Wade's Weekly Word

Hebrews 11:10, “For he (Abraham) was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.”

Hebrews 11:16, “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” 

Hebrew 12:22, “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,”

Hebrews 13:13-14, “Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.  For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.”

Considering the encroaching events and increasing pressure and persecution from apostate Judaism, the Christ-professing Hebrews to whom this letter was written are admonished to make a clean break with Judaism. Once for all they should “go outside the camp”, decisively turning their backs on the Temple with all its symbolic rituals and sacrifices and on the city of Jerusalem itself. Why? Because the reality these earthly things foreshadowed had been fulfilled in Jesus the Christ or Messiah.

Jerusalem was dear to the hearts of those who served at the temple. It was the geographic center of their “camp.” But these Hebrew believers didn’t have to consider it as a loss when they turned their back on the earthly Jerusalem and the whole religion that was performed there. It had all come to an end because of the rejection of the Messiah – King Jesus. Every desire for it was wrong. Jerusalem was not a lasting city. The city would soon be destroyed (Luke 21:20 ). That was also the case with the temple (Matthew 24:12 ).

The New Testament believer has no “Holy City or Holy Land” on this “old” earth. Our hearts are to be set on the “new” earth and the “new” forever, heavenly city - the New Jerusalem - that will ultimately come down from God out of Heaven (Revelation 21:1-4).

Abraham and Sarah had seen by faith a “better country, that is, a heavenly one, and the city that he “has prepared for them.”  

Squire Parsons’ popular song Beulah Land begins: “I'm kind of homesick for a country to which I've never been before.”

Having already lived past the 73.5 years of life expectancy for men in America (I’m 76 years old), I am finding myself getting more and more homesick for the “city that has foundation” and for the “better country” of the “new heavens and the new earth.”

No, I don’t have any premonitions about the immediacy of my death, but if I dropped dead today, it would still be almost four years longer life than the average. In addition, I am more aware than ever that I have far, far, more time behind me than I have in front of me.

But even if my health was almost perfect (and it’s not) and my loving family still around me (and they are), they are not ultimate - God is. Marriage, friendships, ministry – none of these are ultimate and permanent.

In Mark 12:18–27 and Matthew 22:23–33, the Sadducees want to know which husband a woman would have in heaven, when she was widowed and remarried numerous times. They thought they had him tricked - polygamy in heaven. And Jesus said, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”

John Piper, in commenting on these verses said, “This means your marriage is temporary and it’s over. That’s very sobering. God is supreme and ultimate and eternal. Marriage is for a season.

Piper goes on to give and illustration: “My mother died when I was 28. I did my father’s second marriage a year later. I was thrilled to do it. Twenty-five years later, his second wife died. He’s not married again. He’s 86 years old (He’s dead now). Now he has two wives. And they’re both in heaven. I don’t doubt it. Very soon my dad will be there. Will he be a bigamist, a polygamist? He will not. Because there is no marriage in the age to come - no marriage in heaven. It will be better. Nothing gets worse in heaven. That’s good news. At least if you enjoy sex, it’s good news - and all other good things in marriage. It only gets better in heaven.”

This is what thrills me as the time of my departure approaches – Nothing Gets Worse in Heaven!

The desire and the “kind of homesickness” for the better country and for the city that has foundations, increases because I know that death will not deprive me of anything. And entering the country that is “fairer than day, and by faith, I have seen it afar”, will mean the experience of the people of God in the forever presence of God. And, in the words of the old former salve trader, John Newton, “When we’ve been there 10,000 years, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun!”

In writing of the better country and the city that has foundations, whose Maker and Builder is God, John Piper’s words increase the level of my homesickness for the City. He writes, “In this future and forever “City” of God there will be no pollution, no graffiti, no trash, no peeling paint or rotting garages, no dead grass or broken bottles, no harsh street talk, no in-your-face confrontations, no domestic strife or violence, no dangers in the night, no arson or lying or stealing or killing, no vandalism and no ugliness. The city of God will be perfect because God will be in it. He will walk in it and talk in it and manifest himself in every part of it. All that is good and beautiful and holy and peaceful and true and happy will be there, because God will be there. Perfect justice will be there and recompense a thousandfold for every pain suffered in obedience to Christ. And it will never deteriorate. In fact, it will shine brighter and brighter as eternity stretches out into unending ages of increasing joy.”

The heavenly country is better than any upon earth; it is better situated, better stored with everything that is good, better secured from everything that is evil; the employments, the enjoyments, the society, and everything in it, are better than the best in this world.

The continuing city we desire, the city of God, the country we’re homesick for, doesn’t cause us to cry for immediate evacuation by way of death or the Rapture, but for global, gospel declaration that will ultimately make possible the coming down of the Bride of Christ to dwell forever with God in a “New Heaven and a New Earth.

Although not a whole lot is told us about the new heavens and the new earth, all that is revealed could be summarized in the words of C.S. Lewis as “the beginning of Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

For the believer, the end of life on earth marks the beginning of the Great Story that no one down here has ever read and that has no ending!

For the believer, Chapter One of the Great Story begins with a transformation that is completed and needs not to be repeated! (Philippians 3:20-21, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”)

For the believer, Chapter One of the Great Story begins with a satisfaction that fulfills our deepest needs and desires!

For the believer, Chapter One of the Great Story unfolds in successive chapters of an unending love relationship in a unrestricted working partnership in a New Heaven and on a New Earth!

Michael Wilcock sums up this desire for a better city and country well when he says, “All that is truly good and beautiful in this world will reappear there [in the age to come], purified and enhanced in the perfect setting its Maker intended for it; nothing of real value is lost.” Hallelujah!

The consideration that the best is yet ahead for the child of God should inflame the affections, enlarge the desires, and excite the diligent endeavors of the people of God after this city that he has prepared for them.

I'm kind of homesick for a country
To which I've never been before.
No sad goodbyes will there be spoken
For time won't matter anymore.

Beulah Land, I'm longing for you
And some day on thee I'll stand
There my home shall be eternal
Beulah Land, sweet Beulah Land!


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