HEBREWS-JESUS IS BETTER
Faith Through Death
Pastor John Weathersby
Sunday August 12, 2018
There is an overarching theme here and that is, death. Death is inevitable- even this past Monday morning my sweet grandmother, Me-Mom, passed from this life. Let me read you one quote on death that I love:
“Death to a saint is nothing but the taking of a sweet flower out of this wilderness, and planting of it in the garden of paradise” – he continued […] “death is nothing but the taking of a believer fully from the stock of the first Adam and the planting him perpetually into the glorious stock, the second perfect Adam the Lord Jesus who is blessed forever” Thomas Brooks
We’ll see the Author-Pastor pointing us through faith, through death, into life.
D L Moody wrote “Some day you will read in the papers that D. L. Moody, of East Northfield, is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now”
Church, this is the true truth of the believer. Let me encourage you in this – these are bold words of alive and living men – the reality is dying is a fearful thing. Matthew Henry wrote, “death strips the soul of all the disguise wherein it appeared before men, that it may appear naked and open before God”, and this is the point today, for these Jews hearing from the Author-Pastor.
But let me encourage you in this, D.L Moody wrote about the soul being naked before God, however the Christian is found in Christ – for the believer, our hope and our faith is tied to something outside this world, something that we’ve been promised and never seen – and so We’ll see the Author-Pastor pointing us through faith, through death, into life.
He’ll point through these people who hoped in the promise, thought they’d not seen it, there hope impacted their families, and the world, and so lets take courage through in that along with these Hebrews Christians, lets take hope and faith in God’s faithful character and see what is being shown to us regarding the believers death and faith as we look at Hebrews 11:5-22.
Hebrews 11:5–22 (ESV)
5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.
6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
These people the Author-Pastor is going through are folks the Jews knew of and studied their entire lives. Abel from last week demonstrated how in your life you walk by faith, bringing the offering to God. Now Enoch of Genesis 5 caps off this list of people who’s lives ended, but his was different. Glance through Genesis 5 you’ll see if over and over, the days of this person were x years and he died. Then you hit verse 21 the pattern is different.
Enoch, it says pleased God. He walked with God; he was in communion, we can imagine with God. He lived before God flooded the earth – closer to the times of Abel and Cain, and like Abel was pleasing to God. He walked we’ll learn in Hebrews, by faith.
Genesis 9:21–23 (ESV)
21 He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent.
22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside.
So if you’re going to call me and say Pastor I did so and so, is it even possible that I’m a believer – consider what God does with the Heroes of the faith, he lets us see their flaws and faults.
Why, because all humanity is flawed and fault filled.
Please church, lets be prepared to walk together in a sinful world, as men and women tempted and tried in all ways, as people pressed by never crushed (2 Corinthians 4:8) the author is the Author-Pastor pointing us through faith, through death, into life because we can tend to only focus on the here and now.
7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
God took Noah, who lived in a world that was crazy pointed away from God, by the way – look back at the description of Noah’s world, look at Genesis Chapter 6’s beginning and you’ll see how crazy the world was!
So God told Noah to build a boat, why, Noah didn’t have all the details, but he was told to make it. He knew a judgment was coming, and so he went to make this boat – …about 120 years it took to make the Ark. When early Genesis says people walked with God, often they walked with God, not a lifetime like we think of today, but for hundreds of years.
- Abel was nipped young by his brother at 122
- Enoch was 365
- Abraham was 175
- Jacob was 147
- Sarah was 127
These were people who loved God and trusted him for things in the future. Was their faith perfect – we’re their lives perfect? Doubtful, often times scripture itself shows they didn’t live their lives blameless / perfect, and so why do we expect / demand that from ourselves?
Our faith is a trajectory, not a bull’s eye target. It’s strategic, not tactical. And the Author-Pastor encourages them by pointing through faith, through death, and on into life.
8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.
10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
Are you familiar with that story? It’s nuts – Abraham is told by God that he’ll be blessed and multiply. Abraham takes God at His word. At one point his wealth and possessions are so great he and his nephew cannot stay together – and if you look at the story in Genesis 13:5-18 you’ll see it, faith in Abraham’s life.
He walks out with his Nephew and says OK, you pick a direction, I’ll go the other direction and I’ll live wherever you don’t – he had faith that God would take care of Him. And church, as time tests your faith, it will grow too. Trust God.
That’s what he wants the Hebrews to remember; you’re making a big change here. You’re trusting Jesus who walked the earth and now is at the right Hand of God. But God is faithful, and this has always been God’s plan, in the priestly order of Melchizidek, in fact Jesus’ ministry is better than the priests – he points them through faith, through death, and into life.
Do you see that?
I’m watching this western (I like weird westerns) on Netflix called Godless. In it, the main character, a bad guy you grow to hate, is in the crazy spots, guns pointed at him, in a room full of people dying with small pox, etc – and his answer when people question his sanity is always the same “this isn’t my death, I’ve seen my death and this isn’t it”.
It changed the way he lived his life.
As if these impressive lives hadn’t been enough, he wants them to see through faith, through death and into life:
11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.
12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.
God is faithful see through faith, through death, into life.
13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
Take a second with that. Write that down, underline it, memorize it, and pray over it – God how can you make me live like this? There is power in that.
14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.
15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return.
16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
They were strangers and exiles on earth, because their home wasn’t here, by faith they understood that it was through faith, through death, that they found their home and comfort. They’re like the flower, for now in the wilderness but to be replanted.
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son,
18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”
19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.
The Author-Pastor here gives us commentary on the old story, so that we better understand Abraham’s intentions. He and Isaac, his son (this is a picture of Jesus and a type of the relationship between God and His son, Christ), Abraham knew his son Isaac was a promise and believed if he had to sacrifice Him. Yet God stops the scene – yet picks it up Himself. God Him self allows His son to be sacrificed for all, for you, but His son could not be held by death.
20 By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau.
The circumstances under which Isaac was living didn’t seem to support the promises of God, but he trusted those promises in his death and passed them on. I want to be clear, if you go back and read the story and look at the family it was like an episode of Jerry Springer – but faithfulness to the future promise was the order. Faith in spite of circumstances.
21 By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff.
22 By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.
I love this and this is why I wanted to end at 22. The author here shows the impact of a life lived in faith, in God, on the family tree with enduring hope on, beyond the early chapter.
Jacob asked for his bones to be taken out of Egypt and back to the land of Canaan – he wanted his ancestors to remember the promises. Joseph too wasn’t OK with early success (of which he enjoyed plenty), he remembered God’s promises and wanted his family pointed on to God’s plan, not to rest in riches. He had faith in God’s plan – and was now about to be replanted a flower in the wilderness now headed to the garden paradise. The Author-Pastor wants the Hebrews to remember the same, and we too should remember to live lives trusting God – lives of faith.
Church this is rich encouragement.
Our lives – are pleasing when they’re lived by faith – trusting God for decisions, like Abraham, trusting God with our worship like Abel, for blessing like Sarah, walking together like Enoch – church look through faith, past this life, at the future promises of God when we are taken from the stock of the first Adam and added to the second Adam, Jesus.
Lets live a legacy of faith – always encouraged by the future life with God – that’s where the treasure and blessings are.
Let me give you a few scriptures to hope in:
My life verse: 2 Corinthians 4:8
And as you reflect this week on the passage, consider the following:
- If the author is encouraging faith in a people who know these stories from birth – what does Genesis 22:17 and Hebrews 11:12 read together remind them?
- Why does Hebrews 11:13 feel both like it’s hanging out of place in the motif of the OT stories but also feel so appropriate in the middle of this section?
- What about it feels out of place
- What about it fits
- What about it applies to us?
- Is pastor John crazy, or is the story of Hebrews 11:20 actually like a Jerry Springer episode (see Genesis 25-27)
- What does this have to do with helping I understand their faith?
- What does this story add to how I understand my own faith?
Through Faith, Through Death, Into Life