Living as a Sojourner

Living as a Sojourner

Calvin Lashway

September 2010

For the children of Israel staying in booths during the Feast of Tabernacles was a reminder that God made them “dwell in booths when [He] brought them out of the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 23:43).1 The feast was a continual reminder to Israel of its forty years of wandering in the wilderness (Numbers 32:13; Leviticus 23:42-43). During those years the Israelites had no permanent home. They were “aliens and pilgrims” (1 Chronicles 29:15), strangers and sojourners (Psalm 39:12) in the lands they traveled through. They were merely heirs to the land God promised to give them, not yet inheritors (Numbers 34:2, 13, 29; Joshua 11:23). Each year the feast was a reminder of this period of time when they were sojourners and strangers.

The forefathers of the children of Israel, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob also lived in temporary dwellings as heirs, but not inheritors of this same promised land (Hebrews 11:8-9). The patriarchs knew “they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (verse 13).

Like the children of Israel and the patriarchs, Christians are “sojourners and pilgrims” (1 Peter 2:11) in the wilderness of this world. This is not our world or society (John 17:14, 16). As Christians we are only heirs of God, not yet inheritors of our permanent dwelling place the promised kingdom of God (Matthew 25:31, 34; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54; James 2:5). Staying in a temporary dwelling during the Feast of Tabernacles teaches us that this physical life is only temporary; that we are now sojourners is this world waiting to inherit the kingdom of God.

How should we live our lives as sojourners, strangers and pilgrims as we wait for Jesus' return and the establishment of the kingdom? The following scriptures focus on the second coming, showing us how to live as sojourners in this world, as we await Christ's return.2

As sojourners we should never be ashamed of Jesus and his words. If we are ashamed the Son of Man will be ashamed of us when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels (Mark 8:38; also see Luke 9:26 NIRV).3

As sojourners we must be spiritually ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour we do not expect (Luke 12:35-40 ESV).

As sojourners, do not make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each of us whatever praise is due (1 Corinthians 4:1-5 NLT).

As sojourners remember that our citizenship is in heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control (Philippians 3:20-21 NLT).

As sojourners rejoice in the Lord always; and let our gentle spirit be known to all men. While keeping in mind the Lord is coming soon (Philippians 4:4-5 NASB, NCV).

As sojourners our faith in God should be known everywhere. Our fellow believers should speak about how we turned away from idols to serve the living and true God. As we wait for his Son to come from heaven (1 Thessalonians 1:10 NIRV).

As sojourners may the Lord increase our love for one another and for all men. So our hearts may be strong and free from all sin at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 BBE).

As sojourners be fully aware the day of the Lord, when Jesus will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God, will come like a thief in the night. We are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise us like a thief. For we are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 ESV).

As sojourners, do not be so easily shaken or alarmed about the coming of Jesus, by those who say the day of the Lord has already begun. Don’t believe them. Don’t be fooled by what they say. For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 NLT).

As sojourners we have to pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fighting the good fight for the true faith. Holding tightly to the eternal life to which God has called us. We are charged before God, to obey this command without wavering. Then no one will find fault with us from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again (1 Timothy 6:11-16 NLT).

As sojourners fight the good fight, until we finish the race, being faithful to the end. There is in store for us the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award on that day to all who long for his appearing (2 Timothy 4:7-8 NIV).

As sojourners say “no” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good (Titus 2:11-14 NIV).

As sojourners be patient until the Lord’s coming, standing firm, because Jesus’ coming is near. Not grumbling against each other, or we will be judged. As an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy (James 5:7-11 NIV).

As sojourners think clearly and exercise self-control. Looking forward to the gracious salvation Jesus will bring when he comes. We must live as God’s obedient children. Not slipping back into our old ways of living to satisfy our desires. We must be holy in everything we do, just as God who chose us is holy. Remember our heavenly Father will judge or reward us according to what we do. So we must live in reverent fear of him during our time as foreigners in the land (1 Peter 1:13-17 NLT).

As sojourners we are warned as temporary residents and foreigners to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against our very souls. Being careful to live properly among our unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse us of doing wrong, they will see our honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world (1 Peter 2:11-12 NLT).

As sojourners do not be surprised by the painful suffering we are going through. We should not feel as if something strange is happening to us. Be joyful that you are taking part in Christ’s sufferings. Then you will be filled with joy when Christ returns in glory. Suppose people make fun of us because we believe in Christ. Suppose we suffer. It shouldn’t be because we do evil things. It shouldn’t be because we poke our noses into other people’s business. But suppose we suffer for being a Christian. Then don’t be ashamed. Instead, praise God because we are known by that name (1 Peter 4:12-19 NIRV).

As sojourners remember the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away. Since everything around us is going to be destroyed we should live holy and godly lives. Looking forward to the day of God and the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness (2 Peter 3:10-13 NLT).

As sojourners remain in fellowship with Christ so when he returns, we will be full of courage and not shrink back from him in shame (1 John 2:28 NLT).

The Feast of Tabernacles teaches us that we are only sojourners and pilgrims waiting to inherit the kingdom of God. The above scriptures have shown us how to wait, as we live our lives in the wilderness of this world.


All scriptures quoted are from the New King James Version unless otherwise stated.

2 The following scriptures are condensed, abbreviated and paraphrased from the identified translation. For full quotations, consult the verses references.

3 Abbreviations: BBE - Bible in Basic English, ESV - English Standard VersionNASB - New American Standard Bible, NCV - New Century Version, NIRV - New International Readers Version, NIV - New International Version, NLT - New Living Translation

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