Sunday, February 07, 2021

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Between Ur and the City of God

My pondering can go down some rabbit holes at times but they usually lead to something interesting I haven't thought of before.  The theme of what I was pondering all week is in the title of this blog post, "between Ur and the City of God".

I am guilty at times, as are all of us I think, to read the Old Testament as a storybook and view the people in it as two-dimensional flannelgram figures.  However, to really understand the Bible and what it teaches, we must read the Old Testament as a history book and remember that the people in it were very much real people who were just like us albeit without modern conveniences.

As a new Christian, I loved reading Genesis and learning about the Patriarchs of the Old Testament but they were kind of a haze in the far past of the history of mankind.  Then I took a course, I think it was by Walk Through the Bible but it was decades ago now, that opened my eyes to these men and women as real people.

In that course, we learned what it meant for Abraham to leave Ur at God's calling.  For one thing, Ur was a large metropolitan area for its' time and very pagan.  It was quite something for Abraham to believe in the One True God.  We are told that his father, whom he obviously loved and respected, believed as the other citizens of Ur in many gods.

Abraham was already old and prosperously settled in his community when he was asked to follow God into the unknown.  I would have loved hearing the discussions he had with Sarai as she was forced to leave her family and friends... or maybe it is a good thing they were not recorded... and live in tents as they sojourned into unknown lands.

The Bible tells us about Abraham's journey, both his good decisions and those that were incredibly unwise.  If there was one thing we can take comfort from in the story of the Patriarchs, God definitely used flawed men and women in a great way.  

We know about their faith that resulted in the birth of Isaac but we also read about the lack of faith that resulted in the birth of Ishmael by a servant.  The decedents of those two half-brothers are still fighting today in the land of the Middle East.  

However, we know his faith grew through the years as the Word indicates that he had faith to believe God would not take the promised child away from him and God indeed provided the ram to be the offering on Mount Moriah.

Abraham was like the rest of us who call God Father, whether in the old Covenant (Testament) or in the new Covenant (Testament)... we are very flawed people who can show great faith one day and live in fear the next day.  It is often those fears that bring about the unwise decisions.

However, and this is what led to my rabbit trail ponderings, with all that God did give to Abraham, he is listed in that amazing eleventh chapter of Hebrews as one who went to their death without receiving that which they were promised.

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.  Hebrews 11:13

For you see, Abraham left Ur (as Abram) to seek the City of God.  When we read his story, we see how both he and Sarai (whose name was changed to Sarah) matured in their faith over the years and they did receive many of their promises.  There is a reason why the current peace treaty being discussed in the Middle East is called The Abraham Accords for his descendants are indeed as numerous as the stars.

For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.  Hebrews 11:10

But Abraham would not actually reach the City of God until he was face to face with his God.  It is yet another reason to have an Eternal perspective as we journey through life.  Sometimes those promises God has placed in our heart will not be fulfilled until that time when we leave this place and enter into the Eternal Home.

Just as when we read the true stories in the Old Covenant, we need to read the prophetic stories in the New Covenant as the Truth. I think especially of those places in Revelation when the descriptions are given of the images John was allowed to see.  Talk about the sparkle of Christmas, that city will out sparkle anything we have seen in this lifetime.

When you feel that sense that this is not all there is, when even your greatest desires have been met and you still feel that something is is missing.  It cannot be reached in this lifetime.  There is something much greater that is still ahead of us.

Sometimes in these days of turmoil, we get our eyes fixed on the trouble that surrounds us.  What we must do is to look at what is ahead.  Yes, we may be walking through difficulties now but... like Abraham eventually learned to do... we need to keep journeying toward that very real City of God.

It is a real place.  With real people.  It sparkles.  I am confident one can sip very very good coffee there.  It has streets whose pavements are made of gold.  It is the home for which our heart has yearned for since birth.

We may think our lives are not being written in the canon of Scripture such as Abraham and that is true.  However, our lives are being written in a book that will be opened in Heaven someday.  Did you think that even the smallest of times when you chose to believe God and walk in faith it was not noticed?  

Everything... absolutely everything... we go through will be worth it someday.

Hold on to the faith that He gives and that strength He has promised.  Our stories are still being lived and each of our books are still being written.  Someday, we will meet Abraham and Sarah when we are in that City whose architect and builder is God. 


Carolyn said...

I so enjoyed your post today. Thank you for helping me focus on the future. These past and present times are so easy to lose site and be distracted.

Ann said...

What hope God has provided for us if we only look to Him. I'm passing this on to some friends I think would enjoy your ponderings.

Suzan said...

Thank you for your thoughts. It is all too easy to think of the past as a story but as you say the people were real and so were their struggles. I have finished reading the story of Abraham a few days ago so your writing was very timely for me.

Rebecca said...

What a rabbit trail!
I followed you down it...
Thinking how much higher & huger God's plans for His people are...

Deanna Rabe said...

Yes, indeed! So amazing to think about. Much better life ahead, than we have here, and most of us have so many blessings here.

I think this is a great post!

Sherry said...

recently, the hubs and i watched a youtube video of jack hibbs (pastor of calvary chapel chino hills) offer a message and he included the story of abram etc. i'm thankful your post brought it to mind and both solidified and confirmed what he shared.

Keri said...

Thank you for writing and sharing this, Brenda. I'm afraid I'm guilty of thinking of the Old Testament "characters" as just that -- two-dimensional characters. I'm sure that further study and meditation would do me some good in gaining a fuller picture of them as relatable human beings.

For about the first 3 or 4 months of the pandemic last spring, thoughts of the City of God were often all that stood between me and total despair. I found myself overwhelmed by everything that was happening in the world and in my city, and my only solace was the vision of the glorious future that we as Christ followers are promised -- and oh, how I thanked Him for that vision that shored me up when I desperately needed hope and help!