And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from where they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.…
I. THE FEELINGS OF A SAINT IN REFERENCE TO THE PAST. "And truly if they be mindful of that country, from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned." That is to say, the believing man has not forgotten the past; the past has not become a blank to him — his home, his country, his kindred, his honours, his comforts — all these are remembered. Moses remembered Egypt, Abraham remembered Chaldea; but though remembered, these things were not regretted — they were no longer coveted. It is not with us as with Lot's wife, casting a longing look behind. There is no looking back for the purpose of return; our face is steadfastly set to go up to Jerusalem. We are often tempted to -think of returning, and to repent our departure, but we yield not for a moment. We rejoice in the separation, we would not have it otherwise.
II. THE FEELINGS OF A SAINT IN REFERENCE TO THE FUTURE. "Now they desire a better kingdom, that is, an heavenly" (ver. 16). The believing man desires a better country; he says, 1 must have something better, higher, heavenlier, than anything which I have hitherto possessed. Nothing else can content me, or fill this soul of mine. His .faith has taken hold of the premises — it is to him the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. And with his faith his heart has gone up, to fix itself upon the things above; he cannot stay below. It is not that there is a continued compulsion forcing upon him the consideration of things to come; it is the necessity of his new nature which thus brings him irresistibly into connection with the things of God.
III. THE RECOMPENSE OF FAITH. "Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city." God might "well have been ashamed of them, for what was there in them that deserved His notice, far less such a recompense as this? Little indeed, yet that little He delights in. The special thing, because of which He is not ashamed, is their walk of faith, for the connection of this statement with the previous verse manifestly is intended "to bring out this. They trusted His bare promise just as Abraham did when he forsook Chaldea for an unknown inheritance. And this trusting the bare promise, without a sign or token given, so honours God that because of it He rejoices to be called their God. Such is the reward of faith that throws itself entirely upon God, and takes His promise as its all. And now let us learn these three things in reference to what faith does.
1. It turns our back upon the world, and draws us out of Egypt, nor does it allow us to think of returning. Remember what that world is that you profess to have left, and remember that in leaving it you severed links between you and it never to be replaced.
2. Faith keeps our face towards the kingdom. Our desires go upward to the better, even the heavenly, country.
3. Faith realises the kind of recompense and lives upon it. It not merely receives the truth that there is a recompense, but it realises that recompense, and sees that it is just such a recompense as meets our case, and makes up for the very things that we were called upon to relinquish when we left Egypt. We are strangers here, dwelling in tents; faith realises a city, as our abode hereafter, and such a city as earth has not seen — the New Jerusalem, a city provided for us by God.
(H. Bonar, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.