For he looked for a city which hath foundations - He knew that earth could afford no permanent residence for an immortal mind, and he looked for that heavenly building of which God is the architect and owner; in a word, he lost sight of earth, that he might keep heaven in view. And all who are partakers of his faith possess the same spirit, walk by the same rule, and mind the same thing.
Whose builder and maker is God - The word τεχνιτης signifies an architect, one who plans, calculates, and constructs a building. The word δημιουργος signifies the governor of a people; one who forms them by institutions and laws; the framer of a political constitution. God is here represented the Maker or Father of all the heavenly inhabitants, and the planner of their citizenship in that heavenly country. See Macknight.
For he looked for a city which hath foundations - It has been doubted to what the apostle here refers. Grotius and some others suppose, that he refers to Jerusalem, as a permanent dwelling for his posterity, in contradistinction from the unsettled mode of life which Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob led. But there is no evidence that Abraham looked forward to the building of such a city, for no promise was made to him of this kind; and this interpretation falls evidently below the whole drift of the passage; compare Hebrews 11:14-16; Hebrews 12:22; Hebrews 13:14. Phrases like that of “the city of God,” “a city with foundations,” “the new Jerusalem,” and “the heavenly Jerusalem” in the time of the apostle, appear to have acquired a kind of technical signification. They referred to “heaven” - of which Jerusalem, the seat of the worship of God, seems to have been regarded as the emblem. Thus, in Hebrews 12:22, the apostle speaks of the “heavenly Jerusalem,” and in Hebrews 13:14, he says, “here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.”
In Revelation 21:2, John says that he “saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God, out of heaven,” and proceeds in that chapter and the following to give a most beautiful description of it. Even so early as the time of Abraham, it would seem that the future blessedness of the righteous was foretold under the image of a splendid city reared on permanent foundations. It is remarkable that Moses does not mention this as an object of the faith of Abraham, and it is impossible to ascertain the degree of distinctness which this had in his view. It is probable that the apostle in speaking of his faith in this particular did not rely on any distinct record, or even any tradition, but spoke of his piety in the language which he would use to characterize religion of any age, or in any individual. He was accustomed, in common with others of his time, to contemplate the future blessedness of the righteous under the image of a beautiful city; a place where the worship of God would be celebrated for ever - a city of which Jerusalem was the most striking representation to the mind of a Jew. It was natural for him to speak of strong piety in this manner wherever it existed, and especially in such a case as that of Abraham, who left his own habitation to wander in a distant land,
This fact showed that he regarded himself as a stranger and sojourner, and yet he had a strong expectation of a fixed habitation, and a permanent inheritance. He must, therefore, have looked on to the permanent abodes of the righteous; the heavenly city; and though he had an undoubted confidence that the promised land would be given to his posterity, yet as he did not possess it himself, he must have looked for his own permanent abode to the fixed residence of the just in heaven. This passage seems to me to prove that Abraham had an expectation of future happiness after death. There is not the slightest evidence that he supposed there would be a magnificent and glorious capital where the Messiah would personally reign, and where the righteous dead, raised from their graves, would dwell in the second advent of the Redeemer. All that the passage fairly implies is, that while Abraham. expected the possession of the promised land for his posterity, yet his faith looked beyond this for a permanent home in a future world.
Whose builder and maker is God - Which would not be reared by the agency of man, but of which God was the immediate and direct architect. This shows conclusively, I think, that the reference in this allusion to the “city” is not to Jerusalem, as Grotius supposes; but the language is just such as will appropriately describe heaven, represented as a city reared without human hands or art, and founded and fashioned by the skill and power of the Deity; compare the notes on 2 Corinthians 5:1. The language here applied to God as the “architect” or framer of the universe, is often used in the classic writers. See Kuinoel and Wetstein. The apostle here commends the faith of Abraham as eminently strong. The following “hints” will furnish topics of reflection to those who are disposed to inquire more fully into its strength:
(1) The journey which he undertook was then a long and dangerous one. The distance from Haran to Palestine by a direct route was not less than four hundred miles, and this journey lay across a vast desert - a part of Arabia Deserta. That journey has always been tedious and perilous; but to see its real difficulty, we must put ourselves into the position in which the world was four thousand years ago. There was no knowledge of the way; no frequented path; no facility for traveling; no turnpike or rail-way; and such a journey then must have appeared incomparably more perilous than almost any which could now be undertaken.
(2) he was going among strangers. Who they were he knew not; but the impression could not but have been made on his mind that they were strangers to religion, and that a residence among them would be anything but desirable.
(3) he was leaving country, and home, and friends; the place of his birth and the graves of his fathers, with the moral certainty that he would see them no more.
(4) he had no right to the country which he went to receive. He could urge no claim on the ground of discovery, or inheritance, or conquest at any former period; but though he went in a peaceful manner, and with no power to take it, and could urge no claim to it whatever, yet he went with the utmost confidence that it would be his. He did not even expect to buy it - for he had no means to do this, and it seems never to have entered his mind to bargain for it in any way, except for the small portion that be needed for a burying-ground.
(5) He had no means of obtaining possession. He had no wealth to purchase it; no armies to conquer it; no title to it which could be enforced before the tribunals of the land. The prospect of obtaining it must have been distant, and probably he saw no means by which it was to be done. In such a case, his only hope could be in God.
(6) it is not impossible that the enterprise in that age might have been treated by the friends of the patriarch as perfectly wild and visionary. The prevailing religion evidently was idolatry, and the claim which Abraham set up to a special call from the Most High, might have been deemed entirely fanatical. To start off on a journey through a pathless desert; to leave his country and home, and all that he held dear, when he himself knew not whither he went; to go with no means of conquest, but with the expectation that the distant and unknown land would be given him, could not but have been regarded as a singular instance of visionary hope. The whole transaction, therefore, was in the highest degree an act of simple confidence in God, where there was no human basis of calculation, and where all the principles on which people commonly act would have led him to pursue just the contrary course. It is, therefore, not without reason that the faith of Abraham is so commended.
I have a most earnest desire that you shall enter the city of God, not as a culprit barely pardoned, but as a conqueror. My brother, will you think of this? If you are true and humble and faithful in this life, you will be given an abundant entrance. Then the tree of life will be yours, for you will be a victor over sin; the city whose builder and maker is God will be your city. Let your imagination take hold upon things unseen. Let your thoughts be carried away to the evidences of the great love of God for you. In contemplating the object of which you are in pursuit, you will lose the sense of pain brought by the light afflictions that are but for a moment. 8T 125.1
Copenhagen,Read in context »
The Lord has precious promises in this life for those who keep His law. He says, “My son, forget not My law; but let thine heart keep My commandments: for length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: so shalt thou find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man.” Proverbs 3:1-4. CT 63.1
But a better than earthly reward awaits those who, basing their work on the solid Rock, build up symmetrical characters, in accordance with the living word. For them is prepared “a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Hebrews 11:10. Its streets are paved with gold. In it is the Paradise of God, watered by the river of life, which proceeds from the throne. In the midst of the street, and on either side of the river, is the tree of life, which yields its fruit every month; “and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” CT 63.2
Parents, teachers, students, remember that you are building for eternity. See that your foundation is sure; then build firmly, and with persistent effort, but in gentleness, meekness, love. So shall your house stand unshaken, not only when the storms of temptation come, but when the overwhelming flood of God's wrath shall sweep over the world.—Special Testimonies On Education, 72-77. CT 63.3Read in context »
Now when you can no longer be active, and infirmities press upon you, all that God requires of you is to trust Him. Commit the keeping of your soul to Him as unto a faithful Creator. His mercies are sure, His covenant is everlasting. Happy is the man whose hope is in the Lord his God, who keepeth truth forever. Let your mind grasp the promises and hold to them. If you cannot call to mind readily the rich assurance contained in the precious promises, listen to them from the lips of another. What fullness, what love and assurance are found in these words from the lips of God Himself, proclaiming His love, His pity and interest in the children of His care: 2SM 231.1
“The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Exodus 34:6, 7). 2SM 231.2
The Lord is full of compassion for His suffering ones. What sins are too great for His pardon? He is merciful, and as such is infinitely more ready and more pleased to pardon than to condemn. He is gracious, not looking for wrong in us; He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are but dust. In His boundless compassion and mercy He heals all our backslidings, loving us freely while we are yet sinners, withdrawing not His light, but shining on us for Christ's sake. 2SM 231.3
Will you, my sister, always trust in Jesus, who is your righteousness? The love of God is shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Ghost, which is graciously given unto you. You are one with Christ. He will give you grace to be patient, He will give you grace to be trustful, He will give you grace to overcome restlessness, He will warm your heart with His own sweet Spirit, He will revive your soul in its weakness. Only a few days more to be as pilgrims and strangers in this world, seeking for a better country, even an heavenly. Our home is in heaven. Then stay your soul in confidence upon God. Roll all your burdens upon Him. 2SM 231.4Read in context »
Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. Revelation 22:14. SD 47.1
The affections of the pleasure lover are drawn away from heavenly to earthly things. He subordinates the glories of eternity to the engrossing interests of time. In his desire to possess earthly riches, the heavenly treasure is lost from view. The claims of the future life are disregarded, and the interests of this life hold sway.... SD 47.2Read in context »