Then Abraham rose from before his dead, and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying, “I am a stranger and a sojourner among you; give me a burial site among you that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” Gen. 23:3-4
Abraham is about 137 years old now, and he left his homeland when he was 75 years old. This means he has lived in various areas of Canaan for approximately 62 years at this point; he has even had children here and watched them grow. But God gave this land to him and his descendants – so why does Abraham still refer to himself as a stranger and sojourner when speaking to the Sons of Heth?
The truth is that even the Sons of Heth (the Hittites), and everyone else on earth are strangers and sojourners as well; they just do not understand that “The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it.” (Psalm 24:1).
We are all but tenants on God’s earth (Lev 25:23).
Abraham, on the other hand, acknowledges that all belongs to God (see Gen. 14:17-24). God asked Abraham to leave his father’s house, and he has had a nomadic lifestyle for many years since. And as with many such things, this prefigures the lives of the Israelites, as God even refers to them as strangers and sojourners;
According to R’ Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, this dual role (of both resident and alien) applied to the Jews because they must exist in this world, but their allegiance is to God and His goals set forth by the Torah.
Further this applies to followers of Christ – we are called to be in the world, but not of the world (John 17) and not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). If we openly accept the ways of this world, we falsely feel we are at home in it.