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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.
C. In Hebrews 11, the writer turns to the examples of faithful individuals from the past.
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)
4. The Faithful’s Death (Heb. 11:13)
5. The Faithful’s Desire (Heb. 11:14-16)
a. The sojourner’s declaration (Heb. 11:14)
For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
1) They that confess they are strangers and pilgrims make a bold declaration.
2) They “declare plainly” that they seek a country.
a) Strong (1718): to exhibit (in person) or declare (in words)
b) Thayer: manifest, exhibit to view, indicate, disclose, make known
3) Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would readily admit that there was another country, a country not found on the earth that they were seeking. This other country was their native land, their fatherland, their homeland.
4) LESSON: Do we honestly view ourselves as sojourners and pilgrims? Would we admit this to all who know us? If so, then we are plainly declaring that this world is not our home. We, too, are seeking another country.
b. The sojourner’s decision (Heb. 11:15)
And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
1) Had Abraham wanted to go back to Ur of Chaldees, he could have gone.
2) God did not force Abraham to obey him. It was a voluntary decision.
3) LESSON: God does not force any of us to continue to serve Him. Any of us are free to go back into the world any time we desire.
c. The sojourner’s desire (Heb. 11:16a)
But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly…
1) The mind of the spiritual sojourner is not focused on this world at all.
2) He desires a better country, a heavenly country.
a) The word “heavenly” means “above the sky.
b) This is a place that exists far beyond the reaches of this world (II Cor. 4:18).
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
d. The sojourner’s delights (Heb. 11:16b)
1) The pride of God
Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God…
a) Those who refuse to make this world their home and who desire their heavenly home are God’s pride.
b) He is not “ashamed” to be called their God.
- He has no negative, painful emotions because of them. (Question: How do you feel when your children have no desire to return home to be with you after leaving the home? There is a hurt deep within.)
- As His children, they bring Him delight. (Question: How do you feel when your children want to be with you, long to be with you, and do all they can in order to get home?)
2) The prepared city
…for he hath prepared for them a city.
a) God has prepared His children another place of abode.
b) It will not have the flaws, the sin, and the sorrow of this world.
c) It will be a city beyond our comprehension.
d) Once there, we will never lose the thrill of its grandeur.
- It will never grow old.
- Our senses will never dull to its splendor.
- Every day will be new.
- I Peter 1:4
To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.
6. Abraham’s Display (Heb. 11:17-19)
a. The presentation (Heb. 11:17)
1) The motivation
By faith Abraham…
a) It was faith that motivated Abraham in this event in his life.
b) Abraham “lived” by faith.
c) Faith was not something he applied here and there in his life. It applied to every aspect of his life, including his son.
d) Faith is what enables people to do the incomprehensible, the difficult, and the unreasonable.
2) The temptation
…when he was tried…
a) This takes us back to Genesis 22:1-2.
And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold I am here. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
b) God did tempt Abraham.
- He was not tempting Abraham to sin.
- He was testing Abraham’s faith as to its genuineness and strength. The Hebrew writer uses the word “tried.”
c) What a test it was.
- It involved his son.
- It involved his son born late in life.
- It involved his only begotten son through Sarah.
- It involved the son whom he loved.
- It involved the son of promise.
- It involved putting this son to death.
- It involved Abraham’s reasoning abilities. This test seemed to go against both reason and moral law.
3) The action
…offered up Isaac…
a) Genesis 22:3
And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and cleaved the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.
b) There was no hesitation.
There was no argumentation.
There was no anger.
c) The text says that he “offered up Isaac.” (See Gen. 22:9-10)
And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
- Abraham demonstrated absolute obedience.
Abraham demonstrated absolute faith in God.
- In Abraham’s mind, this child was dead.
4) The complication
…and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son.
a) Abraham had one complication. He has received promises of God about this son (See Gen. 21:12b).
…for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.
b) How can I put my son to death and the promise still be fulfilled in him?
c) Even though this complication was before him, he “offered up his only begotten son.”
d) NOTE: “It was, therefore, ‘God’s problem.’ God had promised; God had commanded; hence, Abraham would obey in full faith that God would resolve the difficulty” (Wacaster, p. 458).
b. The promise (Heb. 11:18)
Of whom it was said, that in Isaac shall thy seed be called.
1) This is a quote from Genesis 21:12.
2) God made a promise. God is faithful. The promise must come to pass.
3) But, how? How would God bring forth a great nation from a son who was to be put to death?
c. The premise (Heb. 11:19)