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Book of Hebrews
Chapters 11 - 13 establish the second major division of the Letter to the Hebrews. Up to this point the Letter has been mainly doctrinal, but we are now coming to that which is very real and useful to us. Hebrews 11 is often called The Faith Chapter, which is interesting because most people do not think that faith is a very practical thing. I think this will show us that faith is indeed very practical, very hands-on.
Chapter 11 is also called The Catalog of the Heroes of Faith. We will see what faith has done in the lives of men and women in ages of the past, under all kinds of circumstances, from the gate of the Garden of Eden down to this day. I think that these people are great witnesses who encourage us today to live by faith.
The people in this chapter walked by faith, and that is the how God wants us to walk today.
We will also see in this chapter that UNBELIEF is the worst sin anyone can commit. God has a remedy for every sin except unbelief. This does not mean that there is not an unpardonable sin today (Lk.11:15,18-19). I believe there is no act which you could commit today, that God would not forgive tomorrow . . . IF you repented and confessed it to Him (1 Jn.1:8-9). BUT . . . if you continue in a state of unbelief, refusing to believe God, you are calling Him a “liar” (1 Jn.5:10), and for this, God has no remedy for that at all. When you refuse to BELIEVE, you are turning your back on the Holy Spirit who is trying desperately to bring you to Jesus!
As we examine this chapter, we find that in the close of chapter 10, the writer had intentionally mentioned faith (Heb.10:38-39), and states that the just should live by faith. The object of this entire Letter, was to keep those Hebrews, to whom it was addressed, from apostatizing, being stubborn and rebellious (Deut.21:18.20), and especially from returning back into Judaism from Christianity. They were in the midst of trials, and were clearly suffering some form of persecution, the trend of which seemed to expose them to the danger of drawing back (Heb.10:38). The best way of keeping them from apostasy was faith; and the writer now gives in chapter 11, a view of the patriarchs’ faith and its effectiveness.
Since the persons whom the writer addressed had been Hebrews, and since the Old Testament contained an account of many instances of persons in much the same circumstances in which they were, reference is made to the well-known examples of the value of faith in the Jewish history. The purpose is to show that FAITH, or confidence in God’s Promises, has been in all ages, the only way to persevere in the true religion, and which, as a result, leads to salvation. The object is to show that there is POWER IN FAITH!
Definition of Faith (Hebrews 11:1-3)
This first statement is a Scriptural description of FAITH.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (KJV)
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen . . . all Christians hope to be admitted into Heaven (Tit.1:2). They hope to be raised up in the last day from the sleep in the grave ((1 Cor.15:42-44,52). They hope to be made perfectly free from sin (1 Cor.15:42). They hope to have joy eternally (Ps.16:11; Lk.10:20). Because of faith he allows these things to control his mind as if they were a present reality.
The evidence of things not seen . . . the existence of God, of Heaven, of angels, of the glories of the world prepared for the redeemed (Jn.14:1-3; 1 Pet.1:3-5).
God really has two ways in which we can come to Him today. The first is that you can come to Him by works. YES! IF you can present perfection in all your works, God will accept you. Can you fulfill the 613 Jewish Laws? See the Special Comments Page.
NO! You CANNOT fulfill not even the one I like best:
613 laws down to 2 laws in Matthew 22:36-40 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (KJV)
No one but JESUS ever fulfilled the Laws! And NO one ever will! Adam didn't, and no one since has ever been able to do it. Abraham didn't, David didn't, and Daniel didn't. NONE of them made it by being perfect, by obeying the Law. NO one can, NO one ever will!
So . . . the only other way to come to God is to come by FAITH. SO . . . what is FAITH? See our article on the Special Comments Page.
Many people do not think that faith is very satisfactory. They think it is a leap in the dark, an uncertainty, some kind of gamble. Is that what it means to you? Then you do not have faith, because faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Others think faith is a great mystery; sort of a sixth sense, some insight into the spiritual realm, or an “Open Sesame” door to a new world. Faith for these people is like a good luck charm which you hang around your neck or carry with you. THAT is not faith.
Spurgeon said: "It is not thy hold on Christ that saves thee; it is Christ. It is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee; it is Christ. It is not even thy faith in Christ that saves thee, though that be the instrument. It is Christ's blood and merit."
Only the Blood and merit of JESUS saves you. Faith lays hold of it where nothing else can. So, faith is not something mysterious at all, because it is faith that looks to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Faith is NOT something which we can add to our good works. We cannot just put it here or put it there! Faith does NOT work like that! You either have faith or you do not have faith! In reality, faith enables the believing soul to treat the future as though it were the present and the invisible as something we can see.
We could translate substance as title deed. What is the title deed? What is the substance? Dear one, it is the Word of God. IF your faith does not rest upon the Word of God, it is not Biblical faith. FAITH rests on what God says. FAITH means to believe God.
The evidence of things not seen . . . we now have the word evidence. This a legal term meaning evidence that is accepted for conviction. Evidence is something you take into court to prove your case. Faith is not a leap in the dark. Faith is not a hope-so thing. Faith is substance and evidence! Substance is practical, evidence is legal. If you really want to believe, you can believe. You can believe many foolish things, but God does not want you to do that. He wants your faith to rest upon the Word of God.
The starting point of faith is believing in God's character: He IS Who He says He is! The end point is believing in God's Promises: He will do what He says He will do. When we believe that God will fulfill His Promises even though we do not see those Promises emerging as yet, we demonstrate TRUE faith (Jn.20:24-31).
Hebrews 11:2 For by it the elders obtained a good report. (KJV)
For by it the elders obtained a good report . . . who are "the elders"? The elders could be a group of old people, or it could refer to the officers in the New Testament church, or the elders could refer to Old Testament saints. These saints were referred to in Hebrews 1:1; "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers...." The fathers are the elders. These Old Testament patriarchs believed God. It was not a leap in the dark for them and it was not a hope-so thing. Their faith rested upon evidence. Did Noah build the ark because of some dream he had? NO. God gave him an abundance of evidence because Noah walked with God (Gen.6:9) for many years. The list of faith-worthy people begins with Abel (verse 4). Nothing is said of Adam and Eve . . . not a word of any repentance, faith or holiness of life.
God wants us today not only to be saved by faith, but to walk by faith. Christ died to save us, and when we look back His Work, we do it in faith. We walk daily by faith, we look up to Him, the living Christ. We walk by faith, not by sight. That is how God wants us to live this life on Earth.
Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (KJV)
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear . . . there are two accounts, or beliefs, for the origin of this Universe. One is revelation, and the other is speculation (supposition). By faith TRUE children of God accept revelation. And it is also by faith that unbelievers accept speculation. Speculation has many ridiculous theories, of which many of them have been abandoned. Right now the theory is evolution. This is the best that the unbeliever can come up with, but it is just foolish speculation, and they do have to have a lot of faith to go along with it!
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God . . . this could read: "The worlds were set up by the Word of God." The Word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb.4:12). My friend, the Word of God is much more powerful than the biggest bomb. The Word of God is even more potent than that, because the Word of God has the power to transform lives. And when we come to the Word of God, we will either accept it as Truth OR reject it as make-believe.
CONSIDER THE BIBLE’S STATEMENTS,
CONCERNING THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE.
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (KJV)
John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God.3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (KJV)
Hebrews 1:10 And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: (KJV)
Either you believe God, or you don’t. Faith means that you have a solid foundation for the origin of the Universe. God created the heaven and the earth.
We come now to consider the faith of individuals. Faith is NOT something you put on display in a showcase. Faith rests upon the Word of God. The writer tells us of three individuals who lived before the Flood, and one of them even lived through the Flood and after it. Abel is the first, and in him you have the way of faith. Then in Enoch we have the walk of faith. And in Noah we have the witness of faith. These men lived before the Flood, and faith was in operation at that time. All these men walked by faith, lived by faith, and were saved by faith.
The Faith of Abel (Hebrews 11:4)
God put down the principle once and for all, that mankind must approach Him on only one basis: FAITH! It is by faith, that salvation will be achieved, by faith in Christ. Not only did Abraham see Christ's day and rejoice, but so did Abel. Abel shows us the way of faith.
Hebrews 11:4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. (KJV)
By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain . . . the writer proceeds to some tremendous examples of faith, beginning with Abel. Some think it is strange that Adam and Eve are not mentioned. I do not know why they were omitted, so I cannot give you an answer on this. Abel was the younger son of Adam, a well-known believer, whose faith instructs him and his worship. He is the first martyr for religion in the world (Gen.4:8), who sealed the Truth of God with his blood. Abel brought a bloody sacrifice of the fattest and best of his flock, and offered up to the Divine Majesty, the true and living God, his Creator and Redeemer, to atone for his sin. He looked forward to, and had faith in, the Great Sacrifice of the Seed of the woman (Gen.3:15). By faith Abel looked for him in fulness of time to be offered up, and of which he was just a type, a foreshadow. This sacrifice was more of what God required in offerings, than Cain his elder brother's. Cain offered the fruits of the ground, such as God afterwards required in the ceremonial law, but he was not aware of the guilt and filth of sin, and of its imperfections. Cain did not desire to remove it in the due way and order appointed, as appears by his murdering of his brother. Abel's sacrifice was better because it more fully agreed with God's will for purging and pardoning sin, fully denying self, and being humiliated for sin, and faith in Christ's coming Sacrifice. (Gen.4:3-4).
By which he obtained witness that he was righteous . . . Abel was righteous, not by his offering, nor by his faith, but by the righteousness of Christ, which his faith in his sacrifice looked to. Although it was his faith that obtained his righteousness, or received a witness from his own conscience (from the Spirit of God), testifying that he was a justified person; and as a result of this, he had an outward testimony bore to him in the Scriptures, that he was a righteous person, so he is called righteous Abel (Mat.23:35).
God testifying of his gifts . . . testifying of Abel's gifts, which he offered to the Lord.
And by it, he being dead, yet speaketh . . . righteous Abel was slain by wicked Cain, all those years ago, but the world today knows of it because it was recorded in the Scriptures, as a witness to him. Because of Abel’s faith, he is spoken of throughout all generations, recorded among the excellent sons of God, and well-known in the church to this day.
The Faith of Enoch (Hebrews 11:5-6)
We come now to Enoch, and in him we see the walk of faith. If you come to God through Christ, then you are to walk with Him. It is then the walk of the believer that becomes important.
Hebrews 11:5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. (KJV)
By faith Enoch was translated . . . this was NOT a spiritual translation from the power of darkness, into the Kingdom of Christ, as that of all who are converted, persons are translated, and no doubt Enoch was. I believe that both Enoch and Elijah were translated (raptured), bodily into Heaven without dying (Gen.5:24; 2 Ki.2:11). Personally, I think these two men are the two witnesses in Revelation (Rev.11:3).
There are only two men that the Scriptures say “walked with God” . . . There are two places for Enoch, below, and one for Noah (Gen.6:9).
Genesis 5:22 And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: (KJV)
Genesis 5:24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him. (KJV) . . . The life of Enoch pleased the Lord, and was translated, being an example of repentance to all generations.
That he should not see death . . . Enoch did not die a bodily death. He was raptured (1 Thes.4:13-18). He certainly did NOT die a spiritual or eternal death! See different deaths:
And was not found, because God had translated him . . . it is said in Scriptures that they searched for Elijah when he was translated (2 Ki.2:16-17). To my knowledge, it is only here in Hebrews 11:5, that tells us Enoch was not found. Whether they searched for him, is not said. He was not found among those in the land of the living, because God took him home!
For before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God . . . I really think Enoch was a righteous and worthy man. He walked with God. The course of his lifestyle was holy and upright; and which was the reason of his being taken, or translated; and which was a very high honor bestowed upon him. He obtained a much better testimony from God, than those men could give him. There is not too much said in the Bible about Enoch.
Enoch: (Gen.4:18; 5:17-19,21-24; Lk.3:37; Heb.11:5; Jude 1:14).
Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (KJV)
But without faith it is impossible to please him . . . HOW did Enoch please God? By faith. My friend, unless you are willing to believe God (1 Jn.5:10), and come to Him, HIS way, there is NO way you can please God. IF you refuse to believe Him, and reject His only begotten Son’s once for all Sacrifice . . .you are rebelling against God. I don’t care if are an unbeliever who wants no part of God . . . when you rebel against God, you shall bring the wrath of God down on you, big time! There will be NO appeal of the verdict of Hell for you . . . unless you change your mind BEFORE you die, BEFORE Judgment Day, and STOP rebelling against God!
For he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him . . . in this Book, there is a lot said about rewards, the reason is that the importance is on the Christian life. Because we have a living Saviour up there who takes our side, there is a reward for living the Christian life. Let us remember that salvation is NOT a reward. It is a free gift.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (KJV)
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (KJV)
If you expect any rewards in Heaven, you must work for them! You CANNOT work for salvation. Salvation comes by FAITH in Jesus, and the walk of the Christian is also by faith. Enoch walked with God by faith.
For he that cometh to God . . . to the throne of His grace, to pray to Him, to beg for His grace, His mercy and His help.
Must believe that he is . . . believing that God exists is only the beginning. BEWARE!!! Even the demons believe that much (Jam.2:19-20). God will NOT settle for you just admitting that He exists. He wants you to have faith that He is Who He says He is, and that He will do what He says He will do! Faith in Him leads to an active personal relationship with Him. God is always true and faithful to His Promises; for He is the God of grace, love and mercy. We must believe in Him, not only as the God of nature and providence, but as our covenant God.
And that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him . . . dear one, we must SEEK God through Christ Jesus, because that is the ONLY Place where He is only to be found! And when we seek Him, we must seek Him with our whole heart.
John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (KJV)
We must never forget that God is a rewarder, in a way of His amazing grace. The Best Reward we can ever have is JESUS! Jesus is our exceeding Great Reward, for without Him, we have nothing in God’s eyes. But, with JESUS, we have some awesome privileges!
Consider some privileges of God’s TRUE children, because of Jesus:
- Forgiveness (Col.1:12-14)
- Rest for your soul (Mat.11:28-30)
- Spiritual knowledge (Pro.1:7; 9:10)
- Eternal life (Jn.6:51; 10:9)
- Holy Spirit (Jn.14:16-17; 1 Cor.3:16; 12:13; Rom.8:9)
- Fellowship (Rev.3:20; Jn.17:3)
- Peace (Phil.4:7; Col.3:15)
- Needs supplied (Phil.4:19)
- Power (Col.1:11-12)
- Love (Eph.3:19; 1 Thes.3:12)
- Joy (Ps.16:11; Jn.15:11)
- Contentment (1 Tim.6:6,8; Heb.13:5)
- Comfort (Mat.5:4; Jn.14:1; Rom.8:28; 1 Thes.4:13; 2 Thes.2:16)
- Patience, gentleness, goodness, faith (Gal.5:22)
- Meekness, self-control (Gal.2:23)
These are just the tip of the iceberg! God has multiple blessings in store for His children.
Does faith make sense to you? Some people (including some supposed Christians), think no one can understand God, so why even try. How foolish! The Bible tells us that Jesus came to reveal God to us! (Jn.1:18; 1245; 14:7,9-10,20; Col.1:15; Phil.2:6; Heb.1:3). Believe it!
What about those who have not heard of Jesus and have not had a Bible to read? I truly believe that God will reward all who honestly seek Him. All those who act in faith, on the knowledge of God that they possess (Rom.1:18-20) . . . shall be rewarded. When you tell others the Good News about Jesus, urge them to be honest and diligent in their search for Truth. BEWARE!!! Those who hear the Good News, are responsible for what they have heard (2 Cor.6:1-2). These must pass it on. Knowledge creates responsibility!
The Faith of Noah (Hebrews 11:7)
Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. (KJV)
By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet . . . Abel showed the way of faith; Enoch proved the walk of faith; and now we see Noah is the witness of faith.
Genesis 6:5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (KJV) . . . This sounds like today’s times. Some say that Noah preached 120 years and never made a convert. That is not accurate. No, he did not convert any of the Babylonians living in Babel, but . . . he did win over his family, or they would not have been in the ark. He led every member of his family to the Lord, and that was really something. Sadly, I have not succeeded with mine.
By faith Noah . . . everything Noah did, concerning the coming Flood, was done by simple faith, by believing what God said. God had informed him of what was coming, and Noah put firm and steadfast trust on the truth of the God’s declaration.
Being warned of God . . . this means Noah was divinely cautioned. Genesis 6:13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. (KJV)
Of things not seen as yet . . . the flood was as yet, far out in the future. There were no visible signs of it anywhere, and there was nothing which could be a source of calculating when it would occur. This warning was given 120 years before the deluge, long before there could have been any natural indications that it really would occur.
Moved with fear . . . Noah, being wary, moved with reverence and godly fear (Heb.5:7; 12:28).
I think that this means that Noah acted with caution, to be afraid of what was to come, because he believed God, and knew the Flood was coming.
Prepared an ark to the saving of his house . . . Noah did as he was told, and built the ark (Gen.6:14-22), so that he and his family might be saved. The salvation referred to here was being preserved from the Flood.
By the which he condemned the world . . . because of lack of faith, God condemned the world, meaning the wicked world around Him (Gen.6:5). The meaning of this is, that by Noah’s confidence (faith) in God, and his preparing for the Flood as he was commanded, Noah showed wisdom on his part and the folly (stupidity) on the ones who refused to believe. Noah warned the people daily for 120 years, to no avail. The people showed NO respect whatsoever for God, and no respect for Noah’s message from God to them. They surely laughed their heads off . . . “Look at that idiot, Noah, building a boat in the middle of a desert.”
I truly do fear for people in today's’ world. They have NO fear at all of God’s Holy wrath, NO fear at all of the judgment that shall befall them IF they do not repent of their sin. God CANNOT lie! You must believe this. He promises to bring judgment on ALL who disobey Him. People like to think just about God’s Promises for good people; but the want NO part of God’s Promises for the wicked. But friend, they exist! God shall fulfill ALL His Promises . . . those to His TRUE children AND those Promises on the wicked unbelievers. Count on it.
Do you think God has changed His mind about wickedness? He has NOT! BEWARE!!! He severely punished multitudes in the old world. God says “I change not” (Mal.3:6).
And became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. . . . heir of righteousness means that Noah achieved, gained or possessed righteousness . . . which always comes by FAITH! (Rom.4:13-14; Tit.3:7; Heb.1:2; 6:17).
Noah did NOT become the heir to that righteousness by inheriting it from his ancestors. We CANNOT inherit righteousness! We must get it by faith, like Abraham and Noah (Gal.3:6; Jam.2:23). We must get it from Jesus (1 Cor.1:30).
It is not said that Noah had specific faith in Christ, or that his being made heir of the righteousness of faith depended on that, but it was connected to Noah’s believing what God said in respect to the Flood. It was faith or confidence in God which was the foundation of his justification, in agreement with the general doctrine of the Scriptures, that it is only by faith that man can be saved, although the specific method of faith at that time was not that which is required today under the Gospel. That Old Covenant has been replaced by the New Covenant, which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which this Book of Hebrews clearly teaches.
Mankind left God in a hurry after he left the Garden of Eden. But, we are told that there was one godly man left. How did Noah walk with God? The writer to the Hebrews tells us: "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house."
Noah experienced rejection because he was different from his neighbors. God commanded him to build a huge boat in the middle of dry land, and even though God's command seemed foolish, Noah obeyed, and his obedience to God made him seem weird to his neighbors, just as the new beliefs of Jewish Christians undoubtedly made them stand out in that day. When you obey God, don't be surprised if others regard you as "different." Your obedience makes their disobedience stand out. Remember, if God asks you to do something, He will equip you to carry out that task.
The Faith of Abraham and Sarah (Hebrews 11:8-19)
We come now to Abraham, the man who is known as the man of faith. That is how he is known in the Bible. Abraham is the ultimate illustration of faith in the Letter to the Romans and also in the Letter to the Galatians. The writers of the Gospels refer to him, and even the Lord Jesus said, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad" (Jn.8:56). In Abraham we will see the worship of faith.
Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. (KJV)
By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went . . . in this Book, we have seen that TRUE worship of God leads to being obedient to God. It leads to us working for God. It leads us to do what God wants us to do. There is no way we can get people to work for God . . . IF a person truly worships God, they grab hold of some of the glory of the Person of Christ Jesus. Then and only then, will they work for God and obey Him. The most important word in this entire section is obeyed. And my friend, TRUE worship leads to obedience.
In Genesis 12, where the story of Abraham starts, we read that he came out of Ur of the Chaldees and went to Haran. He delayed in Haran and lost a great deal of time, but finally he went to the land of Canaan. When he got to the land, God appeared to him. "And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him" (Gen.12:7). Everywhere Abraham went he built an altar. (Gen.12:7-8; 13:4,18; 22:9).
Abraham was influenced by his faith in God. Genesis 15:6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. (KJV) Also see: (Rom.4:3-6,9,20-25; Gal.3:6-14; Jam.2:23).
In these revelations of the power of faith in this chapter, the writer appeals to two instances in which exceptional faith was exhibited by Abraham, "the father of the faithful." Each of these required confidence in God of amazing strength: #1. The first was that when he left his own country to go to a distant land of strangers (Heb.11:8-10), and #2. The other when he showed his willingness to sacrifice his own son in obedience to the will of God (Heb.11:17-19).
Hebrews 11:9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: (KJV)
By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country . . . the land of Canaan, so called, because it was promised to Abraham and his seed, and is symbolic of Heaven, which is not by the works of the law, but by the free Promise and grace of God. It was here that Abraham sojourned for a while, which was not his native place, and not his own (Acts 7:5), and it was an idolatrous one. It was here he sojourned by faith, believing that as it was promised, it would be given to him and his seed. So too, all God's people are sojourners in this world, strangers and pilgrims in it. This Earth is not their permanent dwelling place. They do not belong to it, but to another; their stay in it is but for a while, and while they are in it, do not look upon themselves to be at home, but are looking out for another, and better country. They are unknown to the men of the world, and the men of the world are strangers to them; and although they have a civil conversation with them, they are separate from them (Lk.6:22; 2 Cor.6:17; Ps.1:1-3), both as to profaneness and superstition, and they live by faith, in the expectation of the heavenly country, just as Abraham did.
Dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise . . . the same promised land, the same promised blessings, and the same promised Seed, the Messiah (Gen.12:3; 26:3-4; 28:13-14). And with these Abraham dwelt, for he lived until Isaac was seventy five years of age, and Jacob fifteen. Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born (Gen.21:5), and he lived 175 years (Gen.25:7). Isaac was 60 years old when Jacob was born (Gen.25:26), and Abraham dwelt with them in tabernacles, or tents, which they pitched, and moved from place to place. TRUE believers are Abraham's seed (Gal.3:27-29), and they are heirs with him, according to the Promise; and are heirs together of the grace of life; and dwell in earthly tabernacles, in houses of clay, which are erected for a while, and then taken down. See: (2 Cor.5:1,4; 2 Pet.1:13-14).
Hebrews 11:10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (KJV)
For he looked for a city which hath foundations . . . not the city of Jerusalem, not the Gospel church state; but either the city of the new Jerusalem, said to have twelve foundations (Rev.21:14), or the ultimate glory of the saints in Heaven, where God dwells (Jn.14:6), and Has His Throne, and which will be the dwelling place of the saints, and will have in it many habitations (mansions Jn.14:2), which will be both peaceable and safe, and full of glory, riches, joy and pleasure; and into which NONE but holy and righteous persons will enter. The foundations of this city, are the everlasting love of God, eternal election, the covenant of grace, the promise and preparation of it by God, from the foundation of the world, and the Lord Jesus Christ, His Blood and His righteousness. These foundations show that the city is immovable and permanent. It is there to stay!
Whose builder and maker is God . . . God the Father has prepared this glory from the foundation of the world (Mat.13:35; 25:34; Lk.11:50; Jn.17:24; Eph.1:4; Heb.4:3; 9:26; 1 Pet.1:20; Rev.13:8; 17:8), and has promised before the world began (Tit.1:2; 2 Tim.1:9), and has chosen His people to it; the Spirit of God makes it known, and prepares them for it; and the Lord Jesus Christ is the Forerunner entered in, who is gone to get it ready for them (Jn.14:3), and will put them in possession of it (1 Pet.1:3-5). This shows the superior excellency of this city, or glorious state; and that God has the sole right to use it as He sees fit. Chosen by God: (Jn.13:18; 15:16; Rom.8:29; 9:11; 1 Cor.1:26-29; Eph.1:3-5,11; 2 Thes.2:13; 2 Tim.2:9; Tit.1:1; 1 Pet.1:1-2).
Hebrews 11:11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. (KJV)
Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed . . . the word herself implies that there was something remarkable in the fact that she could possess this faith. Perhaps there may be reference here to the disbelief with which she at first received the announcement that she should have a child (Gen.18:11,13). Even her strong doubt was overcome; and although everything seemed to boil down to what was announced, was impossible, and though she was so inclined to laugh (Gen.18:12,13,15) at the very suggestion at first, yet her unbelief was overcome, and she ultimately credited the Divine Promise. The writer does not state the authority for his declaration that the strength of Sarah was derived from her faith, nor when, in particular it was exercised. The point of it all seems to be, that here was a case where ALL human probabilities were against what was predicted by God, so the result must have been simple trust in God, FAITH. Nothing else but faith could have led her to believe that in her old age she would have borne a son.
And was delivered of a child when she was past age . . . Sarah was far past child-bearing age when she conceived. She was 90 (Gen.17:17). Although conception, bearing and bringing forth children are natural things, ordinary, and common . . . with Sarah it was not natural, not ordinary or not common. She had faith that God would give her a child, at this very uncommon age,
Because she judged him faithful who had promised . . . she knew she would have a son at this very unusual time of life (Heb10:23).
Hebrews 11:12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. (KJV)
Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead . . . meaning from one single individual, up in years Abraham. The whole Jewish nation sprang from one man, and that because of his strong faith. Abraham was made the father and founder of a nation. And him as good as dead . . . to the human outlook, there was no more likelihood that Abraham was able to produce a child at 100 years old. But he did! God works in very mysterious ways!
So many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable . . . an uncountable multitude. This agreed with the Promise. Stars in the sky, sand on the sea shore, are often used to mean a vast multitude, for nothing seems more numerous than the stars of heaven, or than the sands that lie on the shores of the ocean. The strength of faith in this case was, that there was simple confidence (trust, belief) in God in the fulfilment of a Promise where all human probabilities were against it. Faith does NOT depend on human reasoning, or on logical possibilities. Faith is simply the assurance that God, no matter what, will perform what He said He will do, no matter how great the improbabilities were against it. So many: (Gen.13:16; 15:5; 17:6; 22:17; 26:4; Deut.1:10; Jer.33:22; Rom.4:17).
Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. (KJV)
These all died in faith . . . all the believers in the preceding verses died, except Enoch who was translated without dying. The three patriarchs, and Sarah died a physical death, which is common to all, to the righteous, and to the wicked. But dear one, God’s TRUE children do not die as unbelievers! They die in faith, having the grace itself, which being once implanted, can never be lost. These all died in the faith that their future generations would inherit the land of Canaan, and they looked forward in faith, to the Promised Messiah.
Not having received the promises . . . the land of Canaan, the Messiah, and the blessings of the Gospel dispensation. These patriarchs had the Promises of God on these things, and even though they were not fulfilled while they lived, they believed that God would fulfill them, and they died in the faith of them.
Having seen them afar off . . . just as Abraham saw his future generations being taken out of Egypt, after they had been afflicted there for 400 years (Gen.15:13-14), and he too saw the day of Christ, at a yet farther off distance still (Jn.8:56).
And were persuaded of them, and embraced them . . . these patriarchs had a full assurance of faith (Heb.10:22), that what was promised would be fulfilled! It is as though they took a possession of them before hand, as Abraham did of the land of Canaan, by sojourning in it; as did also Isaac and Jacob. And all of them by faith embraced the Messiah. They dealt with, and laid hold upon Jesus’ Blood, His righteousness, His Sacrifice and His grace, by which they all were saved, just as New Testament saints are.
And confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth . . . for they sojourned in the land of Canaan, as in a strange land, as the saints do in this world (Heb.11:9). They were pilgrims, travelling through this world to the better country, a heavenly country, and they confessed themselves to be such (Gen.47:9). Nor are believers today ashamed to own and confess that they are strangers and pilgrims, while they are on Earth; and it is therefore but for a little time that they are so, for before long they will be at home, and know as they are known (1 Cor.13:12).
Hebrews 11:14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. (KJV)
For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country . . . the reason of faith's effect in their dying, is to bring into view a better life and better place than any earthly one. For these believers, by word and life professing themselves to be strangers and pilgrims on this earth, and seeing God's Promises, embracing those Promises, declare and show clearly to all who see them, or speak with them, that they seek a better country and a place of rest, which they do not possess. For no one is a stranger or pilgrim in his own country. We should think that they were in search of some place as their home, and that they had not yet found it. Such people were the Hebrew patriarchs. They lived and acted just as if they had not yet found a permanent home, but were travelling in search of one.
There are many reasons which may encourage believers to seek the better country of Heaven.
Heaven is their own, and their Father's country. It is a better one than that in which the patriarchs were, and is better that the one where we now are. And too, because of the company they shall there enjoy, and the work they shall be employed in; and because of the happiness and joy they will have there . . . them and us.
Hebrews 11:15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. (KJV)
And truly if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned . . . they could have returned to their old home in Ur of the Chaldees, if they had chosen, but even though they were homeless in a strange land, they had faith in a future, better home.
Hebrews 11:16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. (KJV)
But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly . . . they desired a country better than Chaldea, better even than Canaan. They had a strong faith which looked for a heavenly country.
Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city . . .
faith had carried the patriarchs, separated from this world, to the grave, endearing them to the Promises, and attracting them to Heaven. God did not scorn them, He did not think it any disgrace to Him to own them His, but esteemed it an honor, took joy and delight in them.
Anyone can turn around and go back to the world . . . if he is satisfied with the things the world has to offer . . . but a TRUE child of God, by faith, is going onward to the Promises of Heaven.
Ten facts about Christians:
1. They have not received all that was promised.
2. They see clearly promised blessings.
3. They are convinced the Promises are true.
4. They embrace all the Promises.
5. They confess that they are strangers on Earth.
6. They confess that they are only pilgrims on Earth.
7. They state that they seek Heaven.
8. They are not mindful of earthly things.
9. They are not willing to go back to the world.
10. They desire a heavenly country.
Hebrews 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, (KJV)
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son . . . by faith, Abraham was tested by God (Gen.22:1). This trial refers to the command given by God to Abraham, to offer up his son Isaac. Offered up Isaac . . . he showed that he was ready and willing to make the sacrifice, and would have done it if he had not been stopped by the voice of the angel (Gen.22:11-12). As far as Abraham’s intention was concerned, the deed was done, for he had made every preparation for the offering, and was actually about to take the life of his son.
Abraham had other children, but Isaac is the one called his only begotten. Isaac was the only begotten because God had given the Promise concerning him, and him alone.
Abraham had a Promise made to him by God, that he would have a son, and that a numerous multitude would spring from him, which should inherit the land of Canaan . . . so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable (verse 12).
Abraham had received these Promises and firmly believed them, and fully expected them to be performed, since he had good reason to do, since the first Promise was fulfilled, the son was born to him and Sarah . . . but now . . . God commanded Abraham to offer Isaac up as a sacrifice . . . Isaac, Abraham’s only begotten son (Gen.22:2), on whom all of Abraham’s hope was placed. I imagine that everything seemed upside down for Abraham at that time. Isaac was a human creature, and Abraham was called to offer him up, whose blood is not to be shed by man (Ex.20;13; Deut.5:13); his own child, a part of him; a son, an only begotten son; a son whom he dearly loved. What a trial!
Hebrews 11:18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: (KJV)
Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called . . . Isaac, Abraham's own son, whom he offered up; for it is said: in Isaac shall thy seed be called (Gen.21:12). Abraham had other children, but Isaac is the one called his only begotten. Isaac was the only begotten because God gave the Promise concerning him alone.
Hebrews 11:19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. (KJV)
Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead . . . Abraham did not go about this matter without much deep thought; but he certainly did not consult with flesh and blood! He reasoned with faith; and the final result was, he would continue to believe God and do as he commanded. What awesome faith! How many of us could have done that? Very few (Mat.7:14). Abraham believed that God was able to raise Isaac from the dead. Abraham knew that he had received Isaac at first, as it were, from the dead, springing from his own dead body (verse 12), and out of Sarah's dead womb (verse 11).
From whence also he received him in a figure . . . Isaac being born was really an example of Abraham’s faith and obedience.
God did not ask Abraham to offer up Isaac until he had come to the end of his life, maybe because Abraham would not have had the faith to do it. We must NEVER forget that God will NEVER test you above that ye are able (1 Cor.10:13).
We normally think in terms of the great Promises which God made to Abraham concerning the land to be given to him and the multitudes which would come from him. He did NOT see the fulfillment of those great Promises. Abraham's worship of faith led to obedience in his life, so that it could be said of him, "...Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness" (Rom.4:3).
The Faith of Isaac (Hebrews 11:20)
Hebrews 11:20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. (KJV)
By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come . . . the history of this is in Genesis 27:33-39. Jacob was a good man, and even though he was the youngest son, he is named first, and was blessed before the elder son. Esau was a wicked man, and yet he too had a blessing; because temporal blessings are shared. This blessing was prophetic, concerning things to come. Very little is said about Isaac, especially when it is compared to his father Abraham.
Isaac is our next example of the Divine faith described Hebrews 11:1. But, here it is exercised on the special revelation of God to Isaac concerning his seed. Because of this faith, Isaac did not only wish and pray for blessings, but prophetically applied them to his two sons, to Jacob and Israel, his seed the covenant blessings, and to Esau and the Edomites, his seed the temporary blessings, God intended them (Gen.27:27,39). Both these were things to come, and to be communicated to their seeds hundreds of years after. As for the things to come that concerned Jacob, which were not seen, but hoped for from God's revelation of them, were, plenty, dominion over brethren, blessings above the power of a curse, even the spiritual and covenanted ones of Abraham and Isaac with him (Gen.27:28-29). The things to come concerning Esau and his seed, were only earthly, temporal blessings, to escape out of slavery in time, common good things at the highest (Gen.27:39-40). By faith Isaac foresaw all these future events, and foretold them.
The Faith of Jacob (Hebrews 11:21)
We come now to a very colorful individual.
Hebrews 11:21 By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff. (KJV)
By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff . . . the usual time of blessing with the patriarchs was when they were dying.
Jacob had the same excellent faith, being heir to the birthright and blessing, by God's appointment, and his father's confirmation (Gen28:1,3-4). As a grandfather and a prophet, near death, weak in body but strong in faith, Jacob blesses Joseph and each of his sons (Gen.48:15-22), preferring Ephraim the younger before Manasseh the elder, by laying his right hand on his head, and his left on the other's; and so adopts them to be his children, gives them the blessing of the covenant, as to their persons, and the inheritance of two tribes amongst his sons, as belonging to Joseph, as his birthright (Gen.49:22-26). These by faith he foretold, and applied especially to each of them from God Himself, through prayer.
Another effect of Jacob’s faith, is his worshipping God, having left his body to the burial in a firm expectation of the promised inheritance, as the history clears (Gen.47:29-31; 48:21-22). This he did by faith, adoring his sovereign Lord and Saviour by his humbly bowing before him.
The sense is, that Jacob, having blessed the two sons of Joseph, sitting on his bed, and weak, he leaned upon the top of his staff, and worshipped God, and gave praise and glory to Him, that he had lived to see not only his son Joseph, but his seed also (Gen.48:2,20).
The Faith of Joseph (Hebrews 11:22)
Hebrews 11:22 By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones. (KJV)
By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel . . . the riches and honors of Joseph, could not save him from death. Joseph was the first son of Jacob by Rachel, whom Jacob preferred over his brethren, the brothers hated and envied Joseph and sold him into slavery. But because the Hand of God was upon Joseph, he was advanced to be lord of Egypt, and a saviour to them. Joseph was heir of the birthright, and of his father's grace, a patriarch and prophet like him. As Joseph drew near to the end of his pilgrimage on Earth, as he lay dying, he made mention of Israel’s withdrawal from Egypt. He was looking forward to a better place and state than any in Egypt, and that his death should not hinder the issues of providence to them for good; for God lived, and would surely visit them in their future. God fulfilled it 160 after his death, as he had sworn to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
And gave commandment concerning his bones . . . also by faith, Joseph commanded them about carrying his embalmed body with them and burying it in Canaan, and made the Israelites do this with an oath, making it an serious and solemn signal to them of the Promise and oath of God for their deliverance, that as he desired his bones might be buried in Canaan, being heir together with Jacob of the same promised inheritance, it might be a visible token of, and encouragement in, the appointed time, to their return. And this Israel did fulfill (Ex.13:19), carrying Joseph’s bones away with them, and afterwards burying them in Shechem, the lot of Ephraim (Josh.24:32).
The Faith of Moses (Hebrews 11:23-29)
Now we move down quite a few years to the time when the children of Israel are in slavery in the land of Egypt. Moses represents the sacrifices of faith.
Hebrews 11:23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment. (KJV)
By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents . . . this does not mean the faith of Moses, but instead the faith of his parents. At the time of his birth, Pharaoh had published a law, ordering every male child to be drowned into the Nile river. But his parents instead, hid Moses for three months in his father's house, as it is said in (Acts 7:20). Moses had godly parents who were willing to take a firm stand for God. Faith was involved in the very birth of Moses.
Because they saw he was a proper child . . . the reason faith was at work was their seeing of him to be exceeding fair, and this not in himself only, but fair to God. Some glorious feature must have been placed upon Moses by God, as a signal of his being some great person, and of great use in God's plan for His people.
And they were not afraid of the king's commandment . . . Moses’ parents did not keep Pharaoh’s law to drown all male babies in the Nile River, for it was contrary to nature, and to the laws of God, and to the Promise of God's multiplying of that people, and to their hopes of deliverance. There is a much courage and boldness in faith; and although faith may at times be weakened, it cannot be lost. A weak faith is taken notice of here; for although they did not fear at first, they seem to be afraid afterwards, but when God plans to work deliverance, nothing shall prevent it.
For Moses being hidden by his mother in an ark of bulrushes, and found by Pharaoh's daughter, see (Ex.2:3-10).
Hebrews 11:24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; (KJV)
By faith Moses, when he was come to years . . . (Acts 7:22-23), or was a nobleman in Pharaoh's court; or when he had learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.
Refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter . . . by whom Moses was taken up out of the water; by whom he was named, and provided for. She considered Moses as her own son, and intended him to be Pharaoh's successor . . . but, Moses refused all this honor, and denied that he was the son of Pharaoh's daughter. And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel (Acts 7:21). It seems that Moses somehow learned he was an Israelite, and he plainly declared that his descent was from them. (Ex.2:11).
Hebrews 11:25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; (KJV)
Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season . . . the Israelites, who were God's chosen and peculiar people (Deut.14:2). To suffer affliction is to endure ill-treatment, wrong, hurt, or injury with another. Choosing implies a deliberate perseverance, not a hasty impulse. Moses was 40 years old, a time when the judgment has matured. Than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season . . . most likely meaning the pleasures, honors, and riches in Pharaoh's court, as pampering himself in the luxury of a court, when his brethren were in distress. Exodus 2:11-12 And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. 12 And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand.
(KJV) . . . Moses made a decision! Moses chose to suffer affliction with the people of God.
Hebrews 11:26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. (KJV)
Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward . . . I think it is possible that Moses had a revelation of the Coming Messiah and looked forward to His day, as did Abraham (Jn.8:56). The things Moses saw, was the end of Christ's reproach, and the end of Egypt's glory. This made him turn his eye and heart AWAY from Egypt, and to intently look on the matter of his sufferings for Christ. This reward, which God had promised and Christ had purchased, and those who by faith were bearing the reproach of Christ, qualified for it and would enjoy it. (Rom.8:17-18) 2 Tim.2:12; 1 Pet.4:13-14).
TRUE wealth is eternal. If we were to consider the most powerful or well-known people in our world . . . how many of them got where they are by being gentle, humble and modest? FEW! Very FEW! But dear one, in the life to come, the last will be first (Mat.19:30), IF they got in last place by choosing to follow Jesus. The powerful little Book of Hebrews has a serious message for Christians who love the world! You better NOT forfeit eternal rewards for temporary benefits. We must be like Moses, willing to make sacrifices now for better and greater rewards later (Mat.6:19-21). Can you see into your future? Do you know WHERE you are going? (Jn.20:31; 1 Jn.5:13-18). You can KNOW! The Bible says so!
Hebrews 11:27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. (KJV)
By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible . . . the Departure (Exodus) from Egypt was a fulfillment of faith. It was faith that made Moses scorn the king's wrath. Moses endured, as seeing Him who is invisible. The unseen God was present with Moses by faith and His support gave strength to endure all that came his way. Moses forsook Egypt because he believed that God would fulfill the Promise he had made. He willingly changed an earthly for a heavenly portion.
Not fearing the wrath of the king . . . I think the writer speaks here of the departure of Moses with the Israelites, not of his flight to Midian (Ex.2:14-15), for he was then in great fear. But when Moses went to Pharaoh with God's authority, to demand the withdrawal of the Hebrews, he was totally without fear, and acted in the most noble and dignified manner. Moses then feared nothing but God.
Moses had faith to act. Faith leads to action. Many today say, "I believe, I believe." BUT they do nothing. Dear one, faith is revealed by what it does! God saves us without our works, but the faith that saves produces works. Moses forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
Hebrews 11:28 Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them. (KJV)
Through faith he kept the Passover . . . which Moses appointed by God’s command. He kept it, with all its rites and ceremonies, and caused the people of Israel to observe it. The Passover was a type of Messiah (1 Cor.5:7).
And the sprinkling of blood . . . the blood of the passover lamb (Ex.12:3-5) which was received into a basin, was sprinkled upon the lintel, and two side posts of the doors of the houses, in which the Israelites dwelt; which was done with a bunch of hyssop dipped into it (Ex.12:22).
Lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them . . . for the Lord, seeing the blood sprinkled, as above, when He smote the firstborn of Egypt, passed by the houses of the Israelites (Ex.12:23), and they were all safe within, and not one of them was touched. This is symbolic of the Blood of Christ being sprinkled upon the hearts and consciences of His people; whereby they are purified through faith . . . and which Blood is looked upon by Jehovah God, so that justice passes by them; and they are all safe and secure, and will be, when others are destroyed; nor can they be hurt by the second death. Exodus 12:13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. (KJV) . . . If you are not washed in the precious Blood of Jesus (1 Pet.1-18-19), the destroyer will come into your house and smite you (Ex.12:23).
Hebrews 11:29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned. (KJV)
By faith they passed through the Red sea, as by dry land . . . not a river, but through the sea, the Red Sea (Acts 7:36). See: (Ex.14:13-22). In obedience to God's command they marched into the sea and were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea (1 Cor.10:1-2).
Which the Egyptians assaying to do, were drowned . . . when Pharaoh and his army saw the Israelites march through the sea, as on dry land, they thought they could do the same. They were mistaken! Their attempt caused every one of them to drown. Possibly this was God’s revenge, or retaliation, for the cruel law of drowning all the male infants in the Nile.
The Faith of Joshua (Hebrews 11:30)
Hebrews 11:30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days. (KJV)
By faith the walls of Jericho fell down . . . (Josh.6:8-21), these walls could NOT, nor did NOT fall of their own accord! The story of the walls of Jericho falling down, is one that clearly demonstrates the awesome power of God. Also, the utter destruction of Jericho teaches us several striking truths regarding God’s grace and our salvation.
The people of Israel had just crossed over the Jordan River into the land of Canaan (Josh.3:14-17). This was the land of milk and honey that God promised to Abraham over 500 years earlier (Deut.6:3; 23:49). After spending 40 difficult and miserable years wandering in the desert of Sinai, because of their sinful rebellion against God (Num.14:33-34), the people of Israel were now on the banks of the Jordan. Their challenge ahead: TAKE the land of Canaan, the Promised Land. The first huge obstacle was the city of Jericho (Josh.6:1), an unassailable walled city. Some say that the stone wall around Jericho was 11 feet high and 14 feet wide. That is a HUGE wall! At the top of the wall was a smooth stone slope, angling upward at 35 degrees for 35 feet, where it joined massive stone walls that towered even higher. It was virtually invincible.
In ancient warfare, cities like this were either taken by assault or surrounded and the people starved into submission. Invaders might try to weaken the stone walls with fire or by tunneling, or they might heap up a mountain of earth to serve as a ramp. Each of these ways of assault took weeks or months, and the attacking force usually suffered heavy losses.
The strategy to conquer the city of Jericho was very unique. #1. The strategy was planned by God Himself, and #2. the strategy seemed very foolish. God told Joshua to have the people march silently around Jericho for six days, and then on the seventh day, they were to shout.
Although it did seem foolish, Joshua followed God’s instructions to the letter. When the people did finally shout, the massive walls collapsed instantly, and Israel won an easy victory. In fact, God had already given the city of Jericho to them BEFORE they even began to march around its walls (Josh.6:2,16). It was when the people of God, by FAITH, followed the commands of God that the walls of Jericho fell down (Josh.6:20).
By faith the walls of Jericho fell down . . . the power of the enemy benefited nothing before the power of faith. We must learn, in quiet patience and perseverance, to wait on God. Let our faith claim our reward, for we are the children of a God who does some seemingly impossible things! We are called to a life of faith, and that faith expects and receives the impossible things God promises! May our life be faith in God.
This story tells us that God keeps His Promises. The walls of Jericho fell because God said they would. God’s Promises to us today are just as certain. They are just as unswerving. They are exceedingly great and wonderfully precious (Heb.6:11-18; 10:36; Col.3:24).
The Faith of Rahab (Hebrews 11:31)
Hebrews 11:31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace. (KJV)
By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace . . . Rahab lived in Jericho (Josh.2:1). When Joshua crossed the Jordan, he sent two men as spies to her house, and she saved them by hiding them from the enemies that would have killed them. For this act of hospitality and kindness, they spies assured her of safety when the city would be destroyed, and told her to set out a sign, to the invading Israelites, that her house might be spared (Josh.2:18-19). When the city was destroyed, she was saved. The writer seems to have selected Rahab as showing the nature of faith, partly because it occurred at Jericho, of which he had just mentioned, and partly to show that strong faith had been exercised not only by the patriarchs, and by those who were confessed to be great and good, but by those in humble lifestyle, and those whose earlier conduct had been far from the ways of virtue.
There has been some confusion concerning this case. The main trouble has been that a woman of this character (harlot, prostitute) should be numbered along with those who were well-known for their godliness. Expositors have tried to show that the word rendered harlot does not necessarily mean a woman of abandoned character, but may be also used to mean a hostess. Others have supposed that harlot means an idolatress, because those devoted to idolatry were frequently of abandoned character. I really do think the meaning of the word is that which is given here, the harlot Rahab . . . and there is no good reason why that meaning should not be retained here. Rahab the harlot is found in the following 5 Passages: (Josh.2:1; 6:17,25; Heb.11:31; Jam 2:25). Rachab (Mat.1:5).
When she had received the spies with peace . . . the full proof of her being a believer, was her preserving the spies.
Rahab's story is in connection with the story of the walls of Jericho. She was living inside the city, and I am sure that after seven days those on the inside were wondering what was going to happen. Rahab lived in a very wicked and pagan city, and she practiced the oldest profession there. Those who practice that profession have usually been considered to be sinners . . . until just recently, when this ridiculous "new morality" thing came along.
We see in this woman Rahab the wonder of faith. We see that in this lost world God does not view one group of people as better than another group. God sees ALL of us as sinners, and when anyone will turn to Him, God will save that person, no matter what they did in the past! How wonderful He is! God is GOOD!
By faith Rahab perished not. Salvation by faith was NOT just for Israel, it was for the heathen as well. Sinful Rahab was not only saved, but she became one of the ancestors of our precious Jesus (Mat.1:5), and one of the cloud of witnesses that tell of the wonder of faith. With one accord they all tell us: Have faith in God, all things are possible to him that believeth.
By faith. Let this be the motto of our life. In every need, every confusion, every desire, every prayer, with every temptation, trial and work . . . and, with every thought of ourselves and of God, let this be the one thing we seek . . . FAITH. Let us all have a living faith in a living God. As absolute, universal and undisputed as is the reign of God, that too should be the reign of faith in our heart and life. We can only have as much of God in our heart as we have of faith. And because God is All, and must be All to us, faith in us must be all too.
- The old saints had less light than we have. WHY did they have more faith? Because we trust in the light we have, as we hold it in our mind and reason. They were thrown upon God and trusted Him. We must give ourselves over to the perfect life Jesus has revealed. Just think of the power that FAITH could give us.
- Do you see that everywhere faith triumphed, it is only where there was obedience, that faith could act? Leaving Egypt, and sprinkling the blood, and passing through the Red Sea, going around Jericho, Rahab's deliverance . . . ALL of this solely and entirely, was done in obedience to God, it was there that faith acted and prevailed.
- Faith is the power of our will, in choosing God's will, entering into it and yielding to it. You can be strong in faith, and stand perfect in the will of God. Trust Him!
The Faith of "Others" (Hebrews 11:32-40)
Hebrews 11:32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: (KJV)
And what shall I more say . . . suggesting he had said enough to prove the definition of faith, by what he had given; and that the elders, by it, had obtained a good report; and yet he had not said all he could; and that he had so much to say, except that he could not say it all,
For the time would fail me . . . (Jn.21:25), the time to count up all the instances of faith, and expand upon them, would take up too much time, for the number of believers, in the Old Testament was very large indeed.
To tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets . . . we see the war of faith in the lives of these men he mentions. Not one is dealt with in detail, but all have something in common: everyone was a ruler. Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, and Samuel were all judges; David was a king. They were all rulers, and they were all engaged in a war for God and each one of them won their battle by faith.
Gideon was a man who actually had very little faith at the time when the Lord called him. Gideon was a judge at the time the Midianites had taken the land of Israel. The Hebrews could not harvest their crops, the Midianites would take the crops from them. Young Gideon was down by the winepress harvesting grain. That is not where he should have been. The grain was usually taken up to the top of the hill, pitched up in the air where the wind could blow the chaff away. In that land the wind blows in the afternoon. Gideon was a coward. He took the grain down in the valley, by the winepress, where no one could see him. I would want to say that Gideon was fighting a losing battle, for there was no wind there to blow the chaff away. The straw and chaff was falling down around his neck. Being a farmer/rancher, I know that stuff is itchy! That was Gideon’s position when the angel of the Lord (I believe to be the pre-incarnate Jesus) appeared to him and said, "...thou mighty man of valour" (Jud.6:12). That really was not a good way to address scaredy-cat Gideon, and he did not think the angel was talking to him. He was a big coward, and willing to admit it. He bellyached about the troubles they were having.
We find that God strengthened the faith of that man fearful man, and the day came when he, with only 300 men was able to get a victory over the Midianites (Judg.7:2-8). Faith operated supremely in the life of this man Gideon and so many others.
The writer to the Hebrews mentions Gideon, Barak, and Samson. I don't know whether I would have put Samson in the list or not. Samson was a failure as far as his service was concerned, but He did believe God. There was a time when the Spirit of God came upon him and he began to deliver Israel; but he never completed the job. The writer goes on to mention Jephthah and David. We could talk a l-o-n-g time about David, and Samuel too. . . and the prophets. But the writer makes it clear that time would fail him to mention them all.
What all these men did, was to fight the war of faith.
Hebrews 11:33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, (KJV)
Who through faith subdued kingdoms . . . David in particular, subdued Syria, Moab, Ammon, Amalek, Edom, and the Philistines (2 Sam.8:12,14). War, in some cases, is lawful; and kingdoms may be subdued; and faith makes use of means to do it. These kingdoms, although subdued by faith, were not without fighting. Believers have no reason to be afraid of kings, or kingdoms; and this should encourage the saints, in their combats with the never-ending powers of darkness.
Wrought righteousness . . . exercised malicious justice, in taking vengeance on the enemies of God, and His people; civil righteousness, in the discharge of their offices; and moral righteousness, in their lifestyles before God and men. True faith is an active grace, working by love, and is always joined with works of righteousness; and that righteousness is a fruit and evidence of faith; and that faith is not the believer's righteousness. The righteousness of faith is not that which faith works, but which it receives.
Obtained promises . . . the Promise of the land of Canaan; particular Promises of victory over their enemies; Promises concerning the Messiah, and of everlasting life and happiness. Their faith was not the reason of Promises being made, nor of their being fulfilled; but was the grace by which these believers received them, believed them, and waited for them to be accomplished and, in some way, they enjoyed the things promised beforehand. Their faith saw things that were future and really invisible to them. To attain a Promise from God is a great and marvelous thing! All God's Promises are, of shall be, fulfilled achieved.
Stopped the mouths of lions . . . a lion was slain by Samson (Judg.14:5-6), and another by David (1 Sam.17:34-35); but the most remarkable instance of stopping the mouths of lions, was in the den, into which Daniel was cast (Dan.6:22). This should encourage the faith in God's people, when they are in the midst of men, comparable to lions; and may move them not to fear the devouring lion, Satan (1 Pet.5:8).
Hebrews 11:34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. (KJV)
Quenched the violence of fire . . . as in the matter of the three faithful Hebrews, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who, for their steady attachment to God's worship, were cast into a fiery furnace, in which they were preserved, and from which they escaped unhurt (Daniel 3).
Escaped the edge of the sword . . . Moses, who escaped the sword of Pharaoh (Ex.18:4), Elijah, that of Jezebel (1 Ki.19:2); and David, that of Saul (1 Sam.18:11), and many others.
Out of weakness were made strong . . . were miraculously restored from sickness, which seemed to threaten their life, being recovered from bodily diseases, as David, as Hezekiah by an increase of bodily strength (Isa.38:21), as Samson; by being filled with courage, and strength of mind; when before timid, as Barak, so believers, when they have been weak in the exercise of grace, have been made strong.
Waxed valiant in fight . . . as Barak, Gideon, David, so believers, in the spiritual fight of faith, have been valiant; being engaged in a good cause, and under a good Captain; being well provided with armor, and assured of victory, and a crown.
Turned to fight the armies of the aliens . . . such as the Canaanites, the Moabites, Ammonites, Philistines, and others; who were put to flight by Joshua, the Judges, David, and others.
Which may be said to be done, when a believer, or a righteous man, is delivered out of it, as Lot from Sodom, when God rained fire and brimstone on it; when, by prayer, it is stopped, as by Moses, at Taberah (Num.11:1-2), when persons are not hurt by it, as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, when cast into Nebuchadrezzar's fiery furnace; and many of the martyrs have triumphed in the flames, so believers are delivered out of the fire of afflictions, and are not consumed thereby; and quench the fiery darts of the wicked (Eph.6:16), thrown at them. They are untouched by the fire of God's wrath, and shall not be hurt by the second death (Rev.2:11; 20:6,14; 21:8) which is a lake of fire, burning with brimstone (Rev.9:20; 20:10,14-15).
Hebrews 11:35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: (KJV)
Women received their dead raised to life again . . . as the widow of Zarephath (1 Ki.17:22), and the Shunammite (2 Ki.4:34-35). Their sons had really died, and they received them alive again, from the hands of the prophets, Elijah and Elisha, in the way of a resurrection, and by faith . . . by the faith of the prophets:
And others were tortured . . . bastinadoing was way of punishment that consisting of blows with a stick or baton on the soles of the feet or on the buttocks. It means to beat violently.
Not accepting deliverance . . . when deliverance was offered to them by the king, the offer of deliverance was rejected by them. Not accepting deliverance means deliverance from the torture IF they would renounce their opinions, or do what was required of them. This is the very nature of the spirit of martyrdom. See following web site.
Please do NOT renounce your faith in Christ Jesus, ever! Have faith! Hang in there. God will see you through.
That they might obtain a better resurrection . . . meaning that when they were subjected to this kind of torture they were looked upon as certainly dead. To have accepted deliverance (from the torture) . . . by renouncing their faith, was turning their back on God. The restoration offered was temporary . . . it was just a kind of restoration to life or a kind of resurrection. The faithful ones refused this, and looked forward to a more honorable and glorious restoration to life; a resurrection to eternal life, which would be much better than the temporal deliverance they were offered by their tormentors. They had faith that God would see them through!
Hebrews 11:36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: (KJV)
And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment . . . as Samson by the Philistines (Judg.16:18-28); Elisha by the children, whom the bears devoured (2 Ki.2:24); Jeremiah by Pashur (Jer.20:2,7-8), and others; the Jews by Sanballat and Tobiah (Neh.2:10,19), when building the Temple; the prophets, whom God sent to the Jews, as His messengers (Jer.4:1-6; 2 Chron.36:15-16).
And scourgings . . . or smitings, as Jeremiah and Micaiah (Jer.20:2; 2 Chron.18:23-24).
Yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment . . . such as Joseph, Samson, and Jeremiah (Gen.39:20; Judg.16:21; Jer.20:2; 37:15). Of all these things they had been tried, and their graces were tried as well, and they patiently endured them.
Hebrews 11:37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (KJV)
They were stoned . . . as Naboth, by the order of Ahab (1 Ki.21:13-19), as Zachariah in the court of the Lord's house (2 Chron.24:21), and the character of Jerusalem is, that she stoned the prophets that were sent unto her (Mat.23:37).
They were sawn asunder . . . there seems to be an allusion to this in (Mat.24:51). There is no example of any good men being so used in Scripture. The Jews say that the Prophet Isaiah was sawn asunder in the times of Manasseh, and by his order; which some think the writer here refers unto. There is no Scripture to back this up to my knowledge.
Were tempted . . . or tried, either by God, as Abraham and Job were; or by the devil, as all the saints are. This could also mean tempted by cruel oppressors, to deny the faith, and renounce the worship of the ONE TRUE God! BEWARE!!! This is happening in today’s world my friend, and it shall worsen!
Zedekiah and Ahab were roasted in the fire, by the king of Babylon (Jer.29:22), although they were lying prophets, and cannot be referred to here.
Were slain with the sword . . . as the priests at Nob, by the order of Saul (1 Sam.22:18-19). The prophets of the Lord by Jezebel (1 Ki.18:22; 19:10), and many in the times of the Maccabees (Dan.11:33).
They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins . . . with clothing of wool or hair, such as Elijah and Elisha, since the former is said to be a hairy man (2 Ki.1:8), or covered with a hairy garment, as John the Baptist was (Mat.3:4), who came in Elijah’s spirit and power, and also in his form. Elisha wore the mantle of the Elijah (2 Ki.1:8; 2:8,14), and to these men, reference may be had, who wandered about, because of those who sought their lives; and was the case of others who were forced, by reason of persecution, to leave their homes, and wander abroad; some clothing themselves in this manner, to show their contempt of the world, and their contentment with poor man’s clothing, or because they could get no other raiment.
Being destitute . . . of bodily food, as Elijah, who was fed by ravens, and by the widow of Zarephath (1 Ki.17:6-15).
Afflicted . . . Elijah was pressed down, driven to the greatest depths, hopeless, miserable in life, and weary of it (1 Ki.19:4-10). I think the story of Elijah shows us that we all will have days when our faith droops. Not all our days will be “UP” days. I think we all will at times, feel sorry for ourselves. Please pray when this happens to you. Ask God, in Jesus’ Name, to restore your faith, and thank Him right then, because He will restore it!
Tormented . . . treated in a cruel manner, rebuked, belittled, persecuted, and looked at as the filth of the world.
Hebrews 11:38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. (KJV)
Of whom the world was not worthy . . . the world was so wicked that it had no right that such holy men should live in it. These poor, despised and persecuted men, living as outcasts and wanderers, were of a character far higher than the world. This is a beautiful saying. It is a statement of their well-known holiness and faithfulness, and of the wickedness of the rest of mankind.
They wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth . . . as Elijah did (1 Ki.18:4; 19:9-10).
Hebrews 11:39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: (KJV)
And these all having obtained a good report through faith . . . a report is an honorable testimony. They ALL were commended and approved because of their confidence (trust, faith) in God. (Heb.11:2).
Received not the promise. . . . none of them received the fulfilment of the Promise; did not receive all that was promised. They ALL still looked forward to some future blessings, and knew they would one day see the total fulfillment! (Heb.11:13).
Hebrews 11:40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. (KJV)
God having provided some better thing for us . . . meaning God has determined to give them, and us, a better thing than what any of them realized. God gave them Promises, but they were not allowed to see the fulfilment. We are permitted now to see what they referred to, at least in part, that being the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the salvation it brings. We too, have not yet seen the Promised Land, yet! But God does NOT lie, so it is out there waiting for us. With Christ, God’s TRUE children can see out in the future, things that the devil’s children (1 Jn.3:10) cannot see.
That they without us should not be made perfect . . . God is very patiently calling people out of this world to His Name . . . meaning Christians. And until that church is completed, He will just keep calling people.
Chapter 11, shows us the work of faith. Some people feel that faith is something untried and unproven, something you really cannot be sure of, something that does not rest upon a sure foundation. I think they are wrong! In this amazing chapter, we have a company of witnesses. Many of them lived long lives, and they lived by faith, because they knew it worked.
FAITH works. It goes into action when you obey God! FAITH is real. It is genuine. FAITH does exist! If you are living in a make-believe world, may I suggest that you come out of there, and into the realm of reality? Do you really know what Christ Jesus can do for you?
It had been years since the Lord had given me a poem, on the subject of the book, when I was writing books for prison inmates. He has never given me a poem for any Bible Commentaries I have done, although I have at times added an existing poem to what I was doing. This Book on Hebrews has touched my heart in a way that none other ever has. God has given me two poems for my Commentary of this Book.
Without Jesus, O’ where would I be?
In the dark depths, of Hell’s agony.
God’s Plan was to save, sinners from Hell,
And give access to Heav’n, where He dwells,
God sent, His only begotten Son,
The Old Covenant, was ended, done.
The Gospel of Christ Jesus, took its place,
Bloody sacrifice was replaced, by God’s grace.
Without Jesus, we’re God’s enemy,
Future things to come, we cannot see.
With faith in Christ Jesus, all things change,
The Holy Ghost, our life does rearrange.
When Christ Jesus, is our Advocate,
With God the Father, we highly rate.
Faith allows us, a great distance see,
Things that to most, are a mystery.
We can see, Jesus come in the clouds,
And we can see ourselves, in that crowd.
We too see, things we don’t want to see,
Millions, headed for Hell’s agony.
The Kingdom of Christ, we see out there,
We too see obedience, everywhere.
With a rod of iron, Jesus shall reign,
The perfect will of God, He’ll maintain.
We too can see, the Heav’nly city,
And we get a glimpse, of its glory.
We can also see, the mansions there,
Prepared by the Saviour, in loving care!
Our inheritance in Heav’n, we can see,
Our future home, for eternity.
No more to roam, as pilgrims on Earth,
We see a place, of much better worth!
By: His servant, Connie Kramer June 16, 2014 #1356
The Book of Hebrews; 1 Jn.2:1; 5:10-12; 1 Thes.4:13-18; 1 Cor.15:51-53; Psalm 2;
Mat.6:10; Lk.11:2; Rev.21-22; 1 Pet.1:3-5
Book of Hebrews
ch.1 . . ch.2 . . ch.3 . . ch.4 . . ch.5 . . ch.6 . . ch.7 . . ch.8 . . ch.9 . . ch.10 . . ch. 11 . . ch.12 . . ch.13. . Special Comments