IT WAS BY FAITH II
In Week 1 of our journey into Great Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11 we looked at the two aspects of faith. One says I believe in this or that, the second aspect is giving your whole life to it. We illustrated this life committing faith by talking about what we believe with God’s creation of the entire universe.
Week 2, or last week, we look at models of faith. The point of week 2 was to flesh out and demonstrate more stories of faith so that we would imitate the faith and inherit the promises of God.
Now week 3. We are will verses 20-40. I wanted to remind you that last week we finished with Abraham and Sarah. They had conceived a child in faith. God in his covenant with Abraham had promised three things: possession of the land of Canaan, the creation of a great nation of his descendants and the blessing of the world through those descendants. But Abraham never saw any of these come to pass. He died in faith saying, “Isaac, you will see the beginning of these promises.”
FAITH THAT DEFEATS DEATH: Isaac, Jacob & Joseph
1. Isaac – Promised in Faith
20 It was by faith that Isaac promised blessings for the future to his sons, Jacob and Esau.
A. God Passed the Covenant Promises on to Isaac
3 I hereby confirm that I will give all these lands to you and your descendants, just as I solemnly promised Abraham, your father. Genesis 26:3-4
1. All that was promised to Abraham was Confirmed to Isaac.
B. Isaac was often Cowardly and Weak
1. He lied about Rebekah being his wife when he was scared
9 Immediately, Abimelech called for Isaac and exclaimed, “She is obviously your wife! Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?”
“Because I was afraid someone would kill me to get her from me,” Isaac replied.
10 “How could you do this to us?” Abimelech exclaimed. “One of my people might easily have taken your wife and slept with her, and you would have made us guilty of great sin.” Genesis 26:9-10 (sadly Isaac’s Father Abraham did the same thing to Abimelech. See Genesis 12 & 20…not so smart!)
2. He was partial to Esau and gave his blessing to him. His other Son, Jacob
was God’s choice for blessing. Their entire family acted shamefully.
C. In the End he Submitted, Believed and Obeyed.
1. As he faced death, he blessed Jacob, knowing that God would fulfill His promises.
1I. Jacob – Blessed in Faith
21 It was by faith that Jacob, when he was old and dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons and bowed in worship as he leaned on his staff.
A. Jacob’s life was similar to his father Issac, up and down spiritually.
1. He bargained with God on Occasion (Gen 28:20-21)
2. He acknowledged God’s Blessing on Occasion (Gen 31:5)
3. He praised God for His Heavenly Dream (Gen 28:16-17)
4. He wrestled with God to receive his Blessing (Gen 32:24-30)
24 This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. 25 When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 “What is your name?” the man asked. He replied, “Jacob.”
28 “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”
29 “Please tell me your name,” Jacob said.
“Why do you want to know my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there. 30 Jacob named the place Peniel (which means “face of God”), for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.”
B. As He was Dying, Jacob blessed his Son and Grandsons in Faith.
21 Then Jacob said to Joseph, “Look, I am about to die, but God will be with you and will take you back to Canaan, the land of your ancestors. Genesis 48:21
22 It was by faith that Joseph, when he was about to die, said confidently that the people of Israel would leave Egypt. He even commanded them to take his bones with them when they left.
1. He Had to Look Ahead to see the Promise
2. He Believed in God’s Promises all the Way to Death
24 “Soon I will die,” Joseph told his brothers, “but God will surely come to help you and lead you out of this land of Egypt. He will bring you back to the land he solemnly promised to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Genesis 50:24
All three of these men believed God in the face of death. Their faith sometimes wavered in life, but it was strong and confident in death. They were men of faith whose way of living lives on. It is sad to meet Christians who fear death, it is a serious weakness in faith.
The Apostle Paul wrote,
21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.
54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
1 Corinthians 15:54
THE DECISIONS OF FAITH: Moses
I. FAITH ACCEPTS GOD’S PLANS
A. Amram and Jochebed were Not Afraid of the King
23 It was by faith that Moses’ parents hid him for three months when he was born. They saw that God had given them an unusual child, and they were not afraid to disobey the king’s command.
1. Moses’ parents ignored the pressure and threats of the world when they conflicted with God’s way.
(The Pharaoh gave an edict that all male babies were to be drowned in the Nile, he was trying to stop the growth of the Jews. )
2. His parents followed God in faith even if it meant their Lives.
a. They placed him in a basket and placed him in the river, He was taken out by Pharaoh’s daughter who had Moses mom take care of her. Jochebed nursed, trained and taught her son in the Pharaoh’s courts)
God made the Plans, Moses parents walked in faith.
B. Moses Suffered for Christ rather than live for the World
24 It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin.
1. Moses was the Prince of Egypt: the wealthiest, most cultured, and most advanced society of that Day.
a. At 40 years old he had to decide, Egyptian or Jewish.
b. Living in Pharoah’s Palace, Moses had everything material he could have wanted.
c. He chose to be Jewish and ‘share the oppression’
26 He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.
C. Moses ‘Kept His Eyes on the Invisible’ – in trust, worship & faith
27 It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible. 28 It was by faith that Moses commanded the people of Israel to keep the Passover and to sprinkle blood on the doorposts so that the angel of death would not kill their firstborn sons. 29 It was by faith that the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea as though they were on dry ground. But when the Egyptians tried to follow, they were all drowned.
1. Moses focused on God, rather than the King.
2. He Protected his people with the Passover
3. He lead Jews ‘Right through’ the Red Sea.
THE COURAGE OF FAITH
I. CONQUERING IN STRUGGLE
A. Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho
30 It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down. 31 It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.
1. The Walls were Massive, two-cars wide, thought to be indestructible
2. Israel believed Joshua’s report from the Lord, and immediately prepared to March.
3. For 7 days they marched, the walls came down and Rahab was saved.
15 On the seventh day the Israelites got up at dawn and marched around the town as they had done before. But this time they went around the town seven times. 16 The seventh time around, as the priests sounded the long blast on their horns, Joshua commanded the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the town! 17 Jericho and everything in it must be completely destroyed as an offering to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and the others in her house will be spared, for she protected our spies. Joshua 6:15-17
You don’t really expect a Prostitute to the in the Hall of Faith. But she was faithful and believed in faith that she would be saved.
B. Many Others
32 How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. 33 By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight.
1. Look at what they accomplished in Faith
Gideon – Won battles in faith. His men were broken down to 300, but in faith the beat the Amalekites who were ‘as numerous as locusts’ (Judges 7:12)
Barak – Assembled Israel’s warriors for victory, all the time giving praise to God (Judges 4:15)
Samson – Although he had many weaknesses, in the end he honored God (Judges 13ff)
David – It never occurred to David to not trust the Lord. He was not perfect but to God he was, ‘a man after my own heart’ (Acts 13:22)
Samuel – He stood up in a polluted society and spoke truth, fearlessly trusting in God. In the courage of faith, he ruled and prophesied. (1 Sam 2)
The Prophets – Risked everything in faith and Obeyed God’s Word.
(Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum to name a few)
II. Continuing in Suffering
35 Women received their loved ones back again from death. But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. 36 Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. 37 Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. 38 They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.
A. They all suffered for the Faith
1. Most likely faithful Followers of God
2. The World was not worthy of them.
III. Counting on Salvation
39 All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. 40 For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.
A. They Lived with Love, Respect and Faith
True faith has the courage to count on Salvation – J. MacArthur
1. These faithful Saints had to Live in Faith
2. They had an Abiding Confidence that God would Bring them to a Better Place
3. Their faith looked forward to promise; ours looks back at historical fact.
From Abel through the Prophets they all had a Courageous Faith which counts, without reservation, on Final Salvation. That final salvation is found in Jesus Christ our Lord.