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Hebrews 11:7-12

Sunday Morning Bible Study

November 4, 2018

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Mexico

Video: Mexico Mission Trip

On Dec. 1 our team is taking a one day trip to deliver Christmas presents to orphans.

Interested in going?  Interested in buying presents for an orphan?  See Manny or Jennifer.

Introduction

The book of Hebrews was written to Jewish believers.

The author expects the readers to be well acquainted with Levitical worship and sacrifice.

He will constantly quote the Old Testament in a way that expects that the reader understands what he’s talking about.

We also know that these believers were encountering very strong persecution.

Times were so bad that some were beginning to wonder if they shouldn’t quit following Jesus.

We will see three elements woven throughout this letter to the Hebrews.

1. Both Testaments

Even though the Old Testament has become “obsolete” (Heb. 8:13), the entire book of Hebrews is built upon the clear foundation of the Old Testament.
(Hebrews 8:13 NKJV) In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
You aren’t going to understand Hebrews, or even the New Testament correctly unless you learn the Old Testament.

2. Jesus is superior

He’s superior to angels, Moses, and the Torah.
He’s superior to the Levitical priests and their sacrifices.

3. Don’t quit

The ultimate goal of the book is to encourage those who are struggling with difficult times, and help them to endure.

 

We’ve seen that the answer to their difficult times is their faith.

Definition: Faith is trusting something you don’t see.

Faith is trusting when you don’t understand what’s going on.
We talked about other words for “faith” being “belief”, “trust”, or even “counting on”.

Our author is going to show over and over again how the great men and women of the Old Testament survived their difficulties because of their “faith”.

11:7 Noah

:7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

:7 being divinely warned of things not yet seen

being divinely warnedchrematizo – to transact business, to give a response to those consulting an oracle; to be divinely commanded

The word is based on chre, the word for “need”.
There is sense of urgency built into this word.
The sense of being “divinely” warned is implied.  There’s no “divinity” in the word.

seenblepo – to see, discern, of the bodily eye; understand

Noah had a conversation with God in which God warned Noah that He was going to destroy the world through a massive flood.

Nobody had never seen anything like this before.
Yet God now said,
(Genesis 6:17 NKJV) And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die.

:7 by which he condemned the world

condemnedkatakrino – to give judgment against, to judge worthy of punishment; to condemn

Noah brought condemnation to the world in several ways.

He condemned the world to death in that he was the only one building a boat.
He condemned the world because of his faith – he was the only one who believed this message from God enough to build an ark.
He brought condemnation to the world because he was a preacher, he had spoken the warnings of God
Peter wrote that God …

(2 Peter 2:5 NKJV) …did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly

:7 became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith

We’ve been making the point over and over again – becoming “right” with God can only come to those who have “faith”.

Noah’s faith in God was the basis for Moses to write:
(Genesis 6:8 NKJV) But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

:7 moved with godly fear, prepared an ark

moved with godly feareulabeomai – to act cautiously, circumspectly; to reverence God, to be influenced by pious awe

Aorist passive participle

preparedkataskeuazo – to furnish, equip, prepare, make ready; of one who makes anything ready for a person or thing; of builders, to construct, erect, with the included idea of adorning and equipping with all things necessary

Aorist active indicative

Lesson

Action reveals Faith

Noah’s “faith” produced his reverence or awe of God, which resulted in him building the Ark that God asked him to build.
Yesterday at the Men’s Breakfast, Greg Bird said: 
A person’s actions show what they really believe.
You see it in Star Wars where Yoda has asked Luke to pull his X-wing out of the swamp. You find out what kind of faith Luke has in the “force”.
Video:  Star Wars – Dagobah – That is why you fail
For those in a twelve-step program –
One of the key components (Step 2) is to come to the point where you acknowledge that you …

Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

But shouldn’t every Christian believe that God is greater than they are?

If that’s the case, then how come so many Christians have addiction issues?

Here’s the real issue – just who do you really believe God is?

You may tell me that you believe that God is all powerful and that He cares about you.

But it’s your actions that tell me what you really believe about God.

Don’t be afraid to dig deep and examine what you TRULY believe God is like.

11:8-12 Abraham and Sarah

:8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.

calledkaleo – to call; to call aloud, utter in a loud voice; to call i.e. to name, by name

obeyedhupakouo – to listen, to harken; of one who on the knock at the door comes to listen who it is, (the duty of a porter); to harken to a command; to obey, be obedient to, submit to

:8 not knowing where he was going

knowingepistamai (“upon” + “to stand”) – to put one’s attention on, to be versed in, to understand

This is kind of the mirror of the word for “substance” in verse 1 (hupostasis – “under” + “to stand”).  There the idea is of what is under you when you stand, like a “foundation”, something of “substance”.
Here the idea is of a solid understanding of something that you can “stand upon”.

Abraham didn’t “understand” where he was going.  He didn’t know what he was getting into. 

He wasn’t “well-versed” in the geography of the place.

But he went anyway because God called him to go.  Here’s what God said:
(Genesis 12:1–3 NKJV) —1 Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

And with that Abraham packed up his family and headed … out there somewhere.

I don’t believe he had a map.

I don’t think he had a guide.

I know he didn’t have GPS.

But if he did, his GPS might have sounded like this…

Video:  Star Wars – Yoda TomTomGPS

He just went.

Lesson

Faith and Direction

We read last week:
(Hebrews 11:6 NKJV) But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
If you want to live a life that pleases God, you will need to take steps of faith from time to time, and that might mean that you will have to move without knowing exactly what you’re doing.
In a way it’s like Luke Skywalker turning off his targeting computer when he’s about to take the shot that blows up the Death Star.
Video:  Star Wars – Use the Force Luke
Illustration
When I was about eighteen, I was at a High School Summer Camp at Forest Home when I sensed that God was calling me to be a Senior Pastor one day.

I was in a Baptist church at the time, so I took the route that Baptist pastors take, going to college, and then on to seminary.

By the time I graduated from seminary, Deb and I sensed that God was calling us to get involved in the Calvary Chapel Movement.

After seminary, I remember going into the prayer room at Calvary Chapel and asking for prayer about my future as a pastor.  The guy I prayed with was Dave Rolph.  Dave prayed for me, but he also suggested that maybe all I needed to do was to go start a Bible study and plant a church off of it.  That scared me to death.  I thought he was crazy. That was around 1982.
We eventually settled down at Calvary Chapel of Anaheim, and after a couple of years I was privileged to become one of Pastor Mark’s assistant pastors.  I did that for eight years.
Sometime in early 1994 I began to feel like God was nudging me to do what I had always sensed was my calling, to be a senior pastor of a church.
Back in 1994, and being in the Calvary Chapel movement, that meant starting or “planting” a new church.  The movement was still pretty young and there weren’t any old pastors getting ready to retire and pass their church to someone else.  If you wanted to be a senior pastor, you had to start a church.
As Deb and I began to consider God’s direction, Pastor Mark suggested that we think about planting a church in the town I grew up in, Fullerton.
Keep in mind, though Pastor Mark was all for helping us start a church, the board of elders were all for it, I was more than a little scared at what we were thinking of doing.  We had three sons from 1 ˝ yrs. to 6 ˝ yrs. old.  I loved the “safety” of being in a fairly large church and getting a paycheck every week.
As we began to pray about this, I got the notion that I wanted to wait until we had thirty folks with us when we launched out and started the church.  I was thinking about King David and his “thirty mighty men” and thought that would be a good number.
By September 1994 we were still in the early stages of planning our church plant. There were maybe six adults that were committed to one day helping us plant the church. Dave and Laurie thought it would just be the four of us in our living room.
One of my jobs at Anaheim was teaching the Sunday evening service, and at the time we were going through the book of Hebrews.
On Sunday evening September 4, 1994, I was teaching Hebrews 11:8.
As I studied, I couldn’t get past the “coincidence” of what this verse was all about – the faith to step out, even when you didn’t know where you were going or what you were doing.  I felt like God speaking to my heart that if I was going to be a part of a work that He was going to do, I was going to have to exercise some faith.
So I gave my two-month notice to Pastor Mark the next day so he would be able to line up someone to replace me, and on November 20, 1994 Calvary Chapel of Fullerton held its first service in the freezing cold gymnasium of the Fullerton YMCA.
Oh, and we had about thirty families with us.
I’m not sharing this to make you think of me as the “hero”.  I’m sharing because I want you to know that I know how scary it is to step out in faith.
Yet if you want to be a part of what God is wanting to do, there’s a really good chance you will find yourself in places where you have to take a step of faith.
Solomon wrote,
(Proverbs 3:5–6 NKJV) —5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

If you are waiting until you have all the answers to your questions, you may be leaning too much on your own understanding.

If you take a step of faith, God promises to direct you.

:9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;

:10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

dweltparoikeo – to dwell beside (one) or in one’s neighborhood, to live near; in the NT, to be or dwell in a place as a stranger, to sojourn

foreign countryallotrios – belonging to another; foreign, strange, not of one’s own family, alien, an enemy

promiseepaggelia – announcement; promise

heirs withsugkleronomos – a fellow heir, a joint heir

:9 dwelt … as in a foreign country

Abraham lived in the land of Canaan as though he were a “foreigner”, an outsider.

In Israel, there’s a tourist stop called “Genesis Land”, where you get to visit with Abraham and have dinner with him at his tent.
Abraham never had a permanent house, he lived in a tent.

Yet Abraham was the one who was promised by God to inherit all of that land.

How was he able to put up being treated like a “stranger”, even though he belonged there more than anyone else?

Because of his faith.
He didn’t trust in what he “saw”, he trusted in what he was promised.

I imagine that more than one missionary family has clung to the lesson of this verse.

Our friends Jeff and Sonja Stewart are living as “foreigners” in France and have just planted a new church.
I got this from Jeff yesterday…
Video:  Stewarts in France
Maybe you too feel a little “out of place” at times, living in a very pagan world.
The Stewarts are learning to love their neighbors and are beginning to see lives transformed as they simply trust in the One they don’t see.

:9 Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise

Abraham and his son and grandson all lived in tents as strangers in the land.

They too had been given a promise by God of one day inheriting the entire land, though during their lives they owned very little of that land.

:10 he waited for the city which has foundations

he waited for ἐκδέχομαι – to receive from; to look for, expect

imperfect, middle, indicative
It’s in the “imperfect” tense, which gives a sense of continuous action in the past.
He didn’t just wait for two hours one time. 
He was continually waiting.  He was continually expecting.

foundationsthemelios – laid down as a foundation, the foundation (of a building, wall, city)

Abraham was used to living in tents.

There is nothing “permanent” about tents.  They have no “foundation”.
Abraham was waiting for that “permanent” city.

:10 whose builder and maker is God

buildertechnites – an artisan, craftsman, designer, architect

makerdemiourgos – one who works for the public; builder, maker, creator.

If you’ve been to Israel, you’ve seen the ruins of lots of ancient cities.

They were all built by people, not by God.

Abraham was looking for that city built by God.

He wasn’t looking for a new “palace” overlooking the Mediterranean.  He was looking for heaven.

Make sure you keep your hope and expectation on the proper thing.
Our hope should be aimed at heaven.

:11 By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.

:11 Sarah … received strength to conceive seed

strengthdunamis – strength, power, ability

to conceivekatabole – a throwing down; the depositing of semen in the womb; a founding (laying down a foundation)

It is kind of interesting how many words our author has used that could be translated “foundation” (three different Greek words).
In vs. 1 –
(Hebrews 11:1 NKJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for
In vs. 10 –
(Hebrews 11:10 NKJV) for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
And now here, the word “to conceive” could be translated, “to lay a foundation”.
Your FAITH should be the foundation of your life.
It’s what your life should be built upon.
It’s what gives stability to your life.

she judgedhegeomai – to lead; to consider, deem, account, think

faithfulpistos – trusty, faithful

:11 she bore a child when she was past the age

Sarah was ninety years old when she got pregnant with Isaac. She had never been pregnant before.  She didn’t have a great “track record” to count on.  All she could count on was the promise of God.

:12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.

were borngennao – of men who fathered children; to be born

in multitudeplethos – a multitude; a great number, of men or things

innumerableanarithmetos – innumerable, countless

:12 from one man, and him as good as dead

as good as deadnekroo – to make dead, to put to death, slay; worn out; of an impotent old man; to deprive of power, destroy the strength of. 

The verb is a “perfect” tense, meaning that the action happened in the past, but the results carried on into the present. 
He was dead and was still dead.

Both Sarah and Abraham were WAY past the age to be having kids.

Illustration

An older couple is lying in bed one morning, having just awakened from a good night’s sleep. He takes her hand and she responds, “Don’t touch me.” “Why not?” he asks. She answers back, “Because I’m dead.” The husband says, “What are you talking about? We’re both lying here in bed together and talking to one another.” She says, “No, I’m definitely dead.” He insists, “You’re not dead. What in the world makes you think you’re dead?” “Because I woke up this morning and nothing hurts.”

Paul wrote,

(Romans 4:19–21 NLT) —19 And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. 20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. 21 He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.

From this one man would come descendants as numerous as the stars or the sand on the seashore.

The Jewish believers reading this would have considered Abraham to be their “father”, just as all other Jews would.
Our writer is reminding them that their Father Abraham had moments that looked pretty bleak and hopeless, with no descendants in sight.
Yet he believed.

Lesson

Faith and the difficult

The readers are going through difficult times.
They too understood what it felt like to be a stranger in their own promised land.
They understood what it was like to have hopes that seem to never materialize.
And just like Abraham, they needed to respond with faith.
The apostle Paul went through many great difficulties, and while he was facing the greatest dangers, his faith and hope in God allowed him to keep going.
This last video clip may not be completely historically accurate, but what it has Paul saying to Luke in prison while the church as a whole was going through great persecution certainly is in the spirit of what we know.

Video:  Paul, Apostle of Christ – Write it down

In writing to the Corinthians, Paul talks about the great difficulties he was going through and how he has learned to handle them by faith, by trusting God and looking to the future God has for us.
(2 Corinthians 4:16–18 NLT) —16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

What does “gazing on things that cannot be seen” sound like? Faith.

When your faith is in God, you can endure the difficult.