It was difficult to find an advanced city or region like Abraham’s original home. Outside of his country, there was only untamed and merciless wilderness. Abraham’s departure from Ur to Canaan was his life odyssey as a nomadic nation in dangerous situation and a journey that must be very difficult and unpleasant. Abraham had to leave the culture, the way of life and the whole pattern of life as a nation living in the civilized Ur area. Abraham’s action leaving his country, if it did not pronounce a “disorder”, it meant inquiring for trouble. He went out to find the inheritance promised by God who was unknown by most people in his country.
Abraham left, not knowing where he was headed. It was a ridiculous action. If one asked Abraham where he would go, Abraham could not answer it clearly. He merely said that God to whom he believed would show the place. It would have been easy to leave if he already knew the address and situation of the destination, but Abraham did not know where that country was. It was an unconditional belief. He had trust only. Abraham could have claimed to believe that God was good, and so forth, but he could feel that he did not need to leave Ur-Chaldeans, because it was uncertain. If this was the case, this was not true faith. Abraham showed his faith not by words but by real deeds. Believing here was not only the endorsement of mind but also of concrete action on what was believed. If Abraham believed what God said was good, then he not only agreed to it, but also he moved on to demonstrate his belief. Abraham’s action is synchronous with the word trust in Greek pisteuo (πιστεύω), which means surrendering to the object that he believes.
By faith he lived as a foreignerin the promised land as though it were a foreign country, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, who were fellow heirsof the same promise.1 In this verse we find two versions of land promised by God to Abraham. First, the land of Canaan was the land promised by God to Abraham for his descendants. God promised that one day the Israelites would inhabit that land. This was fulfilled at the time when Joshua brought that nation entered the land of Canaan (to this day, although it was not completely controlled by them). In general, Christians – even some pastors – identify that Canaan was the land promised by God to Abraham only. Yet the land of Canaan was not promised by God only to Abraham for his inheritance but also for his descendants, the Israelites. But Abraham was looking for a land, or other inheritance. The Bible refers to as “that same promise”.
Secondly, the nation or the land God promised for Abraham’s inheritance, was the city with firm foundations,whose architect and builder is God.2 It was for this land that Abraham left Ur-Chaldeans. That land was not the land of Canaan on earth. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob never had the land of Canaan on earth. They were the people to whom the Bible referred to be the “heirs of the same promise”.3 Their descendants were the ones who would control and enjoy the land of Canaan. That land was loaded with milk and honey. Whereas, the nation’s ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob looked forward to the city that was never found on this earth. When Sarah, Abraham’s wife died in Kiriath Arba (which was Hebron), Abraham refused to accept the “free” land from the Canaanites (the Heth). The Canaanites called Abraham a “mighty princeamong them” and they deeply respected him.4 Abraham still intended to buy, as if he was not entitled to the land God promised him.5 It clearly indicated that the land was not meant for himself, nor Isaac or Jacob, but for his descendants. Abraham himself still behaved as a stranger on earth. This shows his comprehension toward pilgrimage of life that has to be possessed by believers today as children of Abraham, which should be inspired by Abraham’s faith life.
1) Hebrews 11: 9; 2) Hebrews 11:10; 3) Hebrews 11: 9; 4) Genesis 23: 6; 5) Genesis 23: 9