I was home again today and listened to another sermon by Herman Hoeksema. It was on Hebrews 11:13 and titled the same as the blog title, “The Pilgrims Confession”. He always brings out such rich detail even from one verse and so I am always edified in the Word of God when I listen.
Hebrews 11:13 “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth”
In context the saints in chapter 11 are said to have all died IN faith and they confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. HH interprets the word ‘in’ to read the verse in the way that says this; “They all died according to faith”, or according to the standard of faith, the standard of faith being the very first verse in Hebrews.
“Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”.
The point of verse 13 being then that they placed their hope and all expectations on the promise of the Gospel, they had assurance of the promise, embraced and confessed it! They feared not death and conquered and overcame it by faith and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the land.
If we make this verse personal we may use the words in the way that we expect to die by faith and have no fear of death, for death is not our enemy but our friend as death leads us to our heavenly home. We can confess the same thing as Abraham, Jacob and Isaac, although they saw the promises afar off and we see them nearer we have not yet finally received the fullness of the promises and we are strangers and pilgrims in the earth, just as they were.
A stranger is one who does not fit and so we are strangers on the earth, we do not speak the language of the earth, we do not hear it or understand it and so our life does not fit in this earth anymore. A pilgrim comes from another country into the strange country and is passing through. A pilgrim moves in for awhile but passes through to go back to his own country. Because we are the people of God we temporarily live in this earthly country, we stay for awhile; we are on the earth as earthy beings. We speak earthly language; have earthly thoughts and earthly needs such as drink and food. We have earthly relationships with our families (some are blessed in spiritual relationships as well) and we are citizens for a time of the earth.
But principally speaking, we do not belong because we come from another world. The deepest cause of why we don’t belong is because of election. We have been chosen in Christ by election and the end of that election is the everlasting blessed covenant fellowship with our God. Subjectively we do not belong because of regeneration and the calling of God. God called Abraham and He didn’t give him a foot in Canaan but He dwelt with them in tents and Abraham waited for the city which has foundations and whose builder and maker is God. Through regeneration we have new life and that new life is not earthy and it doesn’t fit here.
We speak the new language, the heavenly language, the spiritual. We speak the language of the Scripture, the Word of God. We no longer set our hearts on things on the earth but on things above (Colossians 3:1&2) and we seek them. We long for the things above and we long for the day that the tabernacle will be with us. We make the same confession as those saints in Hebrews chapter 11; we confess that we are strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
The promise is always Christ and all His fullness and the final blessing is eternity in the tabernacle of God with men, that Holy City, the New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Rev. 21:2)
Even so....come Lord Jesus!