Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Hebrews: The Superiority Of Christ To Errant Religions
Part VI: The Response Of Faith To Christ's Superiority, Hebrews 11:1-13:19
D. Examples Of Living By Faith In Abraham And Sarah
(Hebrews 11:8-19)
  1. Introduction
    1. God calls us to live by faith as believers, to trust His Person and Word so as to obey it for blessing.
    2. Lest a question arise as to what "living by faith" means, the author of Hebrews noted the Old Testaments saints, the "elders" named in Hebrews 11:2, received divine approval for their lives of faith, and since these saints spanned several dispensations of time, we can compare the events of their lives in their unique periods of time with our own experience better to comprehend what it means to "live by faith" in our era.
    3. One such period was the Dispensation of Promise when God worked with Israel's patriarchs to get them to believe His promises of future blessing to them and their descendants and so to serve Him. (Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today, 1970, p. 60-61)
    4. At the head of this dispensationism is Abraham, along with his wife Sarah, who illustrate for us what it means to "live by faith" in our dispensation (as follows):
  2. Examples Of Living By Faith In Abraham And Sarah, Hebrews 11:8-19.
    1. When God called Abraham to go to a land God promised to give him as an inheritance, a land still not yet identified, he trusted God's goodness to provide him a quality land, and started to go, Heb rews 11:8.
    2. Once God identified Canaan as that Promised Land, Abraham sojourned there as an alien in a foreign land, living in tents with his sons, Isaac and Jacob, in cultural inferiority to his financially and literary highly advanced culture in Ur in faith that in the future, God would give him the land and a better world in the end, Hebrews 11:9. (Ryrie Study Bible, KJV, 1978, ftn. to Gen. 11:28)
    3. We know from Genesis 15:7-8, 15 and Daniel 12:13 that Abraham would not possess the land in his earthly life, but only in the resurrection in Christ's Messianic Kingdom! Nevertheless, Hebrews 11:10 reveals that he looked for a city with foundations, whose builder and maker was God, the heavenly Jerusalem of Revelation 21:1-27 to come to earth in the eternal state! (Bible Know. Com., N. T., p. 808)
    4. Abraham's wife, Sarah, also learned to live by faith: she received strength to conceive and bear the son of promise in Isaac when she was past child-bearing age at age 90 years (Heb. 11:11; Gen. 17:17), believing God was faithful in being able to keep His promise to her that she would bear the son, Heb rews 11:11.
    5. Thus, there sprang from that son a vast multitude of descendants much as the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore that cannot be numbered (Hebrews 11:12) in accord with God's Genesis 15:5 promise.
    6. Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Jacob all died in faith, not having received the final fulfillment of God's promises to them, being persuaded that they were true, thus embracing them and admitting they were but foreigners in Canaan, the Land of God's Promise, Hebrews 11:13.
    7. Indeed, they refused to return to their original home in Ur though it was at its heyday of prosperity and literary achievement versus undeveloped Canaan (Heb. 11:14-15; Ibid., Ryrie). In faith they were looking for a better, heavenly country, so God has prepared for them the heavenly Jerusalem, Hebrews 11:16.
    8. By faith, Abraham offered up Isaac though he was the son of God's promise (Heb. 11:17-18), for he believed God was able to raise him up from the dead once Abraham had slain him since God had already brought Isaac from the essentially dead reproductive systems of his aged parents, Heb. 11:19; Gen. 17:17.
    9. In a sense, then, Abraham did receive Isaac back from the dead, for God substituted a ram in Isaac's place so that the ram died in his behalf, Hebrews 11:19. This prefigures the death of Christ as the Substitution for Isaac as it is for all believers, cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21.
Lesson: Abraham and Sarah lived by faith by trusting God's promises about the land, its possession, a son and his resurrection against all human ability to see those promises fulfilled. They turned their back on what this world offered to look for the heavenly Jerusalem from God, and so obeyed God's call for them when they had at best mere token symbols of the future fulfillment of His promises.

Application: May we trust God's promises on the unseen, humanly unattainable future, and obey Him!