Enduring Faith

One of the keywords in Hebrews is endurance. It can be said that the letter was written primarily to foster enduring faith in the midst of persecution.

This is the promise to those who remain faithful while their faith is being tested.

For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what was promised (Hebrews 10.36).

The Faith of Abraham

Abraham is the father of the faithful. His faith was severely tested, but he remained confident in the promises of God.

God met Abraham and gave him both a command and a promise.

“Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.

“I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.

“I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12.1-3).

God promised Abraham possession of the land, a great nation, and through him blessing to the world.

At age 75, Abraham began his journey with God. The author of Hebrews notes his faith.

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance, and he set out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11.8).

When you walk with God, you are able to have a glimpse of God’s big picture. More than a land and a nation for himself, Abraham had a vision of God’s purpose.

“For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11.10).

Even though Abraham was granted personal guidance by God, he was not spared trouble.

When he reached the land of promise, he discovered that “there was a famine in the land” (Genesis 12.10).

What do you do when you reach the Promised Land and find out there is a famine in the land?

This was a time when Abraham’s faith faltered and he brought disrespect to his wife, himself, and God. Genesis 12.10-20 is an account of the full story.

One of the best things about the Bible is the honest way it treats its heroes. Abraham is one of the heroes of Hebrew history, but the Bible is willing to expose his faults as well as his faith.

Between Egypt and Isaac’s Birth

There are more events in Abraham’s life than could be recounted in the Letter to the Hebrews. I have provided an outline of those events to encourage you to read Genesis and discover more about this great man of faith.

— Genesis 13.1-13 – Abraham gives a generous offer to his nephew Lot, allowing him to choose the portion of the land where his flocks and family will live.

— Genesis 13.14-18 – God renews his promise to Abraham with regard to a large family and the land.

— Genesis 14 – The Letter to the Hebrews highlights the role of Melchizedek and how Jesus is a priest after the order of Melchizedek. This is the way Genesis tells the story.

— Genesis 15 – When faith is an issue, God is willing to personally reinforce our confidence in his promises.

Not only did God strengthen Abraham’s faith, but he also revealed more of his plans to him.

— Genesis 16 – This is another instance where Abraham was unwilling to wait on the fulfillment of God’s promise. Rather than going to God for direction, he took the advice of his wife.

The result was the birth of Ishmael through Sarah’s servant, Hagar.

— Genesis 17 – Abraham and Sarah are 99 years old and still have no son. Once again, God renewed his promise to Abraham.

As a seal of the covenant between God and his people, circumcision was instituted.

— Genesis 18.1-15 – Angels came to announce to Abraham and Sarah that they would have a son.

— Genesis 18.16-33 – God revealed his plans about Sodom to Abraham. Abraham provides us with a great example of intercession as he prayed for mercy on these people.

— Genesis 20 – Once again Abraham’s faith faltered and he put his wife in harm’s way.

The Bible gives us a very realistic understanding of enduring faith. Praise God for his mercy and forgiveness, when we take matters into our own hands instead of trusting God’s guidance.

— Genesis 21.1-7 – Abraham and Sarah have a son at age 100. They name him Isaac.

The Faith of Abraham and Sarah

The author of Hebrews notes the faith of Isaac’s parents. We often focus on Abraham’s faith, but it was Sarah who had to go through pregnancy, labor, and delivery of their son.

Their enduring faith produced a nation that ultimately brought blessing to the entire world through Jesus.

By faith, with Sarah’s involvement, he received power of procreation, even though he was too old, because he considered him faithful who had promised.

Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, “as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore” (Hebrews 11.11-12).

The Genesis account of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac is full of anguish, faith, and God’s provision. See Genesis 22.

Hebrews explains how Abraham’s enduring faith enabled him to follow God’s direction.

By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac. He who had received the promises was ready to offer up his only son,

Of whom he had been told, “It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you.”

He considered the fact that God is able even to raise someone from the dead—and, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back (Hebrews 11.17-19).

Application

Here are three applications we can make from our survey of Abraham’s life.

(1) The heroes of the Bible were real people who faced serious challenges.

Their lives were a mixture of success and failure, but the grace of God prevailed.

When we fail, let’s get up, ask for forgiveness, and begin again our walk of faith.

(2) Faith involves relying on God’s promises and provisions rather than self-sufficiency.

(3) God is willing to meet with humans to reveal his plans and to give us the power to endure.

YouTube Video

Normally Rudy Ross and I talk about Hebrews on YouTube. I am making videos for a couple of days because I am sick and don’t want to infect Rudy. You can see the video on the Bob Spradling channel.

I am indebted to Gareth Lee Cockerill’s commentary on Hebrews for the information contained in this blog.

Please email your prayer request to bsprad49@gmail.com. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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