The Book of Hebrews #54 chapter 11:20-22 pt. 2
The Book of Hebrews
The Patriarchs: An Enduring Faith, Pt. 2
Hebrews 11:20-22
 
Last week we looked at Isaac and the reference to his faith found in Hebrews 11:20  Tonight we come to
 
2. Jacob
 
Verse 21
 
Jacob was a lot like his father.  His life was not the most obvious example of faith you will find. But here we find reference to his faith along with all the others.
 
Genesis 28:10-15
 
Here we find, once again, a reiteration of the Abrahamic Covenant to the next in the family line.  In fact, it is an almost verbatim peat of the promise just as it was delivered to the Abraham.
 
Verses 16-22
 
Here is indication of his faith. He wants the Lord to be his God. He wants to give generously. He is dependent on the Lord.
 
In fact, look over to chapter 32:9-12
 
In other words, Jacob says, “Lord you’ve made all these promises to me, and it’s not going to happen if you don’t protect me from my brother because he’s going to kill me for what I’ve done!”
So when you study the life of Jacob you discover this strange paradox of lies and problems and deception and yet he is anxious for the Lord to be his God and he is anxious to give to the Lord. He seeks the Lord in his hour of desperation and he trusts the Lord to be the source of his life and the source of his protection.
 
And He was. The time came for Jacob to pass away and he passes on the birthright to
 
3. Joseph
 
Verse 22
 
Let’s look at chapter 48 of Genesis. Now you know that means we skipped a lot and I would encourage you to go back and read and study it for yourself.  For some of us, it may have been our childhood when we last studied some of these great stories of the faith and it would do us good to re-read them and become reacquainted with them.
 
Verse 1
 
Now without getting too complicated, when the Promised Land was finally inhabited, the twelve tribes were allotted land.  There were actually 13 tribes of Israel because one of the tribes was Joseph but his portion was split into two parts for his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh.  The Levites, the tribe of Levi, had no land. They were the priestly tribe. So Joseph appears with is two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh.
 
I mention that only because later on they become critical to the purposes of God.  By the way, that is why you will sometimes hear the prophets refer to Israel as Ephraim.
 
Also, just for clarity’s sake, remember Jacob’s name is changed to Israel.
 
So let’s read verses 3-4
 
Had he seen it? No. Had he seen a great nation? No. Had he seen people like the sand of the sea? No. It was a promise he died believing that promise was true and now he is about to pass that promise on to his descendents.
 
Verses 12-20
 
So Ephraim becomes another name for Israel as Israel becomes another name for Jacob.
 
Verse 21
 
Israel says to Joseph, ‘I am about to die, but God will be with you and bring you to the land of your fathers.’”
 
And there we see Jacob’s faith.  He had heard from God.  He couldn’t change his mind.  You couldn’t move his hands.  And he died in faith never having seen the results.
 
So what about Joseph?  What does Hebrews 11:22 say?
 
It tells us that when he was dying made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel and gave orders concerning his bones.
He’s dying now.  He has not received the promise. It has now been about 200 years since it was given to Abraham. Nobody has yet seen it. They’ve all died without seeing it fulfilled.
 
Look at Genesis 50:22
 
Joseph is now in Egypt.  He lived to see the third generation of Ephraim’s sons. Notice what he says to his brothers in
 
verse 24
 
God promised you that land.  Now they are down in Egypt.  They’re all nomads.  They’ve never been in the land.  They’ve never possessed the land.  They’ve never had the Kingdom.  They’ve never been a blessing to the world.  They’ve never experienced deliverance and salvation as a people. They aren’t yet a people.
 
But Joseph says, “I’m about to die but I want you to know God will do what He promised.  He made a promise to Abraham and it was passed down to Isaac and to Jacob and now it’s yours.”
 
And when he was 110 years of age, Joseph died never having received the promise.
 
So what is writer of Hebrews telling us? Some would read that story and say, “How foolish!  To keep following the dream of one old man who believed God gave him a promise is ridiculous.”
 
But these were people of faith, the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.
Their whole lives were built around this promise that had been given to Abraham and passed on to these three other patriarchs. And everything in their lives focused on the confidence they had that God would do what He said He would do because God could be trusted.
 
They never saw it. This is faith at its highest level.  In spite of the fact that they were sinful and deceitful and conflicted and struggling, this is where we look when we need an example of what it means to trust God.
 
They could not be deterred from giving the blessing to whom the blessing belonged. Abraham would not give it to Ishmael, it went to Isaac. Isaac would not give it to Esau, it went to Jacob. Jacob would not give it to Manasseh, it went to Ephraim. They all died never having seen it. They died as strangers, wanderers, nomads, a couple of them in foreign lands.
 
That was the evidence of their faith. They believed God for what they couldn’t see, all the way to death.
And eventually it happened.  That Promised Land became their land.  In that context it’s not hard to see why the Jews of today fight so hard and stand so unflinchingly to defend that land because it is their land, given to them by the very Word of God.
 
And lest we think their faith is something unusual and heroic, that’s how you and I believe also.  In fact, that is the point the writer of Hebrews is making.  He wasn’t just giving them a history lesson.
 
 
He was encouraging them to do the same thing by putting their trust in God and believe Him that by the blood of Jesus they were promised a land they had never seen called Heaven.  And when we trust Christ to one day take give us that home we have never seen, then we like them, have come to that place where we live by faith.
 
Let’s pray.
 

 

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