This will be the fourth and final part of our “Examples of Faith” series. It has been a wonderful journey looking through the times of old. Exploring and discovering men of the Old Testament and understanding why Paul points out these men as “examples of faith”. Our reference up to this point has been Hebrews 11 and we have referenced back to the original stories to get a better understanding of the stories that Paul indicates in Hebrews 11. We left off at Joseph having, by faith,
foretold what was to come of the Israelite’s, in their deliverance out of Egypt. That’s where we will start. Beginning with the one who lead them, Moses.
Let’s begin in Hebrews 11:23. It reads, “By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.” Now here we start off with Moses’ parents being the example of faith and not necessarily Moses. We often don’t think about Moses’ parents being examples of faith, yet they did something extraordinary. Something that, if they hadn’t of done it, could have changed not only Moses’ life, but also the Israelites as well. This story lies in Exodus 2:1-10, and in verse 2 it says, “When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months.” This could also be the same thing Paul says in Hebrews 11:23, “because they saw he was no ordinary child.” His parents saw something in Moses’ that they felt a need to hide him and send him down the Nile, because Pharaoh had ordered all male children to be killed. Perhaps giving him a chance of survival. This deliverance out of Pharaoh’s hand as a baby would foreshadow him delivering the Israelites out of Egypt’s reign. They had to have faith in God to protect him through his life, so that he could accomplish the things he needed to as a servant of God.
We move on now later in Moses’ life, beginning in verse 24-26, “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. he chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. he regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasure of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. So here, we get a full picture of what Moses’ lifestyle was. If we turn our minds back to when Moses was a baby floating in the Nile, who found him lying in the basket? Pharaoh’s daughter did. And eventually, she became his mother. So growing up he would have lived a lifestyle of luxury and pleasure, and of sin. But he chose to follow God instead and to humble himself amongst God’s people. (The ones he would deliver up out of Egypt.) Christ tells us we will be persecuted, in Matthew 24:9. Now Christ was not around or thought of in Moses’ day, yet he knew that somehow Israel’s promised future by God, was going to be much better than what they were dealing with in Egypt. Therefore, he wanted to be associated with the people whose future was promised by God, because he was looking ahead to his eternal reward.
Hebrews 11:27 says, “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.” In Exodus 2:11-15 Moses had fled from Egypt to Midian because news had spread about him that he had killed an Egyptian who was fighting one of his fellow Israelites. When Pharaoh heard word of this he wanted to kill Moses but he fled to Midian. In basic terms, he left the ones he was supposed to deliver, but Paul makes an excellent point in Hebrews 11:27, that “he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.” Moses saw God in the Burning of the Bush story, when God told him what he needed to do. But he continued on with God’s pre-established plan because he believed and had full faith in God. Once he saw God personally and heard directly from him what his instructions were, that’s all he needed. And that leads us right into the last two examples of Moses’ faith in verses 28-29.
Hebrews 11:28-29 reads, “By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned. Verse 28 talks about the keeping of the Passover and the sprinkling of blood that Moses kept for the Israelites to follow. But 11:29 is the big one, the final day has come where the promise of the promised land will be fulfilled. Moses is going to lead them out but there are two things standing in their way. The Egyptian army, and the Red Sea. Now when the Israelites came to a screeching halt at the edge of the Red Sea with the Egyptian army following behind them, they lost hope. Yet their leader Moses had faith in God that he would deliver him, that he received instructions from God to stretch out his hand, and raise his staff. Then the waters parted, and they crossed safely to the other side, and the whole Egyptian army was swallowed up when they tried to cross, and drowned. It was Moses’ faith that kept Israel’s deliverance alive and he had so much of it that God chose him to lead it.
That is the end of Moses’ story. And much like that of Abraham’s he is a wonderful example of faith, and in many instances, proved that faith and complete trust he had in God.
Moving forward a bit in Israel’s history, we find ourselves at the walls of Jericho. Now here Paul, in a way, points to Joshua as an example because he led the march of the people around the walls of Jericho. This was just one thing that the Israelites ran into under their conquest of the promised land. Joshua had faith in the long foretold promise of this promise land, so he had complete faith that God would help him through this and he did. Tearing and destroying the walls of Jericho was one of the many signs along the way, that God was with Israel.
In 11:31 is an example we often don’t think of. Rahab. A Canaanite woman who hid spies that Joshua sent to spy on the land. But she had faith in God and she confesses this to the spies in Joshua 2:9-14. Her life was spared because of her faith in God and for her fear of him as well.
This is basically the end of each individual account that Paul discusses in-depth in this chapter. In verses 32-40 he continues on to say, “And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning, they were sawed in two, they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. Since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”
In the beginning Paul discusses more examples of faith and all of them wonderful. For sake of time we will not go through them all but you are more than welcome to look at them on your own and make your own discoveries. The one key thing here that Paul bring out in verse 33, that they all have in common is: whatever they did they did it “through faith”. Now Paul makes a very interesting note in verse 39 and 40 when he says “yet none of them received what had been promised. Since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”
Why did he say that? What he meant was that God was planning something better for us, and that is Jesus. They didn’t get what was promised because Christ hadn’t made that perfect sacrifice for sins. But now that Christ came for us and died for our iniquities, us and them are now made perfect. Their focus was on God and his promises, his promises to them has come in Christ to us.
In conclusion, it has been a wonderful study of looking at the examples of faith from the times of old. They are terrific examples of what we need to be like and what our faith should look like. Another thing to notice, they showed their faith by works. Everything they did showed their faith. They did not have “dead” faith. Their faith did not go unnoticed. So remember James 2:26, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”