But recall the former days when,
after r you were enlightened,
you endured s a hard struggle with sufferings,
sometimes being t publicly exposed to reproach and affliction,
and sometimes being partners with those so treated.
For u you had compassion on those in prison,
and v you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property possessions,
since you knew
that you yourselves had w a better possession and an abiding one.
Therefore do not throw away your confidence ,
which has x a great reward.
For y you have need of endurance ,
so that z when you have done the will of God
you may a receive what is promised.
For, b “Yet a little while,
and c the coming one will come
and will not delay;
d but my righteous one shall live by faith ,
and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.”
But we are not of those who shrink back
and are destroyed,
but of those who have faith
and preserve their souls.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for,
the conviction of e things not seen .
For by it the people of old received their commendation .
we understand that the universe was created by f the word of God,
so that what is seen was not made out of g things that are visible .
h Abel offered to God i a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain,
through which he was commended as righteous ,
God commending him by accepting his gifts.
And j through his faith ,
though he died,
he k still speaks.
l Enoch was taken up
so that he should not see death,
and he was not found,
because God had taken him.
Now before he was taken
he was commended as having pleased God.
And without faith
it is impossible to please him,
for whoever would draw near to God
m must believe that (1) he exists
and m that (2) he rewards those who seek him.
n Noah, being warned by God concerning o events as yet unseen,
in reverent fear
constructed an ark
for the saving of his household.
By this he condemned the world
and became an heir of p the righteousness that comes by faith.
q Abraham obeyed
when he was called
to go out to a place
r that he was to receive as an inheritance.
And he went out,
not knowing where he was going.
he went to live in s the land of promise,
as in a foreign land,
t living in tents u with Isaac and Jacob,
heirs with him of the same promise.
For he was looking forward to v the city
that has w foundations,
x whose designer and builder is God.
y Sarah herself received power to conceive,
even when she was past the age,
since she considered z him faithful who had promised.
Therefore from one man, and a him as good as dead, were born descendants
b as many as the stars of heaven
and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.
These all died in faith,
c not having received the things promised,
but d having seen them
and greeted them from afar,
and e having acknowledged
that they were f strangers and exiles on the earth.
For people who speak thus make it clear
that they are seeking a homeland.
If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out,
g they would have had opportunity to return.
But as it is, they desire a better country,
that is, a heavenly one.
Therefore God is not ashamed h to be called their God,
for i he has prepared for them a city.
j Abraham, when he was tested,
offered up Isaac,
and he who had received the promises
was in the act of offering up his only son,
of whom it was said,
k “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”
l He considered
that God was able even to raise him from the dead,
from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.
m Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau.
n Jacob, when dying,
blessed each of the sons of Joseph,
o bowing in worship over the head of his staff.
p Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites
and gave directions concerning his bones.
q Moses, when he was born,
was hidden for three months by his parents,
because they saw that the child was beautiful,
and they were not afraid of r the king’s edict.
Moses, when he was grown up,
s refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,
t choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God
than to enjoy u the fleeting pleasures of sin.
v He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth
than the treasures of Egypt,
for he was looking to w the reward.
he x left Egypt,
y not being afraid of the anger of the king,
for he endured
z as seeing him who is invisible.
a he kept the Passover
and sprinkled the blood,
so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.
b the people crossed the Red Sea
as on dry land,
but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same,
c the walls of Jericho fell down
after they had been encircled for seven days.
d Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient,
because she e had given a friendly welcome to the spies.
And what more shall I say?
For time would fail me to tell of f Gideon, g Barak, h Samson, i Jephthah, of j David and k Samuel and the prophets—
who through faith
l stopped the mouths of lions,
m quenched the power of fire,
escaped the edge of the sword,
were made strong out of weakness,
n became mighty in war,
n put foreign armies to flight.
o Women received back their dead by resurrection.
Some were tortured,
refusing to accept release,
so that they might rise again to a better life.
Others suffered mocking and flogging,
and even p chains and imprisonment.
q They were stoned,
they were sawn in two, 1
r they were killed with the sword.
s They went about in skins of sheep and goats,
of whom the world was not worthy—
t wandering about in deserts and mountains,
and in dens and caves of the earth.
And all these, u though commended through their faith,
u did not receive what was promised,
since God had provided something better for us,
v that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us also lay aside every weight,
and w sin which clings so closely,
and x let us run
y with endurance
the race that is z set before us,
looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,
a who for the joy that was set before him
endured the cross,
despising b the shame,
and c is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
d Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself,
so that you may not grow weary or e fainthearted.
This idea of perseverance in faith is not new to the readers. They had persevered before!
ἄθλησις ath'-lay-sis /áthlēsis/ Noun strongs : G119 source : from ἀθλέω ; a contest In this case, almost like a harsh wrestling match.
Cf. 1 Cor 4:9 A public display, like in a theatre
ὀνειδισμός on-i-dis-mos' /oneidismós/ Noun strongs : G3680 source : from ὀνειδίζω ; reproach, reviling, insult of verbal nature
θλῖψις thlip'-sis /thlîpsis/ Noun strongs : G2347 source : from θλίβω ; persecution, affliction, distress of physical nature
Cf. 1 Pet 3:14-16; 4:3-4, 12-17
Cf. 1 Cor 12:26; 2 Cor 1:7, 1 Pet 4:13
συμπαθέω soom-path-eh'-o /sympathéō/ Verb strongs : G4834 source : from συμπαθής ; I sympathize with, have compassion on, suffer alongside
Note the implied contrast the author is bringing out: plural possessions (property) vs our singular better possession implied temporary possessions vs an abiding one
Cf. Lk 6:22-23
ver 35-36 The condition Not throwing away one's confidence (ver 19)=endurance=doing the will of God The result: a great reward, the promise - the better possession.
Cf. 4:1, 6:12, 8:6, 9:15, 10:23 Just like the people of old who received some elements of what was promised and waited for the complete fulfillment of the promises, we too wait eagerly for what is promised, cf. 9:28
cf. Isa. 26:20 ; Hag. 2:6 Isaiah talks about hiding for a little while until the fury of the justice of God passes. This is very similar to Habakkuk's context of waiting for God's answer regarding his justice upon the Chaldeans (Hab 2:1).
Cf. 10:7. Christ did the will of God resulting in the new covenant (Mrk 14:36) which enables people to do God's will, as seen in Heb 8:10
For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith. (Habakkuk 2:3-4 ESV)
lit. we take possession of our being alive as opposed to "destroyed"
Cf. 1:3 (nature), 3:14 (confidence) The point is that of a fundamental reality that underlies our hope. Faith has confidence in these realities and hopes based on these realities, no matter the circumstance. Faith says: "My hope is certainty because I have tasted a real morsel of what I hope for"
The evidence - a legal requirement. It is the evidence of things we (presently) cannot see.
The presbyters - the elders. Here the term is not necessarily ecclesiological.
μαρτυρέω mar-too-reh'-o /martyréō/ Verb strongs : G3140 source : from μάρτυς ; I witness, testify Cf. 7:8, 17, 10:15, 12:1.
The author's point is not just about those who had faith, but those who died in faith (ver 13). Abel was the first who faced death at the hands of his 'faithless' brother, thus becoming a witness/martyr to faith.
Cf. Gen 4:4-10; Matt 23:34-35, 1 Jn 3:12
And Henoch lived one hundred sixty-five years and became the father of Mathousala. Now Henoch was well pleasing to God after he becamethe father of Mathousala, for two hundred years,and had sons and daughters. And all the days of Henoch amounted to three hundred sixty-fiveyears. And Henoch was well pleasing to God , andhe was not found, because God transferred him. Genesis 5:21-24 The New English Translation of the Septuagint This was a characteristic he shared, interestingly enough, with Noah (Gen 6:9), Abraham (Gen. 17:1; 24:40; 48:15) Isaac (Gen. 48:15) and Joseph (Gen. 39:4). All these men feature here, in Hebrews 11.
Thus, with Abel and Enoch we see both possibilities of enduring faith: a preview of the victorious resurrection life, or violent death, which the author brings back into focus in Heb 11:32-35 & Heb 11:36-38.
Cf. Heb 11:1. 'He is' is parallel to "things not seen" He is, is a striking resemblance to "I am". Note also the connection between Ex 3:12-14 and Heb 9:14-15. A God who rewards, bringing people out to draw near to him and 'serve him' in the land of rest
Cf. Heb 11:1. 'He rewards' is parallel to "things hoped for"
Cf. 4:16, 7:19,25, 10:1, 22 The whole point of Hebrews thus far has been to tell us that we can and should draw near to God. Connecting 11:6b and 11:6c, we see that our drawing near to God in faith gives God pleasure! No wonder we can come to him in confidence!
The idea of seek, here, is not of mere interest, but of seeking and persisting with the seeking.
Cf. Gen 6-9; specifically Gen 6:9
cf. 8:5; Mt 2:12, 22; Lk 2:26; Ac 10:22
Cf. 5:7 He feared God's promises more than 'the world', contrasted here by 'he condemned the world'. Cf. also 2 Pt 2:5
in keeping with faith. Faith does not result in righteousness, but is the means through which righteousness is bestowed.
The covenant promise of Land
The covenant promise of offspring
God's promise of land came only in Gen 12:7, long after Abraham had 'gone out' and arrived in the land. He truly had no idea where he was going, apart from God's word that he would show it to him (Gen 12:1)
Cf. Gen 12:1-4
Note the subtle hint in the tense: "what is seen", implying the sustaining of creation by God.
Note that the idea of a city then meant security and permanence - the good life. In other words, rest (cf. Heb 4:1-11)
Cf. Rev 21
Cf. Gen 26:3, 28:13
Almost indicative of the author acknowledging that she is a surprise addition to this list.
Cf. Rom 4:16-21
Cf. Gen 15:5, 22:17
cf. 13:14; Phil 3:20; 1 Pet 1:1, 17; 2:11–12
The latter term (Gk. parepidēmos, GK 4215) denotes a temporary resident, one on the way through to somewhere else. The related concept of the paroikos (GK 4230) supplied the verb for Abraham’s settling in Canaan “like a stranger in a foreign country” (v.9). Here, “on earth” could be translated “in the land” (of Canaan) as in v.9, which was of course the literal situation of the patriarchs, but the way the author will go on to expound the idea makes it clear that for him this is a model of the situation of all God’s people as “citizens of heaven” on their way home and therefore always “aliens” on earth. Guthrie, George H.. Hebrews, James (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (pp. 154-155). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.
cf. Gen 23:4; 28:4; 47:9
“A country of their own” translates Greek patris, “homeland” (GK 4258; or “hometown” as in Mk 6:1; etc.), normally the place where you were born and the place where you really belong and are recognized as family. Guthrie, George H.. Hebrews, James (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (p. 155). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.
God gets glory when we trust his promises. When we desire the better homeland, prepared by God, we seek after it and that would be very evident. Now would this not give God much glory? He is not ashamed does not mean that God is proud at some accomplishment of mine, but that he is glad to be glorified as my God.
Note that the desiring of God's country is a ground for their earnest and evident seeking, and also the ground for God's not being ashamed to be called their God.
A subtle push at the readers own apparent desire to dump their faith in all that's better.
God is glorified in the patriarch's longing for his city BECAUSE he has already prepared a city for their enjoyment! His glory-seeking is for the joy of his people.
Cf. 11: 4-5, 12-13, 19, 21-22, 28-29, 34-35, 37 Death is mentioned repeatedly in this chapter. Sometimes faith results in an escape from death, sometimes not.
Gen 21:12 But God said to Abraam, “Do not let the matter be hard in your sight on accountof the child and on account of the slave-girl; whatever Sarra says to you, obey her voice, for in Isaak offspring shall be named for you. NETS
Cf. Gen 22:1
"Only" or unique, very similar to John's "only one from the Father". Perhaps drawing parallels to God's act? But most likely not, because the focus here is on Abraham's faith, not his parallel action to God's
cf. Jam 2:21-23
Cf. Gen 22:5
Almost indicative of the fact that Abraham had in fact given up (killed) Isaac. Cf. Gen 22:2,12. He loved God and God alone. Also, the author perhaps is figuratively bringing the idea of Christ's resurrection (and ours) as well!
All of these are death-bed blessings. These too died in faith, and endured to the end.
cf. Gen 27:27-29,39,40
Cf. Gen 47:29-48:22
Ge 50:24–25; cf. Ex 13:19; Jos 24:32
What aspects made Isaac's sacrifice an example of Abraham's faith? Why does Abraham go through with the act of offering up his son? When is Abraham seen as righteous? What does it tell us about this act of obedience? cf. Jam 2:21-23
What is common between these last 3 heroes of faith? What aspect of faith is the author illustrating through these men?
Cf. Ex 2:2, Acts 7:20
11:23 Whose faith is being spoken of here? What key word do we find in ver 23? Saw What is the result of Moses' parents' seeing? Why is their hiding of Moses not seen as fear?
The author has already described faith as the conviction of things not seen (ver 1) and soon, in this section, we will see Moses too "not being afraid" because of his "seeing him who is invisible". Considering this perspective, it is highly likely that what Moses' parents 'saw' was something more than mere physical appearance. The Exodus account and our author don't explain what, but our author finds it to be no accident that Jochebed " saw" that he was a fine child". It's no surprise, because the idea of 'seeing' is replete in Ex 2, and the rest of the book.
Weren't Moses' parents afraid? While national law demanded a killing of Hebrew male children, it seems that Amram and Jochebed feared God rather than Pharaoh. and their death at his hand If that is not very explicit in the text, we do see explicitly that they feared for the life of the child more than their own lives. Fearless love.
Cf. Ex 2:11-15
To be the people of God implies to be proleptically, belonging to Christ.
Cf. Ex 2:11, Acts 7:23 The author doesn't use "people/children of Israel", but brings Israel within the larger idea of "people of God", because he has seen what Christ's work has done, unifying Jew and Gentile under God. And this is what Moses' faith enabled him to see: his 'brothers' were people of the unseen God.
11:27-28 What incident is being spoken of here? How do we know? Why was Moses not afraid? What did he see? Why would keeping the Passover take faith? What was being seen for the Passover to be kept? What was the result?
Ex 11:4-8, 12:1-13
Cf. 3:7-4:13 The 40 years in the wilderness are not at all mentioned! Why? There was no faith. The people believed in Ex 14:31, but didn't endure (at least in action)
Cf. Jos 6:1-5
11:24-26 How do we know that Moses refused to be called an Egyptian? What all does he refuse? What choice did he make, instead? Why does he make these choices? What reward was he looking to? Therefore what is faith seen to be?
What reward? Perhaps the liberation of the people as God had promised into their land of milk and honey and pleasure? Or perhaps it was the just retribution of the Egyptians, cf. 2:2 Whatever reward it was, it could only have been based on the promises of God.
11:29-31 What is a new idea seen in these verses? What were the consequences of not having faith? What period of time is missing? Why was Jericho's encircling considered an act of faith? Why is Rahab included? What did she see?
The first four names are the four judges whose stories are told at greatest length (not “a random sampling,” so Lane, 383) in the period following the entry into Canaan, all of them involved in the struggle to establish Israel’s foothold among the hostile peoples of the area (though the most prominent woman, Deborah, is surprisingly not mentioned alongside or instead of Barak, whose mentor she was). Then comes Samuel, the transitional figure from the judges to the monarchy, and his protégé David, the greatest (if not quite the first) of the kings. The order in which the names are listed is curious: three chronologically successive pairs appear, but with the order reversed within each pair. Perhaps the author deliberately grouped them in pairs but then in each case put the better-known name before the lesser-known. The position of Samuel at the end allows a smooth transition to “the prophets” who succeeded him. Guthrie, George H.. Hebrews, James (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (p. 163). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.
11:32-38 In these verses, what are the two outcomes of faith? Where have we seen these before? (cf. ver 4-5) What were these heroes willing to do? Why did they endure? What were these people looking to? How does the Holy Spirit describe them? How is this familiar to us? See Noah and Moses What does it mean that the world was not worthy of them?
Note the explicit singular promise.
11:39-12:3 What did the people of old not get? What has God provided for us that is better? Even though these were faithful, why did they NOT receive the promise? [The Cricket Game example: trophies are not given until the game is over] Till now we have seen God witnessing about these heroes, but now, why are they called witnesses? What are they witnessing to? Is sin the only thing that needs to be thrown off? What else? How are we to run? Whose example are we to follow? What about his example ought we to follow? What, according to the text should motivate us to run?
i.e. "apart from us they should not be made perfect", cf. Rev 6:10-11 Based on ver 39, the better we are provided with is more of the promise - all that refers to the new covenant realities of the better Son of God, with his better high-priesthood, and the consequent eternal perfection of the faithful, starting now. We know and experience far more than they.
Witnesses of What? God's faithfulness
Here, both the idea of pioneer and author fit in - he both is our forerunner (literally) and is the one from whom and based on whom our faith comes. He not only is the author, but the perfecter of it. It is in him that all the promises will be fulfilled and all of us will receive our inheritance.
The story of Jesus closely matches the pattern of faith established in ch. 11. His earthly experience was of suffering and death (“a cross”; there is no article in the Greek), and of ostracism from human society (“shame”), but he was willing to “endure” all this (the same word as in 10:32, 36; 12:1, “persevere”) because he could see beyond it to the future “joy.” As a result, he now enjoys the fulfillment of God’s promises in that he is seated “at the right hand of the throne of God” (cf. 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12), his victory won and his eternal authority secure. Here writ large is the perspective of faith, which is “sure of what we hope for” (11:1), however improbable it may seem in light of present circumstances. Guthrie, George H.. Hebrews, James (The Expositor's Bible Commentary) (p. 168). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.
Easy to Read Outline
After his threefold exhortation on the basis of all that is 'better', the author sternly warns his listeners of the dire consequences of throwing away all that God has enabled and achieved. He now proceeds to exhort and encourage them to remain confident instead of throwing their confidence away. ENDURE! ( 10:32-36 ) Remember former endurance ( 10:32-34 ) 10:32-34a The author encourages his listeners to look back at their own past endurance, fighting for faith despite suffering: (1) public shaming through verbal and physical persecution and (2) partaking with others who were so dealt with. They were reviled along with the prisoners they were serving and found joy despite the plundering of all their possessions 10:34b Why did they endure? Because they knew that they had one possession far better and more permanent than their many, temporary possessions Remain enduring, therefore ( 10:34-36 ) 10:34b-36 Because they knew what was better, the author again issues an encouragement to remain and persevere, which expressed in three ways: a. Do not throw away your confidence b. You have need of endurance c. You will be doing the will of God He reminds them of the consequences of remaining in three ways as well: a. You have a better possession and an abiding one b. Your confidence has a great reward c. You will receive what is promised These ideas continue through Hebrews 11 as well 1. Who and what do we think of as better? How does that reflect in our lives? 2. Is our love for others motivated by our better, abiding possession? 3. Can we joyfully accept the possibility of plundering? What motivates the joy? 4. Will we remain and endure when we are afflicted, by circumstances or people? What motivates our endurance? 5. Do we think of "doing the will of God" to be the unsensational endurance of faith? Or do we prefer trying to find the will of God when it comes to matters regarding temporary 'possessions' which are rather sensational to us? 6. What endurance in the past might we remember as evidence of our faith? ENDURE BY FAITH ( 10:37-11:3 ) We are of Faith: Looking Up and Looking Forward ( 10:37-39 ) 10:37 The author grounds these exhortations on something sharper than a two-edged sword, found primarily in Habakkuk 2:3-4 (with a bit from Isaiah 26:20). The thrust of Habakkuk 2:3 is in the "waiting" (which is endure, in Greek) for the fulfillment of God's promise. This endurance is seen in two ways: (1) patiently, looking upward (though he tarries, LXX) and (2) eagerly, looking forward (he will not tarry, LXX) , for the fulfillment of God's promise 10:38 The author inverts the clauses of Hab 2:4: a. The righteous person is then described as someone who lives by faith - his faith in God and God's faithfulness to his word. b. But if this person draws back, God will have no pleasure in him 10:39 He does this to give weight to his pastoral point: b. We are not those who draw back and who don't enjoy God's pleasure, i.e. are destroyed. a. But we are those of faith, who are righteous and have possession of our lives in all fullness, who enjoy the pleasure of God These ideas of 'righteousness', 'faith' and God's 'pleasure' are seen in Hebrews 11 as well This is Faith: Looking Up and Looking Forward ( 11:1-3 ) The author then explains how Hab 2:3-4 is lived out in practice by several examples. But first, he looks at faith itself in two perspectives: a. 11:1a Looking forward: Faith is the confidence (cf. 3:14) and nature (cf. 1:3) of things hoped for. The future we hope for is so real because we have tasted a part of it. Therefore, we have confidence. It is not wishful thinking about some uncertain future, but the sight of a promised, certain and better future; all this despite circumstances. b. 11:1b Looking upward: faith is the evidence/conviction of things we cannot presently see. In simple terms, faith is able to tangibly see realities that cannot presently be seen with physical eyes. Putting it actively, God proves his reality when we have faith. What the eye cannot see, and therefore a materialistic worldview would deny, is in fact “proved” by the experience of faith (Guthrie, George H.) 11:2 People of old who lived by faith were witnessed about and approved by God (in Scripture, cf. 7:8,17) 11:3 The author then explains the idea of seeing what cannot be seen and tasting what is ahead with the simplest example - creation. It is only by the eyes (evidence) of faith that we can see visibly and perceive the evidence of the invisible word and hand of God. Not only do we perceive it, but we have the substance of our hope in what we see. When we behold creation, we hold a glimpse of eternity tangibly 1. Can we say that we are of faith? How is that displayed in our lives? 2. Do we wait for God's promises with eagerness and no patience? Do we wait with all patience and no eagerness? What would a life of balanced waiting really look like? 3. To look forward and upward, are we able to see? Do we see God present and see God's promises? 4. If we are of faith, how seriously do we consider the pleasure of God over us? How do we live in that light? 5. The reality of my faith is grounded in how real I perceive the promises of God to be and how real I perceive God to be. How real is my faith? Am I worshipping a false god made by my own false perception? 6. Who do I see when I look at creation? Am I blind to God? THEY ENDURED BY FAITH ( 11:4-12:2 ) THEY GIVE GOD PLEASURE Faith Justifies ( 11:4-5 ) The author then proceeds to explain faith, connecting it with Heb 10:37-38 and Heb 11:1 11:4 Abel and righteousness: The first witness the author calls up is that of Abel, who in the account in Gen 4:4-10, is regarded by God as having "done well" (righteousness) - both he and his sacrifice are accepted by God. - How? By faith. - How do we know? Hab 2:3-4 ( Heb 10:37-38 ) which connects righteousness with faith - But note that Abel was murdered. Faith sometimes might result in violence . Yet he still speaks to us as an example of faith. (cf. Gen 4:10) 11:5 Enoch and pleasure: The next witness called up is Enoch, and the author draws on the idea that Enoch pleased (walked with) God in Gen 5:21-24 - How? By faith - How do we know? Hab 2:3-4 (Heb 10:37-38) which connects God's pleasure and faith. - However, in Enoch's case, he didn't die like Abel, but was taken away, experiencing resurrection victory . Thus, with Abel and Enoch we see both witnessing possibilities of enduring faith, which the author alludes to again in Heb 11 : a. violent death (cf. Heb 11:36-38 ) and b. a preview of the victorious resurrection life ( Heb 11:32-35 ) But both of these are temporal. What is permanent is righteousness and the pleasure of God Faith Pleases God ( 11:6 ) The verse points to the basis of their lives: they enjoyed the pleasure of God because they had faith Why? Because God's pleasure and our drawing near to God is conditional upon: a. believing that God is (looking upward) b. believing that God is a rewarder of those who endure (looking forward) This is just another definition of faith parallel to ver 1 , and resting on Heb 10:37-38 , ultimately resting on the very nature of God (cf. Ex 3:12-14). We now consistently see faith as a looking upward to God and a looking forward to his promises being fulfilled, thus enjoying God's pleasure, despite circumstances of murder or resurrection life. Under his pleasure, we draw near to God in a relationship, a refrain running through Hebrews 1. What do we see and look to, as we live life? What substance and evidence do we have? 2. How willing are we for violent deaths, lootings, etc. (see Heb 10:32-34), for the sake of God? How do God's existence and his rewarding nature help us? 3. How often do we look upward, and how far do we look forward? 4. If faith is dependant on the nature of God, do I know his nature and heart? Do I know Him? Do I want to know him? Do I make an effort to know him? Who is God to you? 5. When darkness falls, will you and I endure? Will we fix our eyes on reality or the storm around us? 6. Do we consider faith a convenience: an easy means of escape to be used when in trouble? Or do we consider the pleasure of God and drawing near to him and enjoying his reward; all this despite circumstances ? 7. God is. God is a rewarder. Do we forget either? Do we live for his reward, or do we think that doing things for rewards is wrong? 8. God finds pleasure in us if we have faith. Do we think about this at all, when we sin? How does that change our view of sinning? THEY SOUGHT GOD'S PROMISES Faith Inherits Righteousness ( 11:7 ) Noah and the Promised Threat: Finally, in this pericope, we see Noah, who in Gen 6:9 is seen as someone who pleased (walked with) God. He saw no sign of the flood, except that God promised. He obeys by building an ark. - How? By faith, in reverent fear, believing also that God would save his household (the reward) - The result this time is the condemnation of the world, and him becoming an inheritor of righteousness, again a reference to Heb 10:37-38 - Note the stark contrast with 'the world' that he could see and God's promise that he could not see, introducing the idea that Noah feared the unseen God more than visible man. 1. Who/What do we see and fear? Man and his reward of approval/possessions or God and his reward? 2. Do we trust the promises and threats of God? Faith Sees God to be Faithful ( 11:8-12 ) The author moves forward in history, focussing on Abraham and Sarah, including Isaac and Jacob, in a sense as well. 11:8-10 Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the Promised Land: The author, referring to Gen 12:1-4, talks of Abraham 'going out' in obedience to God's calling to an unknown promised land. Not only did he go out, although he reached his inheritance, he also lived there in temporary tents (as did Isaac and Jacob), instead of building a city! Why? He was looking to future permanence and the final fulfillment of the promise - God and his unshakable city of rest. They had the promise but looked forward to the reality and fulfillment of it 11:11-12 Abraham, Sarah, and the Promised Seed: Sarah is next, being given the ability to conceive the promised seed of Abraham despite her age. In the Genesis account (Gen 16,18:10-15) Sarah starts off seemingly cynical but ends up laughing in joy (Gen 21:6-7), giving birth to Isaac. The author is hinting at the endurance of faith, irrespective of the start. Why? Because she considered God faithful to keep his promise. The result was the innumerable descendants of Abraham because of Abraham and Sarah's faith in God's promises Faith Desires Heaven ( 11:13-16 ) The author interrupts his discourse to ponder and explain this faith that is based on God's promises 11:13-14 All of these (mostly Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Jacob) died without seeing the promises fulfilled, but died in faith. How? a. By seeing and welcoming the promises (by the eye of faith) , but from a distance, because they didn't experience the fulfillment b. having acknowledged that they were sojourners and exiles, passing through the land to a destination In speaking of the latter, they imply that their home is elsewhere 11:15-16a The author then clarifies that the homeland they were seeking was not Ur, but they desired a "better" homeland, i.e. one in the presence of God. Here too, we get an idea of faith in terms of seeking based on desiring a homeland 11:16b Because they desired and thus sought after a better homeland - one designed and prepared by God, God gets tremendous glory. He gets glory in being seen as their God. He is not ashamed to be their God and them, his people 1. Considering that the book of Hebrews is full of promises fro m 1:1-10:18, do w e believe the promises we've seen? Do we truly see Jesus and the promises in him to be better? 2. We hold God's promises in our hands. Do we live in their light? 3. Do we make it clear, verbally and otherwise that we are seeking a homeland? 4. What do we desire? Whom do we desire? We cannot manufacture desire, so where are our hearts pointing? 5. Evidently, desiring a better homeland enables people to do completely crazy things in the sight of the world. Are we enabled to live in this radical "worldly-unwise" way? 6. Are we painting pictures of Egypt - longing to return to our old ways of petty pleasure in sin and self-centredness? Or are our eyes fixed on the promised land? Faith Loves God More than His Gifts ( 11:17-19 ) The author moves from general to specific, for his readers to understand faith in action - Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac 11:17-18 The author uses the famous incident from Gen 22 to highlight Abraham's faith that obeyed even though the promise of offspring was to be fulfilled through this same Isaac, his only real son. Like James 2:21-23, his actions proved his faith. 11:19 The only explanation possible for this response to God was that faith knows that even death cannot stop God fulfilling his promises. And that's what Abraham considered. This theme of faith in the face of death is a refrain throughout this pericope A borrowed look at the account in Genesis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMl7sqUz-iM 1. What promises become the basis of our faith? The new covenant. So what? Read Romans 8:32. Is anything too hard for God? Do we trust what he has done now? 2. What do we need to kill for the sake of our love for God? Our job? Approval? Marital idolatry? Ministry? Control? Money/Security? Power? 3. What are we looking forward to? 4. Do we believe that God can raise things from the dead? How is that seen? 5. What encouragement do we draw from the floundering, yet growing faith of Abraham over several years (75-86-99-100-175)? Instead of wallowing in discouragement, how might we trust God and his promises? 6. Is our obedience based on faith and love for God? Faith Looks Beyond Death ( 11:20-22 ) Two ideas echo in these verses: the future and imminent death 11:20 The first example of dying in faith is blind Isaac, who blesses Jacob and Esau before he dies (completely skipping Jacob's cheating). Cf. Gen 27 11:21 Jacob then is seen blessing his grandchildren on his deathbed , being blind, yet seeing in faith. Jacob's leaning on the head of his bed/staff helps us recall Jacob's desire to be buried in the promised land, which the author will allude to soon with Joseph. Cf. Gen 47:29-48:22 11:22 Joseph too is on his deathbed, and he similarly repeats his father's request of not being buried in Egypt. Both he and Jacob looked forward to the exodus. 1. Will we endure? Will we die in faith, not having received the promises fulfilled? Or will we drift away? 2. How valuable and pleasurable to us are God's future promises in Christ Jesus? Do we see the end of faith as joy? 3. Do we look and live based on what we see beyond this mortal life, beyond death? 4. How can we trust God's promises? THEY DID NOT FEAR Faith Sees What God Sees ( 11:23 ) 11:23 Moses' Parents: Continuing to build on ver 1, the writer introduces Moses' parents as those who saw what God saw - "that the child was beautiful"(cf. Acts 7:20). The result was a fearlessness in the face of adversity (the king's edict). They would rather die than kill their son. Therefore they hid Moses for 3 months. 1. Are we willing to gladly die to ourselves for the sake of others? Are we willing to take radical risks for the sake of love? Do we see and have faith? 2. Do we love in faith? 3. Do we exercise wisdom with faith? Or do we like the idea of radical faith? Faith Treasures God ( 11:24-28 ) 11:24-26 Moses' Refusal: Moses refuses temporal (i) status (the son of Pharaoh's daughter), (ii) enjoyment (fleeting pleasures of sin) and (iii) wealth (treasures of Egypt) and instead aligns himself with the people of the unseen God, thus ensuring the mistreatment and reproach that comes with being associated with the unpopular - How? By faith, he saw this choice as being "greater wealth" - Why? Because he was certain of the reward. 11:27-28 Moses' Endurance: Moses is seen to display the same fearless faith of his parents in defiance of Pharaoh. Both verses (and the ones to follow seem to talk about the exodus of the Israelites and the events surrounding it. He is not afraid of the greatest monarch in the world and his constant anger across the plagues till the Passover. He is also seen to trust God's bizarre idea of painting doors with blood for protection. - Why? Because he endured - How? By faith, i.e. prioritising the invisible God and looking forward to God's promised protection - The result: he left Egypt 1. Do we yearn for approval, pleasure, and wealth from the world? Or do we yearn the same from God? If that is our yearning, how does it change our present living? 2. Note the ideas of worth and reward. Cf. Matt 13:44. What is our treasure? What does that mean? 3. Who do we see? Which seeing do we prioritise? Which sight is more real to us? 4. What encouragement can we gain from the fact that Moses too, was a sinful coward, lacking in faith several times, cf. Ex 2:11-15, 4:21-26? 5. If the opposite of faith is fear, do we fear the visible? Or do we have faith in the invisible? THEY DID NOT DIE WITH THE DISOBEDIENT Faith Delivers ( 11:29-31 ) The author subtly brings in a warning, now seen in repeated mentions of the 'unbelieving'. The point: unbelief has consequences 11:29 Israel vs Egypt: While Israel (Moses, to be precise) cross the sea by faith (after panicking), the Egyptians drown. Cf. Ex 14:9-31. 11:30-31 Rahab vs Jericho: The next incident leaps 40 years to witness an unlikely candidate of faith whose life was preserved while her city perished in faithlessness. The means of the city falling too was faith - that of Joshua and the Israelites. Cf. Jos 2:1-21 (esp Jos 2:8-11), Jos 6:1-5, 16, 20, 22-25 1. Are we willing to obey the not-so-easy commands of God? Why will we obey? 2. What can we learn from the missing account of the 40 years in the wilderness? What is saving faith? 3. Are we willing to take into account both that God rewards those who have faith and punishes those who don't? THEY WERE WORTHY Faith wants a Better Life ( 11:32-38 ) The author runs quickly through the rest of the times before Christ to showcase more heroes of faith: 11:32-35a The author showcases the victories that come by faith finally culminating in women receiving their dead by resurrection, which he will use as a bridge 11:35b-38 There is a shift as the author showcases another result of faith - willingness for a lack of possession, terrible suffering, torture and gruesome martyrdom in this life, for the sake of a better life of victory - a better resurrection. 1. Faith results in great temporal victories and tremendous suffering. What would enable us to endure by faith against such odds? 2. Are we at odds with the world? Or are we friends? Can God say of us, the world is not worthy of us? 3. What life is better, in our eyes? RUN WITH ENDURANCE! ( 11:39-12:3 ) Look back, Look Upward, Look Forward - Look to Jesus ( 11:39-12:2 ) 11:39-40 Our generation has received all that is better through Christ with the result that without us, the past heroes cannot inherit the promise of eternal rest, glory and perfection. Therefore, they died without receiving the promise. 12:1-3 These verses bring out a single imperative - run , described by several participles: a. Laying aside every weight and sin that keeps us from running well b. With endurance c. Looking up to Jesus What should motivate our running? a. Looking back at the great cloud of witnesses who have endured and wait for us to finish (11:40) b. Jesus' supreme example of faith - looking forward to the joy set before him, despite hostility - now seated as our king and priest (12:2) c. Implicitly, Looking forward in faith to the reward - the theme of this passage as a whole. 1. If all of these lived with such faith even though they lived in a time of unfulfillment, how much more in faith ought we to live? 2. What things that, although are not sinful, weigh us down, keeping us from running? How can we get rid of them? 3. How can we consider and look to Jesus practically, from Hebrews? 4. Who is Jesus to you? Is he better? Would you want to run with endurance, if you considered him?