40 Days of Faith
"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.
"These all" up to this point includes Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah. We are told that they died without receiving the promise. With the exception for Enoch, who did not die, this sounds sort of strange. It seems that they did receive the promise. Abel received God's favor because of his obedient sacrifice. Noah received salvation from the flood for him and his family. Abraham and Sarah were blessed with the promised son Isaac. How is it that they did not receive the promise? None of these things were fulfillment of the promise that they were truly waiting for. God Himself is what they were promised and what they desired.
That is why they died in faith. They were still looking for the promise of the literal presence of God Himself. You can see in their lives a glimpse of the shadow of the words that the Apostle Paul would eventually write: "Reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." They understood that there was more to this life than the years lived here. There was something much greater than what we accomplish on this earth. There was the hope and promise of God Himself.
We are told that they were assured of this hope. Are we confidently persuaded that God is true and that every promise He has ever made will be fulfilled? Not only were they sure of the promise, we are also told that they embraced this promise. To embrace something is to claim it as your own, to hold to it tightly, and to declare your affection and passion for it. They embraced God as all that they had, wanted, or desired in this life. They embraced it so much that they confessed and confirmed that this world was not their home. They were foreigners in a distant land.
By faith we must also realize that we are not home yet. There is no greater promise than the hope of God Himself. It is not Heaven that we should desire; it is the glory of God's eternal presence that should be our continual craving.
May you embrace the promise of God Himself today!