The Book of Hebrews #57 chapter 11:30-31
The Book of Hebrews
A Conquering Courageous Faith
Hebrews 11:30-31
 
We are studying the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, known as the faith chapter.  It actually stretches into the beginning of chapter 12 and we have been reminded all the way through this chapter that anyone who has a relationship with God has that relationship based on faith and not of works. We have started all the way back in the book of Genesis to see the examples of and we progressed through the patriarchs, arrived at Moses and that took us through the first five books of the Bible known as the Pentateuch.
 
As we come to verse 30 and following, we pick up the story in Joshua and Judges and references are made to people who lived in the time of the writing of 1 and 2 Samuel and then 1 and 2 Kings. And we move all the way through the prophets, you could say all the way up to John the Baptist.
 
So from verse 30 where we are introduced to the walls of Jericho and the entry into the promised land, we go all the way through the prophets by way of select representatives in just those few verses.
 
I think it was critically important to the writer of the book of Hebrews to do that in order to convey to his readers that salvation is by faith alone. He is attempting to turn their attention away from Judaism to Christianity.  Judaism, by that time, had devolved into a religion that taught that salvation is earned by works and ceremony and ritual.
 
And the message of the New Testament is that by
 the deeds of the flesh no person will be justified. We’re saved by grace through faith, that not of yourselves, not of works lest any man should boast.
There is no way to come to God by works.  The best we can do on our own as far as righteousness is concerned is described as filthy rags to God.
 
The message of the New Testament is the message that salvation is by faith alone and the message of this chapter is that salvation is by faith alone. That’s why we see that little phrase, “By faith...” repeated over and over.
 
The only way to be saved even in the earliest era of human history was by faith and so the first person mentioned is Abel. Abel was told by God that if he wanted to come to God he had to bring a sacrifice and it had to be an animal. Death was required by God. Abel didn’t question God. He did exactly what God told him. He obeyed God and by faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice.
 
This is sort of an initial look at salvation by sacrifice, all of which points to Christ. Abel was not saved by his works. On the other hand, Cain made an effort at a relationship to God by bringing that which he had produced and it was useless.
 
And then the story in this chapter moves to Enoch. Enoch is the one who walked right into the presence of God and didn’t die. He never questioned God either. He lived such a life of obedience, such a holy life that he did not see death. He was taken up, it says, because he was so pleasing to God. And he pleased God because he did what God commanded him to do.
And then there was Noah. Noah’s relationship to God was a relationship of faith. He demonstrates his faith in the Word of God revealed to him by building a boat in the middle of the desert. For 120 years he proclaimed this God who asked him to do this strange task as the true and living God. He believed that one day it would rain and there would be water to float that boat because God said that.
 
Then we came to Abraham, the father of the nation Israel.  Called by God, he left Ur, spent his life as a nomad and a wanderer and never in his entire life did he receive what was promised to come through him.  But he died in faith.
 
He passed on the Abrahamic Covenant with all its promises to his son Isaac. God reiterated the same promise of a great nation of influence across the world of salvation, of blessing. Isaac never saw it realized but he passed it on to Jacob and Jacob never saw it realized. And Jacob passed it on to Joseph and Joseph never saw it realized. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph all died without ever having received the promise. So they continued to walk with God, to trust God by faith, not by sight.
 
Now as we come to verse 30, we come to some illustrations of faith that are really remarkable. And here we see the courage of faith. And to me, the pinnacle of faith is what that faith is willing to endure.  If it’s true faith, it will obey at any price. It will demonstrate courage in the face of any opposition, any threat, any suffering. True faith does not draw back. It does not fold up. It does not collapse.
 
 
That’s why it always concerns me to see someone get mad and drop out of church because of some little nothing issue.  They get their feelings hurt or someone looks at them the wrong way and so they just quit.  Compare that to what we read in these verses and you have to wonder if their faith is genuine at all.
 
So let’s look at some of those who are examples of the courage of faith.  Now up to this point, the writer has been citing as examples of faith the great men before and after the Flood, up until Israel left Egypt and moved toward the Promised Land.
 
Now, at verse 30, we’re in to the Promised Land.  By the way, there is an interesting omission between verses 29 and 30 and that is the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.  I take that to mean there are no examples of faith to be pulled from those experiences as they wandered in the wilderness and the generation of doubters died out.
 
But at verse 30, we now find the generation that is able to go into the land.
 
 
 
verses 30-31
 
The story is given to us in Joshua chapter 6 so let’s go back to that for a moment. Jericho was tightly shut because of the sons of Israel. They had been told that the children of Israel were nearby. They were a massive crowd. Some estimate that when they came out of Egypt there were as many as two million.  Jericho has heard they are coming and prepared for it by sealing off the city.
Now Jericho had already been spied out and God had laid out the plan of attack in advance.  The Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I’ve given Jericho into your hand with its king and its valiant warriors. You shall march around the city, all the men who are circling the city once, just do that for six days. And seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of ram’s horns before the ark, then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall be that when they make a large blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout and the wall of the city will fall down flat and the people will go up every man straight ahead.”
 
Just natural human skepticism would say. “Could you go over that again?” We’re going to conquer how? We’re going to march around the wall once a day for six days and on the seventh day we’re going to march around the wall and the seventh time we’re going to shout at the top of our voice and the walls are just going to fall out flat?
 
Now I would say obedience to that command would be an act of faith, wouldn’t you? It seems such a strange thing. And, of course, you know the story. It’s exactly what they did.
 
And verse 30 sums all of that up into a single sentence with no extra details to describe an act of faith without even mentioning the name of Joshua.
Why not?  He didn’t have to mention Joshua or tell the whole story.  The Hebrew hearers knew it very well.
 
 
They knew their ancestors did what they did by faith.  By the way, it wasn’t just Joshua.  The whole crowd had to live by faith.  That is their testimony as the people of God.
 
Now think about the surprise and contrast of that.  For centuries the children of Israel had been a nation of slaves in Egypt and for 40 years nomads in the desert because of their unbelief.  Their great leader was dead. They were without a military experience, they were without an army, devoid of artillery, no weapons but the living God was for them and they had come to believe in Him and faith gained the victory.
 
The demonstration of faith is always obedience. Faith and obedience are inseparable. When it says to come to the Christ and put your faith in Him, that’s a command and if you do that, that’s an act of obedience.
 
Listen:  The command of God that is imperative on men today is to repent.  We are commanded to repent.  And any person who embraces Christ in an act of repentance and faith is obeying the gospel. Salvation comes to those who obey. And everything after that in the life of faith is obeying what God has commanded.
 
And the kind of obedience that has courage will obey no matter what the price, no matter what the cost, and that’s what we see here in this last section.  By faith, the walls of Jericho came tumbling down.
 
 
 
 
Then in verse 31 we have then a more personal illustration and it comes from the other side of the wall, so to speak.
 
verse 31
 
It’s interesting that the personal example of faith the writer uses is not an Israelite, but a citizen of Jericho who is a prostitute. A prostitute in the hall of fame? I’ll guarantee you if there were any Jews still believing you got in the Kingdom of God by works, it would be hard to figure out how Rahab got into this list. But there she is!
 
And notice how he describes her faith.  She was not like those who “did not believe”.  Some translations use the word “disobedient”.  And what he’s talking about is an action that is exactly the opposite of faith.  Rahab believed God.
 
Now there is an underlying truth there in verse 31 that I don’t want to miss.  Rahab “did not perish with those who did not believe.”  The implication is they could have believed like her, but they didn’t.
 
That means they knew the truth about God.  They must have been exposed to the Word of God in order to believe or not to believe, to obey or not to obey. And as I said, some translations use the word “disobedient” and that is an accurate way to phrase it.
 
The Greek word means “disobedient”. They must have heard the truth about the true and living God.
Maybe they heard the story about them being delivered out of Egypt.
Maybe the message from the spies had been given to some people and been spread. But they sought no mercy from this God, they sought no grace from this God. They sought no forgiveness from this God. They had no interest in obeying Him whatsoever. And as a result, the whole city was wiped out.  All the animals, all the people, all the women and children.  They died by the edge of the sword except for one village prostitute named Rahab.
 
Why? “Rahab received the spies in peace.”   In other words, she welcomed them with hospitality.
 
Let’s back up to Joshua 2 and review her story.
 
Verses 1-5
 
So not only was she a harlot, she was a liar also.
Did she have to lie? No, it’s never necessary. Would God have protected the spies if she had told the truth? Absolutely. We would have just had a different story of how God protected the spies.
 
This doesn’t justify the lie, but we can commend her for her courage in the case of hiding them. So she chases away the people who are looking for them, telling them that they have to hurry because they’re out of town and they’re going to have to run if they want to catch them.
 
In the meantime,
 
verses 6-7
 
So they’re out there chasing them while they’re back in Jericho on her roof underneath the flax.
 
Then notice verse 8-11
 
That’s a pretty strong profession of faith, dn’t you think?  She believed in the true and living God and she believed fully in all the revelation that was available to her.
 
Verses 12-21
 
Then go over to chapter 6:21
 
That’s just a devastating thing to think about.
 
Verses 22-25
 
The whole city was rejected and destroyed except for Rahab and her family. She placed her faith in the true and living God. In fact, she believed it so strongly she staked her life and the life of her family on it. Rather amazing when you think about the fact that her faith was in a God she had only heard about through second-hand sources. But she believed in the true God and because of that, she was spared.
 
There is one more appearance of Rahab in Scripture and it’s over in Matthew 1:5.  Of all places, she winds up in the family tree of Jesus.  She’s the mother of Boaz who winds up being the husband of Ruth.
 
That means she is the great, great grandmother of King David. And here she is in Hebrews demonstrating the kind of faith that has the courage to stand in the midst of extreme danger. That’s what faith does. It doesn’t crumble because the circumstances are threatening or difficult.
True saving faith obeys God does whether that means marching around a walled up city or hiding the spies of your enemies.  It obeys God no matter what the price.
 
That’s concept is not so foreign.  It was Jesus that said, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.” The price might be death. It certainly was for Jesus.  God forgive us if we think we should do less than Him.
 
Well, conquering Jericho was just the beginning and they began to settle in the land of Canaan. And in verse 32 we meet six men from the settlement of Canaan to the early monarchy. We’ll learn about them next time.
 
Let’s pray.

 

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