Longing to Go Home
Daily Reading: (Hebrews 11:13-16):
“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had the opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”
I want you to think back to the greatest vacation you ever had. Where did you go? What did you see? How long of a vacation was it? What made the vacation so memorable for you? For me, one of my greatest vacations was when I went on was a cruise in the Caribbean with my family. We had so much fun and created some amazing memories. On the last day as we were heading back to our port, my daughter told me that she wanted to go home. I was puzzled by her statement and asked her, “aren’t you having fun?” She looked at me as she squeezed her new stuffed animal that she had made earlier in the day and she said, “I am having the best time ever!” If you are having the best time, why would you ever want to leave? Whether we are having the best time or the worst time there is just something about being home. The longer our vacation is the more our longing for home can grow. The same is true about Heaven.
In Hebrews, 11 Paul is writing about the Israelites and their history and the promise God made to them. Many of them did not see the promise fulfilled in their lifetime. Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph believed the promise to Abraham would be fulfilled. Though for them, God did not give them any inheritance in that country. We have this reinforced in Acts 7:5: “He gave him no inheritance here, not even enough ground to set his foot on. “But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child.”
Joseph knew he would not enter the Promised Land until after his death. This was why Joseph left instructions about his burial. He knew he would die in Egypt, but he instructed that his bones be buried in Canaan. In this way, he declared his faith that one day his people would inherit the land God promised them.
As great as the Promised Land is it was only a foreshadowing of Heaven to come. In the Old Testament, Joshua leads God’s people out of the desert and into the Promised Land of Canaan. In the New Testament, Jesus leads God’s people out of the spiritual desert of sin into the Promised Land of Heaven. God always had a plan. That plan is foreshadowed throughout the Old Testament and fulfilled in Christ.
A Barna poll indicated that 76% of Americans believe in Heaven and 71% believe in Hell. Of those who believe in Heaven, 50% believe you can get there without accepting Christ as Savior.
The idea of Heaven is inside humanity. The devil has worked hard to convince people that Heaven is a place reserved for those who have done enough good deeds.
As great as many of the places we may have visited are, we all long for a better country, a heavenly one. The journey out of Egypt would have reinforced the point that God’s people are foreigners and strangers on earth. 1 Peter 2:11 AMP: “beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers [in this world] to abstain from the sensual urges [those dishonorable desires] that wage war against the soul.”
What is great about reading, “they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one,” is that we can identify with that statement, for we too long for our heavenly home. The context of this longing for Heaven is our faith that God will deliver on His promise, “for He has prepared a city for them.” The beauty of Hebrews 11 is it is a chapter on faith. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). We can’t see this city yet, but we believe in what is written in Revelation 21:2: “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” The main point of Hebrews 11 is that God’s people expected spiritual blessings and a heavenly inheritance; they sought God as their provider.
While it’s true for believers that we all long for Heaven, God’s desire is that we enjoy our time on earth too. I planned so many fun things for my daughter to enjoy on our Caribbean vacation that it gave me great joy to lead her to experience new things that I had planned in advance for her. The same is true for you and God. The enemy would try to steal from us the true joy of living abundant lives in Jesus. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Life to the full is yours in Christ.
 Los Angeles Times, October, 24, 2003