But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.
A wealthy man who we will name Rav Shlomo was wondering about a certain Rabbi who by choice lived in a very austere manner. The conversation went somewhat like this,” Rabbi, how can you speak so highly of God’s bounty; you yourself seem to live like a pauper and have hardly anything in your house. Look at me, my house is beautiful and well furnished!”. “But Rav Shlomo”, said the Rabbi, “When you travel, do you carry all your furniture with you?”, “Of course not!” replied Shlomo, “I take a traveling bag; but when I am at home I live comfortably”. “Ah, that is it Shlomo, I am not home yet, I am not home!”
When Jacob knew that his time had come, he told Joseph his son, “Deal kindly and truly with me. Do not bury me in Egypt, but let me lie with my fathers. Carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burying place (Genesis 47:29-30)”. Jacob spoke of death using the term, ‘lie with my fathers’, a Hebrew expression we also find in Abraham and David (Genesis 25:8; 1 Kings 2:10). It is an early expression referring to life in the hereafter and the World to Come. It was very important for Abraham to bury Sarah in the Land. It was very important also for Jacob and Joseph to be buried in the place God had promised to His Children. This shows that the patriarchs did not look at death as the end of anything but rather as the continuation of life where God’s promises are fulfilled, but in a somewhat different dimension. Yeshua also confirmed (before His death and resurrection) that the patriarchs were alive (Matthew 22:32). You see, those gone before us are not dead, they are only resting, sleeping!
At the end of his sojourn on the earth, Jacob yearned to return to his ancestral land. He didn’t even want his bones to remain in Egypt. This has to do with a belief in resurrection. The type of resurrection the patriarchs believed in was not just a spiritual one, but a very physical one with flesh and bones like Yeshua’s resurrection where He said, “A spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have (Luke 24:39)”. That is why it was important to them to be buried in the Land. Even today devout Jews pay thousands of dollars to be buried in Jerusalem’s Old Cemetery. They say that those buried there will be first ones to see the returning Messiah!
And what can we learn from that? Have we settled down in this world, in this dimension, in this absurd, temporal reality? Do we live for what we can get today in this world? Or do we use this life to prepare towards the more substantial and eternal reality of the world to Come? Do we feel ‘home’ here, or do we yearn with Jacob and the patriarchs, “Carry me out of Egypt (Hebrews 11:10; 14-16)?” Prisoner in this dimension of time and flesh, like the homing pigeon the soul of the true Child of God constantly yearns to be reunited with the spiritual roots that gave it birth. This is the meaning of the Hebrew word ‘Dror’: ‘Freedom’; freedom to go home!
May we all at the opportune time be found with our fathers in our ancestral home, in the eternal dimension of the World to Come!