“For we are aliens and pilgrims before You, as were all our fathers; our days on earth are as a shadow, and without hope.” (1 Chronicle 29.15)
The more clarity we gain with regard to our temporary residence here on earth, the more dependent upon God we will become. 1 Chronicles relays the story of one sun setting in David while the other rises in Solomon (Matthew Henry). David understood just how temporary life was when he made preparations for building and furnishing the temple he would never build or see.
Verses 2-3 tells us about all the materials he amassed for the temple’s construction. Then he affirms that his affection or love for the house of his God drove him to give over and above all the items he prepared. He gave his own special treasure of gold and silver. The people followed David’s example and gave as well. But David did not become self-satisfied with this effort. He did not think God owed him anything. He recognized that all he did was done for the glory of God. The power to reign, defeat his enemies, and amass wealth was evidence of the grace of God. And in this 15th verse of 1 Chronicles 29, David acknowledged how short life on earth truly is. He worked hard while the opportunities to serve God were still within reach. There are two observations here in this verse which are very helpful for us today.
First, we must recognize our status on earth: we are aliens and pilgrims. Once we understand our status, then we must allow this fact to change the way we live this life.
We are aliens and pilgrims.
This world is not our home. There is no hope without the living hope of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. We have reserved for us an incorruptible, undefiled inheritance in Heaven. It will never fade away. (1 Peter 1.3-4)
We are traveling through this world on our way to an abiding place in our Father’s house. The people we travel with are often strangers to us. We often connect with them only when necessary. We don’t know how long we’re going to stay here. If we have a nice place to sleep and food to eat, we’re thankful. However, it should not cause us much concern as to whatever state we are in …we remain content to wait for eternal pleasures forevermore.
Many of our brothers and sisters died in faith before us. They did not have the promises fulfilled that we have. Yet they recognized that they were aliens and pilgrims on earth. We seek a homeland just as they did (Hebrews 11.13-14).
Do you feel out of place here? Do you recognize that our days on earth are as a shadow? That they are without hope? Generations have clipped by quickly. People have lived in homes for more than 50 years only to die and leave them for another …or for the wrecking ball. No one in previous generations found a continuing city on earth. Many of these ancient cities are gone.
The psalmist reflected, “My days are like a shadow that lengthens, and I wither away like grass.” (Psalm 102.11) “Our days have passed away in Your wrath; we finish our years like a sigh.” (Psalm 90.9) “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (James 4.14) No matter how great life is, it ends. No matter how good a person is, they will not live forever. Once we realize that we are, in fact, aliens and pilgrims, we will change the way we live…
We must act like aliens and pilgrims.
Peter said, “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among [unbelievers].” See 1 Peter 2.11. Well, I beg of you to do the same…
- Be self-controlled when it comes to the things of this world. We are pleased when God provides us with wonderful blessings in this life. It’s not wrong to take a nice vacation, buy a nice home, or drive a nice car. We are thankful God provides these things for us. But life doesn’t come to an end if we don’t have these things. “The time is short …so be as those who buy as though they did not possess, and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away” (1 Corinthians 7.29-30). Be self-controlled when it comes to the things of this world. Be grateful for them but don’t view them as the goal of your fulfillment.
- Be purposeful in your journey toward a Heavenly Country. Redeem the time …don’t waste it! You might have a long life …you might have a short life. Purpose to make it the best life for the glory of God! If you move forward spiritually, don’t settle. Forget past victory and press forward to the mark of your high calling in Christ Jesus. Never be weary in well-doing. You will reap if you don’t faint!
- Be careful to depend upon God’s strength and wisdom. God’s grace is available for the asking today. Depend upon Him. If you are strong in the Lord and in the power of His might, He will take you to full assurance in the life to come. Don’t draw back; put your hand to the plow and move forward! We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
- Be steadfast in fixing your eyes on Jesus and the glory which awaits you. Don’t go to the right or left. Don’t get off the narrow way. You can stay on it if you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith! You can stop fighting for ground when you reach the Father’s house and the abiding place He has made for you. Expect trials to end. Expect sorrow to end. Expect temptations to cease. Move forward to the rest prepared for you!