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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Hebrews 11

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-13

Hebrews 11:1-2. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elder obtained a good report.

So it was written, in the olden time, that believers “obtained a good report;” and this second verse shows that they obtained it by their faith. The best part of the report about them is, that they believed their God, and believed all that was revealed to them by his Word and his Spirit.

Hebrews 11:3. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

The facts about creation must be the subject of faith. It is true that they can be substantiated, by the argument from design, and in other ways; still, for a wise purpose as I believe, God has not made even that matter of the creation of the universe perfectly clear to human reason, so there is room for the exercise of faith. Men like to have everything laid down according to the rules of mathematical precision, but God desires them to exercise faith; and, therefore, he has not acted according to their wishes.

Hebrews 11:4. By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

The first of the long line of martyrs triumphed by faith; and if you are to be strong to bear witness for God, you must be made strong by the same power which wrought so effectually in Abel. If, like his, your life is to be a speaking life, — a life which shall speak even out of the grave, — its voice must be the voice of faith.

Hebrews 11:5. By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death, and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

It is faith that muzzles the mouth of death, and takes away the power of the sepulcher. If any man, who had not been a believer, had been translated as Enoch was, we should have been able to point to a great feat accomplished apart from faith. It has never been so; for this, which was one of the greatest things that was ever done, — to leap from this life into another, and to overleap the grave altogether, — was only achieved “by faith.”

Hebrews 11:6-7. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet,

These are the things with which faith always deals; — not with the things that are seen or are apprehensible by the senses or the feelings.

Hebrews 11:7. Moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

So you see that faith has a condemning power towards an ungodly world. You do not need to be constantly telling worldlings that they are doing wrong; let them see clearly the evidence of your faith, for that will bear the strongest conceivable witness against their unbelief and sin, even as Noah, by his faith, “condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.”

Hebrews 11:8. By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

That is, surely, the very masterpiece of faith. God bade Abraham go forth from his native land, he believed that God knew where he was to go though he did not himself know; so he left the direction of his wanderings entirely in the Lord’s hands, and obeyed, and “went out, not knowing whither he went.” We are not to ask for full knowledge before we will be obedient to the will of the Lord; but we are to obey God in the dark, even as Abraham did.

Hebrews 11:9. By faith he adjourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:

It is one of the great evidences of true faith for her to keep on, to continue, to abide, without any visible signs or tokens of what she knows is hers. The life of faith is wonderful, but so also is the walk of faith. Her walk has much about it that is mysterious; she knows that the land she treads on belongs to her; and yet, in another sense, she cannot claim a solitary foot of it. She knows that she is at home, even as Abraham was in his own land; yet like him, she knows herself to be a sojourner in a strange land, and is quite content to be so.

Hebrews 11:10. For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

What a depth of meaning there is in those five words, “a city which hath foundation,” — as if all other cities had none! They come, and they go, as if they were molehills raised on the surface of the earth, or little mounds of sand made by the children’s wooden spades upon the seashore, which the next tide will wash away. What vast numbers of cities have been destroyed already! We are constantly picking up the relics of them, but there is, blessed be the name of the Lord, “a city which hath foundations,” a city founded on eternal power, and we are on our way to that city, I hope.

Hebrews 11:11-12. Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.

Perhaps the reference is to Abraham, who was as good as dead, being so old; or to Isaac, who was as good as dead, for he was laid upon the altar, and was practically “offered up” as a sacrifice unto the Lord. There were many deaths to work against the life of faith; yet life triumphed over death after all.

Hebrews 11:13. These all died in faith,

That is the epitaph which God has carved over the resting-place of his faithful ones: “These all died in faith.” Will this be the record concerning all of us, “These all died in faith”?

Hebrews 11:13. Not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

The chapter is a very long one so I must condense it, as the apostle himself did when he came to the 32nd verse; there was so much to be said that he added, —

This exposition consisted of readings from Hebrews 11:1-13; and Hebrews 11:32-40.


Verses 1-21

This is the triumphal arch of faith. Here we find the names of many of the heroes of faith, and a brief record of some of the battles in which they fought and conquered. May you and I possess “like precious faith” at; that of which we have here the story! We cannot enter heaven without it; we cannot fight our way through the world without it.

Hebrews 11:1. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,

It gets a grip of what it hopes for, and holds it in its hand.

Hebrews 11:1. The evidence of things not seen.

We do see by faith. We see by faith what cannot be seen by our eyes; we grasp by faith what cannot be grasped with our hands. A strange mystery is the simple act of faith.

Hebrews 11:2. For by it the elders obtained a good report.

All the godly of the olden time had a good report of God and of holy men as the result of their faith.

Hebrews 11:3. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

They were not evolved out of something else that existed before; evolution is a rank lie against revelation. The worlds were not made, not one of them was made, out of something pre-existent; but they were framed by the Word of God, and the things which are seen were not made of things which are seen.

Hebrews 11:4. By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain,

He was a better man than Cain, and his offering was a better offering than Cain’s was; but at bottom here was the difference between the two brothers, Abel had faith, and Cain had none. It was “by faith” that Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain presented.

Hebrews 11:4. By which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

What wondrous faith this is! Here is a dead man speaking. Here is a man who is slain by his brother; yet the one who is killed receives the approbation of God.

Hebrews 11:5. By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death;

Faith has conquered death itself, or else avoided it. There is scarcely anything which faith cannot do, for faith ranks itself on the side of the omnipotent God, and becomes all but omnipotent. By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death.

Hebrews 11:5-6. And was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is,

He cannot come to a God who to his own mind is non-existent; he must believe that he is.

Hebrews 11:6. And that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

You must believe that God hears prayer. You must believe that he will punish the guilty, and that he will reward the righteous. Without this sure faith, you cannot come to him.

Hebrews 11:7. By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house;

You see, faith and fear can live in the same heart; and they can work together to build the same ark. Faith and fear are very sweet companions, when the fear is filial fear, a holy dread of disobeying, God. When we are moved with that fear, our faith becomes practical.

Hebrews 11:7-8. By the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed;

He did not hesitate to leave his family, to leave his property, to leave his country; but he obeyed, “when he was called to go out into a place which be should after receive for an inheritance.”

Hebrews 11:8. And he went out, not knowing whither he went.

Faith puts her hand into God’s hand, and follows where he leads, with sweet contentment, knowing that, if she cannot see, God can, and he will not lead us wrong. Do you not remember that hymn that our Brother Chamberlain sings so sweetly?

“So on I go — not knowing, I would not if I might;

I’d rather walk in the dark with God, than go alone in the light;

I’d rather walk by faith with him, than go alone by sight.

Where he may lead, I’ll follow, My trust in him repose:

And every hour in perfect peace I’ll sing, ‘He knows! he knows!’”

Hebrews 11:9-10. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

There have been many here in this house of prayer who have looked for this city, and they have gone to it. Others of us sit waiting here till our Lord’s dear hand shall beckon us, and his voice shall say, “Come up higher.” We are looking for the city. Keep looking, beloved, there is nothing here worth looking for; but look for “a city which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God.”

Hebrews 11:11. Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

And this holy woman is enrolled among these saintly ones. Her faith was not all it ought to have been; but God saw that it was true faith, and he loved it, and he wrote the record of it.

Hebrews 11:12. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.

This is true, literally, of Abraham’s seed according to the flesh. It is also true in a spiritual sense, for he is “the father of all them that believe”, and they are a multitude whom no man can number.

Hebrews 11:13. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them,

What long arms faith has! The promises are afar off, and yet faith embraces them tonight. Embrace the promises, dear friends, and stretch out your hands by faith to hands that have gone before.

“E’en now by faith we join our hands With those that went before;

And greet the blood-besprinkled bands On the eternal shore.”

Hebrews 11:13. And confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

They not only were strangers and pilgrims, but they confessed it. Confessed faith is requisite. Oh, you who, like Nicodemus, come to Christ by night, be ashamed that you are ashamed, and come out, and boldly confess what you are!

Hebrews 11:14. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.

They were strangers and pilgrims here, and they sought a country elsewhere. Every man wants a country; and if we have not one beneath the stars, we seek it somewhere else.

Hebrews 11:15. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.

Ah, but God’s people are not mindful of that country from whence they came out! They have opportunity to return; but they have no wish to return. May God’s grace always keep any of you from turning back; for it is to turn back unto perdition! Your faces are heavenward today; keep them so. Remember the doom of any that apostatize. It is impossible, “if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance.” “If the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” Lord, keep thy servants! Hold us up, and we shall be safe.

Hebrews 11:16. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

They are not ashamed to be called God’s people, and he is not ashamed to be called their God. They are looking for a city, and he has prepared a city for them. Evidently he and they are well agreed. They want a heaven, and he is preparing heaven for them, and preparing them for heaven.

Hebrews 11:17-19. By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son. Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

This was one of the grandest achievements of faith. It was also a figure or type of God’s offering up his well-beloved Son almost on the same spot.

Hebrews 11:20-21. By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.

The staff which had helped him so often in his early pilgrimage, the staff on which he leaned when he came back from the place of his wrestling, halting on his thigh. He leaned on it as he sat upright on his death-couch, and pronounced the parting blessing. So, you see, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, all lived by faith, and did their works by faith, and distributed blessings to their children by faith. Friend, hast thou this faith, or hast thou not? If thou hast it, thou art blessed among men, blessed among women. If thou hast it not, what hope is there for thee either in this life or in eternity?


Verses 1-26

Hebrews 11:1-2. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report.

The names of those who lived in old time are handed down with commendation because of their faith. If they had had no faith, we should have had no report of them.

Hebrews 11:3. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

The world was not made out of the world. There was nothing to make it out of. It was created simply by the word of God, and our faith knows that. I question whether we should ever get in the matter of the creation beyond what is revealed to our faith. Reason is all very well, but faith mounts upon the shoulders of reason, and sees much farther than reason with her best telescope will ever be able to see. It is enough for us who have faith that God has told us how he made the world, and we believe it.

Hebrews 11:4. By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

He spoke by faith when he lived. Faith makes him speak now that he is dead. What wonders faith can work. The first saint who entered heaven entered there, it is certain, by faith. It was faith that enabled him to present an acceptable sacrifice, and it was faith that presented him to heaven. If the first who entered heaven entered there by faith, rest assured that will be true to the last; and none will enter there but those who believe.

Hebrews 11:5. By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

Beloved, if we cannot get a translation as Enoch did, let us not be content without getting God’s good pleasure as he did. Oh! that it may be said of us that we pleased God. Then we shall, one way or another, conquer death; for if we do, we shall triumph over the grave; and if Christ shall come before we die, we shall triumph in the coming of Christ. Anyhow, faith shall be more than a match for the last enemy.

Hebrews 11:6. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Do we not sometimes fail in this matter? We try to come to God without believing that he is. We seem to pray to nothing, or to nobody, to a spectre, to a phantom. But that prayer which is accepted is prayer to a real God, of whom we are assured that he is. Do we not also fail in our belief as to the success of prayer? We do not fully recognize that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. He that prays, believing that God will be found by him, shall not pray in vain. Tonight we may well say, “Lord, increase our faith.”

Hebrews 11:7. By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear,

For there is a fear which comes of faith — a fear which is the strength of faith’s arms, by which it moves us into action. It is not slavish fear. It is a fit, and proper, and reasonable fear, such as any man must have that believes God’s threatenings. “Moved with fear.”

Hebrews 11:7. Prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

Every act of faith condemns the world. Men who did not believe in God were, some of them, made to feel condemned, and others were condemned, even if they did not feel it, when they saw this holy man building a great ship upon dry land — a ship which he never would launch, but to which God would bring the sea, so that he should float over the waters deep, absolutely secure, whilst others perished. If you want to judge the wickedness of men, you need not set yourself to do it in the first place. Live a holy life, and you will judge the ungodly. I have heard it said that if there is a crooked stick, and you want to show how crooked it is, you need not waste words in description. Place a straight one by the side of it, and the thing is done directly. Noah condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

Hebrews 11:8. By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

Very easy to read about that, but not so easy to do it — to tear yourself from home and friends — to go into a totally unknown country, swarming with enemies, solely on the promise that one day that country should belong to his seed. It might be hundreds of years afterwards: but God had called him, and Abraham raised no question, but away he went.

Hebrews 11:9. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country,

Not building a house there — not becoming a citizen of it, but always dwelling there in gypsy fashion.

Hebrews 11:9. Dwelling in tabernacles

That is, in tents.

Hebrews 11:9-10. With Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

He did not build a city. He did not try to do so, “for he looked for a city which hath foundations whose builder and maker is God.”

Hebrews 11:11. Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

And that was good judgment, was it not? There is no mistake about that. Whatever difficulties may lie in the way, we may always know that he is faithful who hath promised. You are not past age, my brother. God will bless you in seeking to do good. You are not past age, my sister. Have but faith in God, and then in your old age you may bring many to the Saviour’s feet. He is faithful that has promised.

Hebrews 11:12. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead,

For he was ordered to be sacrificed. There sprung from one, and him as good as dead.

Hebrews 11:12. So many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.

Or if this text means Abraham, then his body was dead; and yet there sprang of him a seed “so many as the sand which is by the seashore innumerable.”

Hebrews 11:13. These all died in faith, not having received the promises,

By which is meant, not that they did not receive the promises, but they did not receive the things promised.

Hebrews 11:13-14. But having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.

They have not come to it yet; nor will they as long as they are here below. They are still seeking a country.

Hebrews 11:15. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.

Abraham, if he wanted to settle down, might have crossed once more the river, and gone back to Ur of Chaldees. But he did not look for a city upon earth. He was evidently looking for one somewhere else. The country that he sought was not beyond the Euphrates, but beyond the narrow stream of death.

Hebrews 11:16. But now they desire a better country,

Do you feel those desires within your heart? If not, surely you have no faith, for they that have faith in the better country desire it.

Hebrews 11:16. That is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

He might be ashamed to be called their God if he had unsettled them, and made them long for another city, and yet had never prepared one for them. The longings of the saints are but prophecies of the benediction of God. That which he makes us hunger for, is prepared. The bread of life shall be given us, and that country which he makes us seek, exists, and will be found of us. Wherefore keep your face that way, and let every longing and pining for the home country reassure you that this is not any dreamland, but that there is such a place.

Hebrews 11:17-19. By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son. Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

Faith does not always account. She is satisfied with God’s word. But when she does account, then she is great at accounts, for here is a man who had not heard of the resurrection from the dead, yet believing in it. Christ had not risen from the dead. There had been no such chapter for Abraham to read as that wonderful one, the fifteenth chapter of the first Epistle to Corinthians; and yet his faith seemed to have a revelation within itself. God must keep his promise. Therefore, if I, in obedience to him, put the promised seed to death, God can raise him up, for he must keep his promise. He cannot lie.

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

Blind as he was, he could see more than many that have good eyes, for he had the eyes of faith. There is no end to the blessing that faith can bestow upon others. A believing man can bless his children. I believe in the blessings of good men. Why should I not? If they are believers, they have power with God. Their wishes are prayers. Their prayers are heard. Their blessings then are realities.

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.

That wonderful staff on which he leaned when he came out of Jabbok —that wonderful staff with which he crossed this Jordan in his poverty, but after which he became two bands.

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.

Faith touches all sense of things — even a funeral and bones, too, for faith is good at everything. She can sweep the house and seek diligently. She can enter heaven. She can go to the gates of death. Oh! for more of it!

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.

Their faith made them hide him, for that faith laid hold of God, and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment.

Hebrews 11:24-26. By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.


Verses 1-40

First, a definition of faith.

Hebrews 11:1-3. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

There was no pre-existent matter, the world was made by God’s word, so that prior to the things which are seen, there existed that which is not seen. We, dear friends, when we are trusting in the unseen God, are going back to first principles, we are getting to that which is the essence and the source of all. The next verse illustrates the worship of faith.

Hebrews 11:4. By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

There is no worshipping God aright, except by faith. The most gorgeous ceremonies are as nothing in his sight; it is the faith of the heart which he accepts. Next we read of the reward of faith.

Hebrews 11:5-6. By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

See this reward then; it pleases God, and that is reward enough far anyone of us. Next see faith’s safety.

Hebrews 11:7. By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

Faith can outlive a deluge which drowns the whole world. She hath an Ark even when God’s wrath sweeps all the rest away. Next we learn the obedience of faith.

Hebrews 11:8-10. By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed: and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Here you have the expectation of faith. Faith does not live on things seen; she lives on something yet to come. That which is to come she regards as eternal, not like a mere tent in which she dwells here, but a city that hath foundations, fixed and firm. Next we see the strength of faith, that strength seen in the deadness of nature.

Hebrews 11:11-13. Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar of, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

That is a rich word, they “embraced them.” They were far off, and yet faith brought them so near that they seemed to receive them to their hearts and feel the comfort of them. Here is the confession of faith.

Hebrews 11:14-19. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

Here you have the triumph of faith, one of the greatest victories that was ever achieved by faith, when a man was willing, at God’s command, to offer up his son, his only son, his son according to promise, his son in whom all the covenant was to be fulfilled. In the 20th verse you get the discernment of faith, faith foreseeing: —

Hebrews 11:20-21. By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.

You remember ‘his discernment, how he crossed his hands willingly that he might lay the right hand upon the younger son. Faith is always giving blessings to others, and she knows which way to give them, for God maketh her wondrously quick of heart and quick of eye.

Hebrews 11:22-23. By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel: and gave commandment concerning his bones. 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.

Here is the courage of faith: —

Hebrews 11:24-25. By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son. of Pharaoh’s daughter: Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season:

Here is the choice of faith: —

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

Here is the judgment of faith, by which she judges wisely, choosing rather to be reproached for Christ than to reign with the world.

Hebrews 11:27-28. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. Through faith he kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.

Here, again, you have the obedience of faith, taking God’s precepts and carrying them out.

Hebrews 11:29. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.

There you have the difference between faith and presumption: faith goes through the sea, presumption is drowned in the sea.

Hebrews 11:30. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.

Here are the weapons of faith, the warfare of faith, with nothing but her ram’s horn trumpet she encompasses the giant walls of the city, and down they fall.

Hebrews 11:31. By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

Here you have faith uniting itself with the people of God: she perished not with them that believed not, for she had come out from among them and allied herself with the people of God by receiving the spies.

Hebrews 11:32-35. And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae: of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance: that they might obtain a better resurrection:

O the victories of faith.! When faith takes to working, how mightily she works.

Hebrews 11:36-37. And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented:

You have seen the works of faith and the sufferings of faith; now you see God’s estimate of faith. He counts the believing man to be far beyond the rest of mankind.

Hebrews 11:38-39. (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:

It lay in the future to them far more than it does to us, for Christ has now come, and we look hack to that glorious appearing of our Lord and Saviour, but they had altogether to look forward.

Hebrews 11:40. God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

For it never was God’s intention that any part of his church should be able to do without the rest of it, so that those who lived before the time of Christ cannot do without us; neither can we do without them.


Verses 32-40

Hebrews 11:32. And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:

There are some names, in this chapter, which we should hardly have expected to see there, the characters mentioned having been so disfigured by serious faults, and flaws, and failings; but the distinguishing feature of faith was there in every instance, and especially in the case of Samson. Perhaps there was no more childlike faith, in any man, than there was in him; who but a man full of faith would have hurled himself upon a thousand men with no weapon in his hand but the jawbone of an ass? There was a wondrous confidence in God in that weak, strong man, which though it does not excuse his faults, yet nevertheless puts him in the ranks of the believers. Happy is the man or woman who believeth in God. There were multitudes of others, beside those whom the apostle named, —

Hebrews 11:33. Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness,

Is that as great an exploit as subduing kingdoms? Yes, that it is; to have, by faith, preserved a holy character, in such a world of temptation as this, is a far grander achievement than to have conquered any number of kingdoms by force of arms.

Hebrews 11:33-34. Obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong,

Do you notice how, every now and then, there is the mention of a feat which seems altogether beyond you; but then there follows one, in which you can be a partaker with these heroes and heroines of faith? It may be that you have never “quenched the violence of fire;” yet, often enough, it has been true of you that, by faith, “out of weakness” you have been “made strong.” Others —

Hebrews 11:34-35. Waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:

What wondrous faith it was which sustained the saints under the awful tortures to which they were subjected! The story harrows one’s heart even to read it; what must it have been actually to endure?

Hebrews 11:36-39. And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:

These worthies lived before Christ came; but, since then, equally noble exploits have been performed by the heroes and heroines of faith. The Christian martyrs have shown the extremity of human endurance when they have been sustained by faith; and the head-roll of Christian heroes, since their Lord ascended to heaven, is longer and even brighter than that of the faithful ones who came before them in the earlier dispensation.

Hebrews 11:40. God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

The new dispensation is necessary to complete the old, the New Testament is the complement of the Old Testament, and New Testament saints join hands with Old Testament elders. Let us all be worthy of our high pedigree; and may God grant that, if the saints of these latter days are to perfect the history of the Church of Christ, the end may not be less heroic than the beginning was! A true poem should gather force as it grows, and its waves of thought should roll in with greater power as it nears its climax; so should the mighty poem of faith’s glorious history increase in depth and power as it gets nearer to its grand consummation, that God may be glorified yet more and more, through all his believing children. So may it be! Amen.

This exposition consisted of readings from Hebrews 11:1-13; and Hebrews 11:32-40.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/hebrews-11.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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