Hebrews Chapters 11 Part 5
Hebrews 11:11-16 By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
None of the people mentioned saw the fulfillment of God’s promises in their lifetime. They saw some – Noah did experience the flood – Sarah did have a baby. But not all. The point is: what we need to learn from them is: they never lost faith and the earth is not our forever home. We need to keep our eyes on eternity.
Foreigners are often looked down on. Look at the letters to the editor in the daily newspaper about illegal aliens! Abraham didn’t have a land of his own for the rest of his life. And the author is saying Christians are not really in their own land. Our home is heaven and we are foreigners on earth. We can expect to feel and experience all the things related to living in a foreign land. But, we are on a journey for God and because of that “God is not ashamed to be called our God.” He has prepared a city for us in Heaven.
Hebrews 11:17-19 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.
God had told Abraham he would be the father of a great nation, and yet now He tells him to sacrifice the very son this nation was supposed to come from! But, Abraham was willing to do it! Maybe he believed that if God took Isaac he would also raise him from the dead. The point is, he was ready to give up what was dearest to him – for God – and because of that he was blessed even more.
Hebrews 11:20-22 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future. By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph's sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones.
Remember Isaac had twins: Jacob and Esau, and it was Jacob’s 12 sons who became the 12 tribes of Israel. And one of those sons – Joseph – was sold into slavery by his brothers. But through that incident God was able to move His people, Joseph’s family, to Egypt where He wanted them until it was time to set out for the Promised Land. Joseph remembered God’s promise to Abraham about the Promised Land and when he died he requested that his bones be taken and buried there. He never doubted it would happen.
And 400 years later his bones were with the Israelites when they left Egypt.
But, again, all 3 of these men died without seeing the promises fulfilled. We may die before we see something happen, but we are a link in that fulfillment. We must live in a way to move things along according to God’s will. Christians have the task of helping God make His promises come true.