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God's Positive View of People (Hebrews 11)

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Hebrews 11

The definition of faith
Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction about invisible things.
   2 For on account of their faith, the elders had witness borne to them.
   3 By faith we understand that the ages have been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen has not been made out of things which appear.

Abel, Enoch and Noah
   4 By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he had witness borne to him that he was righteous, God bearing witness in respect to his gifts; and through it he, though being dead, still speaks.
   5 By faith Enoch was snatched away so that he should not be killed; and he was not found, because God had taken him away. He had witness borne to him, that before his being snatched away he had been well pleasing to God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing to Him. For he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He rewards those that seek after Him.
   7 By faith Noah, being warned concerning things not seen as yet, moved with Godly fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

Abraham and Sarah
   8 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed, and left for a place which he was to receive for an inheritance afterwards. And he left not knowing where he was going to. 9 By faith he became a sojourner in the land of promise, as yet not his own, dwelling in tents, with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he looked for the city which has the foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
   11 By faith even Sarah herself received power to conceive seed when she was past age, since she counted Him faithful who had made the promise. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude- innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.
   13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them, and greeted them from afar, and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For they that say such things make it obvious that they are seeking after a country of their own. 15 And if indeed they had been mindful of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed of them- to be called their God. For He has prepared for them a city.
   17 By faith Abraham, being tested, offered up Isaac. Yes, he that had gladly received the promises was offering up his only begotten son. 18 Even he to whom it was said: In Isaac shall your seed be called. 19 Abraham accounted that God is able to raise up, even from the dead. From where he did, figuratively, receive him back.

Isaac, Jacob and Joseph
   20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even concerning things to come. 21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph and worshiped, leaning upon the top of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel and gave commandment concerning his bones.

   23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a goodly child, and they were not afraid of the king's commandment. 24 By faith, Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25 choosing instead to share ill treatment with the people of God, rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time; 26 considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. For he looked to the greater reward. 27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the anger of the king. For he endured, because he saw Him who is invisible.
   28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, that the destroyer of the firstborns should not touch them. 29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as if on dry land, which the Egyptians in trying to do were swallowed up.

Joshua, Rahab and many others
   30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been compassed about for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those that were disobedient, having received the spies with peace.
   32 And what more shall I say? For time will run out if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets. 33 Those who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, turned to flight armies of aliens. 35 Women received their dead by a resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36 And others were tested by mockings and whippings, yes, also by bonds and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, they were tested, they were killed with the sword. They went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38 (of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and the holes of the earth. 39 And these all, having had witness borne to them through their faith, did not receive the fulfilment of the promise; 40 God having provided some better thing involving us, that without us they should not be made perfect.


11:3 Matter was created- and all the science in the world cannot explain the ultimate question of origins. There had to be a point of ultimate creation, which implies God.

11:4 Abel offered animal blood to God, whereas Cain ignored the principle of 9:22 and offered just vegetables. Abel’s faith was therefore in that God would forgive sin because of what that blood represented- maybe he understood something of the future sacrifice of Christ, and showed his faith in this.

11:5 It seems Enoch was snatched away from death by persecution, and was not found by his enemies. But the first person to be given eternal life was Christ (1 Cor. 15:23). So Enoch wasn’t given eternal life in Heaven; he too must’ve died after his deliverance.

11:7 Noah so believed God’s word that he could imagine the future flood (v. 1), although at the time he had never seen rain. His faith and related imagination was so vivid that he feared greatly and therefore built the ark.

11:11 When Sarah first heard that she would have a child, she laughed in disbelief (Gen. 18:12). So the “faith” of which we read in this chapter wasn’t simple nor automatic, it had to be developed.

11:13 The promises were of the eternal possession of the earth in God’s Kingdom. These people died without having received that; therefore, because God keeps His promises, they will be resurrected when Christ returns and given what God promised. Therefore they didn’t go to Heaven when they died to receive the promised salvation.

11:27 Not fearing- But Ex. 2:14,15 says: “Moses was afraid, and thought, "Surely the thing is known." When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh”. We can conclude that Moses did have fear, and yet his faith overcame that fear. Faith wasn’t automatic nor easy for him, but involved much struggle (v. 11 note).

11:40 God’s plan is that all the faithful receive the promises (eternal life in God’s Kingdom on earth) at the same time- at the return of Christ, when the dead will be resurrected, judged and given immortality here on earth. It’s therefore not true that one believer dies, goes to Heaven and gets rewarded, 100 years later another one does, etc. The true Christian hope is that of bodily resurrection from the dead when Christ returns to establish His Kingdom.