Faith, Hope, Love – Part 8

“Every Bible chapter is great for the purpose for which it was intended… There are some chapters, however, that stand out because they address universal human needs, or because they provide comfort in time of distress, or because they are majestic in their sweep of some Bible theme” (Alan Highers, Spiritual Sword, Vol. 29, No. 4, p. 1).  In part 6 and 7 of this series we examined one of these “stand out” chapters, “The love chapter” (1 Corinthians 13).  We would be remiss if we did not include “The faith chapter” (Hebrews 11) in this series.  Let’s notice…

Hebrews 11

Faith is: (1) “the substance (assurance NASB, ESV) of things hoped for” (Heb. 11:1 NKJV).  The word “substance” or assurance” could also be rendered “confidence” (Vine’s, Thayer). (2) “the evidence (conviction NASB, ESV) of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV).  The word “evidence” or “conviction” may refer to a conviction, but it is a conviction based upon evidence.  Adam Clark points out “Aristotle uses it (the original word) for a mathematical demonstration.”  The words are defined as “A proof, that by which a thing is proved or tested… (sometimes) in accordance with the preceding… of the inward result of proving viz a conviction” (Thayer).

Let’s notice this type of faith in action:

1.  It trusts God.

Noah had never seen a global flood.  Likely, he had never even seen rain (Genesis 2:5-6; Rain is first mentioned in Genesis 7).  Yet, he “being divinely warned of things not yet seen” constructed an ark of gopherwood 300 cubits long (450 ft.) by 50 cubits wide (75ft.) by 30 cubits high (45 ft.), thereby saving his household (Hebrews 11:7).

Abraham had the same characteristic.  He left his home and “went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).  He trusted God enough to follow Him to an unknown place. Abraham was willing to offer up his son Isaac (Hebrews 11:17-ff).  Abraham had waited for years to receive this son (Genesis 12:1-2, 6-7; 15:18 cf. 21:5).  God instructed that Isaac be offered up as a burnt offering (Genesis 22:1-ff).  Abraham knew that God had made a promise through Isaac (Hebrews 11:18; Genesis 15:18; 21:12) and God keeps His promises (Hebrews 6:18; Titus 1:2).  Thus, he reasoned that “God was able to raise him up, even from the dead” (Hebrews 11:19).  Very likely, it is that Abraham had never seen such.  There are only three resurrections mentioned in the Old Testament, and the first recorded happened long after this (1 Kings 17:22; 2 Kings 4:22; 2 Kings 13:20-21).  He believed completely in God’s promises and in God’s power to achieve them. Abraham lived his physical life desiring to enter into that heavenly land (Hebrews 11:10, 16).  He considered himself but a pilgrim on earth (Hebrews 11:13).

Isaac, likewise, manifested this type of faith.  Though, he was still living in a foreign land, Isaac blessed his sons for he knew that through his seed would come greater things (Hebrews 11:20 cf. Genesis 12:2-3; 13:14-16; 15:18; 22:7-8; 27:29).

Jacob had faith in God concerning things not seen.  Despite the fact that it would be a couple of hundred years before Jacob’s family would enter the promised land {[430 (Galatians 3:17) minus 25 (Genesis 12:4 cf. 21:5) minus 60 (Genesis 25:26) minus 147 (Genesis 47:28) = 198] plus 40 (Numbers 14:33) = 238}.  Jacob expected them to one day leave Egypt and possess that promised land.

Therefore, he instructed them to go ahead and have him buried there (Hebrews 47:28-48:6).  Joseph honored the wishes of his father (Genesis 50:7-14). 

Joseph had the same faith.  He instructed that when the children of Israel left Egypt, that his bones were to be carried to the promised land (Hebrews 11:22 cf. Genesis 50:24-25).  They were (Exodus 13:19; Joshua 24:32), years later {it was 184 years between Joseph’s death and the promised land entrance. [This is est. by the following facts: (1) Joseph’s 130 entering Egypt (Genesis 47:8-9); (2) Joseph’s 39 at the time: 30 (Genesis 41:46), plus 14 (Genesis 41:29-30) minus 5 (Genesis 46:6, 11) = 39; (3) Thus, Joseph was 56, when his father died at 147 (Genesis 47:28); (4) Joseph died at 110 (Genesis 50:26), 54 years after the death of his father.]}  Remember this great chapter begins faith is the assurance and conviction “of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

2. It obeys.

Noah “prepared an ark for the saving of his house” (Hebrews 11:7).  This he did complying with God’s instructions.  The Bible says, “Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did” (Genesis 6:22).  He even moved his family on board the ark a full week prior to the flood (Genesis 7:4, 7, 10), while there was yet no physical indication of what was coming (2 Peter 3:1-7; Matthew 24:37-39).

Abraham’s life was characterized by obedience.  We’re told, “Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out…” (Hebrews 11:8).  We’re told, “Abraham, when he was tested, offered Isaac…” (Hebrews 11:17).

Faith causes one to obey God even when it makes no sense from a purely earthly standpoint.  Consider the Passover (Hebrews 11:28 cf. Exodus 12).  Consider the walls of Jericho (Hebrews 11:30 cf. Joshua 6).

3. It properly worships.

Abel and Cain’s sacrifices are contrasted (Hebrews 11:4).  Abel’s offering was by faith (Hebrews 11:4).  Yet, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).  Evidently, instructions were given.  Abel complied and Cain did not.  Some have thought that Cain was rejected because he offered a grain offering (Note: There were grain offerings under Moses, e.g., Leviticus 21).  I can’t say with absolute certainty that such is the reason Cain’s offering was rejected.  I can say that Cain did not follow God’s instructions, and Abel did.

4. It is courageous.

It caused Moses’ parents (Amram and Jochebed cf. Exodus 6:20) to risk their lives to hide Moses in order to preserve his life (Hebrews 11:23).  Josephus makes clear that such was indeed brave saying, “the king commanded that every male child born to the Israelites be thrown into the river, and that if any parents should try to save their offspring, they and their families would be killed” (Antiquities II, 201-ff).

Moses was greatly educated (Acts 7:22).  He was reared up the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.  He was of the privileged class.  Yet, he courageously gave it up to follow God.  He “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater than the treasures in Egypt for he looked to the reward” (Hebrews 11:25-26).  He led the children of Israel out “not fearing the wrath of the King; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27).

Numerous others have had amazing courage.  They have on God’s instructions taken cities and kingdoms (Hebrews 11:30, 33).  They, for following God, have suffered torture, oppression and hardship, and death (Hebrews 11:33-39).

They made a choice to be on God’s side (Hebrews 11:31).

5. It endures.

God’s people do not always have it easy.  Just think of Abel (Hebrews 11:4).  Noah, no doubt, was mocked (Matthew 24:37-39; 2 Peter 3:3-7).  Abraham and Sarah left their home to dwell for many years in tents [(Hebrews 11:9) Genesis 12:4 cf. 25:7].  Moses “suffered affliction” (Hebrews 11:25), unimaginable pain was at times experienced (Hebrews 11:35-39).

The major point of this section of scripture is the need for endurance (Hebrews 10:36-38; 11:27; 12:1-4).  Abraham and Sarah did not turn back to Ur (Hebrews 11:15).  They had their eyes on heaven (Hebrews 11:16).  Moses “forsook Egypt” and “endured as seeing Him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:28).  There were those who were tortured and killed “not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection” (Hebrews 11:25).

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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