Looking for a city
They were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. – Hebrews 11:16
8 It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going.
9 And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith – for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise.
10 Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.
The search for lost, fabled cities of the ancient world forgotten by time has enchanted, even mesmerized explorers and archaeologists for centuries. On April 10, 2021, the discovery of the Lost Golden City of Luxor was announced. Archaeologists searched for this particular city for decades. The venerable Egyptian city of Luxor was well-known in the ancient world. But it was abandoned and buried under an ocean of sand for 3400 years.
The site dates from the era of the 18th-dynasty. It was built by Amenhotep III who ruled between around 1386 and 1353 BC. He presided over a golden age, an era of extraordinary wealth, power, and luxury. This all passed to his son Amenhotep IV who ruled from around 1353–1336 BC.
Amenhotep IV upended Egyptian culture, abandoning all of the traditional Egyptian pantheon. He became a monotheist worshiping the sun god Aten. He changed his name from Amenhotep IV to the more well-known name Akhenaten, which means “devoted to Aten.” Akhenaten abandoned ancient Luxor.
Akhenaten built the short-lived city of Akhetaten, where he ruled with his wife, Nefertiti, and worshipped the sun. After his death, his young son Tutankhamun (King Tut) became ruler of Egypt and subsequently turned his back on Akhenaten’s faith and returned to traditional Egyptian religion.
Because Luxor was abandoned rather than conquered and destroyed, it contains stunningly well-preserved remains similar to those at Pompeii in its degree of preservation. “It’s very much a snapshot in time – an Egyptian version of Pompeii” (Salima Ikram, head of the American University in Cairo’s Egyptology unit).
What of the esteemed, promised city of God? The Father promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and their families a land and a special city of which He was the architect and builder. In history, these promises have only been partially fulfilled. Their ultimate fulfillment is yet future. We cannot “be certain exactly when or precisely how the prophecies would come to complete fulfillment” (Joel Rosenberg). We are only certain that they will be.
REFLECT & PRAY
In our throwaway society, junk is typically stuff we no longer need. It has no value and is regarded as worthless, meaningless, or useless. We considered nothing more than trash! The Father does not make junk.
Father thank You for making unconditional promises that one day will be completely fulfilled. Encourage us to be like those that preceded us to see them by faith from “afar.” Thank You that You know I am but dust. But wonder of wonders, I am Your dust.
The ancient patriarchs were looking for a promised city, a heavenly homeland. One that the Father had prepared for them (Hebrews 11:16). None of them saw what the Father had promised during their lifetimes. However, by faith, they saw it from “afar” (Hebrews 11:13). By faith, they believed in the coming fulfillment of the Father’s promises. They were looking for the complete realization of what had been predicted. They died in faith without ever entering into the reality of all that was promised.
Hebrews 11:13 All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it.
Father does not make promises that He does not keep. But the fulfillment comes in His timing, not ours. The children of the King referenced in the book of Hebrews lived in tents. But they were continually looking for the city which the Father had promised. Faith is seeing the unseen (Hebrews 11:27). “The important thing is not what we live in, but what we look for” (Dr. George Morrison). The partial fulfillment of the Father’s promises is the foretaste of things to come.
But there is more! The Father honors faith because faith honors Him.
1 Samuel 2:30 I will honor those who honor me.
Because children of the King referenced in the book of Hebrews expressed their faith in word and deed, the Father was pleased to associate Himself with them.
Hebrews 11:16 God is not ashamed to be called their God.
The Greek word translated ashamed is epaischunomai. The Greek root aisch originally to that which is ugly and disgraceful. It came to mean to feel shame, be ashamed, to be confounded, or be disconcerted.
The Father affirms this reality by expressing the negative and then refuting it. By so doing there is the implication, that the actions of people could be a source of embarrassment to their Creator.
But the Father is not ashamed of His children. Why? The Father does not make junk, nor does He make mistakes. He is well aware of our foibles and knows that we are but dust.
10 He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
11 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
12 He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.
13 The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
14 For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.
We are just dust, but we are His dust. His response to our shortcomings and sins is love. He seeks restoration and sweet intimacy with each child of the King.¯\_(ツ)_/¯