“I am an alien residing among you. Give me burial property among you so that I can bury my dead.” (Genesis 23:4)
For over 60 years, Abraham was an alien (that is, a sojourner and foreigner) residing among the Hittites, with no permanent place of his own and no property to bury his dead. Why was this the case, when the Lord promised Abraham and his descendants the land of Canaan as their permanent possession? (Gen. 17:8) The writer of Hebrews said of Abraham, “By faith he stayed as a foreigner in the land of promise, living in tents as did Isaac and Jacob, coheirs of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:9-10).
Abraham rightly realized that the land of Canaan was not the ultimate realization of God’s promise. Just as we saw yesterday that the ram that God provided Abraham as a sacrifice in Isaac’s stead pointed towards the greater reality that God would provide his son, Christ Jesus, as the greatest sacrifice who would take upon Himself the punishment for fallen sinners as a ransom for many, so too is Canaan just a foretaste of what is to come.
After departing the land of his father, Abraham did not desire to establish himself in the earthly city that was Canaan and remained an alien, living among the Hittites. Instead, he looked forward to life in the everlasting city whose builder is God—heaven (and the new heavens and earth to come).
What are you looking forward to? Are you finding your worth in things of this world—in your accomplishments, your relationships, your strength, or the approval of others? Or Christian, are you setting your eyes and identity on our Lord, the one who purchased your salvation and is preparing a place for you in that everlasting city, where sin will be no more and you will soon be face-to-face with your Creator?