The People of the Better Promised Land

David Norczyk
5 min readApr 9, 2024

Abraham believed God; and it was reckoned to him as righteousness (Rom 4:3; Gal 3:6; Jas 2:23). Faith is pleasing to God because it is one’s trust in God’s Word of truth (Jn 1:1; 14:6; Rom 3:4; Heb 11:6). God’s Word is filled with promises; and it is for us to see God’s faithfulness in doing exactly what He promised to do. We must acknowledge the difficulty of believing promises one has never heard or read.

When God called Abram to depart his homeland, the promise of a better country came with no picture travel brochure, no travel insurance, and no maps or GPS. Simply put, the man of faith did not know where he was going (Heb 11:8). Abram only had the promise that God would show him the land, the place, the city of his inheritance.

We must remember that the events recorded in the Old Testament were types and shadows whose substance came later. Abram reached the promised land of Canaan, but his lifestyle there suggested this was not the final destination. Abraham was a foreigner in a foreign land. The man of faith had sojourned a long way; and then he lived with his family in tents. He was still looking for the better country. This world was not his home (Jn 15:19; 18:36).

God renewed His covenant promises with Isaac and Jacob. The writer of Hebrews gives these patriarchs the same title as the Apostle Paul gives to believers at Rome: “fellow heirs” of the same promise (Rom 8:17; Heb 11:9). We are heirs of God, co-heirs with Christ. Our inheritance is reserved in heaven for us (1 Pet 1:4), where Christ is seated (Eph 2:6), at the right hand of Majesty (Heb 1:3; 8:1).

Location is important. Abraham received God’s Word of promise regarding a “land” that God would show him. Arriving at Canaan, he did not lay the foundation of a city. He was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Heb 11:10; Rev 21–22).

While Abram looked for heavenly Zion on earth, God also made the promise to Abram that he would be the patriarch to multitudes of descendants (c. age 85). The dust of the earth (Gen 13:16); sand of the seashore; and the stars of heaven (Gen 22:17) occupied Abram’s faith for 14 years until he was 99 years of age and Sarai was 90 years.

With both these promises (land and seed), the faith of Abraham becomes clearer to us. As the years passed, there was no city and no true offspring. God knew Abram. He had chosen this man; and God knew the faith He granted to the patriarch when He implanted the Word of promise into the man’s heart (Phil 1:29; Jas 1:21). The writer emphasizes that Abram was as good as biologically dead (Heb 11:12).

The conception and birth of Isaac was a miracle. People will often intimate that God can do anything; but when every natural possibility is exhausted, the impossible only becomes possible with a supernatural working of Almighty God. The promise of impossible-made-reality is something for sure; faith in the Word of promise is another thing; and the execution of the promise by the faithful promise-maker is yet another thing. God, alone, can deliver on every single promise He has made to His chosen people. He did so with Abram and Sarai.

It behooves us to know what God has promised to us in His written Word, the Bible. The test of Abraham’s faith was not finished with the birth of the promised child; for sixteen years later, the patriarch was instructed to offer his son on the altar of sacrifice to Yahweh (Gen 22), who cut the covenant and made the promise (Gen 12, 15). Abram became a doer of the Word on Mount Moriah with Isaac on the altar.

The theme of resurrection is not overt in the book of Hebrews; but it is there, nonetheless. Abraham believed Yahweh could raise the dead. Isaac’s name means “laughter.” Abram and Sarai both laughed (on separate occasions) at the Word of promise regarding the miraculous conception. People in the world laugh at the doctrine of the resurrection. Believers in Jesus can laugh in this world because of the resurrection of the promised seed (singular) of Abraham — who was miraculously born, died, and who was resurrected from the dead.

The patriarchs all died without seeing the fulfillment of God’s Word of promise to them. They died in faith, however (Heb 11:13). This means their resurrection hope was not earthly. It was the hope of heaven and the city of God. They understood their place in this world was temporary. They lived like transients…strangers…just passing through.

Further emphasis is placed on the other-worldly location. The allure of the “old country” is very real for immigrants and exiles. “Let’s just go back home to our people and our place,” is attractive when one is traveling, let alone sojourning. Suffering, of course, is included.

The writer of Hebrews adds his argument of faith looking forward, not backward. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob could have gone back “home” to Ur (southern Iraq); but they were not looking in that direction (Heb 11:15). They learned to look up from the shadow lands.

The better country, with the city of God, made by God (not with human hands), was what God had promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Heb 11:16). This heavenly Zion is the new Jerusalem (Heb 12:22), whose King and High Priest is the Son of God, Jesus Messiah (Ps 110:1; Heb 4:14).

As the Creator of all that has been made (Col 1:16; Heb 1:2), Jesus is the promised seed of Abraham, foretold by the Word of God (Gen 12:1–3). Jesus, the eternal Son of God, manifested in human flesh at the fullness of time (Gal 4:4). Jesus is the Word of God (Jn 1:1, 14), who came into the world. He warrants our faith in Himself, in the same way as the Word of promise was spoken to Abram. Abram believed the Word sent him (see angel visitations), which called him out of Ur (type of the world) and into Canaan (land of promise). Both locations were typical and shadowy, however. The substance, not realized in time or space, was embraced by faith and hope in things talked about but still unseen.

God prepared a city for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (11:16); and Yahweh was never ashamed of the patriarchs who called on His name in faith. They were seriously flawed men; but what mattered was the way they lived in the world (doers of the Word). They did not love the world, nor the things of the world because the world was not their home. Their lives exemplify the lives we should be living here and now.

Believers in Jesus Christ are also pilgrims heading toward that same better country and city. We are children of Abraham, by adoption (Gal 3:6–9, 14–18, 29). We have a better covenant than Abraham. Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us (Jn 14:2–3). Jesus is not ashamed to call us brethren because our faith is in Him; and our hope is in the promises of God which are “yes” and “amen” in Him (2 Cor 1:20). Therefore, let us keep our focus on Him above (Heb 12:2). He is soon coming to take us home to glory (Jn 14:3). We have an eternal place with Him because we have heard and read a sure promise from Him. We believe because He has given us His Spirit as a token of better things to come (2 Cor 5:5).

David Norczyk

Spokane Valley, Washington

April 9, 2024

Hebrews 11:8–16

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David Norczyk

Some random theologian out West somewhere, Christian writer, preacher