Vs. 10, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” This chapter is one of the most well known passages in Scripture; dubbed Hall of Faith. Question: What is faith? Trusting and believing in the Lord, though we do not always see or understand (vs. 1-3). Question: What does faith look like? The author of Hebrews goes through example after example of those who walked faithfully for God (vs. 4-40). We would be wise to follow the examples of those who paved the path for us. Notice that not everyone who was listed was delivered from their particular circumstance. Don’t forget, that the readers of this letter were in their own trials of faith. This was timely encouragement for them to recall others who were able to trust in the Lord.
Regarding application…Believe. Vs. 6, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” My wife and I took a three day vacation last winter to Las Vegas. We love the good food and cheap entertainment. We were just sightseeing through all the casinos and saw Chris Angel’s show called Believe. It was interesting because it was spelled like this: Believe. How coincidental that the word “lie” is imbedded in our English word believe. I did some quick etymology and didn’t see any connection either. But the application is that no matter your circumstance, our faith and belief must show in our actions. Notice how the believer is to earnestly seek the Lord!
Vs. 1, “When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he called for Esau his older son and said to him, “My son.” “Here I am,” he answered.” Something is wrong here. Before Esau and Jacob were born, God had told Isaac that the younger son (Jacob) would rule over the older (Genesis 24:23). Question: Why then is Isaac starting the process of blessing his oldest to rule (vs. 1-4)? Rebekah proceeds to make it even worse by eavesdropping and formulating a deception (vs. 5-13). Jacob (the deceiver) proceeds to go through with Rekehah’s plan and just outright lies to his father (vs. 14-29). And then to make matters worse, Esau wants to murder Jacob (vs. 41)! It’s sad because Isaac & Rebekah had such a great start. This is what you call some major family dysfunction!
Regarding application…Do You Believe? Vs. 13, “His mother said to him, “My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me.” Basically, Rebekah took matters into her own hands. She knew God’s prophecy about Jacob the younger son. But, she didn’t believe that God would honor His promise if she didn’t take action on her own accord. Because God’s prophecies will come true, this happened in spite Rebekah’s own lack of faith. Jacob would have ruled over Esau anyway. In some ways, its comforting to know that God’s will cannot be altered. Yet, I think many of our actions cause far more grief to us and others because our inability to truly believe in faith. As we begin our week, what areas of life do you need to put more faith in?
Vs. 5, “He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” After quite an eventful series with Abram, he takes the time to begin to ponder this promise that God had made to him earlier. Question: How was Abram and Sarai going to have children this so far advanced in their ages? I think it was only natural for Abram to consider his future offspring in light of the recent rescuing of Lot and the danger to his life. The Lord appears to Abram again (Theophany) and gives him the reminder of His covenant to make him into a great nation. Abram’s descendants would be as numerous as the dust and the stars! In the remaining part of our chapter (vs. 7-21), we see salvation’s promise come through sacrifice. The darkness (vs. 12) was not evil, but spoke of a Godly fear regarding the holiness of God. We also see the omniscience and power of God as He prophecies of the 400 years of slavery in Egypt (vs. 13). And lastly, God would grant Abram’s question for a sign through the sacrifices and the smoking firepot (vs. 17).
Regarding application…Do You Believe? Vs. 6, “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” Abram is one of the ultimate examples of someone who believed and responded. Remember, it is not works or anything Abram did, it was his faith and belief. We know there are things that are good for us. Fruits and vegetables, plenty of sleep, exercise are all good things. In the spiritual life, reading God’s word, prayer, serving are also all good things. Just because we know them doesn’t always translate to believing. If we believe it, we will act upon it. I’ve known people who after a major health problem that arose due to their habits, finally stopped their smoking or food eating styles. It wasn’t until a crisis that forced them to believe. If we know the truth, believe it. Live it. Let go of your doubts and fears.
Vs. 7, “Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.” I’ve never met a real Shepard or seen a flock of sheep out in the open. During Jesus’ day, the comparison of a Shepard and sheep would have been something the audience could definitely understand. If Jesus lived during the Wild West in the 19th century, perhaps he would have used Cowboys and cows instead. However, the meaning behind the Shepard and sheep is quite clear. Jesus is the Shepard and we are the sheep (vs. 1-21). The sheep are so valuable to the Shepard, the Shepard is willing to die for the sheep. What was stumping the unbelieving wasn’t the analogy, but Jesus’ claim that He was the Son of God and therefore the Shepard of His people. It’s just a stark reminder that not all will believe not matter what you say or do (vs. 22-42). A couple of months later, the unbelieving Jews still could not get over Jesus’ claim of who He was (vs. 33).
Regarding application…Do You Believe? Vs. 42, “And in that place many believed in Jesus.” When I think of believing in Jesus, my mind tends to envision the moment of salvation. But I believe this belief in Jesus goes far beyond time when we first put our faith in the hands of the Lord. Question: Why is the Christian life so hard? We can throw out things like persecution, hatred for Christians, the enemies flaming arrows, our human sin nature, etc. None of those are incorrect, but I personally feel that the core of the issue is making a deliberate decision to believe each day. Jesus did not say take up the cross once, he said daily (Luke 9:23). Taking up the cross is equivalent to believing each day. Question: Do you believe? If so, what are you doing about it? This call to believing is not expecting you to be perfect by any means. But God is honored by the heart’s intention. When we believe we are surrendering our will. Brothers & Sisters in Christ, let’s believe today and not be a person who does not know the Shepard’s voice.
Vs. 4, “But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.” Question: Did Jesus use his mighty strength to roll away the rock? Did he need it to get out of the cave? I think not. The rock was rolled away for the benefit of the women who came to pay their respect for Jesus. And this death on the cross is now life through the resurrection! The resurrection reminds us that Jesus was victorious over the enemy! We also see the apostles were given extra power through signs and wonders early on (vs. 17-18), they did not have the completed Bible at that time.
Regarding application…Do you believe? Vs. 11, “When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.” Question: Can we blame them? They were in mourning because Jesus’ death was so abrupt and so violent. Jesus’ public ministry was shorter than just one term of our President in the US. And the excruciating pain and quick death on the cross was especially sobering. This isn’t shared for us to rebuke the followers of Jesus, rather, it is shared to remind us we don’t believe in someone who was defeated. When life seems hopeless and we are against the ropes…will you believe that Jesus can help you overcome? Let go of your doubts and trust in the Lord!