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Hebrews 11:23-40: The Examples of Enduring Faith, Part 2 Print E-mail
Sunday, 05 February 2017

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Since we will be looking at biographies and stories of faith for the second week in a row, let me begin by asking you a question: ĎIf someone wrote a story about your faith, what would it include?í What actions of faith would they write about from your life? Thatís a challenging question that we should all wrestle with in light of Hebrews 11. Maybe you are here and you do not have faith in Jesus and such a questions seems strange to you. I hope that by the end of our look at Hebrews 11 you will understand its significance. Perhaps you are here and you are a follower of Christ, but you feel discouraged or convicted by such a question. I pray that the examples of enduring faith that we look at this morning will encourage you to press on to greater faith in Jesus. My hope is that we all would have enduring faith in our Savior.

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We ended last week by looking at the faith of some of the descendants of Abraham. We essentially covered the book of Genesis. This morning we pick up with the book of Exodus and the faith of Moses.

The faith of Moses and his parents (v. 23-28)

Before considering the faith of Moses, the author Hebrews mentions the faith of his parents. Look at v. 23. Mosesí parents lived in Egypt under the rule of a wicked king, also called Pharaoh. He had enslaved the people of Israel and was now seeking to exterminate them by having their sons killed. But when Mosesí parents saw him, they disobeyed the king and did not kill their son. Instead they sent him down the river in a basket, believing and hoping that God would rescue him. And rescue him He did. The Pharaohís daughter found Moses in the river and took him in as her own son. The faith of Mosesí parents overcame their fear of the king and they saved the life of Moses. 

Next, the author moves to the faith of Moses. Look at verses 24-26. Moses did not exploit his life in the kingís palace. In fact, he chose to be mistreated with Godís people. He chose this over the fleeting pleasures of sin. This is a great description of all disobedience to God. The truth is, sin can be fun and pleasurable. It is often enjoyable in the moment. But such pleasure is fleeting. Here one second and gone the next. Moses chose not to settle for such fleeting pleasures. What did he go after in their place? He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt. What a crazy guy!

Egypt was a wealthy kingdom at this point and Moses could have had it all: wine, women, wealth, and power. Everything we are told will lead to happiness in this life was at Mosesí fingertips. All he had to do was take it. But he gave it up for the reproach of Christ. He gave it up to suffer with Godís people who would ultimately bring about the coming of Jesus. Why did he do this? Moses gave up the comfort of this life because he was looking to the reward. If you want the greatest that life has to offer, then stop listening to the world and its fleeting pleasures. Look to Christ and the eternal reward we have through faith in Him. There is more joy in believing in Him than anywhere else.

Moses also displayed faith in delivering Godís people from Pharaoh. Look at verses 27-28. Once again the author notes how faith overcomes fear. If you remember the story, Moses did not want to go and talk with Pharaoh at first. But the Lord reminded him that He was the Maker of the mouth and so Moses reluctantly agreed. His faith overcame his fear. How did that happen? He endured as seeing him who is invisible. Again we see that the focus of enduring faith is God Himself. Moses looked to the Lord, the invisible, because faith is the conviction of things not seen (11:1). Moses believed the Lord when He warned him about the coming Destroyer of the firstborn and so he instructed the people to keep the Passover, which pointed to the coming of our Passover Lamb, namely Jesus our Lord, who sacrificed Himself to protect us from the judgement that we deserved. In all of this we see the enduring faith of Moses.

The faith of Israel and Rahab (v. 29-31)

The author then tells about the faith of Israel at the Red Sea. Look at verse 29. The people of Israel were trapped at the Red Sea. They had the water before them and Pharaohís army behind them. Yet, when God parted the waters, they believed in His deliverance and walked through the Sea on dry ground. When Pharaohís army tried to follow they were drowned. Later in Israelís history, they find themselves outside the city of Jericho, which was protected by great walls of defense. So what happens? Look at verse 30. The Lord tells the people to march around the city for seven days and they obey. On the seventh day, the walls fell. It was a crazy plan, but they believed and they obeyed and God brought down the walls. The city of Jericho was destroyed, all except one family through the faith of one woman. We are told of her in verse 31. Look at that with me. Did you expect to find a prostitute listed in these examples of faith? Do you think your sins are too great for you to be a part of Godís people? Think again! Rahabís faith saved her and her family. Her sins were not greater than Godís grace. And neither are yours. The faith of Israel at the Red Sea and at Jericho is the kind of faith we need. If such faith can save the unlikeliest person in all of Canaan (a Gentile prostitute), then surely we can believe in the Lord to save us.

The faith of judges, kings, and prophets (v. 32-38)

The author runs out of room to talk about everyone else, so he begins to list people in verse 32. Look at that with me. This list could be broken up into judges (Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah), a transitional figure (Samuel), a king (David), and the prophets. The author does not have time to spend on each of these, so he describes what they were able to accomplish through faith with two major ideas: victory and suffering. He begins with victory. Look at verses 32-35a. All of these descriptions show the victory that came through their faith. They defeated armies, conquered kingdoms, won battles, all through faith. The prophets were even able to raise men from the dead through faith. Faith in God leads to victory over our enemies.

But faith is not just victory all of the time. Suffering plays a part in the victory of faith. Some escaped the edge of the sword, while others were killed with the sword. Look at verses 35b-38. These examples of faith did not make an idol of comfort and leisure. They were not looking for their best life now, at least not in the stuff of earth. Like Abraham and Moses, they were looking forward to a better life. They were looking to the reward. And their belief in what God would do for them in the end enabled them to persevere through severe suffering. They might not be popular today, but they will always be people of whom the world was not worthy. They were not captured by the treasures of this life. They did not by into the lie of material possessions and creature comforts. Their faith did not make their lives easy, it made them matter. A life given to the stuff of earth will be a waste. But a life lived in faith of the better life to come will count. Enduring faith will take us through the valley of the shadow of death, but it will lead us to the King on the other side. Through faith we can have assurance of the victory hoped for, even in the darkest nights of suffering. It is such faith that sustained these saints.

The author closes his list of examples by showing how their faith relates to ours. Look at verses 39-40. The list is not complete with them. They were all commended for their enduring faith. But their faith points forward to a greater gift, namely the giving of Christ our Lord, which came through their line. Their faithful obedience prepared us for the Savior, who would come and give His life to save sinners by faith. The glorious good news is that we can join with this great list of examples by turning from our sins and believing in Jesus, which is where the author will take us in chapter 12. Look at verses 1-2. The author has written his letter to encourage his readers to endure in the faith. He has warned them against abandoning it. And he has given great examples of men and women who endured to the end. From them we learn that enduring faith drives out fear and trusts in the Lord for victory even in the midst of great suffering. Enduring faith sees through the lies of this age and counts Christ as the greatest treasure of all.

So what about you? Do you have this type of faith. Will you walk away from the pleasures of this life for Jesus like Moses did? Will you trust that His grace is enough like Rahab did? Will you suffer well knowing that final victory is promised? Your biography is being written. Your days are numbered. You may have more behind you than you have in front of you. Donít waste another day in fear and doubt. Donít waste another moment on the fleeting pleasures of sin. Follow Christ. Believe in Him. Be assured of things hoped for and certain of things not seen. Endure in the faith. Through faith and grace, may we be men and women of whom the world is not worthy. Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 15 February 2017 )

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