Hebrews 11.9-10



1.   A number of weeks ago, I mentioned that there are four times in Abraham’s life that are highlighted in God’s Word in connection to faith.  The importance of these four times cannot be overestimated in light of Abraham’s role as the prototype in the Bible of the just living by faith.

2.   The first time of Abraham’s life connected with faith was that period covered from the end of Genesis chapter 11 through Genesis chapter 14.  About ten years in duration, from age 75 to age 85, Hebrews 11.8 describes Abraham’s experiences:  “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.”

3.   What is astonishing, and what has been established beyond reasonable doubt from God’s Word, is that during that phase of Abraham’s life, though the Bible declares he had real faith, it is abundantly clear that he was not saved.  Thus, I have labeled Abraham’s faith during that phase of his life “seeking faith.”

4.   We can be certain he was not saved during the “seeking faith” period because it is the second mention of faith in Abraham’s life in which he gets saved, an event that is recorded in the books of Genesis, Romans, Galatians, and James, though not, surprisingly, in Hebrews, where so much about faith is written.[1]  The key verse related to Abraham’s salvation is Genesis 15.6:  “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”

5.   The third mention of faith in Abraham’s life is in relation to his son, Isaac.  You remember the episode.  God directed him to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice and Abraham obeyed, with God interrupting Abraham at the last possible moment and then providing a substitute in place of Isaac for Abraham to sacrifice.  Genesis 22, James 2, and Hebrews 11.17-19, record that incredible event that so magnificently foreshadowed our Lord Jesus Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice on Calvary’s cross two thousand years later.

6.   Today we will consider the final mention of faith in connection with Abraham’s life, Hebrews 11.9-10.  When you find that portion of God’s Word, please stand for the reading of today’s text:  “9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”

7.   So that you will be able to see the panorama of Abraham’s long life in your mind’s eye, imagine his life to have been in three segments, or phases:  First, there was Abram in Ur of the Chaldees.  During this phase of his life he had no faith and was lost.  Then God spoke to him and called him forth.  This was Abraham’s second phase of life, when he had faith, according to Hebrews 11.8, but was not saved.

8.   In Genesis 15.6, Abraham got saved and entered into the third phase of his life, which was to last for the rest of his days on earth.  It was during this period of Abraham’s life that his offer of Isaac, the most momentous event of this phase of his life, was made.

9.   Our text for today treats this final phase of Abraham’s life, excepting the episode with Isaac, showing us the characteristics of this prototype believer’s life of faith.  If the episode involving Isaac’s sacrifice was a single event that showed Abraham to be genuinely converted, the span of his life from Genesis 15.6 to the time he expired provides for us the sum of his life’s testimony that showed him to be genuinely converted.

10. Notice, along with me,



Our text begins, “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise . . . .”

1B.    What does this mean?  You will remember that Abraham’s “seeking faith” got him to the land God wanted him to live in.  It was by faith, though he was still lost, that he came from Ur of the Chaldees to the land God had promised him.  Once he was where God wanted him to be he got saved.

2B.    But once he had gotten saved, Abraham’s faith kept him where God wanted him to be.  Allow me to reference First Corinthians 15.58, a statement that A. T. Robertson observes is “a practical turn to this great doctrinal argument”[2] :  “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

3B.    The word “stedfast” translates the Greek word edraiov, which has to do with being “firmly or solidly in place.”[3]  The word “unmoveable” translates the Greek word ametakinhtov, which means “not capable of being moves from its place.”[4]

4B.    So, what do we have the writer of Hebrews doing, writing as he was to those who were considering abandoning Christianity and returning to Judaism?  He shows his readers that Abraham’s “steadfast faith” kept him where God wanted him to be, as they should stay where God wanted them to be.  And this perfectly mirrors what Paul exhorted the Corinthians to do, to stand like a rock.

5B.    My friends, we live in the last days.  And in this hour of great apostasy you will be tempted to do a lot of different things.  But “steadfast faith,” the faith that is possessed by truly saved people, is a faith that anchors the believer, a faith that keeps the believer from drifting too far doctrinally, and keeps the believer from being cut loose from his moorings geographically.

6B.    Some people cut and run.  At times they will in effect say, “God led me to run away from the oncoming mission field that is flooding into Los Angeles and to live in the remote regions where there are few people.”  I say that does not happen.  Abraham’s “steadfast faith” prompted him to stay where God clearly and obviously wanted him to stay.  If you are saved you will do the same.



“By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles . . . .”

There are two things I would like to point out in the second and third phrases of this verse:

1B.    First, please observe that Abraham lived in the promised land “as in a strange country.”

1C.   Keep in mind that it all belongs to Abraham.  God gave it to him.  In Genesis 12.1, God told him to go to “a land that I will shew thee.”  In Genesis 12.7, God said, “Unto thy seed will I give this land.”  And in Genesis 17.8, God said to him, “And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession.”

2C.   So, what did Abraham do?  Did he immediately begin to strut around the countryside saying, “This is mine.  This is all mine.  Y’all can live here, but understand that it’s mine”?  No, he did not act like that at all, because although faith owns it does not always possess.  Remember, “faith is the substance of things hope for.”[5]

3C.   The lesson for you and me is that Abraham lived in a place as though he did not belong there.  It was all his, but he did not act like it was his at all.  He owned it, but he did not possess it.  Insofar as we know, the only property Abraham ever purchased was the cave in which he buried his beloved wife, Sarah.[6]

4C.   In the world, but not of the world, is one way to describe Abraham’s behavior.  Amongst them, but not actually a part of them, is another way of seeing it.  Paul wrote along this line, in Ephesians 5.15:  “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools . . . .”  What does it mean to “walk circumspectly?”  It means that you live “carefully.”[7]

2B.    Second, please observe that Abraham lived in the promised land “dwelling in tabernacles”

1C.   Though he was a wealthy man by any standards, and though there were cities with big houses throughout the territory, Abraham continued to live in a tent.  Why did he do that?  Was it solely because he was a shepherd?  I don’t think so.

2C.   The style of life that Abraham lived in the promised land of Canaan was a careful life.  Though he knew that God had designed to give it all to him, he never behaved as though Canaan was his possession.  Why not?  Because faith waits until God places the gift in your hand.

3C.   With faith, there is a time of aggressive laying hold.  But there is also a time of patience and waiting for God to give what He has promised.  As Abraham waited patiently, so should you and I learn to wait patiently for God to answer prayers, for God to fulfill promises, for God to give into our possession what He has promised to us to someday have.

4C.   “Who am I going to marry?  There are no eligible people here in the church.”  “I think I will have to move in order to get a promotion and a good enough raise to live.”  “Houses are too expensive here.”  “The grass is greener on the other side of the fence.”  Remember, Abraham had run off to Egypt once during a drought.  But that was before he got saved.  Once he got saved he stayed put in the land God had called him to.

5C.   How differently, then, “steadfast faith” lives out its life than do those without faith.  Not just where you should be, but how you should be there.  While the world around us grasps and clamors and worries and lusts, faith lives simply and patiently and fully.  Not lazily, since real faith works.  But not hurriedly and in a panic.

6C.   I can’t imagine Abraham in a frenzy at this stage of his life, can you?  Would you ever think of associating worry and fretting with Abraham after he got saved?  You see, fretting and panicking and worrying is the antithesis of faith at work in a believer’s life.



“By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise.”


1B.    It may not have dawned on you, just as it never dawned on me for a long time, that Abraham lived out his life with Isaac and Jacob, “the heirs with him of the same promise.”  That is, he lived out his life with his own kind, with those who were part of God’s divine program, with his fellow heirs.

2B.    To restate, Abraham was where he was supposed to be, living how he was supposed to live, with whom he was supposed to live.  Were there Canaanites all around him?  Yes.  Did he have dealings with the idolaters?  Of course.  But his fellowship was with fellow heirs.

3B.    It just so happened that Abraham’s fellow heirs were his son and his grandson.  Not his sons, for only Isaac was a fellow heir, not Ishmael.  And not his grandsons, for only Jacob was a fellow heir, not Esau.  Thus, we see that there was something special, a special relationship that existed between Abraham and those who also had a special relationship with his God.

4B.    The son, Isaac, would make a great mistake with his sons, Jacob and Esau, preferring the one who was profane over the one who was the heir.  But Abraham did not make that mistake, did not commit that error, as our prototype of living by faith.

5B.    Two thousand years later the apostle Paul would state a principle that seems to embody Abraham’s choices of companions.  In First Corinthians 15.33, Paul wrote, “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.”  Do not be fooled.  Having bad companions will corrupt your behavior.  Abraham’s companions were always the right companions; fellow heirs.

6B.    So, Abraham’s “steadfast faith” operated in this fashion, after his “seeking faith” got him to where he was supposed to be and his “saving faith” got him saved:  First, it kept him where God wanted him to stay.  Second, it governed his behavior so that he would live as God would have him to live.  And, third, it controlled his companions so that he would live with those God wanted him to live his life with.

7B.    May I make application to you and this Church?  Your “seeking faith” brought you here.  Your “saving faith” will secure your salvation, through faith in Jesus Christ, I pray.  Your “steadfast faith,” if you get saved, will keep you here, living in a fashion that pleases God, associating with those here who are your fellow heirs.



Hebrews 11.10:  “For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”

1B.    This verse is a bit perplexing because there was no mention in Abraham’s lifetime of any such city as is referred to here.  Speculation among commentators has run the gamut from this being a reference to a future Jerusalem or to this being a reference to the heavenly new Jerusalem.

2B.    In the next chapter the writer, in Hebrews 12.22, states, “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem . . . .”  And in Hebrews 13.14, he says, “For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.”

3B.    Could it be that Abraham lived the life of faith that he did after he got saved because he anticipated a city in heaven?  I suppose so, but I really don’t think so.  We know so much more now than he did then that we are tempted to fill in Abraham’s blanks for him.  And I think the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews was inspired of God to tell us what Abraham’s faith anticipated, even though I question whether Abraham ever consciously thought of such a city in the future.

4B.    Let me read Isaiah 64.4 to you:  “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.” 

5B.    Now, let me read First Corinthians 2.9 to you:  “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”  Third, let me read Ephesians 3.20:  “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think. . . .”

6B.    Why did Abraham remain in a rather inhospitable region after he got saved?  He stayed where God wanted him to stay by faith, “steadfast faith.”  He lived there how God wanted him to live by faith, by “steadfast faith.”  And he lived with who God wanted him to live with by faith, by “steadfast faith.”

7B.    “Steadfast faith” is the faith that is exhibited over the long haul by those who have real faith in God.  “Steadfast faith” is faith that sticks, faith that stays, faith that doesn’t move or abandon its post.  And what enables “steadfast faith” to behave in a believer’s life in such a way?

8B.    If you will remember, faith is a present fixed confidence that is rooted in the past and which looks to the future with confidence and anticipation.  But faith does not always know, precisely, what the future will bring, what God has in store for you.  But faith knows the character of God, and that is good enough.



1.   Abraham’s “seeking faith” brought him from Ur of the Chaldees into the land God had promised.  His “saving faith” brought him into a right relationship with God. 

2.   His “steadfast faith” kept him in the land, living the way God wanted him to live, with the people God wanted him to live with, anticipating God’s great blessings for him in the unrealized future.

3.   Along the way, about thirty years into his life of “steadfast faith,” God challenged him and tested his faith, demanding that he demonstrate his willingness to give up Isaac.

4.   Abraham’s “steadfast faith” rose to the occasion, what I called last week “sacrificial faith” and “friendly faith,” demonstrating his willingness to trust God under the most extreme trial.

5.   So, at each step of the way, Abraham’s faith has been demonstrated to be a gift from God, acquired through the hearing of God’s Word, accomplishing its task of pleasing God, anticipating future blessings from God, but also characterized by certain things not yet appropriated.

6.   How different Abraham’s faith is from those who subscribe to the notion that faith in Christ is only a momentary phenomenon.  Abraham’s life shows that faith is a factor in a person’s life before he gets saved, at the time of his salvation, and for the rest of his life on earth.  Truly, the just do live by faith.

[1] Genesis 15.1-6; Romans 4.1-5; Galatians 3.6; James 2.23

[2] A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures In The New Testament, Vol IV, (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1930), page 199.

[3] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 276.

[4] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 445.

[5] Hebrews 11.1

[6] Genesis 23

[7] Rienecker, page 537,

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