Hebrews 11: 8 – 19
One of the striking things about this chapter is that the writer is making the same point from different angles and perspective so that his unbelieving counterparts are left with no choice but to respond positively to the message of the Gospel. His topic thus far, has been “By this our ancestors obtained a good report”. The report of which we derived the template of FAITH, which stipulates that there is first a MESSAGE from God (not any message) and the recipient of the message, navigates from knowing that God exist into making a positive response to the message delivered.
We should also recall that the message in this particular chapter was directed at the Jews who haven’t responded positively to the message of the Gospel, the ones who were still hanging on to Judaism and the Old Testament way of worship. They struggle with this and the many persecutions that came with changing and doing the Will of the Father. The aim of referring to the ancestors was to drive home one primary point and that is, “If you believe the story of Cain and Abel, Enoch and Noah, even Abraham (which we are about to discuss), then YOU MUST BELIEVE THE MESSAGE OF THE GOSPEL”. In other words, not believing the stories of the ancestors meant a disbelief in the story of Jesus and His message of which Hebrews 10:39 becomes the inevitable consequence.
To show the importance of this particular story – the story of Abraham and how he applied the template, the writer spent twelve verses discussing him. The new world had started again and God decides to choose Abraham. He called on him to leave his father and his kindred with a promise of a land where He would resettle again with his new family. Abraham did not set out to look for God, it was God who made the first move and that is the first part of the template of FAITH – “God gives a message”. The Bible says that God told Abraham about taking him to a place where Abraham had never been or had any idea about. Abraham moved without questioning or knowing what the future held for him.
The message from God is the “substance of things hoped for”, while the reaction of Abraham, (in accepting and responding positively to what he heard from God) is the “evidence of the things not seen”. Abraham became endorsed by God because not only did he believe the message, he also moved a step further in acting on what he was told by God – by moving out of his father’s house to go anywhere God was ready to take him. It was not a desire in Abraham to leave his father’s house; it was God that brought a message to him because God was about a particular purpose and plan.
It was God who worked in Abraham both to WILL and to DO of the good pleasure of God; it was all about what God had planned for the future, which was unknown to Abraham. Abraham would never have dreamt about the plan of God for humanity. It was God who interjected into his life and also gave an idea about the Seed or having a male child.
Abraham believed in God and it was accredited to him as righteousness – he got separated from his family giving a picture of one who believes the message of the Gospel and accepts being separated from the world. He got to Canaan and rather than look for a place to live in, he decided to dwell in tents whilst looking forward to the city that has foundations and whose builder and designer is God. He knew he was a stranger in this world as he set his eyes on the hope of things not seen (Heaven). Apostle Paul described this as “Setting our affection on things above, not on things on the earth”.
In his journey, God told him he would have a seed. It would have been easy for Abraham to continue using the same template of FAITH as he had always done, but he chose to go with his own way. He went into Hagar at the request of his wife Sarah and the consequence of that was Ishmael; but that was not the seed. The promised seed had to come through Sarah. Eventually Sarah was found with a child. God had strengthened her to conceive at that age of 90.
It was also recorded that Isaac was born by FAITH; God had promised both Abraham and Sarah that they were going to have a SEED and all they could do was accept and respond to what God said. The boy grew old and at a time God told Abraham to offer his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice. Abraham never argued or doubted God, in the same way he accepted and responded to what God said as he took Isaac to Mount Moriah. God had told Him about the descendants coming through Isaac. Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.
There is no Jew that does not know about Abraham because from him came the people of Israel. All Jews would call Abraham their progenitor. The idea is that without Abraham, there would have been no Nation of Israel. His audience knew this and the reason they needed to respond positively to the message of the Gospel. Obviously, they would be compelled to respond to the finished work at Calvary abandoning Judaism. Paul was spot on when he said “Christ has redeemed/rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree”. Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing He promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith”.
All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously, people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
Why would anyone hear this summation from the writer and not desire to respond to the message presented? This writer pointed out to them again indirectly that, TO BELIEVE IN ABRAHAM LIKE THE UNBELIEVING JEWS DID, IS TO BELIEVE IN JESUS AND THE FINISHED WORK AT CALVARY.
“In looking carefully over the history of the times, and the movement of the times, of which we have written briefly, this fact is apparent: that where ministers and Christian churches have held fast to the truth that the Holy Scriptures have been given by God as an authoritative and infallible rule of faith and practice, they have never wandered very seriously out of the right way. But when, on the other hand, reason has been exalted above revelation, and made the exponent of revelation, all kinds of errors and mischiefs have been the result” – C.H Spurgeon.
Keep it right here and be refreshed!