JOB’S HOPE

JOB’S HOPE

Job 19:23-27 (CSB)

“I wish that my words were written down, that they were recorded on a scroll or were inscribed in stone forever by an iron stylus and lead! But I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the end he will stand on the dust. Even after my skin has been destroyed, yet “I will see God in my flesh”. I will see him myself; my eyes will look at him, and not as a stranger. My heart longs within me.”

We are approaching the Easter season, when we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus from the tomb. Jesus told his followers that his resurrection was just the beginning. He said “Because I live, you will live too” (John 14:19 CSB).

Easter is special for us because Jesus was raised from the dead. It is also special because every time we think of his resurrection, we are reminded of the biblical hope of our resurrection.

There are some things in nature that remind us of this hope as well.

Every night, darkness comes, and the world falls asleep in darkness, awaiting the light of dawn and new life in the morning.

Every year, winter comes, with its darkness, dormancy and stillness. Spring wakes the world up to new life again.

But Easter is different. Easter is outside any normal cycle. When we celebrate Easter, we celebrate a miracle. Our Lord was dead in that tomb and then he was brought to life again. The holiday of Easter gives us hope like nothing else. It looks squarely into the chains and darkness of mortality and death and does not deny it. But it gives us hope in another life – a life to come – a permanent life.

For these next few weeks, as we approach our celebration of Easter, I want to look at that promise of resurrection. I will be highlighting the fact that the resurrection hope is not just a New Testament phenomenon. So, we will be looking at the resurrection hope as defined by three Old Testament believers.

Today, I want to focus on the hope of a future resurrection that Job proclaimed.

Earlier in the book, we hear Job lamenting that “anyone born of woman is short of days and full of trouble. He blossoms like a flower, then withers; he flees like a shadow and does not last” (14:1). Job says “There is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its shoots will not die. If its roots grow old in the ground and its stump starts to die in the soil, the scent of water makes it thrive and produce twigs like a sapling. But a person dies and fades away; he breathes his last—where is he?” (14:7-10).

So, Job asks God “If only you would hide me in Sheol and conceal me until your anger passes. If only you would appoint a time for me and then remember me. When a person dies, will he come back to life? If so, I would wait all the days of my struggle until my relief comes. You would call, and I would answer you.
You would long for the work of your hands.” (14:13-15).

Job is a very old book, and there was not yet much solid content about the hope of the resurrection. But Job seems to be pulling that hope from somewhere with these words.

And then we come to today’s text a few chapters later.

Job wanted the world to know what God was doing in his life.

• “Oh, that my words could be recorded. Oh, that they could be inscribed on a monument, carved with an iron chisel and filled with lead, engraved forever in the rock” (Job 19:23-24 NLT).

Job was a man who was deeply misunderstood. So many bad things had happened to him that he was overwhelmed. He wished that he could make his case, and prove that all his suffering did not mean that he had failed God and was abandoned by him. He wanted to set the record straight, and to preserve the truth that his bad luck was not a judgment from God.

Job got his wish. His words were written down, and in the Bible of all places.

Now we know the rest of the story. We know that Job’s sufferings were not caused by his sin. They were a contest – a way of demonstrating his faith and faithfulness.

Job knew that he was going to die, but trusted God to redeem him from death by resurrection.

• “But I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the end he will stand on the dust. Even after my skin has been destroyed,
yet I will see God in my flesh.” (Job 19:25-26 CSB).

Job declared his faith in God with these words. His faith was not in himself. He did not say “I have an immortal soul which will survive the death of my body.” No, he said he had a redeemer who will outlast him.

Job mentions dust (Hebrew ‘afar עָפָר). This is the stuff that God used to create us.

• “Then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).

Dust is what we are made of, and it is the substance we will decompose into after we die.

• “You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow until you return to the ground, since you were taken from it. For you are dust, and you will return to dust” (Genesis 3:19).

So, Job was saying that when he died, he would eventually rot and return to dust, but that his redeemer lives, and his redeemer will stand upon that dust at last.

And what is this redeemer going to do then? His redeemer is going to raise him from the dead. Job knew this. His faith was in a future resurrection. His body is going to decay. But then the redeemer is going to come, stand on that dust, and speak to those bones, and they will reconstitute into a living, breathing man again.

In (literally, from) his flesh, Job will see God (verse 26).

This is the hope of the Bible – the hope of a resurrection. It is a hope not of release from a body but of reconstitution of the body. His hope was not that he would go to heaven and see God with his spirit, but that God would come down and give life to his eyes again, so that “I will see him myself; my eyes will look at him, and not as a stranger.” (Job 19:27a).

Job longed for the day of his resurrection.

“My heart longs within me.” (Job 19:27b).

Actually, the Hebrew text does not mention Job’s heart. It’s about his kidneys.

What Job literally said was that his kidneys empty out in his lap. In other words, he wets himself! This truth – that he will be raised to life again – is too much to handle. He can’t wait!

Is that your faith? Are you longing for the resurrection above all things?

That was the Apostle Paul’s faith. He said “I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith. My goal is to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.” (Philippians 3:8-11 CSB).

The biblical hope is a hope in a future resurrection. That was Job’s hope. That was Paul’s hope. That was Jesus’ promise. He said “Because I live, you will live too!”

Thank you Lord, for forgiveness through the blood of Christ, and the hope of a resurrection by the power of Christ. Thank you that we have a Redeemer, and that our Redeemer lives. Thank you that our Redeemer will stand upon the dust of our dead bodies one day, say the word, and we will come to life again. Thank you for the hope of imperishable, immortal, eternal, permanent life.

THE PEOPLE WHO DID NOT RECEIVE

THE PEOPLE WHO DID NOT RECEIVE

Hebrews 11:13-16; 35b-40 CSB

“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”

“Other people were tortured, not accepting release, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Others experienced mockings and scourgings, as well as bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they died by the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, destitute, afflicted, and mistreated. The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and on mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground. All these were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us.”

Our study of the heroes of faith concludes this morning, and we have saved the best for last. This is indeed a fine list of heroes, but it is a little different that all the other lists. All of the other heroes we looked at had names – famous names. But today’s list does not name a soul. Last week’s list was a who’s who of people who got to see God intervene in their lives with miracles of deliverance. But today’s list features no names, and boasts of no miracles.

After the apostle Thomas looked at the scar on Jesus’ side, he said to Jesus “My Lord and My God.” Then Jesus told Thomas “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed” (John 20:28-29).

Our Lord promises a special blessing for those who choose to trust him even if they don’t see miracles and have lots of victory stories. Those are the kind of people the author of Hebrews lists in today’s text.

These people are heroes of faith even though the world did not notice (38-39).

Their names are not written in this text, in fact many of them don’t even show up in the historical records. The author of Hebrews merely calls them “other people”, “others” and “they.”

God knows their names. They were “approved through their faith” (38). We are going to meet these special people at the marriage feast of the Lamb. They will have a special place in that celebration. For many of them, it will be their first celebration ever.

Let us not think that these people were second class citizens in Christ’s coming kingdom. No, God approved them through their faith. They saw the invisible God like Moses did. The fact that they were never rescued from the avenging angel by blood on their doorposts does not make them losers. The fact that they never passed through the parted waters did not make them losers. They were winners who ran the race well. They just have not yet crossed the finish line.

The world did not value these people, but their heavenly Father did. The very hairs on their heads were all numbered. They were more valuable than the sparrows. The author of Hebrews says “the world was not worthy of them” (38).

These people are heroes of faith because they stayed faithful when others gave up (35b-37).

• They stayed faithful to God when the world ridiculed them for believing.
• They stayed faithful when they were taken from their homes, and forced to wander about homeless and destitute.
• They stayed faithful when they were imprisoned because of their obedience to God.
• They stayed faithful when they were afflicted, mistreated, scourged and tortured without relief or release.
• They stayed faithful even when their faith led to their death – by the sword, by stoning, or even by being sawn in two.

Our Lord told us that putting our faith in him might possibly lead to our deaths. He said:

“”Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10:34-39 NASB).

We learned from Rahab that faith involves risk. Rahab risked losing her life in order to preserve her life, and that of her family. Her life was on the line, and that line was a thin, red rope.

These heroes of faith will be rewarded at the resurrection (35, 40)

For today’s heroes, that red rope was the resurrection. They lost their lives for Christ’s sake. They did so, “not accepting release, so that they might gain a better resurrection” (35).

The apostle Paul wrote that “if Christ has not been raised … then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost” (1 Corinthians 15:17-18 NIV). If there is no resurrection promised for us “we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19).

These heroes of faith risked their lives for God, trusting that there would be another life in which their faith would be rewarded. They are still waiting for that reward. Jesus says “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me” (Revelation 22:12). The reward he has for us is a permanent life. Martyred missionary Jim Elliot knew about that reward. That was why he could say “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

What these heroes lost was the temporary lives that they could not keep anyway. We all have an appointment with death, and we are going to keep it. But what these heroes gained is a permanent life in the world to come with no pain, no sorrow, no wandering, no suffering, and no more death – ever.

And the best part – the thing that makes that good news for them and also good news for us – is that “God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us” (40).!

Jesus once told a story about a landowner who had a crop to harvest. He went out early and hired some workers, and promised them good wages. But he hired some more workers the third hour, more on the ninth hour, and even more on the eleventh hour. When it came time for him to pay his workers, they all got the same wages. He didn’t cheat anybody. He just decided to be generous and give them all the same reward.

When I think about these heroes of faith that we looked at today, I think it really isn’t fair. They were so much stronger in their faith than I have been. They were tested with so many more trials than I have been. They had to be faithful under the most extreme of circumstances. And I wonder what they will think of me. I feel like an eleventh hour worker. I didn’t suffer like they did. My faith has not been tested like theirs were. But the good news of the gospel is that our generous master is going to welcome them – and me – and you into his eternal joy.

Let us look again at verses 13-16:

“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”

In the end, the people who “did not receive” will receive – and so will we.

The author of Hebrews explains how we should apply his “heroes of faith” passage in the first two verses of chapter 12:

• “Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

It is commonly taught that the cloud of witnesses is all these dead saints whose spirits are in heaven. They are said to be witnesses of what we do down here on earth.

But that is not what the author of Hebrews is saying. A witness is someone who testifies to something. The cloud of witnesses is the biblical testimony of all these heroes of faith.

What the author of Hebrews is saying is that we should follow their footsteps and run the race with endurance like they did. Jesus is the one we are following to victory. He is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Jesus perfectly demonstrated how to live by faith whether you receive or do not receive. One day he was starving in the desert, the next day he was feeding the 5000. One day he was raising the dead, the next day he was dying on a cross. But every day he was living by faith.

LORD, make us people of faith. Make us runners who keep our eyes of Jesus, and run the race with endurance like he did.

THE PEOPLE WHO RECEIVED

THE PEOPLE WHO RECEIVEDTHE PEOPLE WHO RECEIVED

Hebrews 11:32-35a (CSB)

“And what more can I say? Time is too short for me to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the raging of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, gained strength in weakness, became mighty in battle, and put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead, raised to life again.”

We have been taking a good look at the heroes of faith that the author of Hebrews mentions in chapter 11 of his epistle. We have discovered that there are lots of people who have lived by faith. We have also discovered that there have been lots of ways of showing that faith.

As he concludes his chapter on faith heroes, the author of Hebrews talks about two different categories of people of faith. Today we are going to look at the first category. These are the people who received. In other words, they found some measure of victory by trusting God. He came through for them.

The people who have experienced victory by faith are diverse (32).

He says that “time is too short” for him to list all the winners he wants to list.

• He had listed Abel, who had only one shot at a life of faith, so he took it.
• He had listed Enoch, who walked with God when everyone else was walking away from him.
• He had listed Noah, who built a boat at God’s command and that boat saved him and his family.
• He had listed Abraham, who learned to trust and obey even the commands that didn’t make sense.
• He had listed Sarah, who learned that her limits are not God’s limits.
• He had listed Isaac, Jacob and Joseph whose faith in God went further than the limits of their own lives. They trusted God to be at work in their future.
• He had listed Moses, who saw the invisible God at work, and that enabled him to receive miracles at his hand, and to lead the Israelites in following his will.
• He had listed Rahab, who risked everything for her new-found faith in the God of the Jews.
• Now he lists Gideon, a coward who at first did not even trust God – he put him to the test. But God proved himself to Gideon, and he became a mighty warrior, and led Israel for 40 years.
• He lists Barak, a commander of armies, who had to put aside his own pride and seek the help of Deborah the prophet. He was both courageous and wise.
• He lists Samson, who failed God many times in his life, but knew that God would not fail him.
• He lists Jephthah, who was chased away from his family and lost his inheritance. But when war came, the elders came for him and he became a deliverer of his people.
• He lists David, of course, the shepherd boy who became the mightiest king of Israel, turning the nation into a superpower.
• He lists Samuel, a mother’s answer to prayer, and just the kind of man the nation needed to transition from the period of judges to that of the kings.
• Finally, he lists the prophets, who spoke the word of God to the people of God, even when they would not listen.

Now, if you are looking for a common denominator in this list, you will find very few. That is the point. Faith manifests itself in a million different ways in a million different people. Faith is a gift of God and he tailor makes each gift for each recipient. We don’t get our faith off the rack.

This tells me that we should not expect one another to be too similar. We have problems with this in today’s church. That is sometimes the cause of great divisiveness. When we want other believers to look like us, talk like us, pray like us, and worship like us.

History tells us that often the most effective and productive in the kingdom of God have been people who did not conform to everybody’s expectations.

Jesus’ disciples had that problem as well. John admitted this to Jesus. He told him that that they had seen someone casting out demons in Jesus’ name, and they tried to stop him. But Jesus told them not to stop these people because the ones who are not against us are for us (Luke 9:49-50).

Nature shows us that our God has created a world of amazing diversity. He has built diversity in the kingdom of God as well.

The ways of experiencing victory by faith are also diverse (32).

• Patriarchs experienced victory by faith and thus “obtained promises” even when it seemed impossible in the flesh.

• Warriors experienced victory by faith and thus “conquered kingdoms”, “became mighty in battle” and “put foreign armies to flight. This should be no surprise to us. After all, one of God’s titles is Yahveh Tsva’ot – the LORD of Armies.

• God’s people under the oppression of foreign rulers experienced victory by faith and thus “administered justice” and “gained strength in weakness.”

• God’s people being persecuted for their faith experienced victory and so “shut the mouths of lions” and “quenched the raging of fire” and “escaped the edge of the sword.”

• There are even a few examples of those who experienced victory by faith when they “received their dead, raised to life again.”

Yet all of these victories were temporary. Even those who were resurrected eventually died again. Why? The author of Hebrews tells us that even these heroes of faith “all died in faith, although they had not received the things that were promised. But they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth” (11:13).

So, even this amazing number of heroes of faith only received a temporary deposit, guaranteeing a greater victory yet to come. The author of Hebrews calls that greater victory “a better resurrection” (11:35b).

The apostle Paul was looking forward to that ultimate victory.

“More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith. My goal is to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.” (Philippians 3:8-11 CSB).

Today’s text is an encouragement for all of us. We live in defeat so much that we need reminders from God’s word that victory is possible. We need to stay strong in faith and pray strong in faith. Our God is able. He was faithful to many in the past. He is just as faithful today.

THE MAN WHO SAW THE INVISIBLE

THE MAN WHO SAW THE INVISIBLE

Hebrews 11:23-29

“By faith Moses, after he was born, was hidden by his parents for three months, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they didn’t fear the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter and chose to suffer with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasure of sin. For he considered reproach for the sake of Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, since he was looking ahead to the reward. By faith he left Egypt behind, not being afraid of the king’s anger, for Moses persevered as one who sees him who is invisible. By faith he instituted the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn might not touch the Israelites. By faith they crossed the Red Sea as though they were on dry land. When the Egyptians attempted to do this, they were drowned.”

We have been mining the verses of Hebrews 11 looking for nuggets of gold about faith. Our study has not disappointed us. In fact, we have been pulling out ore by the cart-loads. We have learned that those ancient saints we read about in the Old Testament lived by faith. They were justified by faith. They were rescued by faith. They were successful because they learned to trust God, and when they had an opportunity to demonstrate their faith, they took their shot.

Each of these heroes of faith lived up to the definition of faith provided in this chapter. We read in verse 1 that faith is “the proof of what is not seen.” A man or woman of faith sees something that the unbeliever does not see. The something is there, it just cannot be seen by the unaided eye.

Science tells us that there are lots of things that really matter in this world which cannot be seen by the unaided eye. Education, medicine, law enforcement and industry have adopted devices that help us see things too small for our eyes to register, or not visible for other reasons. Consequently, we have more justification now than ever in history to believe what the author of Hebrews tells us about creation. He tells us that “what is seen was made from things that are not visible” (11:3). You would think that our generation would have lots more people of faith since we are all taught to trust in things we cannot see. Sadly, the devil has taught us to ignore that fact, but in every generation there are heroes of faith who grasp it.

Today we are going to look at one of those heroes. We will examine the life of a man who saw the invisible. His name was Moses. His story is told in the first five books of the Bible, which are attributed to him as their primary author. Hebrews summarized Moses story in today’s text, and identifies him as “one who sees him who is invisible” (27).

Moses learned from his parents to trust the God who is invisible (23).

Amram and Jochebed were the parents of Moses, and his story of living by faith began with them. Before Moses could make any decisions for himself, they decided by faith to protect him.

Folks, we need to be parents like that. Our children and grandchildren will face dangerous things in this life, and they will be unaware of the danger. So, we need to step in and be brave enough to shield them from the danger that they do not see.

You know the story. You’ve seen the movies, and I hope you’ve read the book. Moses “was hidden by his parents for three months, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they didn’t fear the king’s edict.” In other words, they were moved to act by two things: their love for their child, and their loyalty to someone higher in rank than the king. They saw two things. They saw a beautiful child who needed to be protected, and they saw an invisible almighty God who they needed to obey.

Jesus told his disciples “do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:4-5). Amram and Jochebed’s fear of God was stronger than their fear of Pharaoh’s sword.

Because they trusted God to protect their son, he enabled them to teach their son about that trust. So, Moses’ first lesson in seeing the invisible came from those two faithful parents.

Moses lived his life trusting the God who is invisible (24-27).

Next, the author of Hebrews summarizes the life of Moses by highlighting six decisions that he made because he trusted the God who is invisible.

First, Moses decided who his real mother was. The text tells us that when Moses had grown up, he “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter” (24). He understood that to identify as an Egyptian would be high treason against his king in the sky.

Secondly, Moses decided to endure temporary hardship instead of giving in to temptation. He “chose to suffer with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasure of sin” (25). He could see beyond the temporary to the permanent. He could have lived as an Egyptian and enjoyed a comfortable temporary life. But he saw the God who is invisible and sided with him and his people.

Thirdly, Moses decided where his treasure was. He “considered reproach for the sake of Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, since he was looking ahead to the reward” (26).

I should point out that the author of Hebrews is not slipping us a fast one by inserting the name of Christ in his story of Moses. The earlier chapters of Hebrews makes the point that all of biblical history points to the person and work of Christ.

• In chapter 1, Christ is God’s Son who was with God in the beginning creating the world (1:2).

• In chapter 2, Christ is the captain of our salvation, made perfect through sufferings (2:10).

• In chapter 3, Christ is the apostle and high priest of our profession (3:1).

• In chapter 4, Christ is the great high priest who has passed into the heavens (4:14).

• In chapter 6, Christ has entered the holiest place as our forerunner (6:20).

• In chapter 9, Christ the mediator of a new covenant with a promise of an eternal inheritance (9:15).

Moses had been taught by his parents that the Christ was going to come in the future. Moses decided to be loyal to the future Christ rather than the present Pharaoh.

Jesus told a parable about a treasure a man found in a field. He sold all his possessions to gain that field, so he would have that treasure. Moses faced the same decision. So do we.

Fourthly. Moses decided where his reward was coming from. He could have looked all around himself and focused on enjoying life now in the palaces of Egypt. Instead “he was looking ahead to the reward” (26). He saw an invisible God with a greater reward that what he could experience in Egypt.

Fifthly, Moses decided what he did not need. He “left Egypt behind” (27) because he realized that although life in Egypt was tempting, he could not be in two places at once. He could not please the king without angering the invisible God. So, he chose to anger the king by pleasing God. Of all things, he did not need God’s wrath, so he had to exodus.

Finally, Moses decided to stay true to his faith. He “persevered as one who sees him who is invisible” (27). You see, the life of faith is not just a single choice. It is a million choices where we stay true to our faith commitment. Moses is a hero of the faith because he persevered. We come into the safety of God’s house by faith. We lock the doors and stay inside that house by perseverance.

Moses led the Israelites to trust the God who is invisible (28-29).

Next, the author of Hebrews highlights two incidents in the life of Moses where he led the Israelites to deliverance from death.

He says that by faith Moses “instituted the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn might not touch the Israelites” (28). Inside their homes, the Israelites were enjoying the Passover. Outside was the angel of death. He stayed outside their homes because of the sprinkling of the blood on the doorposts. The Egyptians did not trust in this invisible God, so they did not paint their doors. The death angel came and the eldest child of each family died.
The Israelites followed Moses and “crossed the Red Sea as though they were on dry land. When the Egyptians attempted to do this, they were drowned” (29). What made the difference that day? It wasn’t the Israelite’s confidence or self-determination. Those soldiers were just as confident and determined when they rode their chariots into the path of the parted sea. It was the invisible God who made the difference that day.

These two incidents highlight the role of leadership as the passing on of faith in the invisible God. Our heavenly Father wants us to not only believe in him, but also to lead others to follow him. Moses is a wonderful example of a man of faith who did that.

So, some questions as we reflect on the life story of this hero of faith:

• Do you see the invisible God?
• Do you make choices in this life based on his existence and authority?
• Are you leading others to walk by faith in the invisible God of the Bible?

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               He collected everything from money to buildings to                               women, but he is most famous for collecting wise sayings.                   His name is Solomon, and one of the books we have from                     him is called Ecclesiastes.

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sermon audio file

THE MEN WHO COULD SEE THE FUTURE

THE MEN WHO COULD SEE THE FUTURE

Hebrews 11:20-22 (CSB)

“By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and he worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, as he was nearing the end of his life, mentioned the exodus of the Israelites and gave instructions concerning his bones.”

We have examined the lives of five heroes of faith so far in our study: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sarah.

• Abel had a short life, but God enabled him to not allow that limit to keep him from using his one shot at a life of faith.

• Enoch lived in a corrupt generation, but God enabled Enoch to walk in fellowship with him in spite of the failures of his world.

• Noah also lived in a corrupt generation, so corrupt that God had to destroy it. But God preserved Noah and his family from that judgment.

• Abraham came from a pagan people, but God called Abraham to himself and taught him how to put trust him implicitly.

• Sarah learned to look beyond her own limits and focus on God’s ability and his faithfulness.

Today we add three more men to the list. The author of Hebrews lumps these three men together because he is highlighting a particular aspect of their lives. They each expressed their faith by something they did at the end of their lives. These three men are a son, grandson, and great-grandson of Abraham. They are Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.

To help us see what these three men had in common, let’s go back to the first two verses of Hebrews 11.

• “Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. For by it our ancestors won God’s approval.”

Something that is hoped for has not yet happened. Something that is not seen is only ours potentially. It is a future possibility. Faith is trusting in the reality of what you hope for. It is confidence in something you do not yet see.

These three descendants of Abraham manifested the faith of Abraham. The author of Hebrews highlights how each of these men demonstrated faith inspired confidence in their future.. Each story tells us what faith inspired confidence can do in our own lives.

Faith inspired confidence enables us to influence the next generation (20).

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

Let me remind you of the story behind those words, in case you were sleeping during Sunday School. Isaac was an old man by this time, and he planned on blessing Esau, because he was the oldest. Isaac “was old and his eyes were so weak that he could not see” (Genesis 27:1). He was blind to the present but he believed that he could see the future. He had faith inspired confidence that he could influence the next generation.

So, he called Esau and told him to go hunting for some game, and make him a nice meal. He planned to bestow a blessing on Esau that would change his future.

Meanwhile, his wife Rebekah had overheard this conversation. She tells Jacob to go get a couple of goats. She proceeded to cook up a nice stew, and dressed Jacob in Esau’s clothing. She even put some of the goat skin on Jacob’s hands and neck so Isaac would be fooled into thinking he was hairy Esau instead of smooth Jacob.

Consequently, Isaac wound up blessing Jacob instead of Esau with this blessing:

• “May God give to you – from the dew of the sky and from the richness of the land – an abundance of grain and new wine. May peoples serve you and nations bow in worship to you. Be master over your relatives; may your mother’s sons bow in worship to you. Those who curse you will be cursed, and those who bless you will be blessed” (Genesis 27:28-29).

By the time the smoke cleared and he realized that he had been deceived, Isaac had only these words as a blessing for Esau:

• “Look, your dwelling place will be away from the richness of the land, away from the dew of the sky above. You will live by your sword, and you will serve your brother. But when you rebel, you will break his yoke from your neck” (Genesis 27:39-40).

Now, when we tell this story in Sunday School, we usually focus on how bad it was for Rebekah and Jacob to deceive their poor blind father. But the author of Hebrews finds a different moral in the story. He focuses on the fact that in spite of the circumstances behind the blessing, what Isaac said to Jacob and Esau influenced their lives and determined their destiny.

Faith inspired confidence ensures the impact of our testimony (21).

“By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and he worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.”

When Jacob was old, he had poor eyesight like his father did. So, when it came time for him to bless his grandsons – the sons of Joseph, he reached out his hands and placed them on the heads of the two boys. It was a blessing but it was also a testimony.

• He said “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from all harm – may he bless these boys. And may they be called by my name and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and may they grow to be numerous within the land” (Genesis 48:15-16).

But Jacob had crossed his hands so that the greater blessing went to Ephraim instead of Manasseh. Joseph tried to correct him, but he said to Joseph …

• “I know, my son, I know! He too will become a tribe, and he too will be great; nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his offspring will become a populous nation” (Genesis 48:19).

The author of Hebrews adds that Jacob “worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.” That staff was necessary because Jacob had acquired a limp because of a bad hip from wrestling with a certain someone and was blessed because of it. His defect was a sign of his blessing, and it became part of his testimony. His faith inspired confidence ensured the impact of his testimony on his family.

Faith inspired confidence gives us glimpses of a life after death (22).

“By faith Joseph, as he was nearing the end of his life, mentioned the exodus of the Israelites and gave instructions concerning his bones.”

Joseph was in Egypt at the time. The Bible records that he “said to his brothers…

• “I am about to die, but God will certainly come to your aid and bring you up from this land to the land he swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”” (Genesis 50:24).

Joseph knew this because God had told Abraham that his…

• “offspring will be resident aliens for four hundred years in a land that does not belong to them and will be enslaved and oppressed. However, I will judge the nation they serve, and afterward they will go out with many possessions” (Genesis 15:13-14).

Now, Joseph realizes that this exodus was going to happen after his death, so he “gave instructions concerning his bones.” What were the instructions?

• “When God comes to your aid, you are to carry my bones up from here” (Genesis 50:25).

What Joseph did is he took the promises of God concerning the future, and he shared those promises with faith inspired confidence. He knew what life was going to be like for his people after his death.

You and I have much more information from Scripture about our future than Joseph did. We know that Jesus will return, raise the dead in Christ, transform the living into immortal bodies, celebrate with us at the marriage feast, reign with us, reward us, and give us permanent life.

Given all the things that we know, shouldn’t we be sharing faith inspired confidence about the future with the world?

Today we learned about three men who had something in common. They had the opportunity to express their faith inspired confidence about the future, even as they faced their own deaths. These men died. Their confidence was not the ridiculous notion that death is an illusion. No, their confidence was that death is not the end. It is a comma, not a period. They could see the future, and they could remain confident, because God would be there.