8 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.
9 By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise;
10 for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
11 By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised;
12 therefore, also, there was born of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.
13 All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own.
15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return.
16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac; and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son;
18 it was he to whom it was said, “In Isaac your descendants shall be called.”
19 He considered that God is able to raise men even from the dead; from which he also received him back as a type. (Heb 11:8-19 NAS)
THE PILGRIMAGE OF FAITH (HEBREWS 11:8)
BY FAITH ABRAHAM, WHEN HE WAS CALLED, OBEYED BY GOING OUT TO A PLACE WHICH HE WAS TO RECEIVE FOR AN INHERITANCE; AND HE WENT OUT, NOT KNOWING WHERE HE WAS GOING. (HEB 11:8). It was not Abraham’s plan to leave Ur and then Haran, and eventually settle in the land of Canaan. In fact, when he left Ur he had no idea where he was going. He was called by God, and only God knew what was in store for him,
IN THE GREEK, HE WAS CALLED IS A PRESENT PARTICIPLE, AND THE TRANSLATION COULD BE, “WHEN HE WAS BEING CALLED.” In other words, as soon as he understood what God was saying, he started packing. It was instant obedience. It may have taken several days, or even weeks or months, to make final preparation for the trip, but in his mind he was already on the way. From then on, everything he did revolved around obeying God’s call.
ABRAHAM WAS A SINFUL HEATHEN WHO GREW UP IN AN UNBELIEVING AND IDOLATROUS SOCIETY. WE DO NOT KNOW EXACTLY HOW OR WHEN GOD FIRST MADE HIMSELF KNOWN TO ABRAHAM, BUT HE WAS RAISED IN A HOME THAT WS PAGAN (Josh. 13:2). His native city of Ur was in Caldea, in the general region called Mesopotamia, between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It was a fertile land and was culturally advanced. It was near where the Garden of Eden was located (cf. Gen. 2:14) and was some 140 miles from where the great city of Babylon would one day be built.
ISAIAH REFERS TO ABRAHAM AS “THE ROCK FROM WHICH YOU WERE HEWN” AND “THE QUARRY FROM WHICH YOU WERE DUG” (Isa. 51:1-2, REMINDING HIS FELLOW JEWS THAT GOD SOVEREIGNLY CONDESCENDED TO CALL ABRAHAM OUT OF PAGANISM AND IDOLATRY IN ORDER TO BLESS HIM AND THE WORLD THROUGH HIM. He may have had higher moral standards than his friends and neighbors, but this was not the reason God chose him. God chose him because He wanted to choose him. And when God spoke to him, he listened; when God promised, he trusted; when God commanded, he obeyed.
WHEN ANY PERSON COMES TO Jesus CHRIST, GOD DEMANDS OF HIM A PILGRIMAGE FROM HIS OLD PATTERN OF LIVING INTO A NEW KIND OF LIFE, JUST AS ABRAHAM’S FAITH SEPARATED HIM FROM PAGANISM AND UNBELIEF AND STARTED HIM TOWARD A NEW LAND AND A NEW KIND OF LIFE. ”Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17). Salvation brings separation from the world. The Lord works in the heart of total willingness to leave behind everything that is not pleasing to Him. He cannot lead us into new ways of living until He leads us out of the old. We should respond, “I don’t know what You are going to do with me, Lord, but I’m going to drop all those old things. I don’t know what You’re going to substitute for them, but I’m going to let them go.”
THAT IS THE ATTITUDE OF THE FAITH PILGRIM. THE LIFE OF FAITH BEGINS WITH THE WILLINGNESS TO LEAVE ONE’S Ur, ONE’S OWN PLACE OF SIN AND UNBELIEF – TO LEAVE THE SYSTEM OF THE WORLD. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom. 12:2; cf. 2Cor. 6:14; Gal. 1:4).
GIVING UP THE OLD LIFE IS ONE OF THE GREATEST OBSTACLES TO COMING TO CHRIST, AND IS ALSO ONE OF THE GREATEST OBSTACLES TO FAITHFUL LIVING ONCE WE ARE IN CHRIST. From the perspective of the old life and the old nature the new life in Christ can appear dull and unexciting. When we think this way we fail to understand that, once we become a Christian, we are given a new set of values, interests, and desires – which we cannot experience in advance. We cannot “see” the blessings and satisfaction of life in Christ before we trust Him as Lord and Savior. We believe and then we experience. We must first be willing to “go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come” (Heb. 13:13). Often the reproach is all we are able to see at first. We look forward to the “city which is to come” by faith.
THE FORCE THAT MAKES US WANT TO HOLD ON TO THE OLD LIFE IS SOMETIMES CALLED WORLDLINESS. WORLDLINESS MAY BE AN ACT, BUT PRIMARILY IT IS AN ATTITUDE. It is wanting to do things that are sinful or selfish or worthless, whether we actually do them or not. It is wanting men’s praise whether we ever receive it or not. It is outwardly holding to high standards of conduct, but inwardly longing to live like the rest of the world. The worst sort of worldliness is religious worldliness, because it pretends to be godly. It holds to God’s standards outwardly (usually adding a few of its own), but it is motivated by selfish, worldly desires. It is pretentious and hypocritical. This was the Pharisees’ great sin, as Jesus soo often pointed out.
ONE OF THE SUREST MARKS OF THE DEMISE OF WORLDLINESS IS A CHANGE IN DESIRES, IN LOVES. AS WE GROW IN CHRIST AND IN LONE FOR HIM, OUR LOVE FOR THE THINGS OF THE WORLD DIMINISHES. They will simply lose their attraction. We will not want to do them like we used to. The pilgrimage of faith begins by separating ourselves from the world, and as we concentrate on Jesus and fellowship with Him, soon we do not care about the things we once loved so much. When we slip and engage in them, we hate what we do in the weakness of the flesh (cf. Rom. 7:14-25) – MacArthur
Professor Thomas A. Rohm