Posted by: Billy Marsh | September 8, 2007

IV. Sojourners: Hebrews 11:16 (B) The God of Sojourners: Not Ashamed

Abraham

“But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” ~ Hebrews 11:16, ESV

The author of Hebrews draws the final conclusion to his brief commentary on the heavenly mentality of the Fathers and those mentioned throughout Heb 11. I would even go so far as to say that the Sojourner worldview is also indicative of the “great cloud of witnesses” in Heb 12:1. Here, the concluding inference concerning the previous statements  in vv 13-16 is a powerful truth that cannot be carelessly read over or mindlessly claimed.  Immediately after establishing the fact that the Patriarchs’ and other Sojourners’ citizenship is in heaven, their homeland being a better country, the author of Hebrews further substantiates this point by affirming that “God is not ashamed to be called their God (v 16).” In other words, God is not ashamed to rule over these particular citizens, nor does he object to their dwelling within the boundaries of his Kingdom. In fact, God has even prepared a city for them!

But now, let’s focus more so on the weight of the truth that the God of heaven and earth is not ashamed to be called the God of his people of faith.

First, what’s the significance of “not ashamed”? In one of my very first writings on Heb 11:13-16, I looked closely at the Greek participle translated “having acknowledged” and stated that it would probably be better rendered “having confessed” due in part that this translation more clearly conveyed the verbal aspect of a Christian manifesting his Sojourner identity. There ought to be an ongoing confessional characteristic to the faith. Likewise, the author of Hebrews uses a Greek word in v 16 when asserting that God is not “ashamed” which also carries with it a verbal component. When the author writes that “God is not ashamed to be called their God”, in essence he is connecting the same quality of the Sojourners’ confession of their citizenship in heaven under God’s reign with the fact that God will confess and affirm their belonging to him. In other words, he is willing to name them and call them his own. Jesus uses this same verb for “ashamed” in Mark 8:38, “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Here we see that being ashamed of something entails much more than embarrassment or some pardonable emotion. Being ashamed is a matter of being silent or vocal.

The Apostle Paul also uses these words in his famous line from Rom 1:16 when he says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel . . .” Notice that Paul uses “for” in v 16 in order to infer that he is not ashamed of the gospel since he is in fact vocally preaching it to them. He tells the Roman Christians in v 15, “So, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.” Not being ashamed of the gospel, for the Apostle Paul, entails preaching the gospel, which despite the overusage of St. Francis of Assisi’s quote, must imply much more than merely “sometimes using words”. He is proclaiming Christ to the “Greeks and to the barbarians”, “both to the wise and to the foolish”, and of course “to the Jew and the Gentile” and is not afraid to do so (Rom 1:14-16).

Therefore, in correlating this back to the author of Hebrews’ designation of God’s unashamed status, what an amazing revelation! It is not just that God is no longer embarrassed by us fallen creatures; he has absolutely no shame in being called our God, and in turn, nor does he have shame in calling us his very own people, his treasured possession (Deut 14:1-2; 1 Pet 2:9). Then, what is even more incredibly humbling is the fact that he has prepared a place for us to dwell with him forever (Jn 14:1-3; Rev 21)!

Ponder today, that if you are in Christ, a Sojourner, a stranger and exile on earth, that God is not ashamed to be called your God. The Holy Triune God does not shrink back from claiming us as his own despite the fact that every day we sin anew directly in the face of his great salvation. Perhaps, if you will give this truth time to sink in, the fact that God will speak on your behalf will empower you to speak on his. Do not remain silent, confess Christ, acknowledge that you’re a Sojourner, and do not be ashamed of our Great God.

(Be on the lookout for part (C) of Heb 11:16 which will look at the OT allusion in this verse.)

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.

~ Hebrews 12:28-29 ~

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