Sunday, October 23, 2011
Hebrews Chapter 11 (part 1)
Hebrews Chapter 11
vs. 1, 3: FAITH IN THE UNSEEN
- Dictionary.com has the definition of faith as:
1. Confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability.
2. Belief that is not based on proof.
3. Belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion.
4. Belief in anything, as a code of ethics standards of merit, etc.
5. A system of religious belief.
- I like the second definition... I think that is an accurate description of the faith that we're going to be talking about in this chapter.
- “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
- We know what this looks like in a Spiritual context... but thinking about practical, everyday instances... I thought of a few things...
- We have faith in gravity. We have a confidence in walking outside and expecting to stay on the ground and not float away into space somewhere. You can't see gravity. You can see it in action... lol but you can't see it. You can feel it moving... when you trip and fall, or take a wrong step on a set of stairs... You know that it exists... and you know that it's working... but you can't SEE it.
- Wind. You can feel it. You can see it's effects. You can figure out how fast it's going... but you can't SEE it. You can't grab hold and hang on to it... and yet you know that it exists...
- I was thinking about some of the science equations we had to work out in science class when I was in high school. There was an equation for momentum, for gravity, for force... and none of those things can you really pin down... but somebody at some point... came up with an equation to figure out how they worked and why they worked...
- Maybe that's why faith in God is so hard sometimes... there's no equation for proving God. There's no scientist or great preacher who has sat out and reasonably argued God with something in math or science that makes sense to the greater population.
- And yet... there's all this proof. The intricacy of our own bodies screams of a creator. The earth and all the things they keep finding in science that are just amazing feats of creation... scream of a creator... a planner... a mastermind. (If you have the opportunity, there's a series of DVD's titled the Truth Project offered by Focus on the Family ministries that is great!)
- “By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God's command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.”
- The way so many things just work... and there's no really good explanation as to how or why they all happen to work together at the same time... in just the right way.
- There's too much proof for it to just be coincidence... and yet there are so many people who have decided that unless they SEE God... God doesn't exist. They're not going to believe in something they can't see... and yet they already do! They will believe that gravity exists... because they've experienced it in action... but because God doesn't work out their lives the way they think He should... they deny the actions that they see Him taking. They deny His effects...
- So how can we have confident faith in something that we can't see... and we can't prove?
- Personal experience. Personal walk. And personal relationship.
- That doesn't sound like much when you're looking at it from the point of view of explaining the proofs to an unbeliever...
- But I think for someone who is struggling with what to believe, or should they believe, then sometimes I think that our lives speak volumes. When we actively seek God... and when we are open about trusting God... and then God comes through? What better witness to the power and awesomeness of God?
- If someone is really looking for God... seeking to make a decision... God can and will use our lives to show them proof... if we're willing to possibly go through some trials in the process...
- I think one of the greatest ways we show God is in how we live our lives. It's not the ONLY way... but there is something to be said for the watching of a life.
- I've heard a hundred times... “If you wanna know what kind of husband a man will be... watch how he treats his mother and sister.”
- And the same holds true for our Christian walk... If you wanna know how someone's Spiritual life is going... see how they respond to situations. See how they treat those around them... both close friends or family and acquaintances.
- Now granted... everybody has an off day now and again... but do they realize it and go ask for forgiveness when they lose their temper? Or do they insult or put others down without a thought as to the pain caused?
- Our faith can be an open book if someone's watching us. And if they knew us BEFORE Christ walked into our hearts... and then see the change start to happen... Sometimes THAT is a GREAT witness.
- I heard a pastor call in to KLOVE radio the other day and he said that he had been in jail. And when he became a pastor of this church in his hometown, a lot of the people who started coming, came, because they knew what he'd been before and they figured that something in this Jesus thing must be the real deal.
- How does your book of faith read?
- James 2:14-26
- Romans 1:16-17; 3:21-8:39
- Galatians 3:1-14
vs. 2, 6: REPUTATION
- “Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.”
- Not through their good works. Not through their money. Not through the way they treated their families... through their FAITH.
- We have this guy playing football in the USA right now... Tim Tebow. And this poor guy has been getting some flack from a lot of people. He's very open about his faith. Always has been. And so he uses football as a platform. Not like... every time he's on TV he's preaching a sermon or anything... but he always gives God the praise. Any chance he gets, he gives honor, where honor is due.
- And they're trying to make it so that if he does play (more frequently...) for the pro team... that he can't use his standing as a quarterback on the team as a way of expressing his faith... good grief... what happened to freedom of speech? Just saying....
- Mom was talking this morning about it... she said you know... were it not that he was convicting people through the way he speaks and through the way he lives... they wouldn't care. If they could find dirt on him from somewhere that proved he was a hypocrite.... they'd let it go. They wouldn't even worry about it... but because they can't find anything wrong with him... they're trying to shut him up.
- Our faith may not make us popular... but if we live it out... it will definitely make us known in some way, shape, or form. There will be something that stands out to someone... good or bad...
- The people of faith that we're going to talk about in this chapter... sometimes were looked up to... and sometimes... were ridiculed and sometimes WEREN'T perfect. Sometimes were killed... Their faith did not always seem like the most beneficial decision at the moment, for that time... But in the long run... their names were recorded down as faithful people, honored by God as such.
- So when things start looking rough... hang in there... even though life in this world may look desperate... or dim... or just plain rotten... The end reward is greater than a little comfort for a fleeting time... (I know... easier said than done...)
- “It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.”
- I Peter 1:3-7
- Mark 4:13-20
- II Timothy 3:10-17
- Revelation 2:9-11
vs. 4: ABEL
- “It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel's offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed His approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith.”
- In Genesis 4, we have the story of Cain and Abel.
- Both sons grew up to do different things. Abel grew to be a shepherd and Cain a farmer. When the time came to offer gifts to God, Abel brought a lamb... and Cain brought some of his crops.
- Now I know later in Israel's history, there were sacrifices of grain etc. given at the temple... but it was a tithe... not an offering for sin. Only blood covers sin...
- When Abel and Cain brought their gifts... it was an offering to God. Now, it doesn't say anything about setting up a sacrificial system or even telling them that blood was necessary...
- However... when Cain got upset about his offering not being accepted... God said that he would be accepted if he would do what was right. So apparently... he knew what was right... and chose not to do it.
- Now in my mind... Abel brings a lamb... something that he has raised... something that was his... Cain also... brought something that he had raised... something he'd worked on.
- Cain... brought his works before God. He brought something to show off. “Oh God! Look at me! Look what I did! Are you proud of me? I worked so hard for this!”
- So many times... we as Christians do the same thing... “Oh God! Did you see what I did? I gave an extra $50 this week at church!” or “I went on a mission trip to help those less fortunate than me. Does that give me extra points?”
- Cain came... and God said... no... I want the better thing. Do the right thing... and I'll accept your offering... But if you don't... beware! For Satan is waiting... watching at your door... He is eager to control you... but you must subdue it and be its master!
- Cain let his pride get in the way. It never says that Cain went and found a right offering and brought it before God. It never says that he humbled himself and decided to do right...
- Instead... Cain waited. He let bitterness and anger simmer within. He let jealousy boil up. He let sin have control.
- So one day... he had sat and thought long enough... that he landed upon a solution. Kill Abel. Get the one who had shown him up out of the picture. (You know the type, they like to make someone else look bad so they look good—power of life and death are in your words!)
- Instead of following the directive from God... Cain chose to live in rebellion. All this could have been avoided if Cain had simply turned and got a lamb... whether he had one or had to get one from Abel... and offered it in the place of the vegetables or fruit or whatever.
- But Abel... for that one act of obedience. That one moment of righteousness... is listed as a man of great faith.
- In I Samuel there's a verse that says that “obedience is greater than sacrifice.” Cain may have brought something of himself... may have worked hard for this offering... but it wasn't given in obedience... he didn't do what was “right”. So... Abel's gift was accepted... and Cain... was told to take another try at it.
- So for Abel's obedience... he was accepted by God through his faith.
- I Samuel 15:22-23
- II Corinthians 9:10-15
- Romans 6:15-23
vs. 5: ENOCH
- “It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God.”
- Genesis 5:21-14
- Enoch's story... even though it's only a few verses... is fascinating to me.
- Chapter 5 is basically a genealogy. So and so had so and so who had so and so... and so on and so forth...
- But it pauses at Enoch. There was something important enough about this man, that the historian saw fit to mention it.
- “After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch lived in close fellowship with God for another 300 years, and he had other sons and daughters. Enoch lived 356 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.”
- Enoch had a relationship with God. A close enough relationship... that it made the headlines. :)
- He walked and talked with God... CLOSELY. And then one day... God decided it was time to take their relationship to the next level so to speak... and God took him home.
- I wonder if he was out one day walking and talking with God... by himself... or if he was like... in the middle of a crowd somewhere.
- Elijah was the only other man in the bible to be taken and not die... And he kept trying to get off by himself. The only reason Elisha saw him go up... was because Elisha just wouldn't quit following him. Otherwise... Elijah too would have just disappeared.
- To me... that just sounds like an awesome way to enter the new life... Walking along... talking like always... and then all of a sudden... you're just moving on up to heaven... It's like eloping... LOL
- Enoch was known for his relationship with God. This was a man who spoke about his faith... and LIVED IT OUT. And it made an impact... that lasted for generations.
- This was not a faith that was persecuted. This was not a faith that was tried and accosted. This was a relationship that was founded on love and that grew deeper through knowing and understanding. This was a man who was seeking after God... and who was so in love with God.
- How many of us can say that our lives are reflections of a Love relationship with God that is growing deeper every day? Most of us have a need relationship with God. We walk through life on our own until we desperately need something from God... then we call out for rescue... and then we go back to walking through life on our own.
- Enoch had a daily walk that was intense. I can't imagine what kinds of things this man knew or learned about God. I can't imagine what kind of things they talked about.
- There's an old Wayne Watson song that says “I wanna be the kind of friend that Jesus would call, you know if He had a telephone, at the end of the day, just to talk about nothing...” Would that not be an awesome relationship? That was Enoch's relationship. Just spending time with God almighty... just talking. Hanging out. Best Friend... Wow...
- Verse 5 says that Enoch was known as a man who pleased God... and verse 6 says: It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.”
- Enoch... sincerely sought after God... And just a side note... The name Enoch (according to babynames.com) means “Dedicated”. How appropriate is that? :)
- Romans 5:6-11
- Luke 12:16-21
- I John 1:5-10
- Philippians 3:7-11
vs. 7: NOAH
- “It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned Him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.”
- Okay, so in Genesis chapter 6, we see God becoming angry with the actions of the world. The first couple of verses talks about “the sons of God” coming to take the “daughters of men”. And the daughters then bearing giants, called Nephilites.
- So I read through a lot of commentaries on the Nephilites. The word originates in Hebrew and the root word means “to fall”.
- One of the commentaries referred me to Jude 1:6. “And I remind you of the angels who did not stay within the limits of authority God gave them but left the place where they belonged.”
- These descendents (possibly of these fallen angels) in some of the old writings (not necessarily Hebrew... some Greek, some Arabian...), were said to be men of evil basically. They were big, mean, men. One mentions a city of men who were “men of vast bodies, and of great strength, inventors of arms and music, were cannibals, and exceedingly debauched.” If that was the general trend of these men... whew! No wonder God was getting angry... I mean yeah... there's some good things in there... inventors... musicians... oh wait... cannibals... well that's not so great...
- Jude 1:6 goes on to say that “God has kept them [the fallen angels] securely chained in prisons of darkness, waiting for the great day of judgment.”
- I wonder if that means that they have been chained up after their deaths awaiting the final judgment... or if that would in any way refer back to Romans 1...
- “Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship Him as God or even give Him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles. So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other's bodies. They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator Himself, who is worthy of eternal praise!”
- I wonder if God... because of their rebellion... just turned them over to evil... Let them do whatever evil things they wished... And hence... evil abounded... because of rebellion...
- Just a thought...
- But whatever the story was... the people of Noah's time... were exceedingly evil. Enough so that “the Lord was sorry He had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke His heart. And the Lord said, “I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing—all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them.”
- BUT! “Noah found favor with the Lord.”
- So God told Noah to build the ark. Because a flood was coming. Now it had never flooded. Actually... up until this time... it hadn't really ever rained even.
- In Genesis 2, it talks about the springs coming up from the ground...
- “For the Lord God had not yet sent rain to water the earth.... Instead springs came up from the ground and watered all the land.”
- There had never been a flood. There hadn't been a ton of water. There were rivers... and springs... but... not rain and not floods.
- Now... Noah... starts preaching to the people. “God's going to destroy the land with a flood!” What in the world is a flood Noah? “It's water! The earth will be covered with water!” HAHAHAHAHAHA yeah right! Noah's a crazy old fool!
- And then Noah starts building a boat. A big one. Okay seriously Noah? There's no water around... and definitely not any body of water that's big enough for THAT thing...
- Here was a faith tested by ridicule. This was a faith persecuted. And yet Noah just kept plugging along. He preached every chance he got. For YEARS.
- We don't have an exact date on how long Noah had been building the ark or how long he'd been preaching... however... It does specifically mention that Noah was 500 years old when he was the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth. In Genesis 5:32. Then when God tells Noah to build the ark in chapter 6, it reiterates that he was the father of the three sons.
- In Genesis 11:10, it says that 2 years after the flood, when Shem was 100, he became a father...
- So if Noah was the father of all three of his sons at the time that God told him the flood was coming, then at the very minimum. VERY minimum... if Shem had JUST been born... the people were given 98 years before the flood.
- But regardless... there was definitely time given. Noah preached right up until the day God closed the doors.
- Now mom brought up a good point when we were talking about this. I always wondered about Noah's sons... if they ever wondered if their dad had lost it... If they ever thought he was an embarrassment. If they ever tried to convince him to give it up...
- But you know... if they were little kids when the building of the ark started... it was normal. They hadn't had time to be corrupted by the world. They didn't have friends who were telling them how crazy their dad was. They had probably been helping to build the thing from the time that they could hold a hammer...
- In addition... I wonder what kind of wives they found... if the wives were of the world and thought they'd married into a bunch of crazies... Or if they married young... like... age 12... as was at least normal later... and they just... fell right into the work along with the sons.
- So that's just a side thought... Just wonder what kind of people ended up in the ark... :)
- Anyway... Noah... had faith enough in God that he preached regardless of what kind of response he got. And because of this... he received “the righteousness that comes by faith.” Noah was counted as righteous because of his obedience... just like Enoch. And Abel.
- It wasn't because he sacrificed the right kind of lamb. Or because he wore the right kind of clothes. Or because he said the right kind of things. Or because he built a massively huge boat and saved his family from a flood... It was because he heard the voice of God... and obeyed... without question. Without hesitation. He just did it. And God honored that.
- I Peter 3:13-4:19
- John 15:9-16:15
- Matthew 5:3-12
- Romans 12:14-21
- Psalm 119:153-176