Hebrews 11. Trusting in the Promises of a Faithful God

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1 Hebrews 11 Trusting in the Promises of a Faithful God

2 More studies available at Ruth Proverbs 1-11 Romans Philippians Colossians 1 Thessalonians 2 Thessalonians 1 Timothy 2 Timothy Titus Hebrews James Revelation 2016 Cindy Brown. All Rights Reserved. This study was written using the ESV. 2

3 Introduction Faith is one of those words in our Christian culture we have become so familiar with, that I'm afraid, sometimes we fail to understand its significance. Besides love in 1 Corinthians 13, faith is one of the few qualities in Scripture that has a whole chapter devoted to it. Through the stories of the Old Testament saints in Hebrews 11, the author gives us a tangible picture of what faith looks like in everyday life. Most importantly he tells us how God feels about faith and how it affects our relationship with Him. Sometimes when we read Hebrews 11, it is easy to be impressed with these giants of the faith and be awed by the great things that they accomplished. But as we study this chapter, we don't want our focus to be on the people, but we want to focus on GOD and how He was faithful to these people. The men and women we will meet in Hebrews 11 were ordinary people who were no different from us. They weren't perfect, and they didn't have it all together, but the times when they decided to trust God, we see God prove Himself faithful, powerful and strong on their behalf. Hebrews 11 is a record of our faithful God who worked in mighty ways though common people. Background Information Based on the context of the letter, and the title, Hebrews, we understand this book was written to specifically Jewish Christians. Unlike many other books in the New Testament, we don't know who wrote it. But we do know from Hebrews 2:1-4, that the author claims to have heard the message about Christ from those who personally knew the Lord Jesus. The Hebrew Christians had come under persecution and some were turning back to their old ways. The Jewish religious leaders didn't bother those who towed the line by bringing their animal sacrifices to the temple. But there was this group of Christians, who claimed they were following The Way and they were telling people that Jesus had come as the final sacrifice for their sins. They no longer needed to follow the Law of Moses or the priestly sacrifices. In order to try to silence their message, there began a widespread persecution of Christians. As the religious leaders turned up the heat, some Christians were tempted to turn back. After all, what was so wrong with just bringing a sacrifice to the temple and doing what they had always done? And so the author of Hebrews pens this letter, explaining how Christ's sacrifice was far better than any animal killed in the Old Testament. And in chapter 11, he explains how important faith is. He reminds his readers that the Old Testament saints had not always had it that easy either, but what God valued the most, was those who took Him at His word, and trusted Him in the face of some daunting circumstances. Indeed, Hebrews 11, still speaks a relevant message to those of us who seek to follow Christ today. 3

4 1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. 4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. 7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. 8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. 13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. 17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, Through Isaac shall your offspring be named. 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. 20 By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. 4

5 21 By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones. 23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them. 29 By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. 32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, [they were tempted,] they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated 38 of whom the world was not worthy wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. 5

6 Discussion Questions Obviously this chapter is about faith! But did you notice any other words that were repeated throughout this chapter? What people are mentioned specifically? Can you pick out any other events or people that the author alludes to? Based on a cursory look through Hebrews 11, what is faith? How would you define it after reading this chapter? 6

7 Lesson 1: Hebrews 11:1-7 In the first seven verses, mark the name of every person mentioned. Mark the word faith and any words that refer to sight or seeing. Also mark references to the word commended. 1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. 4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. 7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. How does the author define faith in verse 1? So many times I have heard people say things like, If only God would show me He is real, then I would believe Him. I want to see something like a Red Sea crossing! But God says that is backwards! Instead of becoming convinced by what we see, what does faith do for us? It gives us conviction regarding things we can't see! When we take God at His Word and believe what He says, that results in us being assured and convinced of things we can't see with the naked eye. Instead of seeing is believing, according to Hebrews 11, believing is seeing! This concept is going to be very important in our study. Be looking for what kind of things people saw or looked forward to by faith in this chapter. What does verse 2 tells us about people who had faith? 7

8 The word for commendation in the Greek is martureo. Actually, in the Greek, the words commend and witness are the same word. Did you notice our English word martyr in the Greek word martureo? Interesting how those who have witnessed about God, are often martyred and God commends them for it! The word has a two fold-meaning. For the person who is giving a commendation, it has the idea of being a witness of, giving a testimony or presenting evidence about something. The person who is on the receiving end of the commendation, is well-spoken of or approved. Who do you think those in the Old Testament were commended by? What is the first event referred to in this chapter? How did the things we see come into being? Does the author give any evidence or proof of this? On what basis do we accept that this is true? Do you have trouble believing this fact? Why or why not? Hebrews tells us when we believe God, we understand how the world came into existence. Remember believing is seeing! Those of us who believe the Genesis account of creation have no questions about how the world began. We see it clearly through faith. 8

9 Abel Hebrews 11 just gives us summary versions. If you're unfamiliar with the story, read Genesis 4:1-16. What is the rest of Cain and Abel's story? As we see in Genesis 4, Abel was killed. Right away in this chapter, the author shows us that living a life of faith does not guarantee an easy road. Abel's death makes him the first martyr for his faith! What did Abel do that won him God's commendation? How did God show him that he was commended? What did Abel's sacrifice through faith say about him according to verse 4? How did God describe him? So according to this verse, how do we gain righteousness? Can you think of anywhere else in Scripture you have seen a connection between faith and righteousness? If you're not sure, check out Genesis 15:6. How much of a lasting impact did Abel have through faith according to verse 4? Because faith deals so much in the unseen, we have no way of knowing what kind of an affect our faith-walk might have on future generations. I'm sure Abel never dreamed that still today, we would be talking about the sacrifice that he brought in faith. A life of faith speaks long into the future! What kind of faith legacy will you leave for those who come behind you? 9

10 Enoch Write down everything Hebrews tell us about Enoch. What did he not see? Read Enoch's story in Genesis 5: How did he please God according to these verses? What do we learn about pleasing God from Hebrews 11:6? Slow down and read that again. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. How do you try to please God? Does it line up with Hebrews 11:6? This verse tells us that God is not so much concerned with the work that we do, as much as if it is done in faith! Faith is the key! Verse 6 promises us that God rewards those who seek after him in faith. Based on what you have learned about faith and sight so far, do you think these rewards will be visible or tangible? What rewards were given to Abel and Enoch? How did the outcome of Abel and Enoch's stories differ in the end? What lesson can you learn from this? 10

11 Noah What does Hebrews 11 say about Noah? What does verse 7 say God awarded Noah because of his faith? If you have time on your own this week, read through Genesis 6-10 for Noah's full story. For now, let's just read Genesis 6:9-12. Compare Genesis 5:24 and Genesis 6:9. What did Noah and Enoch have in common? Was Noah called righteous before building the ark or after? Cite your reference from Genesis 6. Like Enoch, Noah walked with God. God called him to build an ark as a result of the faith that he already had! From Hebrews and Genesis, we learn that both Enoch and Noah walked with God and they both had faith. Do you think you can walk with God if you don't trust Him? Can you please God if you are not in a faith-walk with Him? We've learned a lot about faith from these first seven verses. We read that faith gives us conviction and assurance about things that are not seen. It gives us eyes to see the invisible. We saw how God rewarded Abel and Noah for their faith by granting them righteousness. We learned that Enoch pleased the Lord by his faith. We also saw that our stories are going to look very different as we walk with God through faith. Abel trusted God and was killed; Enoch didn't even see death! Don't be tempted to complain or compare your faith-walk with others. Maybe you are trusting God, and your story falls more in line with Abel's. As we will see next week, we don't always receive rewards for trusting God down here, but we do look ahead to something better. 11

12 Do you want to be rewarded by God? Do you want God to commend you and be pleased with you? We all want the approval of others, but it is most important to have God's approval. How awesome to think that God looks down with pleasure on those who trust Him. I can just see him proudly singling us out before the angels saying, See that one down there? She takes me at My word and trusts Me! How awesome to think that God is the one bearing witness about our faith and giving us a commendation! I don't know about you, but it is my greatest desire to be pleasing to God! 12

13 Lesson 2: Hebrews 11:8-22 Heading out somewhere without knowing where you are going can be very unsettling. This week we will look at Abraham and see how God called him to leave his family and his home to go to a place where God would show him. As we will see from Abraham's example, it's not so important to know where you are going as long as you know the One that you are following! In this section, mark every person mentioned and all occurrences of faith. Also mark the word promise and any words related to sight. 8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. Take a few minutes and read Genesis 12:1-9. What did God call Abram to do? How old was he at that time? What promises did God give Abram? Have you ever followed God when the path was unclear? How did it turn out? Is God calling you to step out in faith in some area? If so, how are you responding to him? 13

14 What were Abraham's circumstances like when he got to the land of promise according to Hebrews 11:9? Lesson #1: Faith does not guarantee ideal circumstances. God does not owe us an easy life because we trust him. Abraham followed God and he ended up living in a tent! He found himself living as a foreigner, far away from his family and all that was familiar. Actually, it doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun to me! But what was Abraham looking forward to? How is this city described? Despite his transient circumstances of living in tents, through faith, Abraham was able to see in his future a permanent city with foundations, designed and built by God. Lesson #2: Faith does not get discouraged by difficult circumstances, but looks ahead to something better. What difficult circumstances are you facing right now? Are you living in tents? Are you tempted to dwell on what your eyes can see? Ask God to help you see through eyes of faith, the city with foundations He has built for you! Now let's move on to Sarah. What did she gain by believing God? What circumstances made this look impossible? How does God describe their bodies? But what did Sarah believe about God? What was the result? 14

15 Faith in God can bring about the impossible. For an old couple to conceive, whose bodies were as good as dead in terms of reproduction, certainly seemed unlikely. Romans 4 tells us that Abraham considered his own body and the barrenness of Sarah's womb. He thought carefully about the facts, but despite how the circumstances looked, he decided to trust God! Abraham and Sarah were fully convinced that God was able to do what He had promised. (Romans 4:21). Lesson #3: Faith trusts God's Word despite how circumstances look. In this section mark the word faith and any word that indicates what the people who died in faith were thinking about or seeking. 13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. What important point do we learn about faith in the first part of verse 13? Wow! Did you catch that?! Abraham and Sarah never saw the fulfillment of the things that God had promised them. They never saw a multitude of descendants take possession of the land that God said would one day be theirs. Lesson #4: Having faith does not guarantee that we will see the fulfillment of God's promises. But what did Abraham and Sarah recognize according to verse 13? Philippians 3:20 says, But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 15

16 Like Abraham and Sarah, how would remembering this fact change your perspective? What were Abraham and Sarah looking ahead to? Is there any indication that they were looking backward to where they came from? Sometimes when life gets hard, we may look back with longing to how things used to be. Sometimes we may get discouraged because we are not receiving the promises. The problem is not that God is not being faithful, but we don't always understand His timetable. It's in those times we are tempted to push ahead and make it happen on our own. I'm sure we all have stories of when we ran ahead of the Lord or were tempted to look backwards. Those decisions always end in heartache! If you have time this week, read the story of Sarah and Hagar in Genesis 16 and Genesis 21:8-21. This is a good lesson of what NOT to do. What does verse 15 tell us Abraham and Sarah could have had if they were thinking about the country they went out from? What would they have forfeited if they had done this? So often we are tempted to look backward to the temporal things when God is offering us something much better an eternal city. Has looking backward become an unwelcome occupant in your soul? Consider these wise words from Jan Silvious: What might have been doesn't exist. Don't even go there. Lesson #5: Faith always looks forward, never backwards. What was God's response to their faith from verse 16? 16

17 We've all heard of things that others have done and felt ashamed for them. Sometimes we cringe when another believer chooses a path of sin and maligns the name of the Lord and gives all Christians a bad rap. Sometimes we want to distance ourselves from the actions of others because they are just plain shameful! But that didn't happen with Abraham and Sarah! God was not ashamed of them. He was pleased to be known as their God because they had confidence that He could do what He had promised. Do you want to put a smile on God's face today? Like Abraham and Sarah, take Him at His word, even if what He has promised seems impossible! In this section, mark the word faith and every person the author mentions. 17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, Through Isaac shall your offspring be named. 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. 20 By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. 21 By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones. The sacrifice of Isaac is definitely one of the more disturbing stories in the Bible! Now that you've read the Hebrews commentary, go back and read Genesis 22. What additional insight did you see? Why does the Hebrews text say that Abraham was willing to offer Isaac? What was his confidence based on? It was 25 years from the time that God promised Abraham a son to when Isaac was born. Given the fact that Isaac helped Abraham carry the wood for the sacrifice, he could have been years old or more. So by this point, Abraham had a minimum history with God of 35 years. Abraham had already seen God do the impossible by blessing them with a son in their old age. Even though Abraham had never seen or even heard of a resurrection, he knew it was not out 17

18 of the realm of possibility with God! Again, God's Word trumped what the circumstances said for Abraham. God had promised that a great nation would come through Isaac and Isaac had to be alive for that to happen! Lesson #6: Faith is not simply believing something good will happen. It is based on God's Word. Most of us either have or have had an Isaac, something so precious to us that the thought of giving it up seems almost unbearable. The problem lies in that we are not convinced that God can be trusted with our Isaac. We probably would never come right out and say that, but anytime we are tempted to hold on to something, internally we are wrestling with the question, God, can I really trust You? Because Abraham trusted God, he was willing to sacrifice what was most precious to him. Is there anything in your life you are hesitant to let go of and trust God with? Let's briefly look at Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. What did both Isaac and Jacob do in faith? For Isaac, it may not seem like it took that much faith to pronounce a blessing on his children or grandchildren, but the blessing he pronounced was based on God's promises to Abraham and his offspring. The account is found in Genesis 27: Does that sound similar to the promise that God gave Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3? So Isaac was claiming that promise by faith and passing that on to his children! Jacob too, passed on the blessings that God had promised Abraham to his offspring. You can read the account in Genesis 48:8-20. God had promised Abraham that his descendants would be as the stars in the heavens, and when Jacob blesses Joseph's boys, he says their descendants will be as a multitude. He was believing God's promise. In Genesis 50:24-26, we read about the end of Joseph's life. And Joseph said to his brothers, I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here. 26 So Joseph died, being 110 years old. They 18

19 embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt. 1 Read Genesis 15:13-14 to see what promise Joseph was claiming by faith. Again, Joseph was another of those who did not live to see the promises of God fulfilled in his own lifetime, but he gave instructions concerning his bones because he was sure that God would do what He had said! From our lesson this week, we learned that just because we trust God, does not guarantee that we will have an easy road or ideal circumstances. When those difficult circumstances come, and they will, faith looks ahead to the future. Faith doesn't get bogged down in present difficulties, but anticipates the heavenly reward. We also saw how faith trusts God's word despite how the circumstances look. Abraham and Sarah were confronted with an impossible situation, but they chose to believe God for the impossible! We also saw that just because we believe God's promises, does not mean that we will see the fulfillment of those promises for ourselves. This is certainly a hard truth, but an important one for us to grasp so that we do not lose our confidence in God and His faithfulness to His promises. We also looked at Isaac and Jacob and saw how they claimed God's promises to Abraham for themselves and then passed those on to their own children. How important it is to remind the next generation about what God has said! Finally, it is important to remember that our faith must be firmly rooted in God's word. Sometimes you hear people say, I have faith that everything is going to turn out alright. Sometimes, situations in this life don't always just turn out alright. Circumstances can be heartbreaking and even devastating. We must be careful to believe only what God has told us, and then hold on to those promises as if our life depended on it. And it does! What faith lesson has been the most impactful for you this week? Is God speaking to your heart about any actions you need to take in order to express your faith in Him? 1 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ge 50:24 26). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society. 19

20 Lesson 3: Hebrews 11:23-29 We've already seen that faith is the the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen. We saw how true faith sees the invisible and moves confidently toward it, and we know that we can only gain God's approval by faith. Today we are going to take a look at the difference between walking fearlessly by faith and arrogantly pushing forward. It's important for us to understand the difference because the implications are huge. In this section, mark every occurrence of the word faith. Then mark every reference to Moses, including pronouns. We want to do this to help us identify every piece of information about Moses from this text. 23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them. 29 By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. Using your marked text as a guide, compile a list of everything you learn about Moses. 20

21 What character trait did Moses and his parents share? Compare vs. 23 and 27. In Hebrews 11:24-26, we saw how Moses refused to be called the king's son. What did this decision cost him? Has choosing God ever cost you? Explain. According to verse 26, why did he do this? We've looked at rewards earlier in verse 6. By faith, Moses understood that God's reward was better than anything the riches of Egypt could ever offer him. Which brings us to our next lesson. Lesson #7: Faith is willing to endure short-term difficulty in order to gain a longterm reward. What did Moses do by faith? Note the verbs in verses Do you need to apply any of these verbs to your faith-walk? Is there something you need to refuse? Something you need to choose? Is there a place you need to leave or a situation that you need to endure? Explain. We see some more sight words in verses 26 and 27. According to these verses, why was Moses not afraid of the king's anger? Moses found himself in what could have been a terrifying situation, and the account of the Red Sea crossing in Exodus 14 does tell us that the people were 21

22 afraid. The most powerful army in the world was catching up to them and they were trapped by a huge body of water. Listen to what Moses tells the people in Exodus 14:13: Fear not, stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent. Where is your focus? Is it on the situation or on Him who is invisible. The people saw the Egyptian army and were terrified. Moses focused on the Lord and was fearless. In verse 28, what was the last thing mentioned that Moses did in faith? What was the result? Read the firsthand account of this in Exodus 12: What is the people's response after Moses gives them instructions for the Passover? Faith worships God before we see God working on our behalf. How easy it is for us to worship the Lord after the difficulty is over, and that is certainly appropriate, but it is also appropriate to worship the Lord while we are still in the middle of the situation. God is honored when we worship Him while we are still slaves", when it is still dark, when the situation has not yet been resolved. How important it is that we bow our heads in worship during these times, and trust the promises that God has given us. This story is one of the most important stories in the Old Testament because it points ahead to Jesus as our Passover Lamb. The Israelites trusted God's instructions and killed a lamb. That animal served as their substitute so they did not have to die. Only the homes that had blood on the doorposts were spared. In the same way, only those who have trusted Christ's death alone as the only sufficient payment for their sin, will be spared eternal death. 22

23 Moses wasn't perfect, though. We're going to back up and take a look at Moses while he was still living in Egypt and see if we can't learn from some of the mistakes that he made. I think you'll find that you can easily relate with Moses! Read the following passages and mark every time Moses is mentioned including pronouns. Exodus 2: One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. 12 He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, Why do you strike your companion? 14 He answered, Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian? Then Moses was afraid, and thought, Surely the thing is known. 15 When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well. Acts 7: And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds. 23 When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel. 24 And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. 25 He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand. 26 And on the following day he appeared to them as they were quarreling and tried to reconcile them, saying, Men, you are brothers. Why do you wrong each other? 27 But the man who was wronging his neighbor thrust him aside, saying, "Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? 28 Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday? 29 At this retort Moses fled and became an exile in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons. 23

24 Compile another list of everything you learned about Moses from these two texts. According to the Acts account, what motivated Moses to kill the Egyptian? Moses supposed. The word in the Greek means to regard something as presumably true, but without particular certainty to suppose, to presume, to assume, to imagine, to think. 2 How does supposing differ from walking in faith? Had Moses received any instruction from the Lord at this point that he was to be the one to grant Israel deliverance? How old was he when he killed the Egyptian? How did this decision change the course of his life? Have you ever made a poor decision that you felt left you unusable to God? What lesson can you learn from Moses? We're going to look at one last passage regarding Moses. In Numbers 20, we'll see Moses do something that had devastating consequences for him, and there are some important lessons in here for us as well. 2 Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 1: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (368). New York: United Bible Societies. 24

25 Numbers 20: Now there was no water for the congregation. And they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. 3 And the people quarreled with Moses and said, Would that we had perished when our brothers perished before the Lord! 4 Why have you brought the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness, that we should die here, both we and our cattle? 5 And why have you made us come up out of Egypt to bring us to this evil place? It is no place for grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, and there is no water to drink. 6 Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting and fell on their faces. And the glory of the Lord appeared to them, 7 and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 8 Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle. 9 And Moses took the staff from before the Lord, as he commanded him. 10 Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock? 11 And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. 12 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them. What does God tell Moses and Aaron to do in order to give water to the grumbling people? What does Moses do instead? To the casual observer, Moses got results. The water poured out abundantly and the people were happy! But he didn't do it God's way. What two mistakes does God tell Moses that he made? 25

26 What consequence did God give Moses? What was so wrong with what Moses did? Do you see any connection with his actions in Egypt with the Egyptian? Sometimes people read this passage and feel like God was a little hard on Moses. I mean, give the guy a break! He's got a horde of grumbling people coming at him, it's understandable that he would be frustrated. But from this story we learn that faith results in complete obedience, not doing it the way we think is best. Moses started out on the right path in this story. What is his first response when the people come to him complaining? Moses came to the Lord, but He didn't do what He said. By not following exactly what God said, Moses demonstrated that he thought he had a better way. He didn't believe God, and by not believing God, he was setting an example for the Israelites that God doesn't always know best. By his disobedience, he wasn't honoring God as holy before the congregation of Israel. That's why the consequences were so severe. Have there been times in your life when you thought you had a better plan than God and didn't honor him as holy? Were there any negative consequences? How did it affect your walk with the Lord? In our study this week we have seen two examples from Moses' life. Hebrews 11 showed us how Moses refused to be enticed by temporary thrills that this world has to offer, but instead chose mistreatment rather than enjoying the riches of Egypt. He endured because his gaze was fixed on him who is invisible. Faith is not distracted or discouraged with present difficulties because it looks ahead to a future reward. 26

27 But we also saw the devastating consequences of not trusting God and doing it our own way. Two times in Moses' life, he ran ahead of God and supposed that his plan would work out just fine. As a result, he had to run for his life and God gave him a 40 year timeout! In the heartbreaking account in Numbers 20, Moses was not granted the privilege of entering the Promised Land. Are there any areas in your life that you are tempted to run ahead of God? Is God not acting quickly enough for your liking or do his instructions seem foolish to you? Moses' story should be a sober warning for us to always listen and obey God. We can only do this if we trust Him! 27

28 Lesson 4: Hebrews 11:30-32 As you read Hebrews 11, I'm sure you have been inspired by people's trust in the Lord, but I'm sure you can relate with others through their failures of faith. This week in our study, we are going to see how God reached down and used flawed people to accomplish His purposes. Because in the end, it's not so much about how much faith the Old Testament saints had, but rather it's a study of a faithful God who accomplished great things through those who trusted in His power and ability. At this point in our study, the author of Hebrews picks up some serious speed in his recounting of Old Testament history. Verses 30 and 31 refer to events that occurred in the book of Joshua and verse 32 speaks of men from the time of the Judges. In this section, circle Rahab and underline every action attributed to what was accomplished in faith. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. To get the backstory of the fall of Jericho, read Joshua 6. 1 Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out, and none came in. 2 And the Lord said to Joshua, See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. 3 You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. 4 Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. 5 And when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him. 6 So Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, Take up the ark of the covenant and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the Lord. 7 And he said to the people, Go forward. March around the city and let the armed men pass on before the ark of the Lord. 28

29 8 And just as Joshua had commanded the people, the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams' horns before the Lord went forward, blowing the trumpets, with the ark of the covenant of the Lord following them. 9 The armed men were walking before the priests who were blowing the trumpets, and the rear guard was walking after the ark, while the trumpets blew continually. 10 But Joshua commanded the people, You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall any word go out of your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout. 11 So he caused the ark of the Lord to circle the city, going about it once. And they came into the camp and spent the night in the camp. 12 Then Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. 13 And the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the Lord walked on, and they blew the trumpets continually. And the armed men were walking before them, and the rear guard was walking after the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets blew continually. 14 And the second day they marched around the city once, and returned into the camp. So they did for six days. 15 On the seventh day they rose early, at the dawn of day, and marched around the city in the same manner seven times. It was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times. 16 And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, Shout, for the Lord has given you the city. 17 And the city and all that is within it shall be ndevoted to the Lord for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. 18 But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it. 19 But all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord. 20 So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city. 21 Then they devoted all in the city to destruction, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys, with the edge of the sword. 22 But to the two men who had spied out the land, Joshua said, Go into the prostitute's house and bring out from there the woman and all who belong to her, tas you swore to her. 23 So the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her. And they brought all her relatives and put them outside the camp of Israel. 24 And they burned the city with fire, and everything in it. Only the silver and gold, 29

30 and the vessels of bronze and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. 25 But Rahab the prostitute and her father's household and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive. And she has lived in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. What do we learn about Jericho from the first few verses? Why was it shut up so tightly? Compare Joshua 2:10. What did God promise Joshua about Jericho? What battle instructions did God give the Israelites? I'm sure the first day, the people of Jericho were pretty confused and amused at this strange battle plan that Israel had adopted. Perhaps by day six they were getting a little bored, since every day these crazy Israelites would march around their city and then go home. Very strange indeed! What happens when the people respond in faith? Responding to God in faith often yields unexpected results. It is completely illogical to assume that by walking around a city, the walls will collapse, but because the people believed God's word, He fought on their behalf and gave them the victory. Lesson #8: Walking by faith doesn't always make sense to those around us. Rahab: Joshua 2 Okay, let's take a look now at Rahab's story. In Hebrews 11:31, how did Rahab demonstrate faith in God? 30

31 Read Rahab's story in Joshua 2. 1 And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, Go, view the land, especially Jericho. And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there. 2 And it was told to the king of Jericho, Behold, men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land. 3 Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land. 4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. 5 And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them. 6 But she had brought them up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax that she had laid in order on the roof. 7 So the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. And the gate was shut as soon as the pursuers had gone out. 8 Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof 9 and said to the men, I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. 11 And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. 12 Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father's house, and give me a sure sign 13 that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death. 14 And the men said to her, Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the Lord gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you. 15 Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall, so that she lived in the wall. 16 And she said to them, Go into the hills, or the pursuers will encounter you, and hide there three days until the pursuers have returned. Then afterward you may go your way. 17 The men said to her, We will be guiltless with respect to this oath of yours that you have made us swear. 18 Behold, when we come into the land, you shall tie this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father's household. 19 Then if anyone goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be 31

32 on his own head, and we shall be guiltless. But if a hand is laid on anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head. 20 But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be guiltless with respect to your oath that you have made us swear. 21 And she said, According to your words, so be it. Then she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window. 22 They departed and went into the hills and remained there three days until the pursuers returned, and the pursuers searched all along the way and found nothing. 23 Then the two men returned. They came down from the hills and passed over and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and they told him all that had happened to them. 24 And they said to Joshua, Truly he Lord has given all the land into our hands. And also, all the inhabitants of the land melt away because of us. What did you learn about Rahab? Record it below. Everyone in Jericho feared Israel's God. But what made Rahab different? Note her words in verses What did Rahab do as a result of her faith? What affect did it have on her family? Read Joshua 6: Scripture makes it clear that Rahab wasn't running a bed and breakfast! Everywhere she is mentioned in Scripture, she is identified as a prostitute. Sexual sin in particular can have lasting, heartbreaking consequences, but we find great encouragement in Rahab's story. We see that God accepts anyone who comes to him in faith! No matter what you have done, the moment you start responding in faith, you win God's favor! In Matthew 1:5, we learn that she was Ruth's motherin law and we find her in the lineage of Christ! 32

Table of Contents Lesson 1: Lesson 2: Lesson 3: Lesson 4: Lesson 5: Lesson 6: Lesson 7: Lesson 8:

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