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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)
D. Faith Received the Passover (Heb. 11:28)
E. Faith Released the Israelites (Heb. 11:29)
F. Faith Ruined the Walls of Jericho (Heb. 11:30)
By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.
1. The Road: “By faith”
a. The writer uses the word faith once again.
b. He is trying to impress upon his readers just how essential this quality is in the life of the child of God.
2. The Ruin: “…the walls of Jericho fell down…”
a. There is a law of science that says: “For every effect there must be an adequate cause.” Shouting and blowing trumpets does not seem to be an adequate cause for the destruction of the walls of Jericho. This is what makes the destruction a miraculous event.
b. It is difficult for us to understand the power that was manifested by God that day. The walls were both high and thick. We can only imagine the rumbling and crashing and shaking that took place as the walls crumbled before the army of Israel.
c. LESSON: There is no barrier the power of God cannot penetrate.
3. The Requirements: “…after they were compassed about seven days.”
a. God gave Israel certain things to do before the walls would come crumbling down (Josh. 6:1-5)
1) The men of war were compass the city once for six days.
2) On the seventh day, they were to encircle the city seven times.
3) After the seventh time around, the priests were to blow the trumpet.
4) When the people heard the trumpet, they were to shout with a great shout.
5) “…and the wall of the city shall fall down flat…” (v. 5).
b. Here we find another command of God that seems ridiculous.
1) Why these specific orders? Why not do it all the first day?
2) Why seven times the seventh day?
3) Why the trumpets and shouts?
4) None of these actions can make a wall fall down.
c. Notice the word “after.”
1) The walls fell after they were compassed about.
2) They did not fall down by faith only. They fell down by faith plus obedience. Adam Clarke states: “They believed, did as they were commanded, and the promise was fulfilled” (e-sword).
3) LESSON: Why can’t those in the denominational world understand this principle when it comes to baptism? A person believes, does as commanded and is baptized, and his sins are forgiven (Acts 2:38, 41).
G. Faith Redeemed Rahab the Harlot (Heb. 11:31)
By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies.
1. The stipulation: “By faith…”
a. Rahab was not an Israelite. However, she possessed faith.
b. She knew of all the events that had transpired that allowed Israel to be freed from bondage and to reach the land of Canaan (Josh. 2:9-11).
And she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.
2. The sinner: “…the harlot Rahab…”
a. Not only was she a Canaanite, but she was also a sinner.
b. Not only would she have to confess the God of Israel, but she would also have to begin living by the standards He revealed in His Word to Israel if she were going to live among them.
3. The salvation: “perished not with them that believed not…”
a. Rehab pled with the spies to save her and her parents, her brethren and sisters (Josh. 2:13).
b. The spies agreed, but with conditions attached (Josh. 2:18-20).
c. She put the scarlet line in her window (Josh. 2:21).
d. Joshua save Rehab and her house when the attack on Jericho occurred (Josh. 6:25).
And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father’s household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day…
e. Question: Was Rahab saved by works?
1) They were not works of her own origination.
2) They were works that God authorized to be performed so she could be saved (See James 2:25).
Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
4. The spies: “…when she had received the spies”
a. The account of Rahab’s hiding the spies is found in Joshua 2:1, 4-8, 15-16.
b. The account has been made difficult because Rahab lied to the king’s messengers about the whereabouts of the spies (Josh. 2:3-5).
And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country. And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were. And it came to pass about the time of the shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them.
1) The question is asked: Why would God allow a woman who lied to be saved because of her lie?
2) Most will say that it was her faith in God, but not her lie, that saved her. They note that nothing is ever said in the text that shows that God approved of the lie. But, it seems that part of the exercise of her faith was in protecting the spies who entered her home.
3) An answer:
a) Was it wrong for the spies to be in the land of Canaan spying it out? The answer would be “yes” if you were a Canaanite. The answer would be “no” if you were an Israelite. Remember this is a tactic of warfare, to spy out the enemy.
b) Rahab switched her allegiance. She sided with the people of God. Her lie was an act of warfare. Had her actions been found out by the king of Jericho, she would have been arrested, perhaps even killed for siding with the enemy.
IV. FEARLESS (Heb. 11:32-38)
A. The List of Faithful Followers Is Long (Heb. 11:32)
And what shall I more say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthah; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets.
1. The inspired penman had just discussed the faith of many Bible greats in the previous 30 verses.
2. He knew there was so much more that could be discussed. Time, however, would not allow him to set forth all the stories of faith from the past.
3. He lists seven more that he could have easily discussed.
a. Gideon: Destroyed a multitude of Midianites and Amalekites with 300 men (Judg. 6-8)
b. Barak: Overthrew Jabin, the king of Canaan (Jugd. 4)
c. Samson: Delivered Israel from the oppression of the Philistines (Judg. 13-16).
d. Jephthah: Defeated the Ammonites (Judg. 11)
e. David: The model king of Israel
f. Samuel: The last judge of Israel who anointed Israel’s first two kings
g. The prophets: spokesmen for God.
4. Two on the list are interesting: Samson and Jephthah. It would have been interesting to hear the writer discuss the faith of these two Bible characters.