Summary of passage: God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his son Isaac. Abraham obeyed out of faith, believing God would raise Isaac from the dead if He so chose. Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau. Jacob blessed Joseph’s sons. Joseph predicted the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions where to bury him.
Moses’ parents hid him from the Egyptians, knowing Moses was no ordinary child. Moses chose to be mistreated with his people, the Israelites, rather than live in the luxury of his adopted mother’s palace. He was looking forward to his future reward. He left Egypt by faith and persevered as he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood to save his people’s firstborn.
The people crossed the Red Sea by faith and the walls of Jericho fell by faith. The prostitute Rahab was faithful by protecting the spies.
And the Hebrews writer says the examples of faithfulness goes on and on. Kingdoms were conquered, enemies routed, lions’ mouths shut, and justice prevailed. Others chose torture, flogging, chains, prison, stoned, sawed in half, and destitution for the promise of God. Little did they know (as we do and the people the writer is speaking to) God had something much greater in store for them–His son, Jesus–that would in the end make us complete.
6a) Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son when God asked him to, believing that God would raise him from the dead if he so chose.
b) Isaac blessed his sons, Jacob and Esau, for the future
c) Jacob blessed each of Joseph’s sons
d) Joseph prophesied the Israelites would leave Egypt and gave instructions where to bury his bones
e) Moses chose his people, the Israelites, over his adopted mother’s, the Egyptians. He rejected a life of luxury and sin and instead chose to be mistreated along with God’s people as he saw disgrace in Christ as greater than any treasure as he looked forward to his reward. He left Egypt by faith and persevered because he saw God himself. He kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood so the firstborn of every Israelite would not perish.
7) No. Anyone can have faith in God’s promises. God rewarded Rahab for her true faith and trust in Him. She was doing the Lord’s will even if it wasn’t in a manner God would approve of. She had to save the spies in order to save her family. I think in this instance all of us would do the same.
This example along with Jacob who stole Esau’s blessing from Isaac are great examples of how God rewards imperfect people no matter how flawed they or their actions may be. He knows our heart. He knows if we are pursuing him with every last breath in our body. He knows man will sometimes choose unethical behavior in order to do so. Which God forgives. He made man as cunning and full of tricks. God knows our ways. And with the right intentions, God forgives, accepts, and embraces us.
God will accept anyone who accept him. NO MATTER WHAT!
8 ) Personal Question. My answer: It’s amazing the hoops these people jumped through; the laws they had to abide by; all the religious ceremonies and sacrifices; all for God. And not even to get into Heaven. For just the mere chance of obtaining Him.
It is probably easier in our day to believe because we have a physical form of God who walked this earth. These people did not. They had to believe in something which they could not see (except the chosen few whom God revealed himself to). We know if we choose Jesus, we receive life. These people didn’t. It was only a promise. As it is today. But it’s more tangible to us.
Thus, if these people who had a much harder life than most of us can believe then so can I.
Conclusions: I loved bringing in Rahab. Here’s a woman who was a pagan prostitute (despised in those days) who had every reason not to believe in God but she did. She did whatever she had to do in order to obey–even lying. And God forgave and accepted her and what she did. She even became a direct ancestor of Jesus!
This shows us that God’s choices does not depend on how a person behaves. God simply chooses people he wants. Are we to judge? According to Paul in Romans 9, no! We have no right to question God because we know so little and He knows all. We may never understand but God has a purpose we cannot know. We are to accept. All things work together for my good.
God chooses flawed people to achieve great good. You never know who He has chosen today.
This is summarized from my study Bible (NIV student Bible published by Zondervan). Great stuff.
This gives hope to all of us who are broken (which we all are, some more than others). God is still using us no matter how far we fall. If we merely choose to believe.
End Note: The blessing back in OT times was a HUGE deal. For most it signified a kind of magical power that will bring prosperity. However, for God’s chosen people, it is transferring the covenant blessing from one generation to the next–the one passed down from Abraham–that will one day produce God’s chosen people.
Also summarized from my Study Bible (NIV Student Bible Zondervan).