Here We Have No Lasting City
It’s easy to get caught up in things that really don’t matter. It’s so important that we don’t major on minors. A good antidote to this is remembering what the Preacher says at this place in his sermon: “Here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.”
So the Preacher reminds the Hebrews to not be led away by strange teachings, such as dietary rules. What one eats is certainly a matter of health as we are called to be good stewards of our bodies but has no religious significance, except as that might concern fasting and even then the matter is not food per se but spiritual discipline. Christians then and now have a different food to eat, even better than the food the priests serving under the old covenant ate from the altar, for Christians feed on Christ himself. As he, himself, said, “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him” (John 6:56). And he further shows us the way to live when he adds, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work” (John 4:34). This is why the Preacher says, “We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.” And from it, or rather him, we take our heavenly meal.
From there the Preacher quickly moves to the sacrifice the high priest offered on the Day of Atonement which was not eaten by the priests but “burned outside the camp.” This serves as the perfect image of our Lord who was also “burned” outside the camp on Calvary’s hill for the purpose of calling and sanctifying a people unto himself. “Therefore,” the Preacher says, “let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.” And here again is the reason why: “For here we have no lasting city but seek the city that is to come.” In the light of that city, reproaches are bearable.
And so when you have no lasting city, it’s easy to rightly prioritize things. The things of this world just don’t seem as important, what food you eat really doesn’t matter too much (except that you enjoy it), your house, your possessions don’t get in the way. Instead, one lives a life of thanksgiving unto the Lord, looking forward to the city that is to come, gladly sharing with those in need as everything we have in this world will soon pass away with it. So rejoice! Is it not better to live here for a little while for him and then die and go to that Celestial City than to live here forever? Let us learn to live with less, worry less, cling to less, and bother with less, for here we have no lasting city. And that’s a good thing.