October 25, 2015.
Daily Reading: Hebrews 11-13.
Background: Hebrews 9-10.
Concepts and Connections.
The hall of faith: After demonstrating Christ as the bringer of a new and better covenant, showing Him though the Hebrew scriptures, the Hebrew writer goes onto here what is often referred to as the hall of faith. Defining faith as the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things that are not seen, he pulls a large number of examples from the Old Testament that demonstrate an outstanding faith. Notice the connection that is made here between faith and action, as each of the heroes of faith did something by their faith. The section is set up as, “by faith [hero of faith] [action verb]” (see list below). We look to these godly people as examples because they lived out their faith, thus demonstrating their trust in the Lord. By these, even though these people are dead, they continue to speak. Note here also that these people were by no means perfect; many of them made damaging mistakes and fell many times to the trap of sin. Yet, they are displayed here in the hall of faith. Why? Because these people did not bow to their sin, nor did they give up when they fell down. They pressed forward and put their trust in God, getting up when they fell down. Without faith it is impossible to please God, but through faith, these people accomplished great things in the Lord. These people are commended for their faith because they believed in God, though they died before receiving the promises, but seeing them afar off. Note what is said in the end of these people, that they accomplished great things and endured through suffering- people of whom the world was not worthy. Perhaps one of the greatest compliments people could receive. All these were commended through their faith, but they did not receive the ultimate promise- the Christ- but rather saw the promise afar off. Though their faith was indeed great, even still, we have something better, our Savior that died to make us (and them) perfect. Let us ever look towards the founder and perfecter of our faith (see next chapter).
|Person||By faith, ___||Reference|
|Abel||Offered a more accpetable sacrifice than Cain||Genesis 4:4-8|
|Enoch||Pleased God and was taken so that he would not see death||Genesis 5:22-24|
|Noah||Built an ark in reverent fear||Genesis 6:13-22|
|Abraham||Obeyed the call to come out of his country, not knowing where he was going||Genesis 12:1-4|
|Went out to live in the land of promise||Genesis 12:8|
|Offered up Isaac, his only son by promise||Genesis 22:1-10|
|Sarah||Concieved a child, though she was well past child bearing age||Genesis 21:1-7|
|Isaac||Blessed Jacob and Esau||Genesis 27|
|Jacob||Blessed the sons of Joseph||Genesis 48|
|Joseph||Talked about the Exodus at the end of his life and gave direction for his bones||Genesis 50:24-25|
|Moses’ parents||Hid Moses from the king’s edict to kill the male Israelite babies||Exodus 2:1-10|
|Moses||Refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter||Exodus 2:10-11|
|Left Egypt||Exodus 2:11-22|
|Met God in the burning bush||Exodus 3|
|Kept the passover and sprinkled blood to avoid the death angel||Exodus 12|
|The Israelites||Crossed the Red Sea on dry land||Exodus 14:21-30|
|The walls of Jerico fell||Joshua 6:15-20|
|Rahab||Welcomed the spies that were sent into Jericho||Joshua 2|
|The prophets||Various||many passages|
1. Endurance and discipline: Giving the cloud of witnesses, heroes of faith, in the previous chapter, the Hebrew writer presses on here to encourage us to keep our eyes on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, laying aside ever weight and sin that we might run the race with endurance. We are not in this struggle alone, for we have great encouragement through Christ and through those who have gone before. Jesus went to the cross, bearing our sins, that we might be set free from sin, and now is setting at the right and of the throne of God. Through His encouragement, we are charged to not grow weary or fainthearted, for we have not suffered to the point that Jesus suffered. Rather, we endure the discipline of the Lord, for through this discipline we are refined into better creatures, just as a father disciplines his own son to teach and help him grow. If we respect our earthly fathers for this, why would we not give this respect to God. Discipline, though it is not pleasing in the present, pays off mighty in the long run. Thus, we are encouraged to lift our heads and strengthen our knees, that we may be healed. We are to strive for peace and holiness, and obtain (and help others obtain) the grace of God. We are to put away bitterness and sexual immorality and strive for holiness, not following the example of Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal (see Genesis 25:29-34).
2. A kingdom that cannot be shaken: The Hebrew writer here again compares the old covenant with the new covenant, showing that we come into a kingdom that cannot be touched, a heavenly kingdom, to Mount Zion and the holy city of God, a spiritual kingdom. The old covenant came with power and fear (see Exodus 19), and the people were not able to bear it. But we have been sprinkled with the blood of Christ, which speaks a better word for us, so that we can approach the throne blameless. Our sins have been washed away in His blood. Thus, we should not refuse He who is speaking for us, for rejecting Him would be a far worse thing than rejecting Moses. Those who rejected Moses indeed were not able to escape. How will we if we reject what is greater? We have entered into a kingdom that cannot be moved, as everything that could be moved was shaken off by God, so that only that which is immovable remains (the hebrew writer cites Haggai 2:6 to back this up). For this, we are to offer to God worship with reverence and awe. May we ever do such.
The outcome of our faith: Surrounding us with witnesses and encouraging us to endure in the previous chapters, the Hebrew writer here shows us what the outcome of our faith should be, or what we should do by faith. He begins with brotherly love and hospitality, noting that some have entertained angels without knowing (see Genesis 18-19), and then tells us to remember those in prison and who are mistreated. We are to keep the covenant of marriage sacred, and not allow sexual immorality to over take us either before or after marriage. We are to be content with what we have and not be ruled by the love of many, but rather put our trust and faith in the Lord, as he quotes Joshua 1:5 and Psalm 118:6 to remind us of the steadfast presence of the Lord. We are to look to our leaders, seeing and imitating the outcome of their faith, not making their job hard. Leaders will give an account for their leadership and those they shepherd. We are not to be lead away by strange teachings, but look to Christ. Then the Hebrew writer makes an interesting comparison here, comparing the sacrifice of the sin offering which was burned outside the camp (see Exodus 29:14, Leviticus 4) under the old covenant to the sacrifice of Christ for our sins, as He suffered and died outside the city as our sin offering (see Matthew 27:32, John 19:17). He bore our reproach outside the gate, and thus we are to meet Him there, bearing the reproach He endured. Let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God for His great salvation. The Hebrew writer then wraps up his letter with a benediction and final greetings to his readers.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Numbers 29-32.
Grace be with all of you.