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Noon Day Bible Study
Rev. Dr. Howard L. Woods, Jr.
Rev. Dr. Howard L. Woods, Jr.
Tuesday, November 9, 2021
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How Can I Strengthen My Church?
(Positive Attitudes Lead To Positive Actions)

The Great Faith of God’s People

Hebrews 11:19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.

Abraham knew what God had promised; that was all that mattered.

He concluded that if God required him to slay his son, God would raise him up, even from the dead in order to fulfill the promise.

Up to this time there had been no recorded case of resurrection from the dead. Human experience had no statistics to offer. In a real sense, Abraham invented the idea of resurrection. His faith in the promise of God drove him to the conclusion that God would have to raise Isaac.

In a figurative sense, he did receive Isaac back from the dead. He had committed himself to the fact that Isaac must be slain. God credited him with the act.

But, as Grant put it so poignantly, the Lord “spared Abraham’s heart a pang He would not spare His own.” He provided a ram to take Isaac’s place, and the only begotten son was returned to his father’s heart and home.

Before leaving this outstanding example of faith, there are two points that should be mentioned. First, God never really intended for Abraham to slay his son. Human sacrifices were never God’s will for His people. He tested Abraham’s faith and found it to be genuine; then He rescinded His order.

Second, Abraham’s faith in the promise of a numerous progeny was tested over a period of one hundred years. The patriarch was seventy-five when the promise of a son was first given. He waited twenty-five years before Isaac was born. 

Isaac was seventeen when Abraham took him up on Mount Moriah to offer him to God. Isaac was forty when he married and was married twenty years before the twins were born. Abraham died when he was 175. At that time his descendants consisted of one son (seventy-five years old) and two grandchildren (fifteen years old). Yet during his lifetime, “He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform” (Rom. 4:20, 21).

Hebrews 11:20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.

It is hard for our western minds to understand what was so unusual in the faith of Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, as recorded in the next three verses. Isaac, for instance, achieved a place in faith’s hall of fame because he invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. What was remarkable about that?

Before the children were born, the Lord announced to Rebekah that the boys would become the source of two nations and that the older (Esau) would serve the younger (Jacob). Esau was Isaac’s favorite and, as the elder son, would normally have received the best portion from his father. But Rebekah and Jacob deceived Isaac, whose sight was now poor, into giving the best blessing to Jacob. When the plot was exposed, Isaac trembled violently. But he remembered God’s word that the older would serve the younger, and in spite of his predilection for Esau, he realized that God’s overruling of his natural weakness must stand.

Hebrews 11:21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.

There were many inglorious chapters in the life of Jacob, but he is honored as a hero of faith nevertheless. His character improved with age and he died in a burst of glory.

When he blessed Ephraim and Manasseh, the sons of Joseph, he crossed his hands so that the older son’s blessing fell on Ephraim, the younger. In spite of Joseph’s protests, Jacob insisted that the blessings must stand because this was the order which the Lord had specified.

Though his physical sight was dim, his spiritual sight was keen. The closing scene of Jacob’s life finds him worshiping while leaning on the top of his staff.

C. H. Mackintosh summarizes in his usual lovely style: The close of Jacob’s career stands in most pleasing contrast with all the previous scenes of his eventful history. It reminds one of a serene evening after a tempestuous day: the sun, which during the day had been hidden from view by clouds, mists, and fogs, sets in majesty and brightness, gilding with his beams the western sky, and holding out the cheering prospect of a bright tomorrow. Thus it is with our aged patriarch. The supplanting, the bargain-making, the cunning, the management, the shifting, the shuffling, the unbelieving selfish fears,—all those dark clouds of nature and of earth seem to have passed away, and he comes forth, in all the calm elevation of faith, to bestow blessings, and impart dignities, in that holy skillfulness which communion with God can alone impart.

Hebrews 11:22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.

Joseph’s faith was also strong when he was dying. He believed God’s promise that He would deliver the people of Israel out of Egypt. 

Faith enabled him to picture the exodus already. It was so sure to him that he instructed his sons to carry his bones with them for burial in Canaan. “Thus,” writes William Lincoln, “while surrounded by Egypt’s pomp and splendor, his heart was not there at all, but with his people in their future glory and blessing.”

Hebrews 11:23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.

It is really the faith of his parents and not of Moses himself that is in view here. As they looked on their baby, they saw he was a beautiful child—but it was more than physical beauty. They saw that he was a child of destiny, one whom God had marked out for a special work. Their faith that God’s purposes would be worked out gave them courage to defy the king’s command and to hide the child for three months. What can we learn from this?

Hebrews 11:24 By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,

By faith Moses himself was able to make several noble renunciations. Though reared in the luxury of Egypt’s palace and assured of all the things that men strive for, he learned that “it is not the possession of things but the forsaking of them that brings rest” (J. Gregory Mantle).

First of all, he refused Egypt’s fame. He was the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter and therefore assured of a place in the social elite, perhaps even as Pharaoh’s successor. But he had been born of better blood—a member of God’s chosen earthly people.

From this nobility he could not step down to Egypt’s royalty. In his adult years he made his choice; he would not hide his true nationality to win a few short years of earthly fame. The result? Instead of occupying a line or two of hieroglyphics on some obscure tomb, he is memorialized in God’s eternal Book. Instead of being found in a museum as an Egyptian mummy, he is famous as a man of God.

Hebrews 11:25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,

Second, he repudiated the pleasures of Egypt. Humble association with the suffering people of God meant more to him than the transient gratification of his appetites.

The privileges of sharing ill-treatment with his own people was greater pleasure to him than dissipation in Pharaoh’s court.

Hebrews 11:26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.

Third, he turned his back on the treasures in Egypt. Faith enabled him to see that the fabulous treasure houses of Egypt were worthless in the light of eternity.

So he chose to suffer the same kind of reproach as the Messiah would later suffer. Loyalty to God and love for His people were valued by him more that the combined wealth of Pharaoh. He knew that these were the things that would count one minute after he died.

Hebrews 11:27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.

Then, he also renounced Egypt’s monarch. Emboldened by faith, he made his exit from the land of bondage, careless of the wrath of the king. It was a clear break from the politics of this world.

He feared Pharaoh so little because he feared God so much.

He kept his eyes on “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen” (1 Tim. 6:15, 16).

Macdonald, Farstad Grady Scott, Hindson, E.E.