Every time I read through the faith chapter, this verse levels me :
“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 a city for them.”
– Heb 11.6
If you are not familiar, the eleventh chapter of Hebrews is often called “the Faith Chapter” or “the Hall of Faith” because the chapter defines faith in verse 1, asserts that “without faith it is impossible to please God” (v 6) and then outlines the forerunners of the faith from the Old Testament, describing how they gave us an example.
God was not ashamed to be the God of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and Moses. And why is that? Not because they had done amazing things – although they all did – but because they had faith. They trusted God, believed Him, and obeyed Him. Notice the structure of verse 16:
Premise: “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.”
Result: “Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God;”
Reason: “for He has prepared a city for them.”
The Bible is a logical, reasoning book. Sometimes we forget and think of it as a collection of proverbs or good truths, but God Himself created wisdom, reasoning and logic, and the Bible builds extremely deep and complicated truths. The entire book of Romans is a logical argument. And even this small sentence in the book of Hebrews gives us two reasons that God is not ashamed to be called the God of these people: Firstly, they desired a heavenly country and secondly, He has prepared a city for them. Just a few verses before, we learn something dynamic about these faithful ones:
“All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return.”
– Heb 11.13-15
This is a tricky concept to understand. God promised Abraham a new land. God promised Sarah a son. God promised Noah salvation through the flood. How can it be that these people did not receive the promises but only from a distance? Because while God promised Abraham the land of Canaan (Israel), he himself lived as a sojourner on the land, a traveler, one who did not own the land. He did not see the fulfillment of the promise in whole. While God promised and provided Sarah a son, and she bore Isaac when she was 90, He also promised that through him they would be offspring as numerous as the sand on the seashore. She did not see the multitudes that will only be fulfilled at the end of time. While Noah was saved from the flood, he did not see the new Heaven and new Earth which would be without sin. They saw in part, but not in whole. But they were trusting God and looking for an eternal country.
These people did not earn God’s pride by great feats or acts of obedience. They earned the pride of God because they trusted and believed Him. They trusted Him, believed Him, and longed for a country that was beyond this Earth. Therefore God was not ashamed of them. Because He had already prepared an eternal city for them.
So how do you ensure that God is not ashamed to be called your God? By believing Him, by longing for Him, by putting your hope and trust in an eternal city, not in your Earthly dwelling. By making much of Him. By recognizing that He is God, He has promised glorious things, and by ordering your life around those things. Spiritual longing for God.
This is a strange concept. We do not typically boast in our hunger, or our longings. Amongst our peers it is not an honorable thing just to desire something. But in God’s eyes, desiring Him is that which He values. And true desire leads to unfathomable acts of faith and obedience. Noah built an ark in a desert. Sarah, at 90, built a crib and made baby clothes. Abraham was prepared to kill his only son, who was born to him well after child-bearing years. Abraham also packed up his family and possessions and walked into the wilderness trusting God to give him directions as he went. What are you doing that makes no earthly sense? These acts of obedience will not earn you favor with God, but the believing heart that trusts God will.
Is God proud to be your God?
The only other option is that He is not your God. God is not ashamed and He does not do shameful things. God will not welcome people through the backdoor of Heaven. That is why Jesus said,
“For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
– Matt 7.14
Trust God today. Believe Him. And when you lack faith, pray as one man did:
“I do believe; help my unbelief.”
– Mark 9.24
It is God who is working in you to complete the work of Sanctification. Pray that He will do that through you which He has commanded. He has promised wisdom to any who ask. Ask for it. Ask Him to give you faith. Ask Him to help you believe. I am asking for those things. Your actions and obedience should only be the outworking of your love, trust and desire for God. God is looking at your heart. Humble it before Him today.