These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them…
"These all died in faith." Believers constitute a class by themselves — "These." They are the people that dwell alone, and shall not be numbered among the nations. Believers are a class by themselves, even when they die. It is idle to think that we can mark out a spot in the cemetery where none but saints shall sleep; but yet there is a truth at the bottom of that folly. There is a separation even in death between the righteous and the wicked. As for those who died without faith, they died indeed; but as for His people, a glorious resurrection awaits them.
I. DYING IS FAITH. What does it mean?
1. Does it not mean that when they came to die, they had not faith to seek, but having had faith in life, they had faith in death? I will pronounce no opinion upon death-bed repentance. I would not like to lie upon a sick-bed, much less upon a dyingbed, and have a Saviour to seek there. The pains and dying strife are usually enough to occupy a man's thoughts.
2. They did die, however, although they had faith, for faith is not given to us that we should escape death, but that we may die in faith.
3. These all persevered to the end.
4. Does it not mean, also, that they never got beyond faith?
5. But then, while they did not get beyond faith, the mercy is that they never got below it.
II. WHAT WAS THE FAITH THAT THEY DIED WITH?
1. They had received a great deal, but they had not received the fulness of the promises.
2. Yet they saw them. Faith touched their eyes with eye-salve.
3. They were persuaded of them.
4. They embraced them. The Greek word signifies "salutes," as when we see a friend at a distance, In the clear atmosphere of Mentone, I have sometimes stood on quite a lofty mountain, and seen a friend down in the valley, and I have spoken his name; and at first it was greatly to my astonishment when he replied, "Where are you?" I held a conversation with him readily. I could not have actually reached him for a long time, but I saluted him from afar. At times we can see God's promises afar off, and we salute them. We are within hail of the glory-land, and we send up rockets in the dark; or, if it be daylight, we signal to the shore.
III. THE FAITH TO LIVE WITH — the life of faith.
1. We are strangers by nature. Born from above, our life differs from those about us. "The world knoweth us not." We are in it, but not of it.
2. We are strangers as to citizenship. Here we are aliens and foreigners, whose privileges are connected with another city, and not with earth.
3. We are strangers as to pursuits. We are wayfaring men hurrying through this Vanity Fair. The men of the fair cry, "Buy! buy I " but they have no wares that we care to purchase. We buy the truth, and they do not trade in that commodity.
4. We are pilgrims in object. We have not come hither for a pleasure excursion; we are journeying to the temple to behold the face of our Lord. Our cry is, "Onward! Hinder me not. I must away to the glory-land, where my home is, where my God is!"
5. We are pilgrims as to continuance. We do not expect to be here long. Do not wonder if you are found to be strangers as to usage, for the world uses foreigners roughly; and they that are really of Christ must expect to be misunderstood and misrepresented.
IV. And what is THE FAITH BY WHICH WE ARE ABLE TO ENDURE SUCH A LIFE AS THIS? Why, it is this faith: "Theythat say such things declare plainly that they seek a country." Our faith is one which we dare to avow. We declare plainly that we seek a country. We are not ashamed to say that this is not our rest, that we do not expect to find pleasure here. We are speeding over this stormy sea to the Fair Havens, where we shall cast anchor for ever. We are not ashamed to say this, however others may ridicule our hope. And we say it because we believe it.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.