Scriptures

Example Of Faith

Introduction

The writer of Hebrews concluded chapter 10 by reminding his audience that the righteous live by faith, not by what is seen. Further, those who give up and shrink back will be destroyed by God. But those who have endurance and keep their faith will preserve their souls. The writer states with confidence that we are those who have faith.

In Hebrews 11 the writer is going to tell us what faith looks like. It’s fascinating to see how many misconceptions of faith exist considering that Hebrews 11 gives a great explanation of faith and what faith looks like. Some think of faith as having any sort of spirituality.

We hear language today that there are many faiths, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc. Some understand faith as having the belief that something good is going to happen to them. Some think of faith as something that is blind, that is, taking a blind leap against known facts. But none of these are descriptions of Biblical faith.

This chapter has been described in various ways, perhaps the most familiar is ‘The Roll call of Faith’, but I think that a more accurate description would be that used by Bishop Westcott, ‘The past triumphs of faith’.

There is no question that this is one of the most powerful chapters in the entire New Testament. Certainly, it’s one of the best known and most popular, and the highlight of this letter, and if, as I suggested at the beginning of these studies, this letter had circulated as a sermon, this chapter must have been the climax to it.

If you look at the last verse of Hebrews 10:39 you will see how this chapter on the heroes of faith is led in. He speaks of ‘those who have faith and keep their souls’.

And it’s obvious that he is telling his readers that if they do not keep their faith they are in danger of losing their souls. But there is a deeper reason for this chapter than that. Remember the problem with which these former Jews were struggling.

We have seen that he has shown the superiority of Christ and the new covenant faith, over the Old Law, shown that Christ is superior to previous messengers, The angels, Moses, Joshua, Abraham and Aaron. It now appears that only one objection remains.

Imagine his readers saying, ‘Very well, all that you say may be true. But what about the Fathers, the Patriarchs? Surely, they belong to the old religion? And in turning our backs on Judaism and the Old Law we have turned our backs on them. We have cut ourselves off from them. We have lost our historic heritage! Surely they are on the other side!’

And the writer’s reply as revealed in this chapter is quite simple, He says, ‘No! That is where you are mistaken, the great men and women of the past do not belong to the Old Law. They belong to faith, your faith. They belong to the new covenant, because, even though they lived under the old, they looked forward to the new. They were men and women who lived by faith, and therefore they are yours!’

This is probably the climax of the letter to the Hebrews, revealing how, in every age, men and women have triumphed through the exercise of faith. Notice again how the passage is introduced, by the last verse of chapter 10, where the writer refers to ‘those who have faith and keep their souls’.

The word ‘faith’ which appears 24 times in the passage is pistis, belief. Pisteuo means ‘to have faith,’ to believe together, these words appear 244 times in New Testament.

An analysis of the chapter

1. We have a general statement on the nature and character of faith.

2. A statement on the importance of faith, in relation to creation.

3. Examples of faith throughout the ages, demonstrated in the lives of men and women of God.

4. Up to the flood, Abel, Enoch, Noah.

5. After the flood and in the land of Canaan, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. Sarah is also mentioned here.

6. From Egypt to the conquest of Canaan. Including Joseph, Moses. His parents, Joshua, by implication. Rahab.

7. In the land of Canaan. Through the Judges period to the kingdom. Gideon, Samson, Barak, Jephthae, Samuel; David and all the prophets.

8. The inter-testamental period. The Final struggle of the period of the Maccabees. The unnamed Eleazar, whose mother and seven brothers were tortured and killed rather than their faith in God.

It is important to recognize that this is not a random choice of personalities, but is a logical, systematic, chronological progression through history, revealing how faith acts. For this reason, there are some dramatic omissions! Where are Adam and eve? Aaron and Miriam? Solomon?

The principle which is illustrated is that a man’s behaviour is determined and directed by what he believes. As James, would say in James 2:18 ‘You show me your faith without deeds (implying ‘If you can!’) and I will demonstrate my faith by what I do!’

‘Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.’ Hebrews 11:1-2

Faith is the basis, the substructure, of the whole Christian life. Faith is the basis for everything in which we have hope in this life. Faith involves confident action in response to what God has made known. Faith does look upward, away from the things of this world, toward the unseen things above.

We sing songs like ‘My faith looks up to Thee’ and many other songs that remind us and encourage us to keep our eyes on our unseen reward. Our faith also looks forward in time to when Christ comes, Hebrews 10:38. Faith is about having confidence that the promises what have been given by God and things that we cannot see will actually happen. What we cannot forget that it is by faith that people are approved by God. What exactly did these people do who are praised in this eleventh chapter?

They put their undivided confidence in God. In spite of their trials and difficult circumstances, they triumphed because of their trust in God. What we are seeing as we read about their heroes of faith are people who are clinging to the promises of God, depending on God’s word, and remaining faithful to God in their actions.

Everything depends on faith. Hebrews 1:1

This statement in Hebrews 11:1 is not a ‘definition’ of faith, it points to the nature or character of faith. a. It is the assurance of things hoped for. The word ‘hupostasis’ means ‘that which stands under’. We get our word ‘substance’ from this. ‘sub-stansis’. Furthermore, the word ‘hupostasis,’ assurance, was also used to describe a collection of documents, or title deeds, deposited for safe-keeping, as proof of one’s claim to a property.

And, notice that the word ‘things’ is the word ‘pragma’ which means ‘a thing-done.’ So, faith is the title deed to everything hoped for. It’s your assurance, your guarantee, your proof. Faith is the conviction, evidence of things not seen. The word ‘elezchos’ means ‘a proof, that by means of which a thing is tested.’

In other words, faith is the means whereby we become convinced and convicted of things which are unseen.

1. Faith is the basis of conviction, the foundation of all our hopes for the future.

2. Faith gives foundation, direction, power and meaning to life.

3. Faith and belief are synonymous, Hebrews 11:6.

4. Faith is produced by evidence, Romans 10:17 / John 17:20 / 1 Thessalonians 5:21.

a. Our faith can be no greater than our trust in the Word of God. Those who do not trust God’s Word do not believe or trust Christ.

b. God does not give faith without effort on man’s part.

5. ‘Ancients.’ Men of old, those who lived in past ages, those of whom he is about to speak. They were men who trusted in God, they believed His Word.

 Men of old, fathers of Israel Hebrews 11:2

The word ‘presbuteros’ is the word for elders, they received God’s approval because they exercised faith. Because they bore witness to Him, He bore witness to them. The word ‘martureo’, used here, means ‘to bear witness’. This is what the writer now sets out to demonstrate, that these Old Testament worthies were approved by God, because they acted on the principle of faith.

That picture of faith is really seen in the example provided in Hebrews 11:3.

‘By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.’ Hebrews 11:3

The beginning point is quite simple, yet powerful. The universe and everything created was brought into existence by things that cannot be seen. The words of God, as He commanded the universe into existence, cannot be seen. Yet those unseen words brought the visible worlds. I believe this stands as what has been called today the watchmaker argument.

We have not seen the person who made our watch, made our car, or made any other object or possession. Yet though we have not seen the one who made our watch, we know someone made it. Random chance and long periods of time do not create useful, powerful objects.

So also, it is with the universe. The visible world was created by the invisible God through His invisible command.

First, however, he declares that it is by faith that we understand that the world was created. How can you prove it? This cannot be either proved or disproved by the Empiric method. i.e., it is not an experiment which can be repeated! In the final analysis, it is a matter of faith. The word for ‘understand’ is the word ‘noeo’ and it means ‘to perceive by reflective intelligence’.

‘World’ is the word ‘aion’ and means both ‘created things’ and ‘ages or periods of time’. Created is ‘katartizo’ and means ‘filled out’ or ‘arranged’. In other words God, didn’t merely create all matter, but He arranged it in an orderly manner so that it became fit for the purpose He had in mind.

And all this was done by ‘the word of God’. The word ‘rhema’, ‘word mean the spoken word’. This isn’t a reference to the activity of Christ, as the Incarnate Word. John 1.1. See Psalm 33:6-9.

1. By faith we understand that the world was created by the Word of God, Psalm 33:6 . Romans 1:20.

2. It is because of faith and by means of faith that a true understanding of the created order is gained.

Up to the flood

‘By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead. By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.’ Hebrews 11:4+5

1. The faith of Abel.

Abel is chosen as the first example of faith acting, because he was concerned with getting right with God, and keeping right! Through his faith, he was ‘approved as righteous’.

His faith was demonstrated in that he offered a sacrifice which was ‘more acceptable,’ excellent than that of his brother Cain.

How did Abel know about sacrifice? And why was his sacrifice ‘more acceptable’? Romans 10:17.

God must have told these men what He required. Abel’s sacrifice was accepted, not because of its quantity, but because of its quality. It involved the shedding of blood. It cost a life. And his act of faith is ‘still speaks, even though he is dead’.

1. Abel. Hebrews 11:4. Genesis 4:3-7.

2. Abel’s worship, sacrifice, was made in faith. It was more excellent and God accepted it.

3. All who worship God must worship in faith.

4. Saving faith doesn’t ‘sit down and trust. It gets up and follows.’

2. The faith of Enoch.

Because of his faith, he was ‘translated’ ‘metathemi’, ‘meta,’ change; ‘tithemi,’ place. ‘To change from one place to another.’ The same word is used of the carrying of the bones of Jacob from Egypt to Canaan, Acts 7:16.

So, because he lived by faith, Enoch was moved from one realm to another, from Earth to Heaven.

How was his faith revealed?

1. He walked with God. Genesis 5:22 He and God walked together.

2. He went in the same direction as God.

3. He kept pace with God, was consistent.

4. He trusted God and therefore God trusted him and told him about the coming deluge.

5. He pleased God.

Note the statement in Hebrews 11:6 ‘Whoever wants to draw near to God must believe that God exists; ‘estin’ and that He becomes ‘ginomai’ a rewarder of those who seek Him’.

1. Enoch. Hebrews 11:5. Genesis 5:21-24.

2. Enoch walked with God and because of this he pleased God and did not die, 2 Corinthians 5:7.

3. Enoch was a prophet. Jude 14-15.

‘And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.’ Hebrews 11:6

This is a key teaching. Notice that it is not difficult to please God without faith. It is not challenging to please God without faith. There are very few statements in Scriptures where we find the words that something is impossible.

In fact, we have been taught that there is nothing that is impossible with God. But here is a statement about what is impossible and we need to listen to these words very carefully. It is impossible to please God without faith. Without having our confidence in God, without relying on God’s promises, without depending upon God’s word, without faithful actions toward God, we are not going to make it.

If our eyes are on the things of this world, we will definitely shrink back and we will give up. We need to feel the force and the sting of the word ‘impossible.’

We aren’t going to make it if we don’t have our full faith in God. I see that in my own life and I am sure that you have seen in your own lives also. Without a full and complete reliance upon God, difficult circumstances will cause us to shrink back and give up.

Notice that there are two things that we need to have full confidence in our lives.

1. Must believe that God exists.

I submit to you that this is not just merely the mental assent that one believes in God. Let us go back to the first verse and remind ourselves what faith looks like.

‘Faith is being certain about things we cannot see’. Do you have the faith that gives you certainty that God exists? Do you believe in the God you cannot see? Do you believe that He spoke the worlds into existence? It really does matter because if we don’t, then we are going to shrink back and not be found pleasing to God.

2. Must believe that God rewards those who sincerely seek him.

This belief is just as important. For us to not shrink back, we really must have confidence that there is a reward coming from God if we choose to seek Him. We must know this. We must believe this.

These things tie to the endurance that we were told we needed to have in Hebrews 10:36 ‘You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.’

We must know that God exists and know that He cares. For God to reward me means that He cares and knows what is going on with me. That knowledge is what will pull us through difficult times.

‘By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith, he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.’ Hebrews 11:7

The faith demonstrated by Noah.

Noah was ‘instructed by God’, ‘chrematistheis’. Same word used in Acts 11:26 where disciples are ‘called by God’ Christians. The word ‘chrematistheis’ is used in classical Greek for ‘to make known by an oracle’.

Noah ‘took heed’, and here the word means ‘to act cautiously, to reverence, ‘eulabeomai’. He constructed an ark. He ‘equipped, fitted out the ark’, and in obeying God and acting on faith in this way, he ‘condemned the world.’ He condemned the world.

His act of building, at God’s command, announced to the world that it was under condemnation, that God had pronounced sentence on it. The word ‘world’ is ‘kosmos’, and refers to organized society. His faith not only saved his family, but through it he also ‘became the heir (owner or possessor) of righteousness’.

Imagine the ridicule he bore whilst he was building! Imagine how eagerly his neighbours seized whatever he left behind when he entered the ark! And then see Noah becoming the only land-owner in the world!

1. Noah. Genesis 6-9.

2. Noah’s faith was a faith of action.

3. He took God at His Word.

4. Noah’s conduct condemned the unbelieving world.

5. Noah did all that God commanded. His faith stood out in strong contrast to the unbelieving world.

6. Noah became righteous by building the ark.

After the flood

‘By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the Promised Land like a stranger in a foreign country he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.’ Hebrews 11:8-12

The faith of Abraham

Abraham’s faith was proved because ‘he went out (from Ur of the Chaldees) not knowing where he was to go’. Notice, Hebrews 11:8. ‘When he was called’ means, ‘being called’, ‘kaloumenos’.

The significance is that his obedience was immediate. There was no hesitation, no questioning, even though he did not know, at the time, the destination to which he was being sent. Strictly speaking the statement means that even whilst he was being called, Abraham was obeying and went out.

What is more, ‘not knowing where he was to go’, is powerful. The usual word for ‘know’ is ‘ginosko’. But the word here, ‘epistomenos’ means, not merely that he did not know, but that he did not care where he was being sent. He did not even think about it! The word means ‘to fix one’s thought on’. Faith trusts God and acts.

And when he reached Canaan, he lived there as a pilgrim, a tent-dweller, recognizing that it was but a temporary stay. ‘As in a foreign land’, because he knew that God had something better prepared for him. Hebrews 11:10 tells us that Abraham looked for a city built by God.

Some people today want something in which Abraham had absolutely no interest! He did not want a permanent home in Palestine! He saw, because he had faith, that the earthly Canaan was only a symbol of a heavenly home and that is what he wanted.

The faith of Sarah

How was the faith of Sarah demonstrated?

Notice the word ‘herself’, because it stresses the fact that, although she formerly laughed, more in amazement than disbelief, by the way! she came to exercise sufficient faith in God’s promise that she was enabled to bear a son, through whom the promises of God were to be fulfilled.

1. Hebrews 11:8.

2. The Book of Genesis remarks about the faith of Abraham.

3. Abraham was the classic example of faith to the Jew, Nehemiah 9:7-8.

4. Abraham is called ‘the friend of God.’ 2 Chronicles 20:7 / Isaiah 41:8.

5. Abraham lived in Ur of the Chaldees. Ur was in Mesopotamia, Genesis 11:27-31.

6. ‘He was called,’ the idea is that as soon as Abraham was called, he obeyed.

He freed himself from his own country, family and friends, He stepped out on the call of God. He trusted God’s promise and went out ‘not knowing where he was going.’ Abraham leaving, going into the unknown, displays the intensity of his faith.

1. Hebrews 11:9.

2. Abraham’s faith led him to live like a stranger in a foreign land. This is the type of faith that Christians should have, 1 Peter 1:17.

3. When Abraham died his only possession in the land was the cave of Machpelah and the field around it, Genesis 23:3-20 / Genesis 25:7-10.

1. Hebrews 11:10.

2. Abraham longed for a higher and heavenly home, the city of God, which is to come, Hebrews 12:22 / Hebrews 13:14.

3. God is the designer and constructor of this heavenly city. It is a prepared place for those who are obedient to God.

4. Abraham understood better than many who live today that this earth offers no permanent residence.

1. Hebrews 11:11.

2. One time Sarah laughed to herself when she heard that she would give birth, Genesis 18:9-15 Her laughter was of amazement because both she and Abraham were old.

3. Sarah’s faith won over her amazement. She considered God trustworthy.

1. Hebrews 11:12.

2. Abraham and Sarah no longer had the ability to have children, Romans 4:19.

3. God’s promise set aside these obstacles and their descendants were as the stars in heaven and the sand by the sea, Genesis 15:5 / Genesis 22:17 / Isaiah 51:2 / Galatians 3:29.

‘All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.’ Hebrews 11:13-16

This section concludes with the statement, ‘These all died in faith not having received what was promised’, that is, they did not live to see, in the deepest sense of the word, the fulfilment of God’s promises. This was because the plans which God had made, were not intended to reach fruition in their time. But, having told us this, the writer then declared that they were confident that God would keep His word, and ‘they saw them, and greeted them from afar.’

This is an expression used to describe seamen, who can see on the horizon the shore of a country, on which they cannot land, and they ‘greet it from afar’.

Literary, they are waving to it as they sail by! So, these men and women of faith accepted that they were pilgrims, stranger and exiles on this Earth. There is an anonymous letter from the 2nd Century A.D., known as the ‘Letter to Diagnetus’ which beautifully expresses the faith of the early Christians.

It says, ‘They inhabit their own country, but as sojourners; they take part in all things as citizens, and endure all things as aliens; every country is theirs, and every country is foreign.’

This expresses the real essence of Pilgrimage. Living by faith!

Hebrews 11:15 tells us that if these people had been thinking about the land they left. The phrase ‘had been thinking’ means, ‘if they had habitually remembered’.

If the land from which they originally went out had been in their minds they could have gone back. They could have returned to Mesopotamia. But now, that is, ‘as things stand’ because of their obedient, trustful faith.

1. ‘God is not ashamed to be called their God’.

That expression is a striking one, ‘epikaleisthai’ (epi kaleis thai) ‘epi,’ upon, and ‘kaleo,’ to call.

It means that God is not ashamed to have them add His Name to their own! For example God says ‘I am THE God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ ‘I am the God of Israel’. He is graciously pleased to say this and to have them say that He is their God. ‘The God of Abraham. The God of Jacob. The God of Isaac.’ Etc.

2. He has prepared a City for them.

And they make it clear that they were seeking a ‘homeland,’ Hebrews 11:14. It isn’t back in Mesopotamia, where Abraham, set out. It is not in Palestine, where they eventually arrived. In the Greek, ‘whose architect and builder is God’, Hebrews 11:10

And God has not changed! In every age, it is faith, which He acknowledges and rewards.

Hebrews 11:13-16 are very important to understanding the nature of our faith. All died in faith not receiving the things promised, acknowledging that they were merely strangers and exiles on earth. Faith shows us that our attention is not here on the things of this world. Faith is understanding that we serve God not for what we will receive right now.

To serve God for what we can get now is simply idolatry. We are turning God into our idol who needs to provide us health and wealth. We will only bow if God makes us happy and nothing less will be acceptable. This is not faith, but idolatry. Faith is about the unseen, not about receiving what can be seen right now.

This is why I love Hebrews 11:13, these heroes of faith saw their promises from afar. How could they see the promises when faith is in the unseen and when they did not receive the promises? It’s an awesome answer, these people were so certain in God’s promises and that God will reward them that they could see the unseen.

Though they did not receive the promises and did not have anything tangible, they were so certain in their faith that they could see what they were going to receive.

‘This world was not their home’, Hebrews 11:14 tells us that they were seeking their home. They were simply traversing through this life to go to the better country, Hebrews 11:16. Carefully consider Hebrews 11:15, if we are thinking about this world we will go back to it. If we are concerned about this life, we will shrink back and we will cling the things of this world. If our hearts are here, then we will stay here. We will place life importance on the physical and material rather than on the better country that God has promised.

The heroes of faith desired a better country. True faith desires more than what is available here. Let us not forget that God made all of this. All of these things are His. He is promising that there is something better and something greater. Do not trade in the better, heavenly country for the temporary, fleeting pleasures of this world.

Now look at Hebrews 11:16 because these are encouraging words also.

‘God is not ashamed to be called their God’. Can you imagine God saying that He is willing to admit that we are His people and He is our God? What a glorious picture! Then the writer reminds us of what is waiting for us.

God has already prepared a city for us. The statement is in the past tense. The reward is there waiting for us. The reward is certain. Desire the better city, not the temporary pleasures of this world. This idea is continued throughout the rest of chapter 11.

1. Hebrews 11:13.

2. Living a life of trust in God, they died in faith.

3. They had not seen the fulfilment of God’s promises. Yet, they had seen God working out His promises through them. They were convinced that God could and would keep His promises, John 8:56.

4. Because of their trust in God they lived in a foreign land as strangers and pilgrims, Genesis 23:4.

5. The idea is of a pilgrim, one who stays in a strange place, seeing his home city on the horizon, Hebrews 13:14.

6. The things in this life have no enduring foundation.

1. Hebrews 11:14.

2. The patriarchs understood that the land which they lived was not their own and they were headed for another land.

3. Essential elements for the search.

a. Trusting, unwavering faith in God and His Word.

b. God-fearing obedience of faith from the heart produces prompt and full submission to the will of God, Revelation 22:14.

c. Those who search with a heart to trust and obey will find, Deuteronomy 4:29.

3. For what are you seeking and looking? Earthly fame, pleasures, wealth?

a. One should be looking for the crown of life, 2 Timothy 4:6-8.

b. One’s primary citizenship should be in heaven, Philippians 3:20-21 / Colossians 3:1-2.

c. Those who seek the wrong things have a day of reckoning approaching, 2 Peter 3:11-12.

1. Hebrews 11:15.

2. There was nothing to stop them from returning to Ur, the place of their birth.

3. None of them showed a desire to return.

4. Abraham went to great pains to keep Isaac from returning to the home land, Genesis 24:5-8.

1. Hebrews 11:16.

2. While living on Earth their desire and hope was on heaven.

3. They were not ashamed of God and He was not ashamed of them.

This God showed by identifying Himself as the ‘God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ Exodus 3:15

‘God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ See also Matthew 22:32.

4. As evidence of the fact that God approved of them, He prepared for them a city, a heavenly city. The patriarchs were so convinced that they were willing to suffer loss of all earthly things to remain the people of God.

This was the type of attitude Paul had in service to the Lord, Philippians 3:8 ‘What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.’

‘By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death. By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future. By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.’ Hebrews 11:17-22

1. Hebrews 11:17.

2. Abraham was in the act of offering his son when God stopped him, Genesis 22:1-18. The idea is that as for as Abraham was concerned, the offering was a completed action.

3. ‘Only begotten son’.

a. Isaac wasn’t Abraham’s only begotten son.

b. Isaac was the only begotten son of promise.

1. Hebrews 11:18.

2. The test was extremely demanding. Abraham loved his son and all his hopes of the promises of God were centred in Isaac.

3. Abraham trusted God and left all in His hands.

1. Hebrews 11:19.

2. Abraham was not expecting such a command.

3. He reasoned that God would keep His promises and raise Isaac from the dead.

4. We can see the faith of Abraham in what he said to the young men who accompanied him to the land of Moriah, Genesis 22:5.

5. Isaac was as good as dead. When God stopped Abraham in mid-air, Abraham in a figure received his son back from the dead.

1. Hebrews 11:20.

2. Genesis 27:1-40 / Genesis 28:1-5.

3. Isaac thinking Jacob to be Esau pronounced a blessing upon Jacob. When Isaac learned that he blessed Jacob, he determined not to change the blessing and confirmed it, “yes, and he shall be blessed.” Genesis 27:33.

Isaac restates the blessing giving Jacob the blessing of Abraham. Genesis 28:1-4.

4. A mark of true faith is a soul that yields to God. Isaac perceived the hand of God at work. He did not murmur or rebel but yielded to the will of God.

1. Hebrews 11:21.

2. This verse relates two incidents in Jacob’s life. They are in inverted order.

3. In blessing the two sons of Joseph, Jacob blessed the younger, Ephraim, first. This he did by faith, Genesis 48:14-20.

4. Bowing in worship over the head of his staff refers to an earlier point in Jacob’s life, Genesis 47:29-31.

Jacob knowing that he was near death made Joseph promise to bury him in the land of his fathers and not in Egypt.

a. In Genesis 47:31 the text says that Jacob bowed his head upon the bed. The LXX says that it was a staff. The same Hebrew word is used for both with only the vowels changing. The consonants are MTH. The word bed is mittah and the word staff is matteh.

b. Some believe that both readings are correct. That Jacob was leaning on the head of the bed and the staff. This is very possible and reasonable to believe. It was the custom of the ancients to put their staff at the head of the bed. They would also put the spear of a warrior at the head of their beds.

1. Hebrews 11:22.

2. Genesis 50:24-25

3. Before his death Joseph saw the promise of God coming about in that the Israelites would leave Egypt. He commanded that his bones be carried out of Egypt and buried in the land of promise, Exodus 13:19 / Joshua 24:32.

‘By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.’ Hebrews 11:23

1. Hebrews 11:23.

2. Moses was a great man of faith. His life is divided into three periods of 40 years each. The first 40 years were in Egypt. The second 40 years were in the wilderness of Midian, with the family of Jethro. In the last 40 years of Moses’ life, he was leader of the Israelites, leading them in the wilderness as they journeyed toward Canaan.

3. In this verse one can see the faith of Moses’ parents.

The Israelite were under inhumane treatment at the hands of Pharaoh, Exodus 1:8-22.

4. Moses was ‘a proper child.’ He was a beautiful child. This describes an attractive beauty that is unique.

5. The parents of Moses saw in him a distinctive quality that could be used for God’s purpose one day.

‘By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.’ Hebrews 11:24-26

1. Hebrews 11:24.

2. The faith of Moses enabled him to choose wisely.

3. There are two elements in every choice.

a. The negative element, a refusing. One must refuse something decisively, Philippians 3:7.

b. The positive element, choosing the better way. Moses did more than say ‘no’ to Egypt. He refused to go one way in order to say ‘yes’ to another.

c. Moses’ decision was one that was deliberate.

Moses made the same trade off. Let go of the temporary pleasures looking forward to the great reward.

4. What did Moses give up?

a. A high social position in Egypt.

b. ‘The treasures of Egypt,’ the great wealth of greatest kingdom on Earth at that time.

c. ‘The pleasures of sin,’ ease and luxury, the sensual pleasures that Egypt had to offer. Moses understood that the pleasures of sin were only seasonal, short lived.

This is a lesson that must be learned today, 1 John 2:15-17.

5. Moses’ choice involved.

a. He chose a life of suffering, affliction.

b. He chose fellowship with God’s people.

6. He chose a life of hardship, ‘the reproach of Christ.’

a. He suffered the same reproach that Christ was later to bear.

b. ‘All reproach suffered for righteousness’ sake, since the world began has been suffered for Christ’s sake’.

7. How was Moses able to give up all the pleasures of Egypt?

a. He fixed his heart on his heavenly reward.

b. He was determined to be true to God.

c. He was a man of faith, trust in God.

d. Jesus teaches all today to have this type of attitude, Matthew 6:33 / Mark 8:36-37 / James 4:14.

‘By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.’ Hebrews 11:27

1. There is some difficulty in determining when this statement occurred in Moses’ life. Some believe it was when Moses fled Egypt going into Midian and others believe it is when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt.

The latter would put the text out of chronological order. Moses fled Egypt after killing an Egyptian. It was at this time that Moses fled in fear, Exodus 2:11-15.

2. It seems reasonable that Moses feared the king in a relative sense for his personal safety. But he did not fear him so much as to disobey God.

a. Stephen’s account adds light to it, when he said that Moses believed himself to be the deliverer of God’s people, Acts 7:24-29.

b. The people at this time were not ready to have Moses as their leader, but it never stopped his faith in God, it was in Midian that Moses learned that he had to do God’s work in God’s way.

c. In Moses’ choice to serve God and not Pharaoh, he had no fear. It is this choice that the author is speaking.

3. Moses endured because he saw the promises of God to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that God would not leave His people in Egypt. His faith enabled him to endure.

‘By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.’ Hebrews 11:28

1. The only means of escape from him who destroyed, was obedience to God’s Word.

2. The Israelites showed their faith in God by keeping and following the commands of God that Moses gave them, Exodus 12:2-14.

‘By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.’ Hebrews 11:29

1. Exodus 14:13-27

2. The Israelites committed themselves to the sea through faith. They trusted in God in obeying the commands of Moses.

3. The Egyptians following the Israelites was an act of presumption. They thought they would be granted safe passage through the sea. The Egyptians presumed wrongly!

4. This was a great victory that God won for His people, Exodus 14:13.

‘By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.’ Hebrews 11:30

1. Joshua 6:1-27

2. God told Joshua and the Israelites to march around Jericho once a day for six days and seven times on the seventh day, God told them to have seven priests blow on the ram’s horn and the people shout. They did as they were told and the city fell. It was an act of faith.

3. There can be no faith in God unless one follows His instructions.

‘By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.’ Hebrews 11:30

1. Joshua 2:8-21 / Joshua 6:25.

2. In teaching a lesson on works of faith James goes back to Rahab to confirm that faith is dead without works, James 2:24-26.

3. Rahab was a Gentile who had faith in God, Joshua 2:11.

Her faith in God enabled her and her family to live.

‘And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets’. Hebrews 11:31

1. There were a multitude of examples the author could have used in teaching about true faith. His time was limited and he did not go into detail.

2. Gideon was a man of faith. He took three hundred men and God gave them victory over the Midianites, Judges 7.

3. Barak along with Deborah, led the Israelites to a victory over the Canaanites, Judges 4-5.

4. Samson was God’s champion over the Philistines, Judges 15+16.

5. Jephthah was victorious over the Ammonites, Judges 11.

6. David as a boy and as king trusted in God, 1 Samuel 17:45-46.

7. Samuel was a man whose life was filled with service to God. He was a man of courage who stood against King Saul, 1 Samuel 15:13-14 / 1 Samuel 15:22-23.

8. Prophets spoke God’s message to the people.

‘Who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword whose weakness was turned to strength and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.’ Hebrews 11:33-34

1. The faith of God’s servants enabled them to subdue kingdoms and establish righteousness. It is through their faith that they received the fulfilment of God’s promises, Joshua 21:45 / 1 Kings 8:56.

2. It was through faith that men like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who refused to worship the golden image that king Nebuchadnezzar built, were delivered from fire, Daniel 3:17-18.

And Daniel was saved from the lions, Daniel 6.

3. It was through faith that men like Elijah, Elisha and Jeremiah ‘escaped the edge of the sword.’

4. It was through faith that Hezekiah was able to look to God when he was near death and became strong, Isaiah 38:1-8.

5. It was through faith that wars were fought and won, because they believed not it was their war, but God’s, 2 Chronicles 20:15 / 1 Samuel 17:46.

‘Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection.’ Hebrews 11:35

1. The women that received their dead by resurrection is a reference to the work that God did through the prophets Elijah and Elisha, 1 Kings 17:17-24 / 2 Kings 4:18-37.

2. Some were ready to accept torture and death as they looked to a better resurrection. It is better than the boys that Elijah and Elisha raised because it is a resurrection to everlasting life.

‘Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.’ Hebrews 11:36

1. These were some of God’s faithful that suffered because of their trust in God.

2. Jeremiah suffered because his faith was unwavering in God.

a. He was beaten and put in stocks, Jeremiah 20:2.

b. He was mocked, Jeremiah 20:7-9.

c. He was put in prison, Jeremiah 37:15.

d. He was put in a dungeon with no water, to sink in the mire, Jeremiah 38:6.

‘They were put to death by stoning they were sawed in two they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated.’ Hebrews 11:37

1. Zechariah was stoned for telling the people that they had forsaken the Lord, 2 Chronicles 24:20-21.

2. Tradition teaches that Isaiah was sawn asunder.

3. Elijah said that prophets were slain with the sword, 1 Kings 19:10 / 1 Kings 19:14.

4. Some lived like a vagabond because of their faith in God.

‘The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.’ Hebrews 11:38

1. The world didn’t accept them, yet the world wasn’t worthy of them.

2. They lived in poverty and were persecuted because of their faith.

‘These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.’ Hebrews 11:39

1. They lived and died in faith, hoping for the fulfilment of the promise.

2. They didn’t received the promise.

‘Since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.’ Hebrews 11:40

1. Those of old lived in anticipation, of the coming Christ.

2. Christians live in the age the ancient looked for, the time of Christ and His work.

3. In the Christian age better things are provided.

Notice that the writer of Hebrews comes back to the point made in Hebrews 11:13-16.

It isn’t about what we will receive now, but what God has promised for us later. Don’t give up. Have true faith. Put your full trust in God and you will receive the promises of God.

Conclusion

In Hebrews 11, the writer of Hebrews showed us what faith looks like. Faith is being certain in the unseen things, particularly, that God exists and that God rewards those who diligently seek Him. The writer has shown us that these heroes had that kind of faith.

They endured great tragedy, trials, and loss knowing that their faith was in the better country that God promised. They did not have their eyes and hearts in this world, but desired things better than what we can have here.

Realizing that we have these witnesses of faith, we ought to be motivated to live our lives in the way that they did. These people recorded in chapter 11 are witnesses to us about what it looks like to have faith. They show us what God approved faith looks like. These people have shown us the life of faith that can be lived.

Think of the Olympics, and a huge stadium, think of the audience, those who have already run the race, cheering us on, ‘the faithful’ in Hebrews 11. Their faithfulness is our encouragement. They were able to run the race and finish.

We are able to run this race and finish. I think it is important to consider that the object of this race of faith is to finish. It is not about running fast, but running to finish. We need to run the race well.

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

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