The old spiritual song “Roll Jordon, Roll” states, “I want to go to heaven when I die.” This phrase epitomizes each and every Christian’s longing and desire for eternal life. It was stated concerning Abraham in the book of Hebrews 11:13-16:
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. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
In his sermon on faith, J.W. McGarvey says concerning Abraham,
. . . Abraham, by faith, lived in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promises, because he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. The Sodomites had built a city. Melchizedek, the high priest of God, was living in the city of Salem, close by. The Shechemites and others round about, had cities; and his friends, the Hittites, were living in the City of Hebron. He was a man of great wealth, and he could have built a palace in which to live, but he chose to live in a tent all his life. He was seventy-five years old when he left his native land, and one-hundred and seventy-five when he died; and through a round hundred years, he lived in a tent, by faith, because yonder was the city he was looking for, that had foundations sure enough, whose builder and maker is God, and he was so well pleased and satisfied with that, that he did not want anything better than a tent to live in here on earth. Sometimes I have thought that this was a greater evidence of Abraham’s faith than offering Isaac on the altar. It was a long strain, that one hundred years living in a tent and looking for that distant city. Conviction as to that unseen city which God hath built; confident expectation that after a long, weary journey, his life over, he would live in it with his children after him-this was his faith.
What a tremendous desire to go to heaven on the part of Abraham so that he would eschew life in a permanent earthly dwelling to remind him of his true home! This land in which we live today, this earthly tabernacle in which we are dwelling is only a fa�ade of that which is truly real. The earthly tabernacle in which we groan is illusory, temporal, and fleeting. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:1-4:
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.
The “Better Country” is that country to which we can go eternally. That “Better Country” is that country in which there will be no dissolution of our bodies. That “Better Country” is the place where we will live in ultimate fellowship with God and Christ forever. Everything that we desire is laid up for us in that country. All of our aspirations and eternal blessing awaits those who lay up their treasures in that country. Can we see beyond the immediate affairs of this life, opening the heavenly visage and peering into the wonders of eternity? Can we, with the eyes of faith, gape at that grand and glorious Gibraltar?
And yet today, there are Christians who are binding themselves to this earth and stockpiling corruptible earthly treasures in place of eternal spiritual wonders. Oh Christian who doth so gaze, remember the words of Peter, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (2 Peter 2:11). Remember the exhortation of our Lord Jesus Christ, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). Must we not confess that we are but strangers and pilgrims on our journey through this illusory life?
Let us then, seek for that “Better Country,” that “Heavenly Country”-the place where all hopes are fulfilled, where all dreams are realized, where all spiritual needs are satisfied, where there is no more sorrow or crying, no pain nor death, no heartache, no sighing, no loneliness, no fear. There is our home, our city, and our country! We are citizens of that great nation which exists in the presence of God. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20,21).
And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. (Revelation 21:23-26)
Abraham’s country can be your country as well. Lift up your eyes and behold that wondrous place around which all hope hangs. Lift up your eyes to heaven and to The One who dwells therein (Psalm 123:1). With all the powers and might of our life, let us seek that better, heavenly, country.