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THE PAST ENCOURAGES THE PRESENT
Victor M. Eskew
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)
D. Noah (Heb. 11:7)
E. Abraham (Heb. 11:8-19)
1. Abraham’s Departure (Heb. 11:8)
2. Abraham’s Dwelling (Heb. 11:9-10)
3. Sarah’s Delivery (Heb. 11:11-12)
a. Faith of Sarah (Heb. 11:11a)
b. Fulfillment of the promise (Heb. 11:11b)
…and was delivered of child when she was past age…
1) Sarah did bear a son just as it was promised (Gen. 21:1-7).
And the Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken. For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him. And Abraham was a hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him. And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me. And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age.
2) It was a conventional conception at an impossible time of life.
a) Sarah was “past age.”
b) Miraculously, God revived Sarah’s reproductive system and enabled her to conceive and give birth to a son.
c. Foundation of faith (Heb. 11:11c)
...because she judged him faithful who had promised.
1) Sarah came to understand that God is a faithful God (Deut. 7:9; I Cor. 1:9; I Cor. 10:13).
Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations.
2) Having judged Him to be faithful, she trusted in His promise to give her a child.
3) LESSON: This is what this entire chapter should get us to do. We can look at all of these examples. We should be able to judge that God is faithful. Having so judged, we can all trust God fully with regard to all of the promises He has given to us.
d. Fulfillment of the promise (Heb. 11:12)
Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, as many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.
1) Abraham was also the recipient of God’s faithfulness.
2) He received a son when his reproductive organs were “as good as dead.”
3) From this son, there can a multitude of people.
a) As the “stars of the sky” and “as the sand which is by the sea shore.” (See Gen. 15:5; 22:17). IMPORTANT NOTE: There was a time when man thought that there were only a few thousand stars in the sky. We have now found their number to be in the billions. “The Hebrew writer’s reference to the ‘stars…in multitude’ is an example of the divine inspiration of the scripture” (Wacaster, 453).
b) In Genesis 13:16, he also says that Abraham’s seed would be as the dust of the earth.
4. The Faithful’s Death (Heb. 11:13)
a. The Blessing (Heb. 11:13a).
These are died in faith…
1) Man either dies “in faith” or “without faith.”
2) To die “in faith” is a blessing. (See Rev. 14:13)
a) We will see that their faith involved the invisible.
b) We will see that their faith was extremely strong.
b. The Beyond (Heb. 11:13b-16)
1) The Promises (Heb. 11:13b)
…not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them…
a) There were several promises they did not see:
- The permanency of the land promise
- The development of a great nation
- The seed of woman that would bless all families of the earth
b) Even though they did not literally experience them, they saw them through the eye of faith. Notice the words: “having seen them afar off.”
- Persuaded of them
+ Strong (3982): to convince (by argument)
+ Thayer: to be induced to believe, trust, have confidence
- Embraced them
+ Strong (782): to enfold in the arms
+ Thayer: to draw to one’s self, to receive joyfully
2) The Profession (Heb. 11:13c)
…, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
a) These great men of God came to understand that this world was not their home.
- They were not residents. They were strangers.
- They were not citizens. They were pilgrims.
- Clarke: “…we should yet regard ourselves as ‘strangers and sojourners.’ We have here no fixed abode. The houses in which we dwell will soon be occupied by others; the paths in which we go will soon be trod by the feet of others; the fields which we cultivate will soon be plowed and sown and reaped by others. Others will read the books which we read; sit down at the tables where we sit; lie on the beds where we repose; occupy the chambers where we shall die, and from whence we shall be removed to our graves” (e-sword).
b) They confessed these things.
- Confession is the outward expression of what is believed in the heart.
- They accepted the fact that they were strangers. This concept was passed on to the next generation who also believed this as well.
c) LESSON: Because they knew what was in front of them, they did not miss what was behind them.
5. The Faithful’s Desire (Heb. 11:14-16)