By Rufus R. Clifford III
We are living in an age and a country where opportunities for success are bountiful. America is the home of the brave and the free! The land of opportunity where the door to fame and fortune is opened to everyone who would but strive to enter. Yes friends, we live in a wonderful country. In fact, people from other countries are coming to our country because they want to live the American dream! They are in search of “a better country.”
The Hebrew writer (Heb.11:1-16) lists some heroes of faith who we are told in v.13, “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.”
You and I are just like them! We are pilgrims and strangers on this earth. We have never passed this way before and there are many dangers and pitfalls that may come our way, but we, like them, must remain faithful! Notice what the writer of Hebrews says they were looking for in v.16: “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.” What is it about this “better country” that makes it better than the country they were in? Why did they desire it? Why do you?
Let’s notice some things about this better country:
1. It Is A Sinless Country. Its waters are pure, its skies are blue, there are no gray clouds of despair, the air is not polluted, and there is no darkness there! Sin does not plague mankind there for there is no sin, only holiness! Yes, it truly is a better country.
2. It Is A Healthy Country. There are no visits to the doctor, no medicine to take, no pain to cause suffering, no battles to win against our aging bodies! This is a place where all feel good and where all feel fine because there is no sadness or discouragement in this land! There is no healthy country where no tear or heartache resides. Yes, it truly is a better country.
3. It Is A Perfect Country. There are no imperfect beings living there! The Father is perfect, as is the Son! One will not find bitterness, sorrow, anger, envy, or hatred, nor will one find an evil heart or an evil tongue for such things will not be found in this land! The inhabitants of this country are pure and holy and righteous. Yes, it truly is a better country.
I want you to notice what we are told about these great heroes of faith. It doesn’t say in v.16 that they merely thought about this country, nor does it say that they only dreamed about this country!
The Holy Spirit through this writer says they “desire” a better country! When one desires something they are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve it no matter the cost.
We are told in v.13 that they all died in faith! How is it that they all died in faith? Were they merely the lucky ones? I believe the reason that they all died in faith is answered for us in v. 16! They had a “desire.” This word “desire,” according to Vine’s, is orego which means “to reach or stretch out, is used only in the middle voice, signifying the mental effort of stretching oneself out for a thing, of longing after it, with stress upon the object desired.”
Their desire was to go to the New Jerusalem, the City of God, Heaven, and because of that desire they lived in such a way that was pleasing to God! They obeyed the Lord while walking through this country and the result was they received a better country.
I, like them, am looking for this country too! I know it’s there because (v.16) tells me that God prepared for them a city! If he prepared it for them I know that it’s prepared for me also because my God is no respecter of persons (Acts sickness, and most of all, there is no death! For this is a 10:34). Jesus in fact stated: “Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1-2).
Some of my loved ones are in that better country now! I look forward to seeing them when I get there!