The Weekly Pulpit
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them…
I. GOD'S PROMISES SEEM, AT FIRST, TO ASSURE EARTHLY GOOD. I would not discourage you from seeking the cheer of such promises, for "godliness has the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." But I may say this, Let the years pass on, and you will surely find that God is dealing with you so as to purify all your hopes. Your Canaan will come to be a "better country, that is a heavenly." Your Jerusalem will be the "holy city, new Jerusalem, which comes down from God out of heaven," into which " there shall in no wise enter any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination or maketh a lie."
II. LIFE BUT SELDOM FULFILS THE PROMISES .JUST AS WE SHAPE THEM.
1. Life seldom is, even in its outward circumstances, what we picture to ourselves that it will be. F.W. Robertson, with some intensity of expression says, "Herein lies a principle, which, rightly expounded, can help us to interpret this life of ours. God's promises never are fulfilled in the sense in which they seem to have been given. Life is a deception; its anticipations, which are God's promises to the imagination, are never realised; they who know life best, and have trusted God most to fill it with blessings, are ever the first to say that life is a series of disappointments."
2. Life seldom permits any great work to be accomplished right through by the man who begins it. Moses must climb Nebo to die before his lifework was completed in the possession of Canaan. Joshua died before the whole country was cleared of the idolatrous inhabitants. David died before the Temple could be built. There is even a sense in which our Lord's life was "cut off," and He left an unfinished work to be completed by His apostles. Indeed, to do any entire work from beginning to end seems to be too great an honour, too high a trust, for any one man.
III. GOD, BY THE SEEMING FAILURE, GRACIOUSLY LIFTS US UP TO THE HIGHER VIEW OF THE PROMISES. How failure can open men's eyes! How disappointment with life as we find it, tends to lift our eyes away from earth, and make us feel that this is not our rest! As one thing after another disappoints, we begin to see that the time and place for God's fulfilment of His promises is — yonder and there; not here and now. We begin to repeat after the storm-tossed Psalmist and say, "I shall be satisfied when I awake with Thy likeness." We even begin to find out that the, seeming, earthly look of the promises in reality only veiled the heavenly meaning for us; veiled it until we had grown strong enough to bear the light. Is not this just the sanctifying work that advancing life does for us all under God.
(The Weekly Pulpit.)
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.