Hebrews 11:1-16, verses 13-16 text.
The key to success in any area is not always what one might imagine. Look at these Pilgrims for example. It would be hard to count them as being successful in our culture today.
These all died in faith
The faith they lived and followed all the way to their grave, because they exercised their faith by building an altar and calling on the name of the Lord when they received the promises.
Not having received the promises
That is, not having received the fulfillment of the promises; or the promised blessings.
But having seen them afar off
Having seen that they would be fulfilled sometime in future. It is possible that they saw the entire fulfillment of all that the promises embraced in the future that is, the taking of the land of Canaan, as well as entrance into the heavenly Canaan.
And were persuaded of them,
That is, they did not doubt their reality.
And embraced them
This word implies more than our word embrace usually does. It means to draw to one’s self, and then to embrace, as one would a friend or family member from whom he has been separated for some time. It means to be a joyful greeting, to salute or to welcome those promises; or a pressing them to the heart. It was not a cold and formal reception of them, but a warm and hearty welcome. That should be the nature of our faith when it embraces the promises of the free gift of salvation.
Strangers and pilgrims,
Strangers are those who are out of their own country in a foreign land: pilgrims, sojourners only for a time; not intending to take up their permanent residence, or to become citizens in that country.
It is also speaking of those that had been mentioned: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Sarah. It does not mean that they died in the exercise or possession of their faith, but that they died not being in possession of the object of their faith. They had been looking for something in the future, which they did not obtain during their lifetime, and died believing that it would be theirs.
On the earth
This could mean on the land of Canaan, but Paul evidently uses it in a larger sense as meaning the earth in general.