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Thursday, September 30 2021

Contributor: Wale Abiona

INTRODUCTION: In 1 Cor. 10, the apostle Paul reminded his readers of the things that had happened to the people of Israel during the Exodus. He highlighted their unfaithfulness to God, and the things they suffered as a result. And then he told his readers, “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Cor. 10:11).

God preserved the Old Testament stories for us so that they would serve as illustrations to us—in that case, illustrations of what to avoid.

As we come to Hebrews 11, we find some other great Old Testament examples given to us. But in this case, they are illustrations of what to embrace. The writer of Hebrews had stated his main proposition in verse 1—“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

And in order to illustrate that proposition, he took his Jewish readers back to those Old Testament stories, highlighted the acts of the Jewish patriarchs, and asked them to learn from their examples of faith in the promises of God. He wanted his readers to see how these Old Testament saints embraced the promises of God from a distance, and looked ahead to their fulfillment—even if the fulfillment of those promises would be past their own lifetimes. As he wrote in verse 13;

"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Hebrews 11:13).
In the passage before us, the writer continued this theme. He taught his believing Jewish readers about the need to keep true to God’s promises in Jesus Christ. And he illustrated this lesson to them through the faith of the four most important patriarchs of the Jewish Scriptures—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.

One of the most powerful of all illustrations of faith in the promise of God is found in these verses.

A. The writer would have immediately captured the interest of his readers when he reminded them of one of the most important stories they had ever learned. A story that would have been taught to them from the earliest days of childhood:
“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son . . .” (v. 17).

It was to Abraham that God made the promise “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” That was a promise that found its ultimate fulfillment in the birth of his biological descendant Jesus the Messiah—even though, at the time, Abraham was childless and far along in years. In due time, God kept His promise to Abraham, and his wife gave birth to a son from his own body. But after many years—when the boy was thirteen, and when there was no other son—God put Abraham to the test. He commanded him, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you” (Genesis 22:2).

B. This must have been a dreadfully difficult command for Abraham to obey. God had finally given him a son through whom the great promise He made to him would be kept. But was He now commanding that his only son be sacrificed by him on the altar and put to death?—the one, as the writer of Hebrews puts it, “of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called’” (see Genesis 21:12)? If Abraham obeyed, and sacrificed his only son—and he himself being well over 100 years old—what then would happen to God’s promise? Yet we find no evidence that Abraham resisted or delayed. We’re told, “So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him” (Genesis 22:3).
He did this by faith in the God who made the promise. As James 2:21 puts it, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?”
That is to say, didn’t his faith in the promise of God prove itself by the fact that he obeyed God’s command? And wasn’t he then proven righteous by the fact of his active obedience?

C. The greatness of Abraham’s faith was hinted at in what he said to the young men who travelled with him. As they came to the place that God commanded the sacrifice to occur, Abraham told them, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you” (Genesis 22:5).

Note carefully that he said, “we will come back”. How could this be? The writer of Hebrews explained that he said this, “concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead . . .” (Hebrews 11:19).

Abraham had so trusted in the promise of God that, if God commanded that he sacrifice of his only son through—whom the promise must be fulfilled—he believed that God would raise Isaac from the dead; “from which”, the writer explained, “he also received him in a figurative sense.” As Genesis 22:12-14 says, the Angel of the Lord spoke to Abraham just before he was about to sacrifice his son and said;
“Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided” (verses 12-14).

D. Later in time, it would be near that very spot that the Lord Jesus Himself would be crucified.
In this respect, then, the ram caught in the thicket by its horns was a picture of Jesus Himself; and this would give special meaning to the writer’s words concerning his trust in God regarding Isaac, “from which he also received him in a figurative sense” (v. 18). Isaac became a picture of God’s sacrifice of His only begotten Son for us—whom also God literally raised from the dead. This may even explain Jesus’ remarkable words to the Jewish leaders;
“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56).
That is, perhaps, the greatest example that can be pointed to of an Old Testament saint’s faith in God’s New Testament promises regarding Jesus. But there are others. The writer also points to the example of . . .

A. No doubt Isaac never forgot the event of his father’s faith on the mountain of sacrifice.
And as he grew, he surely would also have remembered the promise that God renewed to Abraham concerning him after the event was over:
“In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” (Genesis 22:18).

Isaac lived as the inheritor of this great promise from God; and he knew that he must also pass that promise on to his children.

B. But like Abraham, Isaac lived for a time without offspring. He pleaded with God that his wife Rebekah would bear children. In due time, God answered the prayer in the births of the twin sons Esau and Jacob. When they were in the womb, they struggled together; and God told Rebekah,
“Two nations are in your womb, And the older shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23).

Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other,
And it was with respect to these two sons that the writer of Hebrews said, “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come” (v. 20).

C. But the promise only applied to Jacob. He—not Esau—was the ascendant of the Lord Jesus. How then did Isaac’s blessing to both sons relate to the promise? It helps to remember that Isaac originally intended to give the blessing to his firstborn son Esau—in spite of the fact that God had told Rebekah that the older (Esau) would serve the younger (Jacob). As it turned out, through the encouragement of Rebekah, Jacob deceived his father and pretended to be Esau; and Isaac, thinking he was blessing Esau, passed the blessing on to Jacob instead. He told him—in words that clearly reflected the promise God had given to Abraham; And nations bow down to you.

"Be master over your brethren, And let your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you," (Genesis 27:29).

By deceit, then, Jacob usurped and received to himself the blessing that Isaac was placing on Esau. But even though it was through the misguided intent of Isaac and the deceit of Jacob, God nevertheless fulfilled His promise to Rebekah concerning Jacob. And Isaac—without realizing it—demonstrated a faith in God’s promise to the son that God had appointed with respect to things to come. For Isaac, the promise was sure; even if his application of it was mistaken.
The writer next points to the example of . . .

A. After the event, Jacob lived many years with the fact that he had deceived his brother. Nevertheless, he went on to have twelve sons who were the patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel. The last two of his sons—from the wife of his first choice, Rachael, were Joseph and Benjamin. Joseph, through the providence of God, became the Prime Minister of Egypt; and he made it possible for Jacob to live out his final years in comfort and prosperity. But he lived in a foreign land—far from the land that God had promised Abraham.

B. The time finally came for Jacob to die.
And perhaps it was the remembrance of his deception that led him to do what he did when it came time to bless his grandsons. Jacob called the sons of Joseph to himself, and placed his right hand on the younger son Ephraim—instead of on the older son Manasseh; and passed the blessing on to the younger. Thus the writer of Hebrews wrote;
“By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff” (v. 21).
He made sure that they too were included in the promise of God to Abraham. And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth (See Genesis 48:15-16). 15 And he blessed Joseph, and said: “God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, The God who has fed me all my life long to this day, 16 The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil, Bless the lads; Let my name be named upon them, And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

C. The significance of this might be seen in what the writer says at the end of verse 21 That Jacob passed on this blessing, “and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff”. Genesis 47:31 tells us that before he died, he asked Joseph to swear to him that he would not bury him in Egypt, “but let me lie with my fathers; you shall carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.”

Jacob wanted to be buried in the land of promise—not in the foreign land of Egypt (see also 49:29-33). Joseph swore to do as his father Jacob had asked; and indeed kept that promise (see 50:1-14). And at the time when that promise was made, we’re told that “Israel [that is, Jacob] bowed himself on the head of the bed” (Gen. 47:31). This same faith was also expressed by the next generation; as we see from . . .

(Verse 22). A. The writer tells us that, “By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones” (v. 22).

Joseph had lived for many years in the highest position possible in the land of Egypt. And yet, his heart was inclined to the land of promise. Just as his father wanted to be buried next to Abraham and Isaac in the land of promise, so also did Joseph. He told his brethren; “I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here” (Genesis 50:24-25).

B. Joseph requested this because he had faith in the promise of God and knew that God would do as He said. As God had told Abraham;
“Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete” (Genesis 15:13b-16).

And when that promise to Abraham finally came to pass, and the people of Israel departed from Egypt under Moses’ leadership, they made sure to take the bones of Joseph with them (Exodus 13:19).
Those bones were passed on to the stewardship of Joshua, and then to the leaders of Israel who—after they took possession of the land—buried his bones in Shechem; “in the plot of ground which Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for one hundred pieces of silver, and which had become an inheritance of the children of Joseph” (Joshua 24:32).

Each of these patriarchal fathers placed their faith in the promise of God from afar. They didn’t see the fulfillment of these things in their own lifetimes; but trusted that God would do as He said. And their faith proved justified; because God did indeed fulfill His promises—not only concerning the land, and not only concerning the offspring, but also concerning the Lord Jesus who is the blessing to all the earth.

Study, Courtesy of:

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 02:04 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, September 08 2021

Contributor: Martins Olubiyi

Last week we studied about the “Faith of the Patriarchs”. We learnt that faith is indispensable; it gives substance to spiritual things and the things God is doing in our lives. Faith is an attitude of trust in which a believer receives God’s gift of salvation (Eph. 2:8; Acts.16:30, 31) and lives in that awareness thereafter (Gal 2:20). Faith sees the invisible and believes the impossible. In today’s study, we want to learn the motive behind the faith of the Patriarchs.

Verse 13: Motive That Transcends the Ephemeral.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

This verse might appear to express tragedy. For instance, Abraham and those with him spent their whole lives longing for things they were promised, longing to have a land of their own. They trusted God for this and believed the promises He gave them, yet they died without having received them. What a travesty of tragedy! What an appalling commendation for the faith they professed and represented! If this is what our faith is about, dying with only unfulfilled hopes, then we are, as Paul said “of all men most miserable” (1Cor. 15:19). One thing this tell us is that Christianity is not a religion focused on the mundane and this present life. Paul says, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth” (Col. 3:2).

Dying in faith: Writing about “These”- “Saints” Spurgeon made this startling remark in his devotional from Morning and Evening- “In faith they lived-it was their comfort, their guide, their motive and their support; and in the same spiritual grace they died, ending their life-song. Dying in faith has distinct reference to the past - They believed the promise and assurance of their sins forgiven and blotted out through the mercy of God. Dying in faith has to do with the present - These saints were confident of their acceptance with God, they enjoyed His love and rested in His faithfulness. Dying in faith looks into the future - They fell asleep, affirming that the Messiah would surely and He would on the last day appear upon the earth, they would rise from their grave to behold Him. To them the pains of death were but the birth-pangs of a better state”.

Jesus taught, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt. 6:19-20). This run contrary to a view that that is prevalent in our time: a packaged version of Christianity that offers mainly temporal benefits. Such as, if you trust Jesus, you will get this; you will have that. Of course, Christianity does give us spiritual resources that transform this present life. Resources like righteousness, peace and joy. But we are quick to forget that to be a Christian means to be persecuted in this world. Our blessings are
spiritual rather than material (Eph. 1:3). To be a Christian means: living as an alien and a pilgrim; it means not being able to fit in with others who are slaves to sin; it means denying yourself and picking up your cross; it means a life of struggle and fellowship in the suffering of Christ. The Christian life means, peace with God, but war with the flesh, the world, and the devil. The primary blessings Christianity offers do not lie in this life at all, but in the life to come, in the resurrection from the dead. Indeed, even our present blessings, abundant and wonderful as they are, are located in heaven, and are accessed by the exercise of faith.

The Vision of Faith: The characteristic of those living by faith is that they have a “Visionary Faith” in other words; they see the promises from afar off. Through our vision with eyes of faith, we get a proper perspective on this short time on earth versus the time forever in the future. It is obvious that the Patriarchs have eternal perspective in their expectation of God’s promises. Their perspective informed what they see with the eyes of faith. Their perspective informed their persuasion. It informed their acceptance (embrace). It informed their confession. It also helped them to know who they are and where they were. We could learn and gain from Job’s encounters on God’s eternal perspective on death and judgement. Read Job. 1:21. Job kept eternal perspective in a temporal world. He speaks of three profound realities: (i). “Naked”- he knew material blessings are temporary. (ii). “My mother’s womb”- he knew life is brief. (iii). “I will depart”- he believed in heaven.

Verse 14 & 15: The Patriarchs Were Goal Getters:
"For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned."

When Abraham came to Haran, he could have turned around and journey back into Babylon. But with the eyes of faith, he obeyed unquestionably the commands of God, from whom he received repeated promises and a covenant that his seed would inherit the land. Recall, Col. 3: 2: “Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth”. Similarly, in Luke 9:62, Jesus said “No man who puts his hand to the plough and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Verse 16: Desire That Births Expectation
But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city.
It takes grace and desire to obey God. As we step out by faith, then our expectation will be on God’s promises. Here the ultimate promise is heaven.

Things to Do:
We Must See God’s Promises - Before we can believe in God’s promises, we must see them. Before we can see them, God must open our spiritually blinded eyes (Mat 13:11-15; 2Cor 4:4, 6)

We Must Welcome God’s Promises - Having seen God’s promises, the Patriarchs welcome them. They greeted God’s promises with open arms.

We Can Only See and Welcome the Promises from a Distance - This means that the patriarchs did not receive the total fulfilment of God’s promises in this life. They only received a taste of them. The same is true of all believers. God Has promised us eternal life and yet, like the Patriarchs, we all die. The only exceptions are those who will be alive when the Lord returns.

Seeing And Welcoming God’s Promises Alienates Us from This World - The reason that Abraham left his homeland and migrated to Canaan was because he had seen and welcomed God’s promises. When he left his family and friends, he then lived as an alien in the land of promise, casting down shame and reproach because of eternal reward of a prepared city.

As Christians, we need to think of ourselves as travellers who are just passing through this sinful world. We are not permanent residents, but Pilgrims on a journey to a better land. Therefore, we need to “travel light”, not burdening ourselves with an undue attachment to the material things of life. The more we care for the luxuries and possessions of earth, the more difficult will be our journey to heaven. Christians must centre their affections on Christ, not on the temporal things of this earth. Material riches lose their value when compared to the riches of glory. (D.C. Egner).

Material culled from

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 03:57 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, September 01 2021

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

Last week we started on the topic of faith where faith was unveiled and the first two patriarchs of faith; Abel and Enoch were mentioned as well as the testimonies of their faith. Today’s study is a continuation of the faith of the patriarchs, and we will continue with the next three patriarch’s. But first the Apostle Paul interrupts the flow with an amazing interjection in verse 6 . This interjection was deliberate! If the Jews believed that the patriarch’s pleased God, then they should know that it was by faith because “without faith it is impossible to please God”

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” KJV 

If it is impossible to please God without faith. The opposite is also true; faith is what pleases God. Faith is a must, it is the entrance point to a relationship with God. He interacts with us based on His grace, we respond in faith. Faith is a key element for life. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus commented on people’s faith because it was important to Him, He looked for it and responded to it everywhere He went. (Matthew 8:26, “O ye of little faith”), (Matthew 8:10, “I have not seen such great faith,” (Mark 5:34 "your faith has healed you”), (Luke 18:8, “But, when the Son of Man comes, shall He find faith on the Earth?”

So the underlying truth to draw from is that God responds to faith. It pleases Him, it moves Him to act and it is essential in the life of the believer because whatsoever is not of faith is sin. (Romans 14:23)

There are two parts to faith in this verse which show why it pleases God. First, the Apostle says that faith believes that God exists. Second, he says that faith believes that God is the rewarder of those who seek Him. In other words, we please God by being expectant.

"By faith, Noah built a ship in the middle of dry land. He was warned about something he couldn’t see, and acted on what he was told. The result? His family was saved. His act of faith drew a sharp line between the evil of the unbelieving world and the rightness of the believing world. As a result, Noah became intimate with God." (MSG)

What Noah Did By Faith:
• He built a ship in the middle of dry land (Genesis 6:13–22)
We need to understand the optics to appreciate how the command to build an ark would have been received by Noah and everyone else – building a ship in the middle of dry land. How in the world are you going to move it to the sea?

No mention is made of rain on the earth until the Flood (Gen. 7:4,12). The original earth and the Garden of Eden were watered by streams, rivers, and mist instead of by rain (Genesis 2:5,6,10). So, the faith of Noah described in this verse was very strong. Noah was warned about things not seen, if it had rained before then the Bible would not have referred to the warning as of something not seen implying that rain was not part of humanity's early experience. That is why God made a covenant with the rainbow so humanity is not afraid whenever it threatens to rain. Genesis 9:8-17

If the earth did not experience rain before the Flood, then Noah's ark-building must have appeared especially foolish to his critics. Just imagine the ridicule!

How Did He Exercise His Faith?
• By acting on what he was told; even though it was something he hadn’t seen before

What Noah Gained By His Faith:
• His family was saved. (Genesis 7:7)
• His act of faith drew a sharp line between the evil of the unbelieving world and the rightness of the believing world.
• He became intimate with God. (Genesis 9:8-17)

"By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left he had no idea where he was going. By an act of faith he lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents. Isaac and Jacob did the same, living under the same promise. Abraham did it by keeping his eye on an unseen city with real, eternal foundations—the City designed and built by God." (MSG)

What Abraham Did By Faith:
• He said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. (Genesis 12:1-5)
• He lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents. (Genesis 13:18)
• He passed the same belief to his children and grandchildren (Genesis 18:19)

How Did He Exercise His Faith?
• By keeping his eye on an unseen city with real, eternal foundations—the City designed and built by God.

What Abraham Gained By His Faith:
• He became father of many nations (Genesis 17:5)
• His offspring inherited the Promised Land (Numbers 34:1-12)

"By faith, barren Sarah was able to become pregnant, old woman as she was at the time, because she believed the One who made a promise would do what he said. That’s how it happened that from one man’s dead and shriveled loins there are now people numbering into the millions." (MSG)

What Sarah Did By Faith:
• She was able to become pregnant in her old age against all odds.
Just imagine the pressure today people of child bearing age face when they are trying to conceive. It's not uncommon for such people to become depressed.

How Did She Exercise Her Faith?
• By believing the One who made a promise would do what He said.

What Sarah Gained By Her Faith:
• She helped Abraham become father of many nations and by that mother of many nations too! (Genesis 17:5)
• Her offspring inherited the Promised Land (Numbers 34:1-12)

Faith is indispensable; it gives substance to spiritual things and the things God is doing in our lives. For the Christian Jews, who were being accused and persecuted by family members and their rabbis that they were abandoning their heritage, it was important that they knew that a life of faith is a mark of their Hebrew heritage and not a departure from it. so the apostle wrote this chapter to link them to this heritage. In verse 2 of this chapter he said that it is by faith that the elders obtained a good report.
Having this faith we have discussed today means nothing without works. The faith these patriarchs exhibited was not by the words they said but by their actions. The ultimate practicality of faith is that the way we live is consistent with what we believe.
James 2:14 says: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?”
And in verse 26: “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”

• Noah believed and built the ark without seeing
• Abraham believed and moved from his home without knowing
• Sarah received strength to have a baby when it was humanly impossible

You and I can learn from this patriarchs and please God by our “active” faith. Believing He exists and being expectant that He will come through

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 02:00 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

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