In this series on faith we have delved into lots of different areas on faith and its effect on our lives. From getting a clear definition, to proving faith by works, and learning and re-learning the classic examples of faith from the Old Testament. We’re in part three of looking at these examples, we have gone from Abel to Enoch to Noah, and now Abraham. Since Paul goes a little bit more in depth on Abraham
than anyone else, we’ve split his examples into two parts. We will finish him up this time. Let us begin with more examples of faith from “the father of many nations.”
Hebrews 11:11 is where we left off, verses 11-12 state, “By faith Abraham, even though he was past age- and Sarah herself was barren- was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.” The biggest point Paul is trying to get across here is stated in the first part of verse 11, “By faith Abraham, even though he was past age- and Sarah herself was barren- was enabled to become a father.” Abraham believed that God could do all things, and if God said so it would be done. But Genesis 17:17 states his unbelief, “Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, ‘Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bare a child at the age of ninety?’” So here we see a little doubtness in Abraham upon his first hearing of this child that will be his offspring of many nations. Even so, Sarah laughs at it too, both thinking there is no way this can happen.
But as we talked about in the first article on faith, (and more in this one) having faith is also having trust. Trust in the Lord. The wisdom of Solomon comes to mind here in Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;” Based on Abraham and Sarah’s previous knowledge and understanding, and based on their age, there is no possible way that this child can be born. But we all know God makes the impossible, possible. And that’s exactly what God did here.
Moving ahead in the chapter we find a little break that Paul takes in verses 13-16. He recaps for a moment to probably let the Hebrews he’s writing soak in what he’s just previously talked about. What he basically says is this: All of these people still had faith when they died, and it was because they were searching for something greater beyond this earth. Their heavenly home is where their real home is and where they belong.
Hebrews 11:17-19 is the last section about Abraham and to me, it’s one of the best ones Paul could have picked. The story of the sacrificed son. Hebrews 11:17-19 says, “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.’ Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.” Now, the first thing we have to realize is that this was all a test from God, a test of faith. And you can probably imagine Abraham being so confused at all of this. The son that God had specifically told him was going to be the offspring of many nations, is now going to be offered up as a sacrifice? We all would have been confused. Why? Because we don’t see the end result of almost everything that happens in our life. I highly doubt that Abraham thought he was being lied to about the many nations thing. Because Paul mentions in the last part of verse 19 that Abraham reasoned that since God can raise from the dead, he will bring my son to life and still make the promise fulfilled.
So many times Abraham trusted in God, that whatever plans he has going on, they will be delivered. Abraham trusted the Lord when he was called to go to a foreign country, he trusted in him when He said that they will have a child at old age. And here with the offering up of his only son he trusted that somehow someway the promise would still be fulfilled. No matter the situation, trust in the Lord. Jeremiah 29:11 says,”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Since we have finished the Abraham stories lets move on in Paul’s journey of the great men of faith and start with Abraham’s son, Isaac. 11:20 states “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.” Isaac had faith that God would continue the string of offspring in Jacob’s and Esau’s blessings. 11:21 says, “By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshipped as he leaned on the top of his staff.” Genesis 48:9-20 is where the story of the blessing of Joseph’s sons Manasseh and Ephraim lies. Now, even though Manasseh was the first born (the receiver of the blessing) Jacob put his hand on Ephraim to bless him, the younger son. But because Jacob had faith in his blessing and in God, Ephraim was to be the one to carry on the generations to come.
Hebrews 11:22 says, “By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones.” What we see here is somewhat of a prophecy given by Joseph to his brothers about the Israelites’ exodus that will be lead by Moses out of the land of Egypt to the promised land. Joseph, being Israel’s (Jacob’s) son, was very aware of the promise first given to Abraham, then to Isaac, and Jacob his father. Therefore, he had enough faith in God to believe that this promise was going to be fulfilled. In fact, in Genesis 50:24 Joseph tells his brothers, “God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” So he knew it would be fulfilled and he was waiting for his promised land….heaven.
We seem to get a little history lesson here as well, with Paul taking us through, chronologically, the Old Testament men and the lineage of Israel’s people. Also, as we have looked through these examples of faith (and were not quite finished yet) there is one thing that sticks out between them all, and that is a hope for a heavenly home. They had such great faith because they believed they were going to receive not necessarily the land that was promised to them on this earth, but the one where God is. They looked beyond this earth and saw what their reward was going to be, and we should do the same thing. “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven,”- Matthew 5:12