THE TWO FATHERLANDS
We read these statements in the New Testament book of Hebrews 11:8-16, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise. He waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.......These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”
As we consider the drift of this interesting and suggestive passage, I want to concentrate on verses 15,16, “And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return, but now they desire a better country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” These intriguing words suggest an interesting topic of study: The Two Fatherlands. The greatest Father mentioned in the Bible is Jehovah, our heavenly Father. The greatest of all earthly fathers is Abraham, for Romans 4:13-16 states that Abraham is not only the father of all Jews, but is also the father of all who have become Christians in all Gentile nations. Abraham left his country at the command of God and never went back, even though he had many opportunities to return and was free to do so. . But had he gone back, we would never have heard of Abraham again. God would have used another man to carry out His will. In like manner, Christians can leave the church go back and live their old life of sin in the world, but if they do they will lose their new fatherland of heaven. God forces no one to serve Him. It is strictly a voluntary service. Abraham's fatherland was Mesopotamia, now known as Iraq. He left his fatherland for another fatherland mentioned in the passage, called a heavenly country, a country whose builder and maker is God.
Let us first consider the choice Abraham, Isaac and Jacob made to leave their homeland of Mesopotamia and go to a land that God would show them. The new land was the land of Canaan. God called Abraham to leave Mesopotamia and made a covenant with him. It involved leaving
his idolatrous family, his friends, the lifestyle he enjoyed and entering the service of the one true God. It involved a higher standard of morality and religion than he had known. He was raised up in an idolatrous family in an idolatrous country. . God called him from his old way of life to a new life, and to a new strange and unknown land. No one likes to make
such a change; most people never leave the place of their birth. However, Abraham obeyed God and left the home of his birth, not knowing where he was to go. When he arrived in the new land of Canaan, a strange thing happened. Surprisingly, he found that he was not to receive immediate possession of the land, but God wanted him to live in this land because it was a type of the homeland that God would give at a future time. Canaan was the closest comparison to the homeland God had in mind for him. He lived and died in Canaan and never came into possession of the land. The only land he owned in Canaan was a small piece of ground on which he buried his wife, and he had to buy her burial plot from the men who owned the land. He had no country he could call his own. He never lived in cities because he never considered the land his homeland. He lived in tents and endured a hard way of life. He wasn't sure this land was the land God had in mind for him.
Not only that, but 500 years passed away before any of his descendants took possession of Canaan, and Abraham's Hebrew descendants could finally say, “Canaan is the homeland of the Hebrews; this land is our land. It belongs to us.” Abraham lived about 2,000 B.C. and his descendants did not take possession of Palestine till 1500 B.C. in the days of Moses and Joshua. What an unusual arrangement and agreement God had with Abraham! I am sure that Abraham must often have wondered why God promised to give him a new homeland and never did really give it to him. The Bible says of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, “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.” God promised to make his name great on earth, promised to make a great nation from him and give that nation its own country; and He promised to bless all nations on earth through Abraham. Yet not even one of these promises was fulfilled during his lifetime. This was all a puzzle to him until he neared the end of his life, and then he figured it all out. As the end of his sojourn on earth approached, he finally concluded that Canaan was not the land God had in mind for him. It could only mean one thing. Since God cannot lie and does not make promises He does not keep, since He promised to give him a new land to live in; and he did not receive a land during his lifetime, Abraham reached a marvelous conclusion. His deduction was that he would receive this land
after he died. This had to be the explanation; otherwise, God lied to him and that is impossible. Abraham took God at His word, and he discovered that there is beyond all dispute a life beyond the grave. There most definitely is a homeland beyond the grave. There is a place called heaven. Abraham discovered this great truth by the correct use of reasoning from known facts. This unusual arrangement God made with him led him to make these sound conclusions. Abraham had the most convincing evidence that there is a place called heaven, and he was on his way and did not know it.
Let me tell you one more remarkable thing about the strange way God dealt with Abraham. This entire arrangement with Abraham would have caused many a person to have doubts about God. It would have caused many to question the trustworthiness of the promises of God. Abraham might have said, “He promised me a new land, but I lived my entire life on this earth as a pilgrim and stranger, living in tents, having no permanent dwelling place, a man without a country with no place to call my home.” God knew the way He would fulfill the promises He made to Abraham would test his faith and cause perplexing questions.
Therefore, God made a special provision in these great promises made to him. God revealed to Abraham that at any time in his life, he should have a change of mind and have a desire to go back to his fatherland, the land of his birth, and return to the way of life he enjoyed in Mesopotamia—he was free to go back . God did not force him to keep the covenant He made with him. . It was strictly a voluntary arrangement.. How do we know that God gave him this choice? I refer you to Hebrews 11:15 which says of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, “And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.” But the answer of Abraham was, “Go back? Never!” Just before he died, he put his trusted servant under oath and made him promise that he would not let Isaac marry a Canaanite. He gave him this order, “You go back to my country, to my family and find a wife for my son.” The old servant said, “If the woman refuses to come back with me, must I take your son back to the land from which you came?” Abraham said, “Bewared that you do not take my son back there”(Gen. 24: 5,6).
All would agree that the divine arrangement God made with Abraham was unusual, interesting and thought-provoking, but what relevance does the story have for Christians who live in the Christian age of the world and what relevance is there for mankind, in general, who live in the 21st century?. By the way, he lived four thousand years ago under another religion, and we live under the Christian system . Does this story
have a message for us?. Indeed it does. Paul related this story as one of the great examples of faith in days gone by and used it to encourage backsliding Hebrew Christians to follow Abraham's
example. One promise God made to Abraham was He would bless all
nations of the earth through Abraham and his seed or descendants. There were three chief provisions in the Abrahamic Covenant(Genesis 12:1-3).. The first was God would make his name great on the earth. Second, God would make a great nation from him. Third, God would bless many nations of the earth through him and his descendants. This covenant has now been fulfilled. He made Abraham's name great, and we can say that Abraham is one of the three greatest men ever to live on the earth. The great nation that came from this man was Israel, and the Jewish religion came from the Abrahamic Covenant. The promise to bless all nations of the earth was fulfilled when Jesus Christ, the most important descendant of Abraham, established the Christian religion and offered eternal life to all faithful Jewish and Gentile Christians. The Abrahamic Covenant was God's promise to establish two religions for mankind: the Jewish religion and the Christian religion.Eternal life
in heaven is now available only to people who have accepted the Christian religion. Salvation is not available under the Jewish religion or any other world religion. God now offers eternal life only to the spiritual descendants of Abraham and not to his literal descendants.
Since according to the Abrahamic Covenant, only the spiritual descendants of Abraham are offered eternal life, you may ask, how can Gentiles ever become descendants of Abraham who was a Hebrew? Paul, by inspiration, tells us the one and only way Gentiles can become descendants of Abraham. Please note carefully what is said in Galatians 3:26-29, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. .For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.. There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's , then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according the promise.” That last statement has startling implications for both Jews and Gentiles who live in the Christian Age of the world. ” We are all the sons of God and children of Abraham through faith in Christ. God said so, and no one and no religion can change the will of God. Christ makes us part of the Hebrew system of religion. The offer of eternal life in heaven in the Christian religion has a direct connection with Abraham, and we must make that connection. Of course, Gentile Christians are the spiritual children of Abraham, not
literal Hebrews. .From Galatians 3:29 we arrive at these direct revelations from Jehovah God. First, eternal life is no longer offered and is not promised to the literal descendants of Abraham who became descendants of Abraham by physical circumcision. This includes all Jewish and Moslem. people. Literal circumcision no longer makes a person a child of Abraham or a child of God. . God has given to all mankind, through Christ, a new circumcision. All must be circumcised to go to heaven, but the new circumcision is made without hands by Christ Himself. It is called the circumcision of Christ. The only true descendants of Abraham are those who have been circumcised by Christ. Parents no longer do the circumcising; Christ now performs all circumcision. To reject this truth is to reject the will of Jehovah. I would advise you not to do this. Instead of cutting off a s mall piece of your flesh, Christ now cuts off all the sins you ever committed with your sinful body by the blood He shed on the cross. . Eternal life is now available only to people who have been made the spiritual descendants of Abraham by Christian circumcision. Where does the Bible teach such a doctrine? It is most clearly declared in holy scripture, and it tells you how to be circumcised and when it takes place. Colossians 2:11,12 says of Christ, “In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also raised with Him through faith in the working of God who raised Him from the dead.” That tells you exactly how Christ performs circumcision. People who believe in salvation by faith alone need to carefully study this scripture. When a person accepts Christ as the Savior of the world, turns away from all the sins of the past life, confesses Christ as the Divine Son of God, and then is buried in the waters of baptism, that person rises from the baptismal water a saint, a holy person with all sins forgiven, a priest of God, to walk and live, and serve God in newness of life. Literal circumcision never conferred such great blessings. God accepts all such people as children of Abraham and therefore heirs of the promise of eternal life God made to Abraham.
This new way to become the children of God by forgiveness by the blood of Christ, this new way to be circumcised by Christian baptism, this new way to become a child of Abraham is now God's command to all mankind. It applies to all Jews who are not Christians, to all Arabs who are not Christians, and it applies to all people on the face of the globe, regardless of race or religion. . Jesus said to His apostles just before He ascended to heaven, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to
observe all things that I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:18-20). This was a command to tell the world about this new system of circumcision by Christ and the new way to become children of Abraham and children of God. As a servant of Christ, I invite you to investigate the things said in this message and may the Lord give you understanding.