The Book of Hebrews #52 chapter 11:8-19 pt. 2
The Book of Hebrews
Abraham:  An Example of Faith,#2
Hebrews 11:8-19
 
We began last week to look at the faith of Abraham and how it is an example of the faith of every born-again child of God.  We saw first what we called the pilgrimage of faith.  That’s in verse 8.  There came a time when God called Abraham.  He dropped everything, turned his back on the world and obeyed God.
 
Then we saw in verses 9 and 10 the patience of his faith in that he not only began a life of faith, but he stuck with it.  And it took a long time, yet he followed even though he didn’t know where he was going and died not getting there.
 
Next, when you look at the life of Abraham, you see
 
3. The Power of Faith
 
 verses 11-12
 
Let me show you something back in Genesis 12 that God said when He initiated this covenant with Abraham.
 
Genesis 12:1-3
 
Now God makes this promise to send a blessing to Abraham and that blessing will be a land that will be possessed, but also a people that will be born from his loins.  SO Abraham is waiting for a place, but he is also waiting for a people.
 
Now the problem is, he and his wife are old and they’ve never had any children. But remember how the chapter begins. Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.
 
Faith sees the invisible.  Faith sees the impossible.  That’s the power of faith. It trusts in God to do what humanly cannot be done. And when there is that kind of faith present, God acts on behalf of that faith.
 
Now notice what we see in Hebrews 11:11
 
Sarah is Abraham’s wife. She’s a good wife. I’ll give her credit for that. First Peter 3:5 and 6 says, “She called her husband lord” and any woman who does that is my kind of woman!
 
But did you ever notice there is nothing in the Scripture that talks about her faith? In fact, if you look at the story of Sarah, she demonstrates anything but faith. She’s just full of doubt. So when you look at this verse, you have to ask the question, “How can it say “by faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive?” when there no mention of Sarah’s faith in Scripture?
 
The answer is found in rightly understanding the phrase “received strength to conceive”.  The reference is to the depositing of sperm and the verse is telling us that she received the deposit of male seed and was able to conceive, even though it happened beyond the normal expectation of when it  could happen.
 
That means she’s not the subject of the sentence, she’s the indirect object of the sentence.
 
The seed is the object and she is the recipient of it and she is included in this narrative about Abraham’s faith because of the necessity of a wife in bearing children.
 
The verse would be better understood, maybe, if it read something like this:
 
 “By faith Abraham, along with Sarah, received the power to do what was necessary for her to conceive and bear a son, even though it was well past the normal time of life for that to happen and it happened because Abraham believed the the One Who had promised it would happen.”
 
In fact, if you want to put it even more simply than that, you could say it like this:
 
By faith God gave Abraham the power to impregnate Sarah.
 
The faith is not Sarah’s.  The faith is Abraham’s.  He‘s the one who believed God.  He is the one who is being presented as a man of faith.
 
So how strong is his faith?
 
Romans 4:17-22
 
So if you want an example of unwavering, undying faith in the face of absolute possibility, then just think about Abraham.
 
Now, back to Hebrews 11:12
 
 
By the way, that’s part of the promise recorded in Genesis 15:5, Genesis 22:17, Genesis 32:12. Now there’s some hyperbole there, obviously.  But the truth is the people who are going to come out of his loins are innumerable, all the millions of Jews born because of the faith of that one man.
 
So what does that tell us about the power of faith?
It is the power of faith that accomplishes the impossible. God makes promises that cannot be fulfilled on a human level and fulfills them to those who believe in Him.
 
For us it’s not so much the miracle power as it is the power to be used by God in the miracle of conversion, in the miracle of spiritual ministry, of life-transforming help in the use of the gifts of the Spirit, in the use of the power of the Spirit in the one-anothers of the fellowship of the body.
 
Faith is the ignition switch to spiritual power that makes us useful and allows God through us to do the 30-, 60- and a hundred-fold kind of harvest. God releases power to do what seems to be impossible.
 
So Abraham exhibits the pilgrimage of faith, separation from the world, obedience to the Lord. The patience of faith, he waits for God’s time focused on heaven and never distracted because he doesn’t receive it on earth. He demonstrates the power of faith and that is the ability to do what on a human level is impossible.
 
Then number four, let’s call
 
 
 
4. The Perseverance of Faith
 
verses 13-16a
 
When he says, “These all”, it goes back to the three that have been mentioned in this section so far which would be Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
 
The Covenant promise to Abraham was repeated to Isaac in Genesis 26 and it was repeated to Jacob in Genesis 28 and the promise was that they would receive a land and a heavenly city.  They would have an earthly inheritance and a heavenly one.
 
And they all died in faith without receiving the promises but they died waiting for it and there is where we find he perseverance of faith. It’s very much like the patience of faith. Faith is patient to endure and endure all of the lack of fulfillment in this life because it has its focus on the promise that lies ahead. They never saw it.
 
But then look at the end of the chapter.
 
verse 39
 
That’s the whole story of the chapter because God provided something better for us so that apart from us they wouldn’t be made perfect or complete or whole. The promise was sure because God could be trusted. And they persevered in this faith, looking to that heavenly city .
 
In fact, it appears they never had the fleeting thought to return.
 
verse 15
They desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. This deposited in their heart a future so bright, so wonderful, so glorious that even though they were strangers, foreigners, temporary residents, they got it, they understood that.
 
But so bright was the promise of God, so trustworthy was the Word of God that they anchored their endurance and their perseverance in the future and it gave them a positive faith to endure anything.
 
We see this with the Apostle Paul, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” How? “Because I know there’s something better waiting for me.”
 
“Far better, he says, to depart and be with Christ. But I can endure anything as long as He wants me to stay here.” This is the absolute confidence in future glory.
 
Job had it “Though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.”
 
Psalm 27:4, “One thing have I desire to the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” That’s Old Testament hope. That’s the hope of believers.
 
And verse 16 ends with a stunning statement, I think one of the most stunning statements in the book of Hebrews.
 
Verse 16
 
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I give God plenty of reason to be ashamed to be called “My God.”
I just imagine that Satan goes into heaven as he did in the case of Job, and he’s always before the throne of God accusing the brethren, and he brings up my name quite often and says to God, “How in the world can you want to be associated with such people? Wouldn’t You like to distance Yourself from them? It is bad for Your reputation.”
 
God says, “I’m not ashamed to be called their God and I’ve prepared a city for them and in that city I’ve prepared a room for them in My house and I’m going to bring them here and I’m going to glorify them and I’m going to make them like My Son and I’m going to put them on My throne and I’m going to bless them forever and ever and ever.”
 
Sometimes I think we are ashamed to call God our God, but God is never ashamed to call us His children. What an amazing thought. I can’t think of a higher honor!  Is that not the ultimate honor? God’s not ashamed to be identified with me before holy angels.  In fact, God proudly says to all of heaven, “I am the God of Terry Tolbert!”
 
These all, lived and died in the unrealized promise of faith and God gave them the supreme honor of being honored to be identified with them.
 
There’s one more thing I want to see and it may be the greatest credential of Abraham’s faith and that is
 
5.  The Proof of Faith
 
verses 17-19
 
 
First, God gives this promise that would require descendents, then asks Abraham to kill the only living descendent he had.
 
Was that not the ultimate test?  How are you going to have descendants like the sand and the sea if you kill the heir through whom they will all come?
 
Genesis 22, “God tested Abraham, He said, ‘Abraham.’ He said, ‘Here I am.’ Take your son, your only son whom you love, Isaac, go to the land of Moriah, offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I’ll tell you.’” Abraham had killed animals many times, offered many offerings to the Lord, built altars and did that. But his son? “He responds, Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, he split wood for the burnt offering, arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from the distance. Abraham said to his young men, servants who came, ‘Stay here with the donkey.’ I love this....’I and the lad will go over there...listen to this...and we will worship and return to you.’”
 
Wow, you mean he thought Isaac was coming back? You better believe he thought that. He absolutely thought that. He knew that. That’s how confident he was in the promise of God. How far would he go? “Took the wood of the burnt offering...in verse 6...laid it on Isaac his son, Isaac carries his own wood, as it were, kind of a picture of Christ carrying His cross...took in his hand the fire and the knife. The two of them walked on together. Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, ‘My father,’ he said, ‘Here I am, my son.’ ‘Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’” You see, they knew about the need for sacrifice. They knew what Abel knew and Enoch knew and Noah knew and all true believers knew. “Abraham said, ‘God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ So the two of them walked on together. They came to the place in which God had told them, Abraham built the altar there, arranged the wood, bound is son Isaac, laid him on the altar on top of the wood. Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.’” You say, “Why would he do that? Why would he do that?”
 
Go back to Hebrews 11, verse 19, “Because he considered that God was able to do...what?...what?...raise people even from the dead.” Wow. How did he know that? Because he had been as good as dead, and God had given life to him and life through him to this son.
 
It’s monumental faith. All is dreams were in Isaac. All the promises were in Isaac. He loved Isaac. He waited so long through this long pilgrimage for the first sign of the promise. He knew he had sinned so terribly with Hagar and could have thought that maybe God was changing His mind. He also knew that God’s law forbid a man to kill his son, or to kill anybody for that matter. He also knew that God hated human sacrifice and always it was an animal. And he also knew what Genesis 9:6 said that whoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed. You kill somebody, you’ll die. Why would he do this? Why would he raise the knife? Because his trust was so great that he knew if God had to, He would raise Isaac from the dead. That’s the faith of Abraham. He considered that God was able to raise people, even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type. Type of what? A picture of whom? Who was it who put His life on the altar and came back from the dead? Christ, a figure...it’s the word parabole, a parable, an analogy, a picture of Christ. Only Christ really died, Isaac did not die. That’s faith. That’s faith in all its fullness. That’s faith having passed the final test.
 
We see the pilgrimage of faith, separation from the world, the patience of faith, the ability to wait and endure without ever entering into possession. We see the power of faith, to believe God for what is humanly impossible to come to pass. We see the perseverance of faith, the positivity of faith, the focus on heaven that causes us to have a certain indifference to things in this life because we’re looking to that glory to come. And the proof of faith, what is the proof of faith? Where is the proof of faith? Really it’s manifest in obedience that requires the ultimate sacrifice...the ultimate sacrifice. Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Though He ask me to take my son, yet will I trust Him. That’s the life of faith as modeled by Abraham.
 
Let’s pray.

 

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