I’ve been reading about faith from the faith chapter—Hebrews 11. When I got to Abraham, my interest was sparked. Abraham’s faith seemed to be strengthened by his hope in finding a city—a city which has eternal foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
Well, I was so captivated by this thought of looking for this city that I decided to expand my study, and also to make a blog post out of it. I found six passages, each of which gives us a slightly different vision of the city.
- Abraham’s vision: a place with foundations, unlike his tent (Hebrews 11:8-10). Abraham’s vision of this city, I think, came to him from God by the promise of God that if he would leave his homeland, He would show him to a better land and would make him a great nation and bless him (Gen. 12:1-3). When Abraham got to this new land, he lived in a tent. But all along he believed God would eventually give him a better dwelling. Abraham’s vision of this city, then, is a place that was much better than a tent! A tent is a place without a foundation and is quite unstable. A great wind could blow it over. The place he knew God would bring him to would have a strong foundation; and God was its architect and maker.
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.
- Moses’ vision: a place where there is joyful fellowship, unlike his Mount Sinai experience (Hebrews 12:18-24). Moses’ vision of this city was a place unlike he had experienced on Mount Sinai, in which he admitted was a fearful experience, where there was “blazing fire” and “darkness and gloom” and a “whirlwind.” Moses knew that the place God was preparing for him, in a city, was a grand and marvelous place, and not at all a fearful place. As our passage describes, it would be place where God lived and where beautiful angels dwell, and a place of wonderful fellowship with believers. I think Moses had this kind of a vision of heaven because normally his experience with God was sweet and pleasant. Scripture says that he met God every day in his tent and spoke to Him face to face just as a man speaks to his friend (Ex. 3:7-11).
For you have not come to a mountain that may be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind, 19 and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word should be spoken to them. 20 For they could not bear the command, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it will be stoned.” 21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, “I am full of fear and trembling.” 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.
- A vision from Hebrews 12:26-29: a secure place that will endure forever. This vision again is a vision of contrast. Here in this passage is described what will happen at the very end of all things as we know it—when God destroys the universe (Rev. 21:1). But while all things in this universe are removed (destroyed), our dwelling place (our city) will not be touched. This ought to cause us to be grateful to God with reverence and awe.
And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, ” Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.” 27 And this expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, in order that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; 29 for our God is a consuming fire.
- A vision from Hebrews 13:12-14: a place unlike this world. The city we are looking for is not like this world; it is separate from this world. The vision we get of this city will be visible to us and accessible to us only as we go with Christ out of this world, that is, as we walk with Him and suffer with Him, denying ourselves all the pleasures that this world has to offer.
Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. 13 Hence, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. 14 For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.
- A vision from John 14:1-3: a comfortable dwelling place. Here we have in view a large mansion, owned by the Father; a comfortable place, away from trouble and worries. I envision that each believer will have his own space to dwell in that God has prepared for us. It will be a space especially suited for each of us according to our liking, filled with our favorite things to enjoy. But though we will have our own space, we will, no doubt, also be privileged to enjoy, whenever we like, the company of others.
“Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
- John’s vision from Revelation 21:2: as Christ’s bride. This city, called here the New Jerusalem, is seen by John as a beautiful bride floating down from heaven to meet her husband. Since the city is the place where believers dwell, and we are Christ’s bride, I take it that John sees the city as taking on the character of Christ’s bride; thus, the entire city, being full of believers will glow with the gory of Christ as His bride.
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. (Read also Revelation 21:9-27 for a more detailed description of this vision.)
As you journey through life, are you looking for that city as Abraham did? Is the city in your mind’s eye? Does your vision of the city give you hope for your journey?