Summary of Hebrews 11:17-40:
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.
BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 16, Day 3: Hebrews 11:17-40
6) Personal Question. My answer: Rahab because she was not Jewish so she had to have supreme faith in a God not her own. And Abraham because he 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. Unsure if I could do this one.
7) Personal Question. My answer: Oftentimes, you will not reap the rewards of your faith in this life. In fact, you shouldn’t expect to. Yet, what’s the alternative? To not believe and lead a miserable life.
8 ) Personal Question. My answer: My faith is being tested in my roles in life. A lifetime, to us, seems like a really long time. Committing to life for something is extremely difficult. God is helping me avoid sin as much as possible.
Conclusions BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 16, Day 3: Hebrews 11:17-40
We can draw faith from others who have gone before us, and hearing stories of faith only serves to strengthen us. We have Jesus to hold onto, which is so much more than the early prophets, although some had God themselves in their lives. We need to be grateful every day for this.
End Notes BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 16, Day 3: Hebrews 11:17-40
Abraham obeyed the command and let God take care of the rest.
- With Isaac, we see that God’s plan wins out after all when he accidentally blessed Jacob instead of Esau, when God wanted Jacob to have the blessing.
- Jacob blessed his sons.
- Joseph went through so many trials unwavering in faith. He is a great example for all of us.
- Moses’s parents trusted God to take care of their baby when they put him in the Nile River.
- Moses chose suffering and God’s way rather than the easy life Pharaoh offered.
- Israel crossed a parted sea when probably none of them could swim, entrusting their life to God. That’s faith.
- Israel circled Jericho, making themselves look like fools, at God’s command.
- Rahab had faith in a God she barely knew.
Gideon (Judges 6-7), Barak (Judges 4), Samson (Judges 13-16) , Jephthah (Judges 11), and David all followed God, but all sinned and did not live up their potential that God had for them. However, the writer of Hebrews includes them here because weak faith is better than no faith at all.
Victorious Over Circumstances
Most of these below the Jewish Christians would have known who the writer of Hebrews was referring to.
- Subdued kingdoms: Some of these were David, Joshua, King Asa, Jehoshaphat, King Hezekiah, and King Josiah.
- Worked righteousness: Some of these were Elijah, Elisha, and the other prophets in general; King Josiah also.
- Obtained promises: Among these we could include Caleb, Gideon, and Barak.
- Stopped the mouths of lions: These include Daniel, David, and Benaiah (one of David’s mighty men).
- Quenched the violence of fire: Among these are Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
- Escaped the edge of the sword: David escaped the sword of Goliath and the sword of Saul, Moses escaped the sword of Pharaoh, and Elijah escaped the sword of Jezebel.
- Out of weakness were made strong: Among these are Sarah, Gideon, Abraham, Esther, and King Hezekiah.
- Became valiant in battle: Some of the many in this description are David, King Asa, and Jehoshaphat.
- Women who received their dead raised to life again: The Old Testament mentions at least two who fit this description, the widow of Zarepheth and the Shunamite woman.
Victorious Under Circumstances
Tortured is a brutal word in the ancient Greek language. It carries the idea “to beat with a stick or a baton.”
- Trial of mockings: Isaac endured the cruel mocking of Ishmael, and Samson was mocked at the feast of the Philistines.
- Chains and imprisonments: Joseph was cast into prison for his faith, and the evil King Ahab imprisoned the prophet Micaiah.
- They were stoned: Zechariah was stoned to death between the altar and the temple and Naboth was stoned to death by Jezebel’s henchmen.
- Sawn in two: According to tradition, Isaiah was sawn in two and killed.
Were tempted: Some think the text was corrupted here and the writer to the Hebrews originally wrote, “branded,” “burnt alive,” “mutilated,” or “strangled.” But for those who know the pain of temptation, it is not unreasonable to think that the writer regarded overcoming temptation as a true triumph of faith.
- Were slain with the sword: Eighty-five priests were murdered by Doeg, or the prophets murdered in Elijah’s day.
- Wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins: Elijah, who wore this kind humble clothing and did not mind the humility or the discomfort.
- In dens and caves of the earth: David, Elijah, and other prophets under the leadership of Obadiah were all forced to flee and hide in caves.
We Have Jesus
Since we have Jesus, we have more reason to be faithful than the ancients mentioned above. Thus, if they could have faith, so can we.
Fun fact: Clement of Rome, the earliest Christian writer outside of the Bible, was the first the see a symbol of the blood of Jesus in the scarlet cord that Rahab set outside her window (Joshua 2:18).