Life is tough. No matter how we slice it, life can beat us down. We can be overwhelmed with financial concerns. We can be waylaid by health setbacks. Our friends and family tell us to give up on our faith during tough times.
Yet, we can have faith in God during tough times. It is by keeping faith with God during tough times that we are able to live. We are inspired to keep faith with God by looking at Abraham. The promise from God that Abraham received took years to arrive. The promise included a son and an inheritance. Abraham received the son. However, Abraham died still looking “forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” That is faith.
The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews gives us the definition of faith. The writer describes faith as: “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (11:1) It is this definition which sets the stage for what has been called the “Hall of Faith.” The writer of Hebrews is encouraging the believers to keep living their faith. The believers had been abused and persecuted. They had compassion for prisoners and even accepted the plundering of their possessions! It is by keeping faith with God that we receive a great reward. Abraham responded to God in faith.
A. Faith is our response to God (11:8-10)
2. He didn’t know where he was going, but trusted the one who sent him
3. Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob stayed in tents in the promised land
4. The permanent would come from God
5. People have been wandering this earth, living in tents, for thousands of years. Some people just like to wander. Some people are not allowed to live in a place with a foundation. For Abraham, it wasn’t time yet for him to settle down. Sometimes faith in God is like that, we cannot settle down until we receive what God has for us. Thankfully, we have much we can receive by faith from God.
B. Abraham and Sarah received the promised heir (11:11-16)
1. Abraham was 75 when he received the promise from God (Gen. 12:4)
2. Abraham was 99 when he became part of the covenant with God (Gen. 17:1)
3. Abraham was 100 & Sarah was 90 years old when Isaac was born
4. By faith – through time and moving around in tents
5. God had promised – Abraham knew God as being faithful
6. Abraham knew he was a “stranger and a foreigner on the earth”
7. They could have returned to Ur (11:15)
8. Abraham, Sarah, and others desired a better country, a heavenly one!
9. God has prepared a city for them
a. God lives in a “high and holy place” (Isaiah 57:15)
b. Jesus prepares this place for us (John 14:2, 3)
c. There is a new heaven & a new earth for the faithful (Rev. 21:1)
d. We get to live in glorified bodies when this new heaven and the new earth arrive (Rev. 21:2)
e. In the meantime, we learn the ways of God here so we can live the ways of God then and there
10. Can we keep faith with God for 25 years? Can we keep faith with God for 100 years? We can when we know God is faithful. We may be waiting for that better country. But we don’t stop living our years here and now. We live here and now by faith. Our living changes as we follow the God whom is faithful. The idea is that as we are looking “forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God,” we are ready to live with God. We can be faithful to God. We can know God is faithful to us. How did Abraham know that God is faithful?
C. A father offers up a son (11:17-19)
1. This is a parable of God and His Son (a parable has one point)
2. By faith, when tested, Abraham offered up Isaac
3. Even though many descendants would be born through this only son
4. God can raise one from the dead – Abraham received Isaac back!
5. God the Father raised his only Son from the dead – Jesus Christ!
6. Isaac being offered up is a parable about a father giving up his son, then receiving that son back from the dead. Maybe we don’t know how faithful God is because we haven’t offered up our “Isaac” to God. Jesus has called us to follow him. We have a picture in our minds of “the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” Maybe we will get into that city. Maybe we won’t get into that city. Maybe we are to offer up our desires for that city and receive what God has for us.
God is faithful. Abraham had assurance that God would provide what he said he would. Abraham had the conviction that God would provide what he promised, even though Abraham had not seen what was promised.
Will we be found faithful to God? If we are holding onto what we can offer to God, then we won’t be found faithful to God. That’s right. We have made our own foundations, even settled in where we are. Maybe God wants us to trust him, even when things are settled in our lives.
As the children learned that they can be one of Abraham’s children, so can we adults. All it takes is faith in God. Will we all place our faith in God, even when we don’t know where God will send us? Will we place our faith in God, even when we are to offer up our “Isaac”?