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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)
III. FOUNDER (Heb. 11:23-31)
A. Faith Rescued Moses (Heb. 11:23)
B. Faith Refused Egypt (Heb. 11:24-26).
C. Faith Returned to Deliver (Heb. 11:27)
By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
1. The Confidence: By faith
2. The Cut: He forsook Egypt
a. There are two departures of Moses from Egypt.
1) The first was when he fled after killing the Egyptian who mistreated the Israelite slave (Exo. 2:14b-15). “There are at least three reasons why the writer speaks of the earlier departure of Moses, i.e. when he fled to Midian” (Wacaster, p. 468).
2) The second is when he completely left Egypt in triumph leading Israel to the Promised Land. “The apostle speaks here of the departure of Moses with the Israelites, not of his flight to Midian…” (Barnes, e-sword).
3) This writer is of the opinion that it refers to Moses’ departure when leading Israel out of bondage.
a) The main reason is found in Exodus 2:14b-15.
…And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known. Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.
b) The writer of Hebrews tells us that the occasion to which he refers finds Moses “not fearing the wrath of the king.” Lightfoot tries to explain this text as follows: “Subsequent to his murder of the Egyptian, Moses naturally feared for his own personal safety; but concerning his choice to serve God rather than Pharaoh he had no fear. It is his choice to serve God that the author speaks, and so he says that Moses left Egypt by faith” (Lightfoot as quoted by Wacaster, p. 468). This seems like a stretch this this author. Moses left never intending to return to Egypt. How was that by faith? When does faith flee never to return?
b. When Moses forsook Egypt following the plagues and Pharaoh’s permission to depart, Moses did not fear the Pharaoh at all. His heart was full of faith in God.
3. The Courage: not fearing the wrath of the king
a. When Moses was initially called, he made several excuses as to why he should not be the one to lead Israel.
b. Moses knew the ramifications demanding the release of Israel from Pharaoh.
c. When he returned, he returned with great faith.
1) He kept going back to Pharaoh after each plague with God’s demand.
2) He would not compromise with Pharaoh at all.
3) After Pharaoh was defeated, surely his faith was even greater than before.
4. The Constancy: for he endured
a. The release of Israel was not immediate.
b. He suffered the stubbornness of the king, and he endured the wrath of the people when Pharaoh made their bondage even more rigorous.
c. Moses endured.
1) Strong (2594): to be strong, steadfast (patient)
2) Thayer: to be steadfast
3) It involves the idea of being able to hold out even in the face of obstacles, opposition, and grave danger.
d. How did he endure? Many people quit even when small things arise.
5. The Cause: as seeing him who is invisible
a. His faith rested in the existence of a God who cannot be seen with human eyes.
b. Moses saw the invisible.
c. God exists. He is greater than any Pharaoh on the earth.
1) What kind of faith do you possess?
a) Do you forsake that which is evil?
b) Do you have courage to stand?
c) Does your faith enable you to endure over long periods of time?
d) Does your faith stay focused upon the invisible God?
2) Moses grew up in the courts of Egypt where idolatry was rampant. Yet, he believed in the invisible God. Again, his Israelite mother who nursed him instilled in him a deep faith in God.
D. Faith Received the Passover (Heb. 11:28)
Through faith he kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.
1. Obedience of faith: “Through faith he kept”
a. The faith of Moses was an obedient faith when the commands of God were set before him.
1) We must always keep in mind the fact that we do not have faith in God if we fail to obey His commands. Just a mental assent is not enough.
2) We must obey God, even when we do not see the connection between the command and the blessing promised. God would have known that they killed the Passover lamb. Why, then, did they have to put the blood on the doorposts and lintels?
2. Ordinances of God: “…the Passover and sprinkling of blood”
a. It is interesting the author divides the Passover from the sprinkling of blood. On the night of Israel’s deliverance, both things had to be done.
1) The Passover was the feast that was observed and would be used in commemoration of the event in the future (Exo. 12:1-20).
2) The sprinkling of the blood was the act of faith that set the Israelites apart from the Egyptians and allowed them to be saved (Exo. 12:21-23).
b. Exodus 12:28
And the children of Israel went away, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.
3. Outcome of disobedience: “lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them”
a. The Lord afflicted the nation of Egypt with the death of their firstborn (Exo. 12:29).
And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.
b. Had the Israelites failed to mark their doors, their firstborn would have died as well.
c. LESSON: There are severe consequences of disobedience to God.
E. Faith Released the Israelites (Heb. 11:29)
By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.
1. The element of faith: “By faith”
a. Faith is again the foundational element of Israel’s release from bondage.
b. Again, it was an obedient faith. “By faith they passed through.” They had been commanded to go through the tunnel of water miraculously created by God (Exo. 14:15-16).
And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou out unto me? Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward…
c. It is difficult for us to understand the faith that it took to walk through those waters.
1) Fear would have been in their hearts because the Egyptians were pursing them in order to bring them back into bondage.
2) The force of the wind needed to make the waters stand up was great.
3) Would the waters come crashing down when they were in the midst of the
2. The escape through the sea: “…the passed through the Red Sea as by dry land…”
a. Part of the miracle is that the riverbed was “dry land.”
b. The men, women, children, animals, and carts were not hindered by the mud that would have normally been there.
c. Exodus 14:22
And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.
d. This escape by the Israelites is referred to as the baptism of Moses by Paul in I Corinthians 10:1-2.
Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.
3. The enemy was drowned: “…which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned”
a. Exodus 14:23
And the Egyptians pursued, and went it after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.
b. The Egyptians were both bold and foolish to follow Israel into that tunnel of water. Didn’t they realize that a great miracle was being accomplished that day? Couldn’t they see the hand of God in this event?
c. Before allowing the sea to collapse on the Egyptians, God fought for Israel by taking of the wheels of the chariots (Exo. 14:24-25).
d. Exodus 14:28
And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them.