“And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11:39–40, AV)
Some people are short-term focused and others are long-term focused. Some time back, Chris and I renovated our kitchen. We worked together to come up with the design, changing the working layout, cabinet colors, tile and granite selection, etc. Trying to stay on a budget I did all the work myself. This work included building a pantry and broom closet, moving a large cabinet, moving the service for the refrigerator, sanding and spraying the cabinets, installing ceiling lights and painting. It was a lot of work. I often felt like quitting due to the long nights of work that went on for about a month. However, the thing that kept me going was having a vision of what the finished kitchen would look like.
The author of Hebrews gives us a glimpse of what kept the heroes of the faith going through all the various events of their faith walk. It was a picture or vision of what was promised. Yet, unlike me being able to see the finished kitchen, the author tells us that these heroes of the faith throughout their entire faith journey did not receive the promise before they died.
They pressed on with all vigor, keeping their focus on the promise. Earlier in the chapter, the writer stated it this way.
“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.” (Hebrews 11:13, AV)
“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.” (Hebrews 11:16, AV)
Yes, they kept their focus on a heavenly promise. They were seeking something better that this earth could not provide. They sought a heavenly city, a place of righteousness, peace, and inexpressible beauty. They sought a place where there would never be any pain or suffering. They were seeking the place where God resided in the fullness of His glory. These heroes of the faith were convinced that God and this city existed even though they could not see either with their eyes. Moreover, they were convinced that they would personally experience this place. It was their faith that took them to this place.
We today, as believers, have the promise of eternal life, a place in heaven that God promises to them that have placed their faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. We are also blessed in this age to be able to read about the heavenly city, which gives us a better picture of its incomprehensible glory (Rev 21-22). We who hold firm till the end will experience something so awesome, that there are no human words to describe it or how we will respond. Yet, this is where we will be. Keep focused. Do not allow yourselves to be short term oriented. Keep focused on your destiny as a child of God.