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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Barcus & Laura Neal

January 7th, 2024: Faith and Righteousness- Hebrews 11:1-40

Here you are, one week into the New Year.  How many things have you accomplished that you planned?  Did you stick to that diet all week, even the so-called free weekend (where calories don’t count)?  Were you able to get up early, stay up late, study your Bible, clean more, do more, be more spiritual, and be more active?  Congratulations if you did!  Keep up the good work.  For those of you who found loopholes in your plan, distractions, or if you had bigger expectations than reality allowed, there is hope for you as well.  God has a plan and a purpose for everyone. Today’s lesson is about faith and righteousness. Let’s dive in!

Note:  The lesson picks out specific verses and parts of verses for this study.  We have included the entire chapter but limited our comments.  

1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.

Substance and evidence are not about feelings or spiritualism.  They speak to rock solid undeniable proof.  Lives of faith, the strength of faith to withstand scrutiny and persecution, the continuance of faith throughout generations is the evidence that the object of that faith is worthy of it.  We can read of the courage, wisdom, and righteous boldness of David, Daniel, Jeremiah, etc., and can rest assured that if God was not real, a far different outcome would have been recorded. The faith they had to accomplish the impossible and the fullness of God’s power displayed is the proof we have that God both relates to and rewards those who trust Him.

3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

Having not witnessed the beginning of the universe, the evidence of its existence and the understanding that invisible forces govern and maintain it, builds my faith in a God who created complexity, sustainability, order, and beauty out of nothing but His word and His will.  I cannot see God, but I can see what He has made and I can conclude that He is marvelous and beyond my comprehension.

4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

What caused Abel to offer a lamb, in faith, as a sacrifice to God?  “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin.”  It is a fact that sin causes separation and death, it is a fact seen on the backs of Adam and Eve just outside the garden as they wore the clothing God made for them.  The aprons of leaves they created to hide themselves were not sufficient.  God was satisfied that Abel’s offering foretold the death of His precious son.  Abel’s righteousness fueled Cain’s jealousy and brought about his death.  But the Bible records that Abel’s blood spoke to God, in other words, the first evidence of life after death.  Abel responded with faith in God, and God honored his obedience.

5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

How had he pleased God?  He walked with God Genesis tells us.  He had continual fellowship with Him.  His was the first “rapture.”  He entered eternity without dying, a foreshadowing of what will happen to the church at the second coming of Christ.  He believed God and in an eternal home with Him.

6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

You must believe not only that God exists, but that His character is beyond reproach.  God keeps His word, He is never changing, He is a covenant maker, and a promise keeper.  

7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

Faith causes action, if it doesn’t it’s just idle words.  You don’t have faith if it doesn’t transform how you live.  There are certain things I believe.  I believe that if I push a butter knife into an electric outlet I will get a shock.  I believe that if I allow my bathtub to overflow it will destroy my house.  I believe that if I drive my car into a brick wall I will destroy it and myself.  Because I believe firmly in the reality of these statements, I avoid doing these things.  Seems ridiculous doesn’t it?  But some will claim to be Christians and not believe in the consequences of sin, continuing as if they haven’t heard.  They will deny the authority of God to demand our obedience to His word.  They will even profess that they are going to Heaven without repentance and confession that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  Ridiculous!  

8 By 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.

9 By 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:

10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Abraham died without owning anything but the tomb in which he and Sarah were laid to rest.  Although he left Ur in obedience to God’s word, and was abundantly blessed, He never saw the promises of God fulfilled on this earth.  Yet, he died believing that God would accomplish what He had said.  His faith was substance and evidence of his faith most profoundly when God asked him to offer his only son Isaac as a sacrifice.  He reasoned that if necessary, God would raise Him from the dead in order to keep his covenant.

11 Through 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.

12 Therefore 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.

She laughed, but she brought forth a child.  She even understood before Abraham did, that this child of promise was not the same as the child Abraham had with the servant Hagar.  She received strength to endure the physically impossible, because she believed what God had spoken.

13 These 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.

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

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

16 But 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.

17 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.

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

By blessing both, Isaac was prophesying the blessing of God, Christ Jesus, that would offer salvation to both branches of his family.  Through Jacob the physical line of Jesus was carried, but a fount would be opened to all at the cross, God intends to “make of all nations, one.”

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

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

Why did Joseph command that his bones be unearthed and carried out of Egypt 400 years before God sent Moses to bring them out of bondage?  Because God said He would give the land of Canaan to Abraham and his seed.  Because the promises of God are true.  Because He knew the day would come when God would fulfill His word, and apparently, He also believed in the resurrection from the dead.

23 By 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.

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

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

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

To have faith is to have the ability to look past the earthly and see the invisible heavenly things that are true and more valuable.  Moses chose to care about the spiritual inheritance of his people and to reject the temporal glory of being part of Pharaoh’s family.  He thought it better to suffer and be counted a slave than put his trust in the ungodly leadership of Egypt.

27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

28 Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.

It was the obedient who walked out of Egypt.  God gave no explanation for why the blood of the lamb was to be applied to every door.  He didn’t instruct them about how that would work or why.  He spoke and they obeyed his word, after all nine times before, God proved that his power was greater than any other power on Earth.  Faith caused action, this action was honored by God, His invisible plan of salvation was fulfilled and their lives were saved.

29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.

31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

What righteousness did God find in a harlot from Jericho?  She had heard, and according to her, all of Jericho knew, about what God was doing for the Hebrews.  She feared God, regarding and believing the words of the Hebrew spies she protected.  She not only said she believed, she acted, hanging the red cord outside her window and bringing her family inside of her house as the word of God had instructed her to do.  When the walls fell flatly to the ground, her house on the wall stood safe.  She couldn’t see God, but she believed in what He was doing enough to act wisely and preserve her household.

32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:

33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.

34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:

36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:

37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;

38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:

While miracle after miracle is recorded in the stories of those listed above, the promise is not what happens to save our skins, but what God has promised about our souls.  The promise is eternal life with God, it is of far greater value and worth than escaping the jaws of a lion or the sword of the enemy.  They are praised for their faith in action, their steadfast belief in the word of God, but they didn’t receive the promise in full until on the third day, a stone was rolled away revealing an empty tomb.   When the promise of God stood up and showed himself to many witnesses before ascending back to the right hand side of the father.  What God gave them and us on calvary is the ultimate reward to the faithful.  It is far better, to be a blood bought child of the King, it is the greatest privilege and reward that could ever be given.  Don’t gory in your ability to change yourself, it is just temporary regardless of the goal.  Rejoice, act, obey, and receive life in response to the righteousness and faith of our Lord Jesus Christ and the fact that He conquered death, hell, and the grave in your place.

40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

Each of the faithful and righteous witnesses listed in this passage are just signs pointing to the real champion. God has provided a “better thing” for us to glory about, His perfect and one and only Son. 

Thank you for studying with us! God bless!



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