Hebrews 11:17-28

Sunday, June 25th, 2017

ABRAHAM, ISAAC, JACOB, JOSEPH,

MOSES’ PARENTS, AND MOSES

DEMONSTRATED THEIR FAITH

INTRODUCTION:

 

In chapter 11 the fifth major section of Hebrews, which began in 10:19, is continued.

 

In this section Christ is shown to have provided a better way of life, the life of faith.

 

In 10:19-25 believers have been called upon to hold fast their confession.

 

Furthermore, in 10:26-39 an alternative has been given to those who are wavering: it’s either Christ, or it’s judgment.

 

In chapter 11 some Old Testament examples of faith are cited.

 

We have already seen –

      I.         A definition of faith – 11:1

      II.  That the elders demonstrated the existence of their faith by their actions – 11:2

      III. That by faith we understand that God created the worlds out of nothing – 11:3

      IV.      That Abel demonstrated his faith by coming to God on God’s terms – 11:4

      V.  That Enoch demonstrated his faith by pleasing God – 11:5

      VI.      That pleasing God requires faith – 11:6

      VII.     And that Noah demonstrated his faith by building an ark – 11:7

 

We are in the process of seeing that –

      I.   ABRAHAM AND SARAH DEMONSTRATED THEIR FAITH BY OBEYING GOD – 11:8-19

 

We have already seen –

            1.   Abraham’s call – 11:8a

 

            2.   That Abraham obeyed God’s call – 11:8b

 

            3.   That Abraham did not know where God’s call would ultimately lead him – 11:8c

 

            4.   That Abraham lived temporarily in the land of promise – 11:9

 

            5.   That Abraham was looking for a permanent city – 11:10

 

            6.   That Sara believed God and gave birth to a baby – 11:11

 

            7.   That God fulfilled His promise to Abraham by giving Him innumerable descendants – 11:12

 

            8.   That the people of God look forward to heaven which God has prepared for them – 11:13-16

 

We continue with –

Hebrews 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son.

 

By faith is because of faith.

 

Abraham is the one who acted by faith or because of faith.

 

When he was tried suggests when he was tested, when he was put to the test, while he was being tested, or while he was tested.

 

Offered up means brought, offered, or presented.

 

It is a sacrificial term suggesting brought, offered, or presented a gift or an offering. In this case, Isaac was the burnt offering being offered.

 

The tense of offered indicates that Abraham actually offered Isaac up as far as he was concerned and that the result continued on. He gave Isaac to God.

 

However, Abraham did not go as far in the process of making the offering as actually slaying Isaac; but it was only because God stopped him.

 

And introduces an additional fact about Abraham.

 

The he in he . . . offered up his only begotten son refers to Abraham.

 

Only begotten is used to describe the uniqueness of Isaac. Abraham had previously begotten Ishmael; therefore, only begotten is used in a special way to describe Isaac as the heir of the promises.

 

God had said that Abraham’s seed would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens and as the sand on the seashore and that this seed would come through Isaac.

 

Therefore, the only way Abraham could offer up Isaac through whom the promise was to be fulfilled and still have the promise fulfilled would be either if God did not really require that Issac’s life be taken or if God would actually raise Isaac from the dead after his life had been taken.

 

As it turned out, God did not require that Isaac’s life was actually taken.

 

Abraham, however, believed that God would require Isaac’s life to be taken and furthermore believed that God would raise Isaac from the dead.

 

Abraham’s faith in God was so strong that he obeyed God even in this instance.

 

He . . . offered up indicates ongoing action in past time in the sense of he was offering (him) up (as a sacrifice), he was bringing (him as a sacrifice), or he was presenting (him as a sacrifice). It indicates that he was in the process of doing this.

 

He that received the promises is the one who (had) received the promises, the one who (had) accepted the promises, or the one who (had) received the pledges (that God had made). It refers to Abraham.

 

The promises were that he would have a country he would inherit for a possession, i.e. the land of Canaan, and that his seed through Isaac would be as innumerable as the sand of the seashore and as the stars in the heaven.

 

What he offered up was his only begotten son, i.e. Isaac.

 

Hebrews 11:18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called.

 

In verse 18 the author reminds the readers that it was the only begotten son of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called.

 

This promise was made in Genesis 17:19 and referred to in Genesis 21:12 .

 

Genesis 17:19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.

 

It is interesting to note that at the time this was said to Abraham in Genesis 17:19 , Isaac had not yet been born. After Isaac had been born, God said in Genesis 21:12 ,

 

Genesis 21:12 And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.

 

Of whom is literally to whom or toward whom where whom refers to Abraham.

 

It was said is it was uttered in words or it was spoken, That introduce an indirect quotation.

 

What was said to Abraham is that in Isaac shall thy seed shall be called.

 

Shall be called is predictive of a future event which will definitely take place.

 

Thy is you and refers to Abraham.

 

Hebrews 11:19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

 

Accounting is a term which means to think about, consider, ponder, or let his mind dwell on and is best understood in the sense of because he considered, because he thought, or because he pondered.

 

The content of his thinking, what he thought, or what he pondered is indicated by that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead.

 

Even implies an emphasis. It may instead be understood as the more emphatic indeed, certainly, in fact, yea, or verily.

 

God was able is God was capable, God was strong enough, or God was powerful.

 

To raise him up from the dead is to raise (Isaac) out from among dead ones.

 

In Abraham’s mind he actually sacrificed Isaac.

 

Therefore, as far as his mind was concerned, he actually received Isaac back from the dead even though he did not really finish or complete the sacrifice.

 

Consequently, Abraham did not literally receive Isaac back from the dead; but in Abraham’s mind, prior to the sacrifice, Isaac was as good as dead.

 

From whence means from where or from which and is used in this context in the sense of for which reason or therefore.

 

Also implies something in addition to.

 

He is Abraham.

 

He had accounted that God was able to raise Isaac from the dead, and now he received him back from the dead in a figurative way of speaking.

 

Received is recovered, received back, or got back.

 

Him is Isaac.

 

In a figure is in a type.

 

The implication is clear that Isaac never actually died, but he died in picture form or so to speak.

We also see that –

  II.     ISAAC DEMONSTRATED HIS FAITH – 11:20

 

Hebrews 11:20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.

 

In verse 20 Isaac is added to the list of the heroes of faith or of the faithful Old Testament believers.

 

By faith is because of faith.

 

Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau indicates what Isaac did by faith.

 

Blessed means that he called down God’s gracious power upon Jacob and Esau, his two sons.

 

Jacob was the younger one, and Esau was the older one.

 

Esau is the one who despised his birthright in that he treated it lightly and sold it to Jacob for a mess of pottage.

 

Isaac blessed his sons concerning things to come, i.e. concerning future things or concerning coming things.

Next, we see that –

 III.     JACOB DEMONSTRATED HIS FAITH – 11:21

 

Hebrews 11:21 By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.

 

By faith is again because of faith.

 

Jacob was the son of Isaac and the grandson of Abraham.

 

When he was dying is while he was dying.

 

What Jacob did while he was dying is blessed both of the sons of Joseph.

 

This means that he blessed Ephraim and Manasseh, the sons of Joseph, individually.

 

And worshipped is he also worshiped.

 

Leaning is supplied by the translators in order to clarify the meaning of the text.

 

Upon the top of his staff informs the readers what Jacob was leaning upon when he blessed Ephraim and Manasseh.

 

Apparently, as an older man, he had a staff that he used; and he likely could not stand up without his staff.

 

Thus, he worshiped while aiding himself in standing by leaning on the top of his staff.

In addition, we see that –

 IV.     JOSEPH DEMONSTRATED HIS FAITH – 11:22

 

Hebrews 11:22 By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.

 

In verse 22 Joseph is added to the Old Testament heroes of faith.

 

By faith is again because of faith.

 

This occurred in Egypt, and Joseph looked forward to the promised land.

 

When he died suggests when dying, when he was dying, while dying, or while he was dying.

 

The process of his dying occurred at the same time he made mention of the departing of the children of Israel and at the same time he gave commandment concerning his bones.

 

Made mention of is remembered, thought of, or kept in mind.

 

Of course, in this context, he thought of his bones; and he decided that he did not want them buried in Egypt. Instead, he wanted them buried in the promised land. He was about to die, and he did not want to be permanently entombed in Egypt.

 

Of the departing of the children of Israel is concerning the exodus of the sons of Israel.

 

Joseph realized that the sons of Israel were not going to stay in Egypt permanently because God had promised He would give the land of Canaan to Abraham and his seed.

 

He did not, therefore, want to stay in Egypt. He wanted to be where his descendants would be.

 

Therefore, he gave commandment concerning his bones.

 

Gave commandment is gave orders, ordered, or commanded.

 

Concerning his bones indicates that they were to take his bones with them when they left in their exodus from Egypt.

We furthermore see that –

   V.     MOSES’ PARENTS DEMONSTRATED THEIR FAITH – 11:23

 

Hebrews 11:23 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.

 

In verse 23 Moses’ parents are added to the list of Old Testament heroes of faith. The king of Egypt had commanded the midwives to kill all Hebrew baby boys at birth (Exodus 1:16 ). He also commanded that the baby boys were to be thrown into the river (Exodus 1:22 ).

 

By faith is because of faith.

 

Moses . . . was hid throughout a period of three months.

 

Of his parents is by his parents.

 

When he was born suggests after he was born.

 

Although his parents concealed him for three months after he was born, they could not conceal him forever.

 

Was hid is was hidden, was concealed, was covered, or was kept from view.

 

The reason Moses’ parents hid him is because they saw that he was a proper child, and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment to put the children to death.

 

They knew that God was going to provide them with something better, and they chose to believe God.

 

They were not willing to put their baby to death even though the king had commanded it.

 

They saw that he, i.e. Moses, was a proper child.

 

Proper is used in the sense of beautiful or well-formed, but it is also used in the sense of acceptable or well-pleasing; and this could be its meaning in this verse.

 

They were not afraid of is they did not fear, and what they did not fear is the commandment of the king.

 

Commandment means edict.

 

It was an official order of the king, i.e. it was given by Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and Moses’ mother and father did not fear that edict.

 

This commandment is stated in Exodus 1:22 ,

 

Exodus 1:22 And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.

Finally, we see that –

 VI.     MOSES DEMONSTRATED HIS FAITH – 11:24-28

 

Hebrews 11:24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.

 

As an adult Moses is added to the Old Testament heroes of faith in verse 24.

 

By faith is again because of faith.

 

Moses, when he was come to years is Moses, after he had become great.

 

Although great may refer to years and indicate that he was great in years, it more likely refers to his position as being great meaning after he became prominent or after he began to be in high position. It should be remembered that Moses was only 40 years of age when he killed the Egyptian and fled Egypt for Midian, and this would not be considered great in years.

 

Refused implies that he deliberately chose not or disdained to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, and its implication is clear that he had previously been called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.

 

Called is used in the sense of named.

 

However, he knew that he was a Jew; and he knew that he was not the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.

 

He did not want to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.

 

As the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, He may have been in line to become the next Pharaoh, but he turned his back on the possibility of his becoming the ruler of all Egypt when he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.

 

 

Hebrews 11:25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.

 

Choosing is an action which takes place at the same time as the action of refused. It is understood in the sense of and chose.

 

Rather . . . than suggests that Moses chose one thing rather than another thing he could have chosen.

He preferred instead to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.

 

To suffer affliction with is simply to suffer with or to be mistreated with.

 

The children of Israel were being greatly mistreated by their masters in Egypt, and Moses chose to identify himself with the people of God, which means with his fellow Jews rather than with the Egyptians.

 

Than introduces what Moses chose rather than what he could have chosen.

 

He could have chosen to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, i.e. to have a temporary enjoyment of sin.

 

For a season is lasting only for a time or temporary.

 

Hebrews 11:26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.

 

At the same time Moses chose to suffer affliction with the people of God, he also was esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.

 

Of course as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, Moses had access to a great deal of wealth. There would have been no limit to the money he could consume upon himself and upon his own desires.

 

Esteeming is having thought, having considered, or having regarded.

 

It was a value decision. He thought about something or considered it and then made a choice.

 

Esteeming may be understood in the sense of after he thought, after he considered, or after he regarded or in the sense of because (i.e. inasmuch as or since) he thought, considered, or regarded.

 

What he considered was that the reproach of Christ was greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.

 

The reproach is the reviling, the disgrace, or the insult.

 

Of Christ is literally of the Christ meaning of the Messiah.

 

Moses thus chose to look forward to the coming of the Messiah in Israel and chose to accept the reviling insults that would be hurled at him as a result.

 

He considered that the reproach of Christ was greater riches, i.e. greater wealth, than all the treasures in Egypt.

 

For he had respect unto the recompence of the reward is the reason for Moses’ choice.

 

He had respect is he looked, he was looking, he paid attention to, he was paying attention to, or he was having respect for. It tense indicates continuing action in past time.

 

Unto the recompence of the reward is unto the payment of wages or unto the reward.

 

It indicates that Moses was interested in receiving what God had promised rather than in what he could obtain for himself in Egypt.

 

Hebrews 11:27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

 

By faith is because of faith.

 

He forsook Egypt is he left Egypt behind.

 

Not fearing may be understood in the sense of not being afraid of or not becoming frightened with, because he did not fear (i.e. because he was not afraid of or because he was not frightened with) the wrath of the king.

 

Moses was not intimidated by the wrath of the king; therefore, he did not forsake God for Egypt; rather, he forsook Egypt for God.

 

This has caused some confusion because, as one reads the account of Moses’ fleeing Egypt in Exodus, it seems that he fled because he was afraid inasmuch as he had committed murder.

 

The present passage indicates that Moses knew that he did not have to fear the wrath of the king.

 

Could this not be readily explained as indicating that Moses undoubtedly forsook Egypt before he defended the Jew and killed the Egyptian and that he subsequently fled from Egypt? Certainly, it could.

 

Otherwise, he would not have defended the Jew.

 

Therefore, it is best to understand the present passage as indicating that Moses had already forsaken Egypt and what Egypt could offer him prior to his experience in defending the Jew against the Egyptian.

 

Thus, his forsaking Egypt or leaving Egypt behind does not refer to his fleeing from Egypt to the land of Midian.

 

He forsook Egypt when he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter and chose to suffer affliction with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.

 

He forsook Egypt before he left Egypt.

 

It refers not to his flight from Egypt but to his abandonment of Egypt.

 

What he did not fear is the wrath of the king, i.e. the anger of the king or the rage of the king, and the king is Pharaoh.

 

For he endured as seeing him who is invisible indicates the reason Moses forsook Egypt and did not fear the wrath of the king.

 

He endured is he was strong, he was steadfast, he held out, or he persevered.

 

As seeing is as catching sight of or perhaps because he was seeing.

 

Him who is invisible is literally the invisible One or the unseen One and refers to God.

 

How does one actually see Him Who is invisible, especially when no man hath seen God at any time (John 1:18 )? It would be in the sense of mental or spiritual perception rather than with his physical eyesight.

 

On the other hand, the use of as may be instructive and suggest as if seeing or as though seeing.

 

If so, then the meaning is that he endured just as if he had actually seen the invisible One.

 

He had thoroughly perceived Him both mentally and spiritually.

 

Hebrews 11:28 Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.

 

Through faith is the identical expression translated by faith throughout these verses, and it is best understood in the sense of because of faith, because of belief, or because of trust.

 

He is Moses.

 

The tense of kept indicates an action which occurred in the past with its result continuing on. It is literally has celebrated.

 

What he has kept or celebrated is the passover and the sprinkling of blood.

 

The sprinkling of the blood is the spreading of blood.

 

In observing the first passover in Egypt, the blood was applied to the lintel and posts of the door of each house.

 

The passover and the sprinkling of the blood are two different ways of saying the same thing.

 

And may thus be understood as even or as the more emphatic indeed, in fact, yea, verily, or certainly.

 

Lest introduces a negative purpose clause and means in order that he that destroyed the firstborn not touch them.

 

He that destroyed the firstborn is the destroying angel.

 

This angel slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt where the blood had not been applied to the lintel and posts of the doors of the houses.

 

Lest he . . . should touch them means in order that the destroying angel not touch them.

 

Of course, the touch resulted in death for the firstborn of the Egyptians and would likewise result in death of the firstborn for any Israelite who failed to apply the blood to the lintel and posts of the door of his home.