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THE PAST ENCOURAGES THE PRESENT

Hebrews 11:5b-7b

Victor M. Eskew

 

INTRODUCTION

 

A.    The primary exhortation to the Hebrew Christians to whom the book was written is:  “Be faithful!”

 

B.      The writer has already used examples from the past to encourage his readers.

1.      Israel who did not enter into the Promised Land because of unbelief (Heb. 3:7-19).

2.      Hebrews 6:12

 

That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

 

C.     In Hebrews 11, the writer turns to the examples of faithful individuals from the past.

1.      This is another tactic used to encourage his readers to be faithful.  If they could be faithful, so can you.

2.      “If these Hebrews would learn of saving faith, then let them take a closer look at the record in their possession, and let their own Scriptures teach them what is involved in saving faith” (Wacaster, 434). 

3.      Therefore, we have entitled the chapter:  “The Past Encourages the Present.”

a.      Some refer to this chapter as “The Hall of Fame of the Faithful.”

b.      The words “by faith” occur 18 times in the chapter.

c.       We are given 25 examples of men and women who lived by faith. 

a.      (Wacaster, 428).

 

D.    Outline of the chapter:

 

i.                    FAITH (Heb. 11:1-3)

ii.                  FATHERS (Heb. 11:4-22)

iii.                FOUNDER (Heb. 11:23-31)

iv.                FEARLESS (Heb. 11:32-38)

v.                  FASTENING (Heb. 11:39-40)

 

I.                   FAITH (Heb. 11:1-3)

 

II.                FATHERS (Heb. 11:4-22)

 

A.    It is interesting that the inspired writer does not go back to Adam and Eve as the first example of faith.

 

B.      Abel (Heb. 11:4)

 

C.     Enoch (Heb. 11:5-6)

1.      Enoch’s translation (Heb. 11:5a)

2.      Enoch’s testimony (Heb. 11:5b-6)

a.      The Course of His Life (Heb. 11:5b)

 

…for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 

 

1)      In Genesis, we are told that he walked with God.

2)      The writer of Hebrews tells us that his testimony was that he pleased God.

3)      LESSON:  We please God when we walk with Him (See Matt. 3:13-17, esp. v. 17).

 

And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

 

b.      The Consideration for the Hebrews (Heb. 11:6)

1)      The Impossibility (Heb. 11:6a).

 

But without faith it is impossible to please him…

 

a)      All of God’s people should have a desire to please him.

b)      In order to please God we must manifest faith.

c)      Without faith it is impossible to please him.

d)     The Hebrews were beginning to doubt and turn back to Judaism.  If they did this, they would not be pleasing to God like Enoch was.

 

… for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

 

2)      The Ingredients (Heb. 11:6b)

a)      God is real:  “he that cometh to God must believe that he is”

1)      No man will come to God unless he first believes God exists.

2)      God has left ample evidence for man to believe in him.  So much evidence that those who refuse to believe will be without excuse (Rom. 1:20)

b)      God is a rewarder:  “and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him”

1)      Rewarder:

-     Strong (3406):  remunerator

-     Thayer:  one who pays wages, rewarder

2)   God does not just reward anyone.  He only rewards them that

       “diligently” seek him.

-     Strong (1567):  to search out…crave

-     Thayer:  seek out, search for, investigate

                                           c)  Lessons:        

                                                1) The writer is not saying this is all that is involved in faith.  These,

                                                       however, are the basic ingredients.  If these two things are present,

                                                       the rest will fall into place.

2)      It is not possible to fail to have the first ingredient and possess the second.  It is possible, however, to have the first and not the second.

3)      The first two examples of faith are interesting.  The first involves a man who died because of his faith.  The second involves a man who did not die because of his faith.

 

D.    Noah (Heb. 11:7)

1.      The Alert (Heb. 11:7a)

 

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet…

 

a.      Noah was a man of God who operated by faith.

b.      God first warned Noah about things that would happen that had never been seen (Gen. 6:17).

 

And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.

 

1)      There had never been a worldwide flood.

2)      There had never been rain upon the earth.  To this point in time, a mist came up and watered the ground (See Gen. 2:5-6).

 

And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew:  for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.  But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

 

3)      Barnes:  “Everything which Noah did in reference to the threatened deluge, was done in virtue of simple faith or belief of what God said. It was not because he could show from the course of events that things were tending to such a catastrophe; or because such an event had occurred before, rendering it probable that it would be likely to occur again; or because this was the common belief of men, and it was easy to fall into this himself. It was simply because God had informed him of it, and he put unwavering reliance on the truth of the divine declaration” (e-sword).

4)      Noah had to exhibit faith like ours.  It was a faith without sight (II Cor. 5:7).

c.       Can you imagine the faith Noah must have had to accept these words of the Almighty God? 

d.      LESSON:  God has given us a warning that He will destroy the earth by fire (II Pet. 3:10).  None of us have ever seen the earth destroyed in this manner.

1)      We must accept these things by faith.

2)      We should exhibit actions that correlate with this judgment just as Noah put actions to his faith in the long ago.

2.      The Actions (Heb. 11:7b).

a.      Moved cautiously

 

…moved with fear…

 

1)      Fear

a)      Strong (2125):  to be circumspect, to reverence

b)      Thayer:  to act cautiously, circumspect, to beware fear

2)      Noah moved with a deep reverence and awe for God and His Word.

3)      It appears that Noah also understood the need to be cautious. 

a)      He “moved with fear.” 

b)      Vincent:  “The true idea is pious care, a reverent circumspection with regard to things enjoined by God, and as yet unseen, yet confidently expected on the strength of God's word” (e-sword).

c)      He needed to do exactly what God has commanded him (Gen. 6:22; 7:5).

 

Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he…And Noah did according unto all that the Lord commanded him.

 

b.      Built carefully

 

…prepared an ark…

 

1)      God had given Noah specific instructions concerning the ark (Gen. 6:14-16).

 

Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.  And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of:  The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, and the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubit.  A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above:  and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, and second, and third stories shalt thou make it. 

 

2)      Again, Noah did exactly as God has commanded.  He followed the pattern given by God to the letter.  (He was also commanded to gather the food for the trip, Gen. 6:21).

c.       LESSONS

1)      When God gives commands, faith obeys those commands.

2)      Man should obey commands that do not make sense to him.

3)      God is the God of patterns.  When He gives man a pattern to follow, man should move with fear and follow it precisely.

3.      The Aftereffects (Heb. 11:7c)