Hebrews 11:16-20
Heb 11:16 (KJB)
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.
Ashamed - Ashamed of or be ashamed for
He hath prepared - Put or keep in readiness
Rather than them returning to Mesopotamia, they desired that heavenly city which God had prepared for them. Back in Mesopotamia there was nothing but false gods and idolatry and those false gods could do absolutely nothing. Here in Canaan they met the true living God and once they met Him, they wanted more of Him and the false gods had faded away in the presence of God. They knew that false gods were just idols made of hands and could benefit them nothing but the true and living God was able to give them an eternal habitation in Heaven. (John 6:68 KJV) Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
Just as Peter stated to Jesus that He had the words of eternal life, so the Patriarchs knew that He had the words and promises of eternal life in Heaven which is also know as the city. (John 14:2-3 KJV) In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. {3} And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. Jesus had told His disciples that he was going to prepare a place for them. The word “prepare” in John 14:2 & 3 is the same word found in Hebrews 11:16. All three usages of the word are in the Aorist tense. The Aorist tense describes an action without specific reference to completion, duration, or repetition. However, in Hebrews 11:16 it is in the Indicative mood which means time is factored in. This means that the Patriarchs, upon death, had gone directly to Heaven because the place was already prepared for them. This was possible because Christ was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Rev 13:8 KJV) And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. This means, that in principle, Christ was slain before the foundation of the world, so this way those Saints in the Old Testament who were chosen of God before the foundation of the world would be saved.
The fact that Christ was crucified about 2000 years after Abraham did not negate the fact that Abraham went to Heaven upon death because Christ was faithful and His faithfulness being slain in principle, was as if Calvary had already happened even though it wouldn’t for 2,000 years. When Christ stated to His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them, does not mean He was going back to Heaven to build them residences. He was going to prepare a place for them when He went to the cross. By dying for His Elect, every true believer had a place prepared for them in Heaven. It was not a future event because as we read in Hebrews 11:16, God had already prepared a place for the Patriarchs from the foundation of the world. Since the Patriarchs had believed God, God requited their faith with the fact that He would not be ashamed to be called their God. The false gods of Mesopotamia could do no such thing but here we read that the faith of these Patriarchs had pleased God and the relationship between them was sealed, therefore the Patriarchs would not be ashamed to be called God’s children and God would not be ashamed to be called their God.
Heb 11:17 (KJB)
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son.
Was tried - Put to the test
Offered up - Bring before or offer
Only begotten - Unique relationship
(Psa 11:5 KJV) The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. If there is one aspect about the Christian life that is the hardest, it is times when God tries us. It must be understood that God never tempts any of His children with evil but only tests us to build us in the faith. Satan will tempt with evil but the difference is like night and day, God builds up and Satan destroys. That is how you can tell the difference if you are being tested or tempted. Here Abraham faced probably the biggest trial of his life. Isaac was the child of promise and in him was the seed of Abraham to be called and that was the physical lineage of Israel which led up to the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom 9:7 KJV) Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. Within the physical lineage of Israel was the spiritual lineage, those that were saved, in the Messianic line. Abraham had two sons, Ishmael by Hagar and Isaac by Sarah. Ishmael was not to be the heir that God had appointed but Isaac was and this is why God calls him “only begotten.” For it was Isaac that had the unique relationship to Abraham. He was the child of promise, born in their old age, and he was born legitimately within the confines of marriage even though the custom was accepted in the Middle East of a man having multiple wives, nevertheless God designed marriage as one man and one woman. Polygamy was never a design for marriage but an aberrant practice, especially in a male dominant society. Isaac was the true son who came through Sarah by promise of God. Yet, God had tested Abraham and Abraham had responded in faith by presenting Isaac to God on Mount Moriah.
Heb 11:18 (KJB)
Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
(Gen 21:12 KJV) And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. Isaac was the child of promise and it was to be through him, not Ishmael, that the promised Messiah was to come. It was also through Isaac that the spiritual descendants of Abraham would come, that is the line of faith. (Gal 3:7 KJV) Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. That line will continue until the last day when the Lord returns.
Heb 11:19 (KJB)
Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.
Accounting - Considered or reckoned
A figure - Parable or illustration
(Heb 11:12 KJV) Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. Remember back in Hebrews 11:12 that Abraham’s body was as good as dead? Well in 11:19 we read that Abraham had faith that God would have been able to raise up Isaac from the dead. He already received Isaac from a position as being dead already. He saw the birth of Isaac as a parable because out of the deadness of Abraham’s and Sarah’s body came forth the promised child. If God would have allowed Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, just as God brought forth a living child out of a body being dead, He would have been more than able to resurrect Isaac from physical death.
Heb 11:20 (KJB)
By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
By faith, Isaac was able to prophesy the future of his two sons. We all know that Jacob stole the blessing from Esau by tricking his father, yet Isaac was required to pronounce the blessing of the first born upon Jacob and then Isaac also pronounced that future of Esau that he would be a wanderer and he would make his living by the sword and that he would also serve Jacob. Isaac was able to prophesy these things in great confidence because as a lad, he was able to see first hand the faith his father had in God. Isaac was then able to have great faith in God by means of his father’s faith attitude being handed down.