But now they desire a better - They all expected spiritual blessings, and a heavenly inheritance; they sought God as their portion, and in such a way and on such principles that he is not ashamed to be called their God; and he shows his affection for them by preparing for them a city, to wit, heaven, as themselves would seek no city on earth; which is certainly what the apostle has here in view. And from this it is evident that the patriarchs had a proper notion of the immortality of the soul, and expected a place of residence widely different from Canaan. Though to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the promises were made in which Canaan was so particularly included, yet God did not give them any inheritance in that country, no, not so much as to set a foot on; Acts 7:5. Therefore, if they had not understood the promises to belong to spiritual things, far from enduring, as seeing him who is invisible, they must have considered themselves deceived and mocked. The apostle therefore, with the highest propriety, attributes their whole conduct and expectation to faith.
But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly - That is, at the time referred to when they confessed that they were strangers and sojourners, they showed that they sought a better country than the one which they had left. They lived as if they had no expectation of a permanent residence on earth, and were looking to another world. The argument of the apostle here appears to be based upon what is apparent from the whole history, that they had a confident belief that the land of Canaan would be given to “their posterity,” but as for “themselves” they had no expectation of permanently dwelling there, but looked to a home in the heavenly country. Hence, they formed no plans for conquest; they laid claim to no title in the soil; they made no purchases of farms for cultivation; they lived and died without owning any land except enough to bury their dead. All this appears as if they looked for a final home in a “better country, even a heavenly.”
Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God - Since they had such an elevated aim, he was willing to speak of himself as their God and Friend. They acted as became his friends, and he was not ashamed of the relation which he sustained to them. The language to which the apostle evidently refers here is what is found in Exodus 3:6, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” We are not to suppose that God is ever “ashamed” of anything that he does. The meaning here is, that they had acted in such a manner that it was fit that he should show toward them the character of a Benefactor, Protector, and Friend.
For he hath prepared for them a city - Such as they had expected - a heavenly residence; Hebrews 11:10. There is evidently here a reference to heaven, represented as a city - the new Jerusalem - prepared for his people by God himself; compare the notes on Matthew 25:34. Thus, they obtained what they had looked for by faith. The wandering and unsettled patriarchs to whom the promise was made, and who showed all their lives that they regarded themselves as strangers and pilgrims, were admitted to the home of permanent rest, and their posterity was ultimately admitted to the possession of the promised land. Nothing could more certainly demonstrate that the patriarchs believed in a future state than this passage. They did not expect a permanent home on earth. They made no efforts to enter into the possession of the promised land themselves. They quietly and calmly waited for the time when God would give it to their posterity, and in the meantime for themselves they looked forward to their permanent home in the heavens.
Even in this early period of the world, therefore, there was the confident expectation of the future state; compare the notes on Matthew 22:3l-32. We may remark, that the life of the patriarchs was, in all essential respects, such as we should lead. They looked forward to heaven; they sought no permanent possessions here; they regarded themselves as strangers and pilgrims on the earth. So should we be. In our more fixed and settled habits of life; in our quiet homes; in our residence in the land in which we were born, and in the society of old and tried friends, we should yet regard ourselves as “strangers and sojourners.” We have here no fixed abode. The houses in which we dwell will soon be occupied by others; the paths in which we go will soon be trod by the feet of others; the fields which we cultivate will soon be plowed and sown and reaped by others. Others will read the books which we read; sit down at the tables where we sit; lie on the beds where we repose; occupy the chambers where we shall die, and from whence we shall be removed to our graves. If we have any permanent home, it is in heaven; and that we have, the faithful lives of the patriarchs teach us, and the unerring word of God everywhere assures us.
Those who would overcome must put to the tax every power of their being. They must agonize on their knees before God for divine power. Christ came to be our example, and to make known to us that we may be partakers of the divine nature. How?—By having escaped the corruptions that are in the world through lust. Satan did not gain the victory over Christ. He did not put his foot upon the soul of the Redeemer. He did not touch the head though he bruised the heel. Christ, by His own example, made it evident that man may stand in integrity. Men may have a power to resist evil—a power that neither earth, nor death, nor hell can master; a power that will place them where they may overcome as Christ overcame. Divinity and humanity may be combined in them. 1SM 409.1
It was the work of Christ to present the truth in the framework of the gospel, and to reveal the precepts and principles that He had given to fallen man. Every idea He presented was His own. He needed not to borrow thoughts from any, for He was the originator of all truth. He could present the ideas of prophets and philosophers, and preserve His originality; for all wisdom was His; He was the source, the fountain, of all truth. He was in advance of all, and by His teaching He became the spiritual leader for all ages. 1SM 409.2
It was Christ that spoke through Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God. Melchizedek was not Christ, but he was the voice of God in the world, the representative of the Father. And all through the generations of the past, Christ has spoken; Christ has led His people, and has been the light of the world. When God chose Abraham as a representative of His truth, He took him out of his country, and away from his kindred, and set him apart. He desired to mold him after His own model. He desired to teach him according to His own plan. The mold of the world's teachers was not to be upon him. He was to be taught how to command his children and his household after him, to keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment. This is the work that God would have us do. He would have us understand how to govern our families, how to control our children, how to command our households to keep the way of the Lord. 1SM 409.3Read in context »
As I realize how much has been done for us to keep us right, I am led to exclaim, Oh, what love, what wondrous love, hath the Son of God for us poor sinners! Should we be stupid and careless while everything is being done for our salvation that can be done? All heaven is interested for us. We should be alive and awake to honor, glorify, and adore the high and lofty One. Our hearts should flow out in love and gratitude to Him who has been so full of love and compassion to us. With our lives we should honor Him, and with pure and holy conversation show that we are born from above, that this world is not our home, but that we are pilgrims and strangers here, traveling to a better country. EW 113.1
Many who profess the name of Christ and claim to be looking for His speedy coming, know not what it is to suffer for Christ's sake. Their hearts are not subdued by grace, and they are not dead to self, as is often shown in various ways. At the same time they are talking of having trials. But the principal cause of their trials is an unsubdued heart, which makes self so sensitive that it is often crossed. If such could realize what it is to be a humble follower of Christ, a true Christian, they would begin to work in good earnest and begin right. They would first die to self, then be instant in prayer, and check every passion of the heart. Give up your self-confidence and self-sufficiency, brethren, and follow the meek Pattern. Ever keep Jesus in your mind that He is your example and you must tread in His footsteps. Look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame. He endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself. He for our sins was once the meek, slain lamb, wounded, bruised, smitten, and afflicted. EW 113.2
Let us, then, cheerfully suffer something for Jesus’ sake, crucify self daily, and be partakers of Christ's sufferings here, that we may be made partakers with Him of His glory, and be crowned with glory, honor, immortality, and eternal life. EW 114.1Read in context »
True education is a grand science; for it is founded on the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom. Christ is the greatest Teacher this world ever knew, and it is not the pleasure of the Lord Jesus that the subjects of His kingdom, for whom He died, shall be educated in such a way that they will be led to place the wisdom of men in the forefront, and delegate to the wisdom of God, as revealed in His holy word, a place in the rear. True education is that which will train children and youth for the life that now is, and in reference to that which is to come; for an inheritance in that better country, even in an heavenly. They are to be trained for the country for which patriarchs and prophets looked. “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He hath prepared for them a city.” FE 328.1
The general method of educating the youth does not meet the standard of true education. Infidel sentiments are interwoven in the matter placed in schoolbooks, and the oracles of God are placed in a questionable or even an objectionable light. Thus the minds of the youth become familiar with Satan's suggestions, and the doubts once entertained become to those who entertain them, assured facts, and scientific research is made misleading on account of the way its discoveries are interpreted and perverted. Men take it upon themselves to rein up the word of God before a finite tribunal, and sentence is pronounced upon the inspiration of God according to finite measurement, and the truth of God is made to appear as a thing uncertain before the records of science. These false educators exalt nature above nature's God, and above the Author of all true science. At the very time when teachers should have been firm and unwavering in their testimony, at the very time when it should have been made manifest that their souls were riveted to the eternal Rock, when they should have been able to inspire faith in those who were doubting, they made admission of their own uncertainty as to whether the word of God or the discoveries of science, falsely so called, were true. Those who were truly conscientious have been made to waver in their faith because of the hesitation of those who were professed expositors of the Bible when they dealt with the living oracles. Satan has taken advantage of the uncertainty of the mind, and through unseen agencies, he has crowded in his sophistries, and has caused men to become befogged in the mists of skepticism. FE 328.2Read in context »
Church-members are to contribute cheerfully toward the support of the ministry. They should practice self-denial and economy, that they may come behind in no good gift. We are pilgrims and strangers, seeking a better country, and every soul should make a covenant with God by sacrifice. The time for saving souls is short, and whatever is not needed in supplying positive necessities, should be brought as a thank-offering to God. GW 454.1
And it is the duty of those who labor in word and doctrine to show an equal self-sacrifice. A solemn responsibility rests upon those who receive the liberal donations of the church, and administer the means in God's treasury. They are to study carefully the providences of God, that they may discern where there is the greatest necessity. They are to be co-laborers with Christ in establishing His kingdom on the earth, in harmony with the prayer of the Saviour, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” [Matthew 6:10.] GW 454.2Read in context »