Hebrews 11:17- 12:3 - Outline of Hebrews (Book Notes menu page)
Examples of men who walked by faith (continued):
E. The remainder of the chapter demonstrates: The Warfare of Faith -
    The enemies of faith include:
a. The flesh (v.17-21), cp. 1Pet 2:11
b. The world system (v.22-28)
c. The Devil's dominion (v.29-31)
11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac:
and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten [son],
Abraham did not receive the fulfillment of God's promises in his lifetime (v.9,10,13).
But in his old age, he did receive the promised and long awaited son (Isaac) through whom the fulfillment would eventually come (in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, at His first and second comings).
     For Abraham, this son became the focus and joy of his life. ("Isaac" means "laughter.")
Had Abraham's heart, which once yearned for God alone, been stolen by this son?
God tried (tested) Abraham: Would he trust and obey, even
when God's Word was contrary to his natural (fleshly) affections and expectations?
his only begotten {GK=monogenes, unique, one of a kind, irreplaceable} - Gen 22:2,16
By means of a fleshly plan, Abraham had another son (Ishmael).
But Ishmael was not the son of promise. Gen 17:18-21
The promises (for which Abraham lived and yearned) hung upon Isaac, alone.
11:18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: {Gen 21:12}
11:19 Accounting that God [was] able to raise [him] up,
even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.
{Gen 22:1-19}
Abraham believed that the God, who commanded him to offer Isaac as a burnt sacrifice, would somehow keep His previous promise (v.18) even if it required Isaac's resurrection from the dead.
Abraham's obedience was so quick and complete, that Isaac was as good as dead. Only the Lord's intervention, in providing a substitute sacrifice, allowed Abraham and Isaac to "worship and come again..."
Abraham's obedience of faith, like his prophetic statement ("My son, God will provide Himself a lamb."), had far reaching consequences. For God's promise ("...in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.") would be fulfilled through His only begotten son. Joh 1:29; 3:16; Rom 8:32; cp. Rom 4:3,21-25
11:20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
Isaac's natural (fleshly) preference was to favor Esau over Jacob.
Esau was a ruddy man's man, a rugged outdoorsman.
Jacob was a momma's boy, who had a reputation as a deceiver.
Jacob and his mother conspired to deceive Isaac and steal Esau's blessing.
In spite of their fleshly plan, and his own fleshly preference, Isaac soon recognized that God's choice was contrary to his own, and surrendered to it. Gen 27:26-33-40
He blessed -- Jacob before Esau (though Esau was the firstborn).
-- regarding things yet future, yet to be seen. (cp. v.1,3)
11:21 By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph;
and worshipped, [leaning] upon the top of his staff.
Jacob blessed Joseph's sons...
  • contrary to the natural (fleshly) order:
    Ephraim before Manasseh (the first-born), over Joseph's protests to the contrary. Gen 48:13-20
  • with worship and sensitivity to the LORD's leading.
    'Leaning upon... his staff' probably refers to Jacob's bowing himself before the LORD, just prior to giving his blessings (Gen 48:12).
Jacob's request regarding his burial may also be in view, here.
Like the blessing of Joseph's sons, his request demonstrated his faith in God's promise of future inheritance of the land in which he had been a stranger. Gen 47:29-31
11:22 By faith Joseph, when he died {lit., drawing to his end},
made mention of the departing of the children of Israel;
and gave commandment concerning his bones.
made mention {GK=mnenenouo, called to mind, remembered}
Based on God's Word (Gen 15:13,14), Joseph anticipated Israel's departure from Egypt (350 years after his time).
gave commandment concerning his bones -
ie., 'When you depart, take my bones with you.' Gen 50:24-26
Why didn't Israel return to the promised land, soon after the famine ended?
Because of the world: They were in political favor and economic prosperity.
Why didn't Israel bury Joseph in Canaan, soon after he died? Because of the world:
He was a national hero, held in highest honor by Egypt. (cp. Gen 50:26)
But eventually, a Pharaoh would arise who had no respect for Joseph,
and Israel would be slaves, during most of their sojourn in Egypt.
Long before Israel developed a desire to depart, Joseph believed God's Word despite the contra-indication of contemporary political favor. cp. Ex 13:19; Josh 24:32
11:23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents,
because they saw [he was] a proper child;
and they were not afraid of the king's commandment.
Moses' parents, in a time of political disfavor,
feared God and obeyed Him, rather than the king. Ex 1:15,16,22; 2:1-3
a 'proper' child - {OT word: pleasant, agreeable; NT word: polished, comely, fair}
Apparently, baby Moses' appearance and demeanor, somehow, confirmed to his parents that God's will was superior to Pharaoh's. They acted in faith, in an environment of governmental oppression and intimidation, where fleshly fear would naturally discourage obedience to God.
11:24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years,
refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;
{Ex 2:10; Acts 7:21-24}
Moses... refused - Moses was brought up in the lap of luxury.
As a well-educated young adult, his future was bright with political opportunity.
As the son of Pharaoh's daughter, he may have been in line for Egypt's throne.
But he threw away his privileged position, for something of greater value.
11:25 Choosing {ie., having chosen} rather to suffer affliction with the people of God,
than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
Moses chose to identify with the people of God (cp. Heb 4:9), despite the cost.
He forfeited his fleshly advantage, and became a fugitive. Ex 2:11-15
choosing... to suffer affliction... rather than... the pleasures of sin for a season.-
  • Fleshly pleasures...
    -- are 'for a season,' because they soon pass away.
    -- become sin, when they displace or disregard God. eg., Luk 12:16-21
  • Suffering of affliction, for the Lord's sake, is also temporary. cp. Mat 5:10-12
Both have long-term consequences. 2Cor 4:17,18; Psalm 73
11:26 Esteeming the reproach of {the} Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt:
for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.
the Christ {the Messiah, the anointed One} - who would bring God's promises to fruition.
Faith has always looked to Him. eg., Gen 22:18; 49:10,11; Num 24:17,19; Isa 42:1,4,6,7
The world has always reproached Him (held Him in disdain). cp. Heb 10:32,33; 13:13
     Moses identified himself with the people of Israel, through whom the promised Seed would come, to bless all nations (Gal 3:16). How did Moses, who was "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians," come to faith in the promises of Israel's God? Apparently, through the instruction of his mother, during his earliest years, prior to becoming the son of Pharaoh's daughter (Ex 2:9,10).
Moses 'had respect' {GK=apoblepo, to look away from all else to gaze at one object. [WEVine]}
...to the recompense of the reward {ie., 'unto the payment of wages'} -
To Moses, the treasures of Egypt were as nothing, compared to the treasure in Heaven. cp. Heb 10:35-38
11:27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king:
for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
Moses forsook {Gk=kataleipo, to leave behind} Egypt...
Twice, Moses left Egypt behind, for the wilderness.
The first time, he tended Jethro's sheep. Later, he shepherded God's people.
Moses endured {GK= kartereo, to be steadfast (related to GK kratos, strength)}
In the contest with Pharaoh and in the trials of the wilderness, things looked hopeless, but he looked to God, the source of his strength. cp. v.1,3; Ex 33:14,15; Psa 16:8
     For Moses, the 'things seen' included Pharaoh's wrath, stern taskmasters, afflictive burdens, hard bondage, mortar and brick; the things 'not seen' included God's eternal purpose, His unfailing promise, His continual Presence, and the approaching day of salvation. [adapted from CHM]
11:28 Through faith he {hath} kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood,
lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.
the passover - Salvation is through the blood of the lamb (looking forward to Christ, 1Cor 5:7).
lest [the destroyer] touch them - Moses recognized that the sentence (death)
applied equally to the sins of Israel, as to Egypt.
through faith - Moses and believing Israel applied the prescribed remedy.
Ex 12:12,21-23,28,29
11:29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry [land]:
which the Egyptians assaying
{ie., attempting} to do were drowned.
Faith in, and obedience to, God's Word set Israel apart from Egypt, though both took the same path:
For Eqypt it was the way of self-will and self-strength leading to death.
For Israel it was the way of God's mercy and God's power leading to victory.
God brought His people out of Egypt (symbolic of slavery under Satan's dominion),
by the blood of the lamb (v.28), and by the power of His own arm.
Ex 14:13-31; 15:1-20
11:30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down,
after they were compassed about seven days.
the walls of Jericho - represented the strongholds of Satan's dominion.
fell down - not by human might, power, or strategy.
Joshua obeyed the orders of the Captain of the Lord's host [army].
after they were compassed about [for] seven days -
For six days, and most of the seventh, quiet obedience to God's Word must have seemed very foolish, to those who watched the silent marchers from Jericho's walls.
by faith - Israel held on, to what could not be seen, until the moment of the shout.
Josh 5:13- 6:5; 2Cor 10:3-5
11:31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not,
when she had received the spies with peace.
Rahab was a child of Satan's dominion.-
-- she grew up among a godless people ("them that believed not").
-- she was personally impure (a harlot).
by faith - she turned from these to the true and living God.
Read her testimony: Josh 2:9-11
received the spies - Her action, in behalf of the people of the true God,
and at considerable personal risk, demonstrated her faith.
perished not - God saved her and did His work in her life.
Her past sins and associations were forgiven.
Her name is included in the ancestral line of Jesus. (Mat 1:5)
The specific examples, above, urge believers to follow in a walk of steadfast faith and obedience to God's Word (Heb 10:35). But countless others have lived by faith. Each person's story is unique in trials and blessings. But all looked, by faith, beyond this earthly life, to the One who promised (v.13-16).
11:32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of
Gedeon, and [of] Barak, and [of] Samson, and [of] Jephthae;
[of] David also, and Samuel, and [of] the prophets:
You will recognize some of these men and women of faith.
We will not dwell on any of them.
Representative references are provided so you can read more.
Gideon- Judg 6:11-40; 7:1-25
Barak- Judg 4:6-24
Samson- Judg 13:24- 16:31
Jephtha- Judg 11:1-29; 12:1-7
David- 1Sam 16 through 2Sam 24
Samuel- 1Sam 7:9-14
11:33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, {eg., David}
wrought righteousness, {eg., the judges and the kings, 2Sam 8:15}
obtained promises, {eg., the Davidic covenant}
stopped the mouths of lions, {eg., Daniel, Dan ch.6}
11:34 Quenched the violence of fire, {eg., Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Dan ch.3}
escaped the edge of the sword, {eg., David and Saul, 1Sam 18:10-12}
out of weakness were made strong, {eg., Samson, Judg 16:28-30}
waxed valiant in fight, {eg., David against Goliath, 1Sam 17:42-52}
turned to flight the armies of the aliens. {eg., Gideon, Judg 7:20-22}
11:35 Women received their dead raised to life again: {eg., Elijah, 1Kin 17:17-24}
Note the division here --
Up to this point, the men and women of faith have known victory.
But now we see that God's people may also know defeat, in this life.
and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance;
{ie., the deliverance offered in exchange for compromise of the truth}
that they might obtain a better resurrection:
{ie., better than that of those who turn back, cp. Heb 10:39}
11:36 And others had trial of [cruel] mockings and scourgings,
yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
moreover...- While mockings and scourgings may, be momentary or temporary,
     imprisonment may be long lasting, and may be in addition to the former trials.
11:37 They were stoned, {eg., Zechariah, 2Chr 24:20-22}
they were sawn asunder, {eg., Isaiah by King Manasseh, according to Jewish tradition}
were tempted, {ie., to turn back - In the face of such trials, the flesh is weak.}
were slain with the sword: {contrast v.34}
they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; {ie., the clothing of the destitute}
being destitute, afflicted, tormented; {tormented - ie., ill treated, oppressed}
11:38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:)
they wandered
{ie., as outcasts}
in deserts, and [in] mountains, and [in] dens and caves of the earth.
In the course of time, innumerable Christian martyrs would be added to this list.
Daniel was delivered from the lions' den.
But countless Christians were devoured in Rome's Coliseum.
Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego emerged from Nebuchadnezzar's fiery furnace.
But hundreds of believers, like John Huss (in 1414 A.D.), were burned at the stake for preaching that God's Word (Scripture, not church or pope) is our final authority.
There is diversity in faith's experience (but not in its substance).
Some were delivered in joyful victory. Others suffered public shame and contempt.
11:39 And these all, having obtained a good report {ie., testimony} through faith,
received not the promise:
these all - There is singularity in faith's substance: the Word of God:
the testimony {or Word} of God (see Note at v.2) was -
-- received ("having obtained"). v.4,5
-- believed ("through faith"). 1The 2:13
these all...received not the [fulfillment of the] promise.- cp. (v.13-16; Heb 10:36-39)
11:40 God having provided some better thing for us,
that they without us should not be made perfect.
not without us - God's promises and their fulfillment unite true believers of all ages.
some better thing... be made perfect -
In OT times, men of faith waited in the shadows of God's salvation. But now, in Christ, the reality has come. Together, in Him, OT and NT saints have a better hope, a better covenant, perfect sanctification, eternal inheritance...
cp. Heb 7:19,22; 8:6; 9:8-15; 10:11-14; Luk 2:29-32
Yet, with them, we are engaged in The Watchful Wait of Faith,
because our salvation will not be complete, until the Lord returns. Heb 9:28
12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us],
and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
a cloud of 'witnesses' {GK=martus, lit., testimony bearers} -
The picture is not of a stadium full of spectators looking down on the players to see whether they stand or fall, but rather, of a crowd of runners, in a great marathon, moving toward a common goal. Some have gone before us. Others follow behind. Those, mentioned in ch.11, did not reach the goal in their lifetimes. Although we have received further revelation, than they, we have not yet passed the finish line, nor received the prize. Even in death, our faithful predecessors speak. Their testimony encourages us to endure. Together, they say:
"The Word of the Lord stands sure!" and, "He is faithful that promised!" (Heb 10:23)
let us lay aside...
  • every weight - ie., our individual weaknesses.
    These are the things we often call 'our besetting sins,' which hinder our progress, in 'the race that is set before us.' The world will not help us live for God. Yet, we often impede ourselves. Heb 12:12-16
  • the sin which doth 'so easily beset us' {lit., 'so readily stands round us'} -
    While we may differ concerning the type of sins to which we are predisposed, the focus of the passage is on one sin (singular), which is common to us all. What is this common sin which so easily besets us? It is the sin of unbelief. cp. Heb 3:12-19; 4:1-2
let us run...
  • with patience (10:36).
  • the race set before us - Your course may encounter different obstacles than mine.
    But 'let us' encourage one another to stay the course (10:23-25), lest we be distracted from the destination (11:10), and lose sight of the One who has gone before us and who will come again for us (12:2). cp.1Cor 9:24-27; Php 3:13-14
12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith;
who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame,
and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
looking {GK=aphorao, to look away from other things to focus on one object alone}
...unto Jesus...-
  • the author - Jesus is the basis of 'the Faith.' (cp. Heb 2:10)
    He is the Word of God, the Lamb of God, the Right Hand of the LORD.
  • the finisher {perfecter} - Jesus will bring all of God's promises to completion.
    He will bring the race that we run (our life of faith) to a perfect conclusion.
    Php 1:6; 2Cor 1:20; 2Tim 4:7,8; Rev 1:17,18
  • who...endured...- Jesus is the ultimate example of what it means to live by faith.
  • who... is set down at the right hand... of God -
    Jesus is our surety of God's promises. Heb 6:19,20; 7:22-28
    As He looked to the Father, so, we are to look to Him.
    As His faith was rewarded, so, our trust in Him will not be disappointed.
    cp. Isa 45:22-24; Rom 9:33; Titus 2:13,14
12:3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself,
lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
'consider' Him... {GK=analogizomai, contemplate well, take thorough account of}
The Lord Jesus walked a rough road, before us. He endured. He overcame.
cp. Mat 10:24,25; Joh 15:18-21; Heb 5:7-10; 1Joh 5:4,5; Rev 3:21
lest ye...faint...- In ourselves, we have no strength to endure. We must look to Him.
cp. Isa 40:30,31; Mat 28:18-20; 2Cor 3:5; 4:7-10,16-18; Jude 1:24,25
Oh, Lord, how do you see us?
Are we running the race well? - living by faith in your sure Word?
Or, are we hobbling along, hamstrung by our own fleshly thinking,
by the corrupt culture in which we live, and by the opposition of the evil one?
Have you not told us - that your promises are for "him that overcomes" these things?
and - that "he that overcomes" is the one "who believes that Jesus is the Son of God"?
Oh, Lord, we look to You. Restore us to that well founded faith. For we live in perilous times,
and there is no other place to stand, no other way to live that pleases you.

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