The Rotterdam – the striking building behind us in the picture – was (on its completion) the biggest building of its kind in Europe. It is a small, vertical city in itself, with offices, apartments, hotel and restaurant. It was not developed to order, but via the vision of its designer. Furthermore, this building was the result of an even bigger vision for the redevelopment of the whole south Dock side of Rotterdam. It started with the Erasmus bridge, shown in the picture, which opened up the whole area. People who could not imagine what the bridge would mean to the area, labeled it as ‘too beautiful for Rotterdam’. But we love the scene and the entrepreneurship which it has brought into being.
In Hebrews 11:10 we read about Abraham who also had a vision for a city, but one of a completely different order and magnitude.
For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
The next chapter reveals that this city is the heavenly city (Hebrews 12:22-24), and that we as believers therefore are encouraged to embrace this vision as well! And Revelation 21 reveals the beauty of the city as a bride adorned for her husband’, and with a scale that no earthly city will ever match. What a vision!
It started though with God calling Abram (as he was named then), to leave a man-made city and to become a pilgrim (Genesis 12:1-3). At first he did not know where his final destination would be. But as he journeys, Genesis 13:14-15 and the rest of the Old Testament describe the way in which the much bigger vision of Hebrews 11 – of the city designed and built by God – is revealed to him. So, Abram’s vision grows as he journeys. In the beginning, he does now know where he is going; but this period of not knowing becomes a vision of a heavenly city.
Furthermore, Abram saw only the beginning of the fulfilment of his vision. By the end of his life, he and his wife Sarai had a son and he owned a plot of land within which he was to be buried with Sarai (Genesis 23).
We, as Abraham’s children of faith (Galatians 3:7), are also heirs of this vision. And so we have joined the pilgrimage that Abraham began. Our God-given personal visions and callings are part of an all-encompassing vision of the heavenly city. Like Abraham, our vision may grow from small beginnings into dreams and visions that we could never have imagined when we first set out.
Also, like Abraham, we may only see part of the fulfilment of what God has put in our hearts, during our lifetime. What counts is not what we will see in our lifetime, but our faith in God for him to fulfill all of his promises and make every God-given calling, dream and vision a reality – whether in our lifetime or beyond.