11 By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.
12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude — innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.
15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.
16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
Sarah’s first response to the news that she would conceive was to laugh (Genesis 18:10-15)
also (v.11) — along with Abraham
and she bore a child (v.11 ) — not in the oldest manuscripts
past the age (v.11) — She was 90 and had had no children.
him as good as dead (v.12) — Abraham
these (v.13) — Abraham and all those of his descendents mentioned in verse 9 who never saw the land as God had promised it. They all died in faith that the promise given to them would be kept.
in faith (v.13) = according to faith. They died under the regime of faith, not of sight
afar (v.13) — in time, not distance
were assured of them (v.13) — not in the best manuscripts
embraced (v.13) — greeted, as a seaman greets his home country when he’s still far off-shore
strangers and pilgrims (v.13) — Genesis 23:4; 47:9
The point of verse 14 is that those who say they are sojourners and pilgrims imply that they seek a home.
called to mind that country (v.15) — Ur — They could have returned to Ur and not been pilgrims. They didn’t, and so we can be sure Ur wasn’t the country spoken of in verse 14.
now (v.16) — logical, not temporal. desire (v.16) = reach for eagerly
called (v.16) — God wasn’t ashamed, because of their faith, to be called “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
The point of this section of the book of Hebrews is to tell Tribulation Israel that although their situation looks like a dead end, they need to die in faith, for theirs is the better country with the better promises, the kingdom into which they will resurrect, if they faint not.
No one in any Old Testament book thought about dying and going to heaven, just as most Jewish people you meet today do not even believe there is a heaven. Not the oldest of the Bible’s books declares that: For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth (Job 19:25).
There is a reason for that. Going to heaven after death is a Pauline truth reserved for the church which is Christ’s body. (2 Corinthians 5:6, 8; Ephesians 1:3; Colossians 3:2).
“Thy kingdom come” was Christ’s promise to Israel whereby the heavenly kingdon was to come to earth (Revelation 21:2), resulting in “They will de done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
While the Body of Christ is headed for heavenly places, and that according to the revelation of the mystery, it would be right to note that the focus of the prophetic program always has been the better country spoken of here: And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever (Daniel 2:44). — M.A.D. About Hebrews, by Terence D. McLean, pages 159-160.