8/01/17 Hebrews 11:8-26 “Faith is the evidence of a trust in the character of God”

Much of today’s study is a listing of Old Testament saints who demonstrated faith in their obedience to the commands of God. For many of these saints, therefore, I’ll look at the Old Testament reference with a brief comment of the application of their faith, which is being taught as an absolute necessity in order to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Note that the examples of faith given are to do with a total trust in the character of God who has asked them to do something that is as yet unseen (see Vs 1 – the evidence of things not seen).


Hebrews 11:8By 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.


Genesis 12:1; 71 Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:

12 And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him.


Note that Abraham never actually obtained that inheritance, even though he did dwell (sojourn) in the land of Canaan..

Acts 7:5And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not [so much as] to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when [as yet] he had no child.

Abraham did, of course, buy a field at Machpelah of Hebron, Canaan (this was King David’s first capital city, Hebron) for a cave in which to bury Sarah, but it was his purchase, not of the gift of that inheritance from God. It became the burial place for what were known as the Patriarchs and Matriarchs (Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah – Rachel was buried at Rachel’s tomb near Bethlehem).


By faith, Abraham obeyed; that is, Abraham trusted in the character of God so thoroughly that he left his homeland and family and went without knowing anything about where he was going, except that God had told him to do so. He left Ur to settle in Canaan with his father (Terah), wife (Sarai), and his nephew (Lot). After this, Abraham (Abram), Sarah (Sarai) and Lot went on further, leaving Terah in Haran. (Acts 7:4 says that it was because Terah died, but then Terah must have been only 145 years old, not 205 as in Genesis 11:32.)

Genesis 11:31And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.


Hebrews 11:9By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as [in] a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:


sojourned to dwell alongside one; to live near; to be or dwell in a place as a stranger. That is, Abraham wasn’t a native of this land; he was an outsider, a stranger, with strange (different) customs. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob encompass this entire period of sojourning in Canaan; they all lived in temporary dwelling-places (tents) and they all were joint-heirs with Abraham of that same promise of Vs 8.

See Romans 8:17And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together.


Hebrews 11:10For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker [is] God. (See Hebrews 3:4)


The context clearly identifies this with the future, heavenly, New Jerusalem.

Hebrews 11:16But now they desire a better [country], that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

See also Hebrews 12:22 & 13:14.


This is their future Sabbath-rest (Hebrews 4:9), that which was promised by God for those who did not fall into unbelief.

Hebrews 4:11Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

Abraham looked forward to a city which, unlike his tents (tabernacles), had foundations.


Hebrews 11:11Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.


By faith even Sarah, though she doubted at first (Genesis 18:12), and was barren due to old age, was able to bear a child through belief that God who promised was faithful. From this we can assume that Sarah, after her initial laugh of unbelief, still trusted God’s character so much that even her unbelief had to stand aside because of this belief in God which was manifested (evidenced; revealed) by her faith. Here we can see a conflict: pure logic says she can never have a child at her age (90 years old), yet God says she can and will have a child. This is where her trust in the character of God is so important; faith is the evidence of which way she has chosen! Note that her trust wasn’t in God’s promises, but in the One who promised!


Hebrews 11:12Therefore 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.


as good as dead – worn out, as of an impotent old man.

Abraham’s age was also logically against Abraham fathering a child; his faith (the evidence of his trust in the character of God) was great like Sarah’s.

Romans 4:18-2018 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations; according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. 19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb: 20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;

The consequences of this faith were an innumerable quantity of descendants.


Hebrews 11:13These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of [them], and embraced [them], and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.


These (Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob) died in faith, having believed the promises of the One (God) whose character they trusted, yet not receiving those same promises; they continued to sojourn in the land of strangers until they died.

They could see the consequences of these promises, an enduring city ….

Hebrews 13:14For here have we no continuing (enduring) city, but we seek one to come.

 …. yet only through eyes of faith, not sight (2 Corinthians 5:7For we walk by faith, not by sight:


They died without seeing that city, yet were persuaded of (had trust / confidence in) its existence such that they embraced (saluted; greeted; welcomed; received joyfully) God’s promises concerning this city, confessing this to be true in spite of them being strangers (foreigners) and pilgrims (living near foreign people) on earth. They denied the obvious (that is, there would never be such a city for such as them) by accepting the impossible (that if God had promised, then it would be so).


embrace – salute; greet; welcome; receive joyfully. See uses in the following:

Hebrews 13:24Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you.

3 John 1:14b[Our] friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name.


Hebrews 11:14For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.


Genesis 23:4aI (Abraham) [am] a stranger and a sojourner with you

Genesis 47:9And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage [are] an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.


declare plainly – to let it be known. They (Abraham etc) made it clear (apparently to the day they died) that their eternal country of inheritance was yet in the future.

country – one’s fatherland; one’s own country; a fixed abode or home. Through faith they would have declared what they believed to those around them.


Hebrews 11:15And truly, if they had been mindful of that [country] from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.


If the country they had come from had been on their minds as such, they might have found (looked for) an opportunity to go back again. But, in reality, the land of Ur apparently was not able to offer (promise) what God’s city or country of the future promised.

The saying “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” is what most people would apply to such a situation. Better to get something now than wait for that which cannot be assured (at least by sight) yet. But faith goes against this whole philosophy: better to endure this world for a short time in order to claim the promises of eternal glory in the future.


Hebrews 11:16But now they desire a better [country], that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.


desire – to stretch one’s self out in order to touch or to grasp something; to reach after or desire something.

But Abraham, Isaac, Jacob are reaching out to grasp hold of a better country than the one they left behind in Ur. They are reaching out after a heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, which God has promised and made ready for them because He is not ashamed to be called their God. (see John 14:2-32 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if [it were] not [so], I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, [there] ye may be also.)


In fact, God is not ashamed to be called upon by anyone at all! The offer of full and free salvation is for all.

We as Christians are not to be found ashamed when Christ comes.

1 John 2:28And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

However, if we are ashamed of Christ, then He will be ashamed of us.

Luke 9:26For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and [in his] Father’s, and of the holy angels.


Hebrews 11:17-1917 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten [son], 18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: 19 Accounting that God [was] able to raise [him] up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.


tried – tempt; try; prove; examine; make trial of.

Matthew 4:1Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

only begotten – see John 3:16.

accountinglogizomai (reckon; calculate; take into account; consider; judge; determine; purpose; decide) This word deals with reality; thus logic.


By faith (that is, the evidence of His trust in the character of God) Abraham, when asked to sacrifice his son, Isaac, was prepared to do just that, simply because God had asked him to do so. It matters little that God had promised that his descendants would come from Isaac; Abraham trusted the character of God so totally that he considered it even logical that if God asked him to sacrifice Isaac, then God knew what He was doing and would not fail to deliver on His promise of innumerable descendants. In other words, Abraham would have considered it illogical that he should disobey God in this matter, assuming even that if he had killed Isaac, then God could raise him back up from the dead if He so desired. God had promised; God would deliver on that promise.


received him in a figure – “to receive, obtain: the promised blessing; to receive what was previously one’s own; to get back” in a parable. Potentially Isaac was dead; the ram stood in place of the sacrifice of Isaac. Isaac had been received back from the dead; a lamb had been sacrificed in his place. In this sense it is also a type of the sacrificial death of Christ the Saviour.


In the following, the punished sinners become a sign, in much the same way that Isaac’s sacrifice becomes a figure, an explanation, a parable, in fact.

Numbers 26:10And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up together with Korah, when that company died, what time the fire devoured two hundred and fifty men: and they became a sign.

Romans 4:20He (Abraham) staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;


Hebrews 11:20By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.


This can only be interpreted as Isaac, near death, blessing both Jacob and Esau according to the will of God through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, much as the Bible writers were guided to write those things which God had spoken.

2 Peter 1:20-2120 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake [as they were] moved by the Holy Ghost.


Hebrews 11:21By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, [leaning] upon the top of his staff.


Likewise, Jacob (in Egypt) also spoke when he was dying, giving an inspired blessing to the sons of Joseph, a blessing that could only have been inspired by God. Jacob, even though of a dubious nature when younger, was now, as Israel, demonstrating by faith his complete trust in the character of God by speaking the words of God concerning the future of Joseph’s sons.


Genesis 48:13-14; 17-2013 And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought [them] near unto him. 14 And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid [it] upon Ephraim’s head, who [was] the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh [was] the firstborn.

17 And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head unto Manasseh’s head. 18 And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this [is] the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head. 19 And his father refused, and said, I know [it], my son, I know [it]: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations. 20 And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh.


And Jacob worshipped, (leaning) upon the top of his staff.

Genesis 47:31And he (Jacob) said, Swear unto me. And he (Joseph) sware unto him. And Israel bowed himself upon the bed’s head. (Thus indicating worshipping.)

The LXX says “And Israel did reverence, leaning on the top of his staff.


Hebrews 11:22By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.


died – to finish, bring to an end, close; come to an end.

the departingexodos (that is, the Exodus)

Exodus 13:19And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you.

Joshua 24:32And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.


Clearly Joseph’s faith was that God would rescue His people and therefore, when this happened, they were to carry Joseph’s bones with them to the land which had been promised to them. His trust in the character of God led to such belief.


Hebrews 11:23By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw [he was] a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment.


proper – comely; handsome; good-looking. This must have led the parents to consider that God had a purpose for Moses to be a “proper” child (see Acts 7:20).

All baby boys had to be put to death at birth (Exodus 1:16). Clearly the parents trusted the character of God more than they trusted Pharaoh’s character; thus they put their trust in God and their work of faith is the evidence of such trust. It could be said that they feared God more than they feared Pharaoh.


Hebrews 11:24By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;


come to yearsmegas (literally great or many – come to a good age; come to a maturity; come into his rank) See Hebrews 10:21; 35.

When Moses had come to a certain point in his life (at 40 years of age – Acts 7:23) he rejected the right of privileges as the son (adopted) of Pharaoh’s daughter by associating himself with the oppressed people of God. We are being told here that Moses’ act of killing an Egyptian and fleeing Egypt was due to his trust in God being greater than his trust in Pharaoh: “By faith”.


Hebrews 11:25Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;


Moses had to run for his life. Now, as a hated Hebrew slave, if caught, he would be punished and killed for his crime against the Egyptian. He could have enjoyed all the luxury of being one of Pharaoh’s family, yet he chose to be called a Hebrew with the persecution that would come to those who were the slaves of Egypt. His faith, therefore, demonstrated a great trust in the character of a God who promised a land for His people, a land that Moses would finally see, yet never enter.


Hebrews 11:26Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.


ChristChristos (literally “the anointed” or “the Christ”)

reproach – a reproach such as Christ suffered, for the cause of God, from his enemies.

Psalm 89:50-5150 Remember, Lord, the reproach of thy servants; [how] I do bear in my bosom [the reproach of] all the mighty people; 51 Wherewith thine enemies have reproached, O Lord; wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine anointed.


Thus it is saying that Moses esteemed (considered) the reproach that Christ suffered to be more acceptable than all the treasures of Egypt (and Egypt was the richest, greatest nation on the known earth at this time).

Psalm 84:10For a day in thy courts [is] better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.


had respect – to turn the eyes away from other things and fix them on some one thing; to look at attentively; to look with steadfast mental gaze.

recompence of the reward – the payment of wages due. See Hebrews 10:35.


Moses’ full attention was focused upon the payment of wages due him (the reward) because of (and in spite of) the reproach and afflictions. He could see (with eyes of faith) what had been promised him, and was confident that God who promised would also deliver.

Romans 8:18For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

His faith was the evidence (the proof of) his belief in God which was based upon his trust in the character of the One who promised.

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