“For he (Abraham) was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” Heb.11:10 (NIV).
Disclaimer. As I wrote this piece the Southern Gospel song of the same title ran through my head. For those who know me and my marked dislike of this music genre, if you hear me humming that tune please, stage an intervention.
What was he thinking? Abraham received his inheritance, the Promised Land (verse 9) yet lived as an alien. A nomad in his own country, Abraham never put down roots. He was on a quest, the search for a particular city.
Urban areas weren't unusual at this time. Cain built the first city and named it for his son Enoch (not the Enoch of Heb. 11:5). What captured Abraham's attention wasn't located in the temporal realm. Where did he come up with such a crazy idea?
The longevity of early man provided subsequent generations opportunity to receive first hand accounts from their ancestors, including Adam and Eve's experience in the garden. Lamech, Noah's father could have spoken to his grandfather and passed on what he'd learned to his son.
Noah's great-grandfather was the Enoch of Heb.11:5. Enoch's son Methuselah lived right up to the time of the flood so Noah would have had a direct access through his grandfather to learn of Enoch's adventures with God. While the Book of Enoch isn't part of the canon of scripture in the West, it was well known to the ancients. It is the most quoted book in the New Testament and a very interesting read.
Abraham descended from Noah's son Shem and according to Jewish history lived in Shem's home for an extended period of time. Here he learned about the one true God. In degrees of separation, Noah was four away from Adam and two from Enoch. My point, the possibility of accurate oral transmission of actual historical events to Abraham was high.
Abraham was neither born again or spirit filled, but he had more dramatic, personal encounters with God than the average Christian. So focused on the eternal city, Abraham never set up a permanent abode. He refused to be tethered to the temporal that would hinder his pursuit of the spiritual. He had a stronger grasp of the supernatural than most believers today. I need a page from his book.
Paul talked about the object of Abraham's quest, the Jerusalem above, in Galatians 4:26. This is a real place. Even today in Israel paintings of Jerusalem below and above are very popular. They know it is right above them.
The bible is filled with accounts of ordinary people with extraordinary experiences, those who hungered for what couldn't be accessed through the natural senses. Has the church's withdrawal from the things in the spirit and the supernatural realms sent people searching for answers in new age practices and even witchcraft? Is it time for believers to revisit, reclaim and restore their spiritual heritage to its rightful place?
How about you? How would your walk with God change if it contained a more spiritual component like Abraham's? If you caught a glimpse of the city he pursued would it change your attitude toward the temporal world? Are you ready for a business-not-as-usual Christian experience?