Lesson 23 – Hebrews 11:25-40
Lesson 23 – Hebrews 11:25-40
Hebrews 11:24-26 – Most of us from time to time ask the question with Job 21 “Why do the wicked prosper?” Why do they spend their days in prosperity and even say to God, depart from us! We do not even desire the knowledge of Thy ways. Who is the Almighty, that we should serve Him, and what would we gain if we entreat Him? But Job answers the question when he says, “But suddenly they go down to Sheol” Job 21:13. They die and its all over except for judgment. James also speaks to this issue in James 5.
King David learned the hard way the cost of a moment=s pleasure. He saw his infant son taken from him, Absalom was killed as a direct result of his transgression, and Solomon following in his father’s steps caused the nation to be divided.
Moses knew that God was calling him to give up his life for His people. He had a choice, he could have obeyed or disobeyed. Moses was asked to give up the splendor and pleasures of Egypt for a very uncertain future. The life he had was not sinful in itself. Joseph enjoyed the same pleasures of a very comfortable life. But it would have been sin for Moses to ignore the call of God. Instead Moses made the choice to endure ill‑treatment with the people of God, rather than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin. This was an act of faith because Moses believed that if He did what God wanted, he would be immeasurably better off in the end.
In the same way God has called us to come apart from the world to follow Him. Obedience is not always easy, but in the end disobedience is much harder on us. Faith rejects the world’s pleasures. Faith trusts that obedience will be its greatest reward, and ultimately lead to our greater good and the worlds as well. Faith rejects the world’s riches. Living in Pharaoh’s palace, Moses had all the wealth he could have ever wanted; food, possessions, and the things that money could buy.
It’s interesting to consider that the wealth of Egypt was very likely the result of Joseph. No doubt that wealth was parlayed by Joseph and those who followed him, into unbelievable riches. Moses considered ‑ this word conveys the idea that much thought went into the decision that he made, his action was not impulsive. Reproach speaks of ridicule and persecution. Yet Moses believed that the worst he could endure in obeying God would be more valuable than the wealth of Egypt.
“Considering the reproach of Messiah” ‑ what does this mean? It is the Messianic hope; the hope of Eve, the hope of Abraham, the hope of Israel of whom we have all been made partakers through Israel=s king. God’s reward is always infinitely greater than the rewards of this world. God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory.” Faith further rejects the anxiety that comes from the world.
Hebrews 11:27-29 Moses felt pressure from Egypt and from his own kinsmen. Faith accepts God’s command – By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the first‑born might not touch them. Applying blood has always been a command of God, and always it takes faith to obey. In O.T. times it was the blood of animals that were sacrificed in the Temple. Today God has given us the sacrificed Lamb, Jesus. We too must by faith apply the blood to door posts of our hearts.
Faith trusts that God provides miracles – By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned. It took faith to believe that God could, and in fact was, holding back the red Sea for them. Faith involves making decisions, the right ones. Knowing God’s word helps us in the multitude of decisions we need to make each day. But God has put within us a conscience that tells us what’s right even if we are not familiar with the Bible. The Faith of Moses rejected the status the world had to offer. Faith rejects the world’s pleasures. Faith rejects the world’s riches. Faith further rejects the anxiety that comes from the world. Faith accepts God’s command Faith trusts that God provides miracles.
Hebrews 11:30-40 – In the world today there exists some wrong ideas concerning believers in the Messiah: The idea that since Christians are followers of Jesus they are meek, mild, and passive people, or should be; That believers are people of faith therefore, they never doubt or become discouraged; That believers are perfect, or are called to be. That since believers know God they are shielded from hardship, calamity, and tragedy. We need to understand that Jesus wasn’t passive and did not allow people to walk over Him, or run things by Him. He stood firm against His critics.
Believers, being human, often have uncertainty at times. In fact there have been many who have defected from the faith in every generation. Concerning perfection, as believers our sin nature is not eliminated when we come to faith. We do not become fully what we are to be until we arrive in heaven. And lastly believers can and do experience such things as financial disaster, mistreatment, journeys through the deepest valleys imaginable. Bad things do happen to forgiven people.
In view of these facts the closing verses of Hebrews 11 have a message for us. We need to keep in mind that the theme of Hebrews 11 is endurance. The reason that this chapter was written was to put flesh and blood to the principle given to us in Hebrews 10, which was summarized in Hebrews 10:32-39. As believers we are called to face Conflict ‑ To which God promises us victory. Life is always a struggle for the believer. The only effective weapon that we have is faith. In fact it is because of faith that many struggles come, and it is only by faith that these battles can be faced and won.
Hebrews 11:30 – By faith the wall of Jericho fell down, after they had been encircled for seven days. Forty years had passed since Israel came out of Egypt. Since the red sea crossing cited in Hebrews 11:29, there had been virtually no demonstrations of Israel’s faith in God. That entire generation had to be eliminated before God would allow them to enter the Promised Land because of their lack of faith. Jericho was the first obstacle that required faith of this new generation. God’s plan for this battle was for Israel to allow God to give them the victory. He desired to show them and Jericho how mighty and powerful the God of Israel was. All the Israelites had to do was march around the city once a day for six days, with the priests blowing on the shofarim, before the ark of the covenant. The 7th day they were to circle the city 7 times. At the last circuit there was to be a Tekiah Gedolah and all the people were to shout. Then the wall would fall down flat. The people obeyed in faith and the result was that the walls of the city in fact did come down.
Militarily this was little to demand of an army. But psychologically it took a great deal of courage. This was not the way a city was conquered. It would have been easier to fight than to have faith. Fighting would have at least brought some respect from their enemies. But faith always appears foolish in the eyes of the world. But God delights in slaying the pride of man. Jericho’s pride was brought down. And Israel certainly could take no credit for themselves.
Someone has said there are 4 kinds of faith: Faith that receives, as when we come empty‑handed to the Messiah for atonement and salvation. Faith that considers, that counts on God to do for us. Faith that risks, that moves out in God’s power, daring to do the impossible.
Faith that rests, the kind that in the middle of pain and suffering and rejection, sits back and trusts God to deliver. Faith enables us to deal with the most difficult of obstacles.
Hebrews 11:31 By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace. Rahab is certainly an unlikely candidate for the hall of fame of faith. She was a prostitute, a gentile, and an Amorite. But God continually makes it plain that his love is extended to anyone who will come to Him on His terms.
Rahab’s action infers that God somehow revealed to Jericho probably through the news of Egypt’s destruction 40 years earlier, that they were under condemnation. They sought to kill God’s people rather than welcome them and their government. Jericho was known for its cruelty and wickedness. According to archaeologists they placed live babies in jars and built them into the walls of the city as sacrifices to fortify their walls by the gods. In the midst of this only one person was willing to confess “The Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath” Joshua. 2:11. Her faith not only saved her, but she was the mother of Boaz, who married Ruth, the great‑great‑grandmother of King David and in the genealogy of the Messiah.
Hebrews 11:32-34 give us the example of six others who are noted for the victories that were wrought by faith. Gideon from Judges 7, Barak, from Judges 4‑5 with the help of Deborah, Samson Judges 11, 13-16, Jephthah, David and Samuel, Daniel, Hannaniah, Azariah and Meshael. All these men and women are commended not for their personal strength and fortitude in fact some were know for their personal failures and weaknesses, but they all were men who had faith in God. All of these were men and women like us who are noted because they were victorious in the struggles that each of them faced because of their faith in God.
Hebrews 11:35-38 Faith experiences victory in our struggles, but faith also endures in the midst of suffering. Elijah brought back to life the child of the widow of Zarephath, Elisha did the same for the Shunamite woman’s son. These mothers and prophets believed God for resurrection and God provided.
God does not always work in this way. Many of the afflictions mentioned in Hebrews 11 were long‑term, even lifetime. God however, gave power through faith to see his people through their trials, not escape them. Just as it is sometimes God’s will for us to have victory over our struggles, it is sometimes His will that we endure in the midst of our suffering. He will give us victory as well in these matters, but it may only be spiritual and not tangible. It often takes more courage to hold on than to fight on, and where there is need for more courage, there is need for more faith.
The pinnacle of faith is the willingness to accept the worst the world has to offer, torture even death, because of the confidence that God has far better in the resurrection. These examples show men willing to give up all rather than compromise their future. God’s people endured torture, mocking, and scourging. Isaiah according to tradition was sawn in two by wicked king Mannassah who could not stand his words of truth any longer. God does not promise us deliverance from all suffering.
In fact Jesus told us “if they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” Paul, Peter, and John tell us to endure in the midst of much persecutions. Shadrach, Meshach and Abed‑nego were confident that God would save them from the furnace. Read Daniel 3:16-18.
It is sometimes His will that we endure in the midst of our suffering. These men and women endured without anything tangible to grab hold of. The ultimate promise was for the Messiah, and the New covenant that He would bring. Shimon (Peter) in the new covenant writes: “As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Messiah within them was indicating as He predicted the suffering of the Messiah and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you. We are all called to endurance in the midst of obstacles and suffering that we are likely to experience.