Speaking of Israel, the Lord said,
"They shall come trembling like a bird from Egypt,
like a dove from the land of Assyria.
And I will let them dwell in their houses," says the Lord.
"These all died in faith, not having received the promises,
but having seen them afar off
were assured of them, embraced them
and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.
And truly if they had called to mind that country
from which they had come out,
they would have had opportunity to return.
But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country.
Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God,
for He has prepared a city for them."
"Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry;
do not be silent at my tears;
for I am a stranger with You,
a sojourner, as all my fathers were."
"Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.
For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come."
"Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem,
coming down out of heaven from God,
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying,
'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men,
and He shall dwell with them, and they shall be his people.
God Himself will be with them and be their God.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes;
there shall be no more death,
There shall be no more pain,
for the former things have passed away."
I've been reading American revolutionary history with my children. It stirs our blood. Freedom from tyranny is such nobility. I'm a patriot, myself. I love my country. I've heard about 'The American Dream' my whole life. The American dream is the dream of a home and a homeland. Of the freedom to build and be without the stifling tyrant of an overlord exacting his due like a mobster. The freedom to pursue happiness, to be left alone to live in liberty.
How can anyone oppose that? Watching the dismantling of our foundations bothers me immensely. It grieves my heart. I read the Hosea verse this morning and found myself sighing at the promise He gave them: I will let them dwell in their houses. Vineyards, crops, a safe home. Oh, the simple bliss.
I went looking for the Hebrews passage about those who wandered as strangers because they were seeking a homeland, and how the Lord has prepared a city for them. My Bible cross-referenced me over to the Psalms passage. It leaps off the page that it was sobbed out to the Lord. Tears, human heritage, and not being at home here...
Back to Hebrews. 'Here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.' Here, we have no continuing city. America, 'the last best hope of man on earth', is not a continuing city. Not a heavenly homeland. Not 'the one to come'. As sad as it is to see it decline-- our freedoms eroded, our foundations crumbling, I have citizenship in something better. Full citizenship. With dignity, and a home to dwell in, and gardening to do without weeds. Fellowship with my neighbors, my family all around me, and God living with us.
And, oh! John's vision.
He shall dwell with them.
They shall be His people.
He will be their God.
He shall wipe away every tear.
No more death.
No more sorrow.
No more crying.
No more pain.
Not only does He live with us, and comfort us for the pain and sorrow and death we've come out of, He sends it packing. No more walking around with death sitting on our hearts, with sorrow strangling our lungs, with tears leaking out when we get a chance to be still. It isn't just the tears He wipes away. He wipes out every reason for them. No secret misery to try to smile through. And no more pain. The former things have all passed away. I'm looking forward to pain and sorrow and death and crying being a 'former thing'.
O Lord, You know our longing for homes: to be settled in peace and security. We long to have a true homeland -- one where our citizenship is full. Where we can live in real safety, dwelling in our homes, planting our gardens, in harmony with every neighbor. Without drama, in full fellowship, with the government on the shoulders of Jesus. Thank You for Your promises. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.