Let’s turn now in our Bibles to Hebrews, chapter eleven.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. My boys, when they were growing up, used to look in the mirror every day, to see if there were any whiskers developing, because they wanted to have beards. For a long time, it was a thing of faith. The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. But they realized that one day their faith would come to fruition and they would be able to have beards like the hippies that were around here at that time.
Substance of things hoped for, there is substance to faith. Evidence of things not seen. It is believing God to keep His word, though there may not be any evidence of it at the moment. All I have is the promise of God, but that is sufficient! And I rest on that!
You remember when Elijah prayed and it did not rain. And years later, he promised that it would rain. And he went up to the top of Mt. Carmel and he began to pray that God would send rain. And he sent his servant out to look toward the sea. He came back and said, I don’t see any thing but blue sky. He prayed again. He sent the servant back again. He came back and said, I don’t see anything but blue sky. He continued to pray until the servant came back and said I see a small cloud about the size of a man’s hand. And Elijah said, let’s get out of here, it’s going to rain.
The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
2For by it (that is, by faith) the elders obtained a good report. That is the elders, the fathers, the patriarchs. It was through faith, they obtained a good report.
Now, here is a very interesting verse, verse three. 3Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, God said, let there be light, and there was light! The universe was created by what we call the divine fiat. That is, God spoke it into existence. We believe this through faith. We understand the worlds were framed by the word of God.
And here is the interesting statement, so that things which are seen (That is, the material universe in which we live.) were not made of things which do appear. A very fascinating statement because they didn’t know anything at that time about atomic particles, about electrons, and the protons and so forth, these invisible things, the atoms that make up the material universe. And yet by faith, they believed that the things that are seen were made of things that are not seen!
Now he begins to list a hall of faith. Men, who believed the promise of God and the Word of God and were honored because of their faith in God. He begins with Abel, 4By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. We know the story of Cain and Abel and how that they brought their offerings to the Lord. And Abel brought a lamb out of his flock and Cain brought the fruit of the ground. And it says that the Lord accepted Abel’s sacrifice, but He rejected Cain’s.
Now there is a lot of conjecture as to why God accepted Abel’s sacrifice and rejected Cain’s. And the argument usually is that Abel offered a lamb, a blood sacrifice, whereas Cain offered the works of his hands, that is from his labor in the fields, the crops, he offered the works of his hands. And God rejected the works of the hands and accepted the sacrificial lamb. That’s possible.
According to some Jewish tradition, Abel of course offered, we know, the lamb, but they said that Cain offered just some shoddy sheaves. In other words, he didn’t offer the best, but just some withered kind of sheaves, that weren’t very good. And that is why God rejected Cain.
It is interesting that when God did establish, under the law, the various sacrifices that were to be offered, there was the provision for the meal offering. They were to take and beat the meal into fine flour. And they were to make sort of a bread out of it and it was to be burned on the altar. So there was provision for the meal offering, as well as of course, the provisions for the offerings and the sacrifices of animals. But it should be noted that God did accept the meal offerings that were given to Him under the law.
Here in the Book of Hebrews, it tells us that basically Able was offering a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, because of faith. And it is the difference between offering in faith and not offering in faith that made a difference before God and caused God to accept Abel’s and reject Cain’s. It could be that God did command them to bring a sacrificial animal and that believing the Word of God, Able brought the sacrificial lamb and that Cain, not really believing, brought the fruit of the ground. But we do know the difference is that of faith. Abel, by faith, offered the more excellent sacrifice than Cane.
And by that, he obtained the witness that he was righteous. Now it is interesting that from the beginning, God accounted faith for righteousness. And it begins way back with Able because Able offered a sacrifice in faith. He was accounted righteous. He has the witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gift, that is, accepting his gift.
Later on, we are told that Abraham believed God, and God accounted his faith for righteousness. So the righteousness by faith is not a New Testament doctrine, exclusively. It was birthed in the Old Testament as far back as Cain, where God accepted a person’s faith for righteousness.
Now, in the Old Testament, their faith was looking forward. You see, God had promised unto Eve that the seed of the woman would bruise the serpent’s head. That is, the promise of the Messiah, who would defeat Satan’s power. And so when Cain was born, she said she named him Cain, because she said, I have received the man, not a man, but the man from the Lord. She really thought that Cain would be the Messiah! That God was going to immediately make provision for their sin. But it turned out that He was just the opposite, he was a man of sin. But, the Old Testament saints believed the promise that God would send the Messiah into the world. And they looked forward to that event. They believed that the Messiah would suffer and die for sin.
Isaiah the prophet said, all we like sheep have gone astray! We’ve turned everyone of us to our own way! But God has laid on Him, the iniquity of us all, talking about the Messiah. And He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. God cried out in that fifty-third chapter, for the transgressions of My people, was He smitten. And so they by faith, looked forward to the promise of God of sending the Messiah, who would offer the sacrifice for sin. And by their believing that, God accounted their faith in Christ, though He had not yet come, He accounted their faith in the Messiah for their righteousness.
It is interesting that with Abraham, at the place, where it says and God accounted his faith for righteousness, was when God told Abraham to go out and look up into the heavens and see the stars that could not be counted. And God promised to Abraham that the stars in heaven were innumerable, so shall thy seed be! Seed, singular!
And Paul tells us in Galatians 3:16 that God said, seed, singular, as of one, and not seeds as of many. And that seed was Christ!
And it says that Abraham believed God! He believed God’s what? That God’s promise would be fulfilled and that from his seed, that is the Messiah would come, and that from that, this glorious, innumerable, throng of people be brought into the family of God. He believed God’s promise and God accounted that for righteousness. But the promise of the Messiah.
Now we, are accounted righteous by faith, not by works! But our faith looks back at the cross and at the sacrifice that Jesus made for our sins. And of course, as we have been coming through Hebrews, we’ve been studying the cross of Jesus and we’ve been studying the sacrifice that He has made. And we have been seeing how that it is superior to the first covenant under the law, the sacrifices of the animals and all, because it was not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could put away sin, all they could do was cover. But Jesus, through His death, put away our sins. We look back at the cross. And as we believe in Jesus, God accounts our faith for righteousness.
So Abraham was saved just like we are saved, except that he was looking forward and believing that God would keep the promise. We’re looking backward. We acknowledge, yes, God kept His promise! He sent the Messiah into the world! He died for our sins. He was the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world!
So Abel is the first one who is declared, in the Scriptures, to be accounted righteous because of his faith.
5By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: There in the fifth chapter of the Book of Genesis, you have the generations. And they lived so many years, and they begat. And they lived after that so many years and they begat sons and daughters and they died. And you know, it goes on and he died and he died and he died, until you get to Enoch. And he lived so many years and he begat Methuselah. And he lived after begat Methuselah for another three hundred years and he begat sons and daughters and Enoch was not because God took him!
So by faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. We read that, in Genesis, Enoch walked with God and was not. Now by the time that Enoch came along, the world was becoming quite sinful. But here is a man who walked with God in the midst of a sinful people.
According to one of the old legends, Enoch would take a daily walk with God. And God would meet him every morning and Enoch would walk with God, and fellowship with God. And one morning, God said to Enoch, let’s walk a little further today. Bring your lunch along. And so Enoch took his lunch. And they walked and they had lunch together and they continued to walk until finally Enoch said, it’s getting late, Lord. We had better head for home. And the Lord said, we’re closer to My house, than yours. Just come on home with Me!
I love the story. I don’t know how true it might be. But he was translated that he should not see death.
Now of course, you have, again, Elijah, who was caught up in a chariot of fire. And Enoch, a couple of men who missed the appointment. It is appointed unto man, once to die, and after that the judgment. But these two men apparently missed their appointments.
Enoch was a prophet. Jude quotes one of his prophecies that is not recorded in the Bible. Jude said, Enoch, the seventh from Adam, said behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints to execute judgment upon the earth–Enoch, the man of faith.
Now it is interesting that Enoch begat Methuselah. He named him Methuselah, which more or less, means “In the year of his death, it shall come”, perhaps a prophecy, concerning the judgment of God upon the earth with the flood. Because if you add up the years, you’ll find out that the flood came in the year that Methuselah died. So if that were a prophecy in his name, it was fulfilled because in the year of Methuselah’s death, the flood came. His testimony was that he pleased God!
Then the writer goes on to say, 6But without faith it is impossible to please him: How God is pleased when we put our trust and our faith in Him! It pleases God! It would seem to me that it would naturally then follow, the converse would be, God is displeased when we don’t trust in Him, when we doubt His promises, when we live in fear and anxiety. Surely throughout the Bible, we are encouraged and exhorted to trust in the Lord with all of our hearts, not to lean on our understanding. To put our faith and confidence in the promises of God. Trust in the Lord, over and over, we are exhorted to trust in the Lord. And it pleases God, when you put your trust in His promises.
I think that sometimes when we say, Oh God, help me to believe You. Lord, please help me to believe You! I’ve often wondered how God looks upon a prayer like that. If I would say to my grandson, who is going to be sixteen this next year. Son on your sixteenth birthday, grandpa is going to get you a car. Now I’ve gotten all the rest of the grandkids cars on their sixteenth birthday, so I’m sure that he’s got already the hint that it will probably happen. But if I would say, son, you are going to be sixteen this next year. And on your sixteenth birthday, I’m going to give you a car. And if he said, oh grandpa, help me to believe you! Help me to believe you, grandpa! I would think, what wrong with me? Why can’t you believe me? Have I given you false promises before? Have I, you know, promised wild things and never come though? And here is God having given us all these promises, and so often, oh God, please help me to believe You, Lord. Please help me to believe You! So why can’t you believe Him.
So without faith it’s impossible to please God, for he that cometh to God must believe that he is,(first, and second, he must believe) and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. God does exist. He does reward those who diligently seek Him.
Noah is the next one who is mentioned. 7By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. Now, we have a contrast. Enoch was not, because God translated him. As such he became a type of the church, that is raptured before the judgment comes.
The flood was God’s judgment upon the sinful world. God looked upon the world. He looked at man and He saw that every thought and imagination of man’s heart was only evil continually. And it repented God that He made man. God saw that the wickedness upon the earth was great, that the earth was filled with violence.
So God prepared to judge the earth, but there was a man who walked with God. His name was Noah. And God told Noah to build this large ship. He gave him the dimensions. He commanded him then to bring the animals, two of each kind, into this ship, that they might survive the great flood that God was going to send upon the earth. So Noah was about a hundred and twenty years in building the ship.
And what an interesting illustrated sermon! People no doubt came all over. They probably ran tour buses to see this huge ship that this eccentric old man was building out in the wilderness or out in the desert area. And when you would ask this old man, what in the world are you building this thing for? He would tell you, there is going to be a flood! Now before this, it had not rained upon the earth. God watered the earth with the dew that came up out of the ground at night. They, no doubt, thought that he was crazy. But he warned them, the judgment of God is going to come! God is going to destroy the earth with a flood!
Now Noah becomes the type of the hundred and forty-four thousand, who are sealed by God in the Book of Revelation, in order that they might survive the great tribulation, not be hurt, by the judgment that God will be pouring out upon the earth. He sealed the servants of God in the forehead, that when these winds are released upon the earth, they will not be hurt by them.
And later on when these demonic creatures are commanded to inflict the pain and torment, they are told not to touch those who have the seal of God in their forehead.
So Noah becomes a type of the one hundred forty four thousand Israelites, whom God will seal to take them through the Great Tribulation, where Enoch becomes the type of the church who is translated before the Great Tribulation.
Now as I mentioned, Enoch and Elijah are two men, who missed their appointments with death. And that is why many people believe in the Book of Revelation, when God sent His two witnesses to the earth to testify, and they demonstrate divine powers. They have power to set up heaven that doesn’t rain. They have power to call down fire on their enemies. There are many who believe that the two witnesses will be Enoch and Elijah, the two men who missed their appointment with death. God will send them back in order that they might keep their appointment with death because the anti-christ will put them to death. And their bodies will be lying in the streets of Jerusalem. Then as the whole world is watching, they’ll be translated on up into heaven!
Imagine, the Bible telling us that an event in Jerusalem would watched by everybody on the earth. What a far-fetched statement! How could an event in Jerusalem be watched by the whole earth? That’s ridiculous! And such, it was viewed by Bible critics for so many years.
But now we realize that such a thing is a practical reality with the advent of satellite communication. We have seen events that were taking place around the world. We have been able to view them live on our television screen. And so now we understand how an event can take place in Jerusalem and all of the world can be watching. So they take CBS and ABC, and especially CNN, on over to Jerusalem. They are filming these bodies lying in the street and people going by and spitting on them and desecrating their bodies. And while they are giving some kind of a TV commentary, suddenly these guys stir. They stand up and the cameras follow them on up into heaven and people wonder what is going on? And so the Bible tells you. You can read it in Revelation, chapter eleven.
So Noah warned. Now, someone said he preached for a hundred and twenty years and had no converts. No, he did have converts–his sons and their wives! And I tell you what, if you have children, you have, I believe a primary ministry to your children. And if you can bring your children into the Kingdom, you’ve done well! So he brought his children into the safety of the ark. But again, he became the heir of righteousness which is of faith. So again, the righteousness that God imputes to a person because of their faith.
8By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. God just said, Abraham, I want to you leave the Ur of the Chaldees, leave your family. Go to a place that I will show you.
Now Abraham wasn’t completely obedient. He went as far as Haran. His family went with him. His father, Terah, went along, just unwilling to let the son go. Well son, if you are going to go, we’ll go with you. So they came as far as Haran. They tarried there until his father, Terah, died. And then Abraham took up the journey again. But Lot, his nephew, went with him. So he didn’t fully leave his family. But some of them came along with him. He journeyed about four hundred and fifty miles to the southwest until he came to the land of the Canaanites. And one day when he was standing on the top of Mt. Bethel, which is in the middle of the land—the mountains of Samaria. God said to Abraham, look to the north, the south, the east and the west, and as far as you can see, I’ve given you this land to your descendants as a perpetual inheritance for them.
So he journeyed not knowing where he was going, but 9By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, When he got there, he knew where he was. He knew this is the land.
So he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles (tents) with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: God repeated the promise to Isaac and then He repeated the promise to Jacob. So the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, He is often referred to.
10For, (it says) he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. He was looking the Kingdom of God. He was looking for the city of God.
11Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, (That is, she was over ninety years old.) because she judged him faithful who had promised. Now when Sara first heard the angels promising to Abraham that she would have a son. Your wife, Sara, shall bear a son. She was eves-dropping, standing in the tent, just inside the tent flap, eavesdropping on Abraham on these men that were there. And when they said to Abraham, your wife shall bear a child in her old age, she laughed! Oh, no, come on! And the angel said, why did Sara laugh? She said, oh, I didn’t laugh. But she did!
Interestingly enough, when the son was born, they named him laughter, because it was just, well, he brought such joy and laughter to them, to believe at that their age, they could have a son. But by faith, she received strength to conceive in that old age because she judged Him faithful, who had promised. That’s the whole thing. You see God is faithful. We may not have faith. Our faith may waiver, but God who has promised, is faithful! And that’s the thing you can count on!
12Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. The faith of Abraham and Sarah, and from them, all of the descendants, innumerable.
13These (Talking about Abraham, Enoch and Noah and all.) all died in faith, not having received the promises, The promises of what? The promises of the Messiah and the Kingdom of God. They believed it. They looked forward to it. They had the promises of God and they believed the promises of God, but they died in faith, not having received the promise of the Messiah.
but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, They held onto them. They had the promise of the Messiah. They believed it and they hung on to it! God will send His Son, the Savior into the world!
and confessed This isn’t our home! The world is not our home! This kingdom of man is not our home. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God.
So they confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But they don’t want to return! They don’t want to go back into the world and into the world system.
16But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: Paul said, our citizenship is in heaven, from whence we look for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
So 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. They were looking for that city—the Kingdom of God. It is interesting that Jesus spoke to His disciples so much about the coming Kingdom of God. The city, the new Jerusalem, that God will send from heaven.
17By faith Abraham, when he was tried, (the supreme trial) offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, The promise was, through Isaac shall thy seed be called!
When Abraham was about a hundred years old, Sarah was about ninety. And they had not yet had a child between them. A few years earlier, Sarah, had more or less given up, a lapse of faith. She said to Abraham, Abraham obviously we’re not going to be able to have a child. So you go into my Egyptian maid and you impregnate her. And she will become a surrogate mother. I will be the midwife when the child is born. And I will take the child in my lap and it will be as our child. And so Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah bore a child. They called his name Ishmael. Ishmael is now about thirteen years old. Abraham loves him. He is Abraham’s son. And so God repeated the promise to Abraham. Abraham, I’m going to give you a son. And Abraham said, let Ishmael live before the Lord. In other words, he was sort of saying, Lord, that’s all right. You know, I’ve given up. Let Ishmael live before You. And God promised to make a nation of Ishmael, but God repeated the promise. He said through Sarah shall thy seed be called. Ishmael is not going to be the heir of the promise. Then later when Isaac was born, God said, through Isaac shall thy seed be called.
Now, it is interesting that when God called Abram to offer Isaac, God said to him. Take now thy son, thine only son, Isaac! God ignored Ishmael. We know that Ishmael was the product of human effort. He was the work of the flesh. And to me it is interesting that God doesn’t recognize the works of the flesh. I think that often we are making the mistake of offering to God, our works of the flesh, but we need to realize, God doesn’t even recognize them! He only recognizes the work of the Spirit. Take now thy son, thine only son, Isaac, whom thou lovest! Offer him as a sacrifice on the mount that I will show you.
And so Abraham began to journey for three days from Hebron until they came to Jerusalem. And there, at Mt. Moriah, the Lord showed to him that mount. And Abraham said to the servants, you wait here. I and the lad will go and worship and will come again. And Abraham and Isaac began to climb up Mt. Moriah. And you know the story, a beautiful story of God’s provision and Abraham’s prophecies. As he called the name of the place, Jehovah-Jireh, he said the Lord will provide Himself a sacrifice, in the mount of the Lord, it shall be seen. And not by accident, not by co-incidence, it was on Mt. Moriah, that Jesus was crucified two thousand later, when God gave His only begotten Son as a sacrifice for our sin!
So by faith, Abram, now, Abraham, when God said, take Isaac and offer him as a sacrifice, had the promise of God, through Isaac shall thy seed be called. Isaac, at this point was not married, at this point had no children. So Abraham figures, God, You’ve got a problem! You asked me to offer my son, Isaac, as a sacrifice. And yet you’ve promised that through Isaac, the seed will be called. So Abraham believed, interestingly enough, in the resurrection, and of course, Jesus was resurrected from the dead. But he believed in the resurrection.
And it, we are told here, 18Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: 19Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. Abraham was old and Sarah had gone through the menopause. So Isaac was really a miracle child, to be sure. He was, you know, sort of in a figure, from the dead. But yet Abraham believed that if God could give me the son, He could raise him from the dead, if I obey the command of God to offer him as a sacrifice.
Now 20By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. In the blessings, the prophecies over them.
21By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff. Now you remember that at the stream of Jabbok, when he was wrestling with the angel of the Lord. As the result of that wrestling match, the angel touched his thigh. The muscle shriveled and Jacob became a cripple as a result of that encounter with the angel. So he had to use a crutch.
So when Joseph brought his two sons to his father, Jacob, Jacob was old now. He had lost his sight. He was leaning on his crutch. The two sons were brought to him by Joseph. And Joseph brought the sons with the older one standing on Joseph’s left so that when Jacob would put his hands on the sons to bless them, the right hand would go on the older son, Manasseh. The left hand would go on the younger son, Ephraim. And so he brought them to his dad in that position so that when he laid his hands on them, the chief blessing would go to Manasseh, the older son. But Jacob crossed his hands! He put his right hand on Ephraim and his left hand on Manasseh. Joseph said, no, no dad, and started to move his hands. And Jacob said, I know what I am doing son, leave me alone. And so he blessed the sons of Joseph by faith.
22By faith Joseph, when he died, There he was in Egypt, he was made one of the leaders of Egypt. The Israelites came down. There was this vision that Abraham had. And God interpreted the vision that his descendants would go into Egypt for four hundred years and after that God would deliver them. And so they knew that the promised land was the land of Canaan. It wasn’t Egypt.
So Joseph, by faith, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones. He ordered them, when God delivers you out of Egypt and you go to possess the land, that God has promised to our father, Abraham, I want you to swear that you’ll take my bones and bury them in that land. And so he by faith commanded that when the children of Israel would go to the land that God promised, they would take his bones with them and bury them in the land of promise.
Now 23By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child (or a beautiful child. In fact, in Genesis, it tells us of the beauty of Moses. And there are some traditions and early stories that he was so beautiful that people would just stop and stare at him. He was so beautiful.)
They saw that he was a proper child and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment. You see the Pharaoh began to get worried because the Egyptians sort of developed a birth control. The Israelites were having lots of kids. They were healthy and strong. The Egyptians had become sort of soft, you know, living sort of in the purple. They had all of these Israeli slaves. And so they realized that the Israelis will soon outnumber us. And so the Pharaoh ordered when a child was born, if it were a boy, they were to cast it into the river. They were to drown it. If it was a girl, to keep it because she could be a servant girl. And so the midwives were commanded, when the child was born, to throw the baby boys into the river. So when Moses was born, there was that edict of the Pharaoh, but they saw that he was a beautiful child and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment.
So 24By faith Moses, when he was come to years, Of course, you know the story. He was placed in a little basket in the Nile River. The Pharaoh’s daughter came down into the river to bathe. They heard a baby crying. They saw the basket. So she commanded one of her girls to fetch the basket out of the river. Here was this beautiful baby boy.
And his older sister, Miriam was hiding and watching to see what would happen to her little brother. And so she ran up to Pharaoh’s daughter and she said, would you like me to get a nursemaid for your little child? And she said, oh yes, would you? So she ran and said, Mama, Mama, I got you a job. So they were able to raise Moses and be paid for it by the Pharaoh. He became sort of the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter.
But by faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;
He rejected that, 25Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Moses realized that the pleasures of sin are not lasting. They are only for a season. Because he had a respect unto the eternal verities, he made the wise choice of identifying with God’s people rather than to live in the wealth and luxury of the world. Because you are only going to live for a certain number of years here on this earth. And then you are going to spend eternity, either with God or apart from God.
And so Moses chose to suffer affliction with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; 26Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: He took the worst thing that God had to offer—the reproach of Christ. People will reproach you when they know you believe in Jesus Christ. They will sneer. They will mock. They will make fun of that position. And that’s probably the worst thing that we face, is the reproach of the world because of our faith in Jesus Christ.
But Moses took the worst that the Lord had to offer him. He compared it with the best that the world had to offer him, which were the treasures of Egypt. But he esteemed the worst that God has is better than the best that the world has, because he looked at the eternal aspects.
Asaph, the psalmist, in Psalm 73, talks about his being tripped up, stumbling, because he said, I became envious of the wicked when I saw their prosperity. Here, I am going through all kinds of trouble and they never seem to have a bit of trouble. They’re blasphemous. They’re horrible people, and yet people bow and scrape to them. They have more than their hearts can wish. And here I am, wanting to do and trying to do the right thing and it looks like I’m just getting buffeted every morning. And he said, when I got to know this, it was too painful for me, until I went into the house of God. And then I saw their end! In the house of God, he got the eternal perspective. And oh, how things change when you see them from the eternal perspective!
That’s our problem! We are always, it seems, looking only at the things, which are seen. But they are temporal. The things which are not seen, they’re the eternal things. But so rarely do we go beyond just what we can see. And we don’t look beyond at the eternal things, the spiritual things.
for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. So Moses, because he had a recompense unto the reward. He could see the long-term effect. And of course, going back to Asaph, when he got the eternal perspective, rather than envying the wicked, he felt sorry for them. So foolish was I, so ignorant. I was like a beast before thee. Because I’ve got everything. Lord, you hold me by the right hand! You guide me with Your council and You will receive me into glory! Who have I on earth besides Thee, oh Lord? And who in heaven, do I desire besides Thee? Though my heart and flesh fail, the Lord is the strength of my heart! And so he got the eternal perspective and it changed the whole picture! And it will with us when we catch the eternal perspective!
And so 27By faith (it says) he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king(the pharaoh): for he endured (How?), as seeing him who is invisible. He has his eyes on the Lord and on the promises of God and the eternal life that God had promised! And so he endured because he could see the invisible.
They say, they talk about blind faith, no, no, no! There is no such thing as blind faith. The man of faith actually sees much more than a man who has no faith. He only sees what is visible and obvious, but the man of faith sees far beyond and sees much more.
28Through faith he kept the passover, That is, when God ordered the children of Israel when He was going to slay the firstborn in the land of Egypt, the final climatic place by which the Pharaoh would then say go. God said, in order that the children of Israel not suffer the loss of the first born, that they take a lamb out of your flock of the first year. Kill it. Put the blood in a basin. Take a bit of hyssop, sprinkle blood upon the lentils of the doorposts of the house. In the night, when I pass through the land, when I see the blood upon the door, I will pass over that house! The word passover, then. I will pass over that house!
and the sprinkling of blood, It’s interesting, sprinkle the blood on the lentils and the doorpost. It would mean the blood was sprinkled in the shape of a cross on the doors of the houses. And God said when I see that, I will passover the house.
lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them. 29By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying (attempting) to do were drowned. That great experience of God delivering them, bringing them through the Red Sea.
Now we go beyond the times of the books of the law, we come to Joshua. 30By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days. 31By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace. It’s interesting when God brought the children out of Egypt, word in the ancient world spread about how the Red Sea was parted and how the Egyptian army was destroyed, and how these people were coming into the land. Because when the spies came into her house, she spoke about hearing about what God had done for these people. And she realized that God had given to them the land. So she made a deal with the spies, that when the children of Israel would take the city of Jericho, that she would be spared. So they said put this scarlet of rope out the window. And when the city is taken, whoever is in the house will be spared. So I suppose she gathered her family, as many as would, to come into the house. When Jericho was taken, they were slain, except for Rehab who by faith, perished not with them, that believed not, when she received the spies with peace.
32And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae He’s going through the Book of Judges, there. Now, it’s interesting, he says Barak instead of Deborah, because Barak, was, well, he said to Deborah. I won’t go into battle unless you go with me. So really, she was the heroine of the whole thing, not Barak. But he gets listed and she doesn’t, which is interesting. I don’t know what value there is to it, but it’s just interesting.
Samson, Jephthae, of David also, Oh, the things of David, you know. But yet he just gets honorable mention here. None of his deeds or the acts.
and Samuel, Oh, what a great man and yet, just honorable mention.
and of the prophets: 33Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises (No doubt, referring to Daniel), stopped the mouths of lions,
No doubt, referring to the three Hebrew children. 34Quenched the violence of fire, escaped (probably David) the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35Women received their dead raised to life again: and others Now, here are the great and glorious things that were wrought by men and women of faith. A wonderful victory, but it’s important that we go on!
And others, they were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: 36And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment (Jeremiah and so many of the prophets.): 37They were stoned, they were sawn asunder (Jerome believes that that was a reference to Isaiah.), were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; It’s interesting isn’t it? Some of them waxed valiantly in fight. Some of them put to flight the armies of the aliens. They received their dead back to life and all of this, but yet others, the same faith, had faith, and yet they went through suffering. They went through torture for their faith. As we said three or four Sundays ago, having faith is not an automatic guarantee that we’re not going to suffer.
Here were men of faith who suffered. Here are men of faith who were delivered, but others who suffered. God may give you deliverance. God may allow us to suffer. It is a problem. We don’t understand it. Why, often times, do godly people suffer? But I believe faith is manifested in suffering as much as and often times, more, in suffering, than it is in glorious victory. My ability to accept the suffering, trusting in God. God if you want to deliver me—fine!
When Paul Bunyan was facing prison, he prayed, God, I would appreciate it if You would free me from prison, from going to prison. When the sentence is given, I would love to have You keep me from prison, but if you have a ministry for me in prison, Thy will be done.
Now, that’s faith! Lord, Your will be done, if it means, suffering, fine! I’m going to believe and trust You, even in the suffering. And let me say, it’s a lot harder to have faith in suffering than it is in victories. And it takes greater faith to hold onto God, when you don’t understand the circumstances and you don’t understand why you are going through the hurt and the pain. But to hang onto God in those circumstances, really is a mark of greater faith than if everything is just going well and smooth and things are all just falling into order and all your life is always just so easy and blessed. Yet, that’s wonderful, but it takes more faith to hold on to the Lord, to believe and trust in the time of suffering.
So, there were those that quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, but there were others who were slain by the sword. Sawn asunder, tempted, slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheep skins, goat skins. They were destitute. They were afflicted. They were tormented; 38(Of whom the world was not worthy:) These people were so holy! They were so righteous! They walked so close to God, the world wasn’t worthy of them.
And yet they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: They all believed God. They all had a good report. They endured all kinds of things. They had all kinds of victory, yet they didn’t receive the promise. The promise of what? The promise of the Kingdom of God, the promise of the Messiah. They were looking forward to Him. They believed in Him, but they didn’t receive the promise.
40God (he said) having provided some better thing for us, We’re received the promise! The Messiah has come!
So God has provided a better thing for us that they without us should not be made perfect. They could not come into the completed state of salvation under the Old Testament laws of sacrifices. It was impossible that the blood of bulls and goats could put away sin. They could not enter into heaven before the perfect and complete sacrifice of Jesus! They were being kept in a holding cell, so to speak.
You remember in Luke sixteen, that there was a certain rich man who fared sumptuously every day. Moreover there was a poor man who was brought daily and was laid at his gate. He was full of sores. The dogs licked his sores. And he survived off the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. And the poor man died and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. Moreover the rich man also died and in hell, lifted up his eyes, being in torment. And seeing Abraham afar off and Lazarus being comforted in his bosom, cried, father Abraham, have mercy on me! Send Lazarus unto me that he may take his finger and dip it in water. Touch my tongue because I’m tormented in this heat!
The Old Testament saints, they all died in faith, not having received the promise. They weren’t able yet to enter into heaven. But when Jesus came and paid the price, the perfect, complete sacrifice, once and for all. When He died, he descended to where Abraham was comforting those in the promises of God. How fit that Abraham should be the one. The man of faith—the one who is held up above the others as the man of faith, was promised to him that through his faith, all of the nations of the earth would be blessed! And he believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. He was, no doubt, there saying, don’t worry, God is going to keep His promise. The Messiah will come!
And so Peter tells us that Jesus went to preach to those souls who were in prison.
Paul tells in Ephesians four, that He who has ascended, that is Jesus, is the same One, who first of all descended into the lower parts of the earth. But when He ascended, He led captives from the captivity and He gave gifts unto men!
So Jesus preached to those souls in prison, the glorious truths that God has kept His Word, the sacrifice has been made! Heaven’s door is now opened unto those who believe! You can enter into the Kingdom of God, because the price of redemption is now paid!
Oh what a glorious time that must have been as Jesus showed to them, no doubt, the marks of the cross and His suffering and the fact that He had died, paid the price for their redemption! And thus, that portion of the prophecy of Isaiah, which told about the Messiah, who was going to come. How that He would set at liberty, those that were bound and open the prison door, which He did. He led the captives from their captivity on into the heavenly kingdom. So they, without us, that is, without the work of Jesus, could not come into the perfected state. But now God has made possible for us, that entrance into heaven. We don’t have to wait! To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord! So we look forward to that city, that Abraham was looking for—the Kingdom of God! And we pray Lord, thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven. And I can assure you that God keeps His word. And one day the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Messiah! And He shall reign forever and forever! Hallelujah, hallelujah! Praise the Lord!
Father, we thank You that You’ve given to each a measure of faith. Help us, Lord to increase that faith. Teach us, Lord, to trust in You, more and more. Draw us into that fellowship with You, Lord. And may we, by experience, come to know more fully and completely Your faithfulness, that we might account You faithful, who has promised. Give us Lord, unwavering faith. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Transcribed from “The Word For Today”, Pastor Chuck Smith, Tape #8216, (KJ Version)