


David Barnes said...

Hi Gary

Where will the city of God be?

Abraham lived in the land promised to him ("the land of promise"), before the promise had been fulfilled.

Hebrews 11 and many other passages teach that the city of God will be on earth, and Abraham will rise to inhabit it.

The old and new testaments make it clear that Jerusalem is the city that God wants to be his, and Revelation says that he will establish "the new Jerusalem" as his city on the earth.

We are strangers and foreigners while we wait for the promises to be fulfilled. I've linked above to an article I wrote on this a few weeks ago.


Gary Sims (aka The Hungry Penguin) said...


A good question... I think if we read Revelation 21 it says:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

So clearly when the new heaven and new earth is created God will bring his throne down to the earth... "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God."

This is of course in the future, but there is a spiritual reality for today. Hebrews 8 says "Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant... and I will be their God, and they shall be my people."

In the same chapter of revelation it says "Behold, I am making all things new" and this is God's spiritual reality for today. He wants to make us new, give us a new nature and bring us into his Kingdom.

Galatians 4 talks about the "present Jerusalem" and the "the Jerusalem above", one the law of Moses and the old testament and the other the spiritual truths of the new testament. The Jerusalem above is for those who "are born according to the Spirit".

David Barnes said...

Yes, I agree. One of the things I find tricky about Revelation is that "heaven" and "earth" are used in both a symbolic and literal way.

In the passage you quote it uses "heaven" in both ways in the same sentence. Tricky stuff.

The symbolic heaven and earth are destroyed, but I don't think the literal earth (and certainly not the literal heaven) will be destroyed.

Gary Sims (aka The Hungry Penguin) said...


Thanks for your comments... I would be interested to know what you think of the verses from 2 Peter 3:

But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire... But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies1 will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed... waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!  But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Gary Sims (aka The Hungry Penguin) said...

This is a comment to my own comment!!!!

We should also consider these verses:

In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.

They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment.

Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded.

--Psalm 102:25,26 (NIV)

David Barnes said...

Here's a question for you...

God promised to give Abraham the land he walked on as an inheritance, for him and his seed, for ever. Gen 13:14-15:

And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward:
For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.

v. 16.....
Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.

Galatians 3 makes it clear that anybody who belongs to Christ is Abraham's seed, and an heir according to this same promise.

So... if the earth is to be destroyed, how will God fulfil that simple and clear promise to Abraham? The land that Abraham walked on was to belong to him and his seed... for ever.

This isn't an empty question to provoke pointless debate. I am preparing an answer to your questions, and would like to know how you understand the promises to Abraham because that forms part of the answer.