Tag Archive for Hebrews 11

Long-term Obedience

Genesis 6 – 9

By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. (Hebrews 11:7, NASB)

Sin had become so extensive and intensive on earth that God regretted making the human race:

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The Lord was sorry that He had made man on earth, and He was grieved in His heart. (Genesis 6:5-6, NASB)

But one man pleased Him. The righteousness of one man convinced Him that the human race was worth saving.

But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LordNoah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God. (Genesis 6:8-9, NASB)

God spared no efforts in saving this one man and his family, and through him, our entire race. God directed and enabled Noah to build a huge boat: 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high, with three decks.

Based on the biblical record, scholars estimate that it took Moses 50 to 120 years to build the ark. Noah persevered for all those years based on a warning from an unseen God, and in response to a judgment that had not yet happened. Can you imagine the ridicule, the expense, the frustrations he endured? How many pleasures and practical matters would have been crying for all the attention he lavished on the ark!

But he obeyed, and continued to obey, while everything around him called his obedience foolish and meaningless. For him, faith in God was sufficient proof of things he could not see (Hebrews 11:1).

The result: Noah’s faith saved not only his entire family, but our entire race.

God inhabits timeless eternity. He is patient and so longsuffering. To please Him, we must learn to trust and obey as Noah did. We too may have to patiently persevere through years of seemingly fruitless effort, in the face of opposition and misunderstanding.

Father, in this prolonged trial,
keep me strong in faith.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: By Faith
Printed Music & Lyrics

Live with the End in View

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. (Hebrews 11:24-26, NASB)

Moses had a choice. He could identify with his birth family, who were Hebrew slaves, or with his adoptive family, the royal house of Pharaoh, one of the most powerful families on earth. Identifying with Pharaoh would have meant privilege, respect, comfort, and wealth. Identifying with a slave race meant sharing their bitter oppression in all its forms.

Moses walked away from the royal family and instead embraced the difficulties, danger, and disgrace of being the leader of the Hebrew slaves. Why? Because he chose what was right and best in the long-term over short-term comfort. The reproach of Christ (Hebrews 11:26) held more appeal and satisfaction for him than all the pleasures and treasures of an Egyptian palace.

In Hebrews 13, the writer describes how Jesus chose to take our reproach, our curse upon Himself. He suffered outside the camp (v.11) as the disgraced and discarded corpse of a sin sacrifice. In v.13, the writer urges us:

So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. (NASB)

That’s what Moses chose to do: willingly bear the suffering and reproach of Christ. Christ had accepted the reproach that rebellious sinners had heaped on God His Father (see Romans 15:13). We are urged to share that reproach, that reviling, ill-treatment, and disgrace.

When Moses made that choice, according to Hebrews 11:26, he was looking to the reward. Does that mean that actually, he was simply seeking what was best for himself in the long-run? In the gospels, Jesus often emphasizes our heavenly reward as the reason we should choose God over sin. Is our reason for obeying God to simply gain the best outcome for ourselves? Is Jesus endorsing shallow and selfish motives for doing the right thing?

No, Hebrews 11 gives a different perspective. It repeatedly praises those who make the right long-term decisions, in spite of short-term suffering. Such decisions prove their faith in God. Their actions demonstrate their conviction that God is who He says He is and will do all He says He will do. This is the faith that pleases God (vv.1-5).

That’s the faith that Moses lived.

Father, in Your loving plans for Your children,
suffering is always a means to a good end.
It is only a transition,
never a destination.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Captives of Eternal Love
Printed Music & Lyrics

Live as Seeing the Unseen

We tend to react only to what seems real to us. And as humans, we interpret reality primarily by what we can see. If it happens to be visible, it’s real. If not, it can’t be fully trusted.

But even science tells us that our sight perceives only a fraction of reality.  Many “lower” animals perceive the world very adequately without the sight we experience. In fact, many of them sense vast portions of reality we never notice in our heavy dependence on sight.

For example, many animals live in a world of smell. They rely on it to find food, to find mates, and to protect themselves. Pigeons and salmon can apparently use scent to navigate great distances.

Other migrating animals, including certain butterflies and birds, seem to find their way across vast distances of unfamiliar territory simply by sensing the earth’s gravitational field.

Sharks, the platypus, and other species can sense electrical impulses in the bodies of their prey. Rattlesnakes and their fellow pit vipers find their prey through an organ that detects body heat. Bats can fly with incredible agility and accuracy, even picking insects out of midair in the dark, using their built-in ultrasonic radar.

Some animals and plants can predict the weather as well as we can, or even better. They know of coming thunderstorms, earthquakes, or volcanic eruptions because they can perceive electrical charges in the air, hear low-frequency vibrations, or feel tiny tremors to which we are oblivious.

Even in the area of sight, we are sometimes left in the dust. Birds of prey can clearly see what is almost invisible to us, even with our high-powered binoculars. And some insects see colors the human eye can’t distinguish.

All this reminds us that as physical beings, we humans operate on a heavily filtered version of reality. Sight alone leaves us in the dark in many, many respects. And if we perceive so little of what is real in a physical sense, imagine how little we perceive of the realities that are not dependent on matter.

That brings us to Hebrews 11. It talks about people who pleased God by trusting Him, despite the way things looked around them. Noah spent many years building an ark, based purely on God’s warnings about things not yet seen (v.7, NASB). Moses overcame all the trials and difficulties of leading Israel out of Egypt because he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen (v.27, NASB).

All these saints lived wisely and fruitfully by focusing on the reality of God’s presence. Almighty God was always with them. They knew it was true, and they acted like it, even though their eyes could not see Him.

I long to live that way, knowing and trusting that reality, living in full response to His personal presence with me. What a joy it would be to consistently act and react as seeing Him who is unseen (v.27, NASB).

I want to live and serve that way, to pray and worship, to think and talk as being immediately with Him always and forever.

We walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7, NASB)

Live in response to Sovereign God,
not in response to your childish fears.
Walk in the light of all He is,
not in the shadow of your own smallness.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: In Simple Response to You
Printed Music & Lyrics