Hebrews 11


1 Now faith is the substance (so Authorized Version, with marginal readings,

“or ground, or, confidence”) of things hoped for, the evidence of things

not seen.”  On the senses in which the word ὑπόστασις  - hupostasis substance

may be used, see under ch.1:2. As to the sense intended here, views differ. There

are three possible ones, expressed in the

text and margin of the Authorized Version., substance, ground, and confidence.

The first is understood by the Fathers generally, the idea being supposed to be that,

inasmuch as things not yet experienced, but only hoped for, become real to

us by faith, faith is metaphysically their substance, as substantiating them to

us.  Chrysostom illustrates thus: “The resurrection has not yet taken place, but

faith substantiates (ὑφίστησιν huphistaesin) it in our souls.” So also Dante,

following St. Thomas Aquinas, in a striking passage quoted by Delitzsch

(‘Paradise,’ 24:70-75) —


 “The things profound

That here vouch safe to me their apparition

From all eyes here below are so concealed

That all their being is in faith alone,

Upon the which high hope doth base itself:

And therefore faith assumes the place of substance.”


The rendering ground, which involves only the simpler idea of faith being

the foundation on which hope is built, has not much support from the use

of the word elsewhere, nor does it seem suitable here. For it is not the

things hoped for, but rather our hopes of them that are grounded on our

faith. The subjective sense, confidence, or assurance, is most in favor with

modern commentators, principally as being the most usual one (compare

ch. 3:14; II Corinthians 9:4; 11:17; also Ezekiel 19:5, ἀπώλετοὑπόστασις αυτης

apoleto hae hupostasis autaesher hope was lost -  Ruth 1:12, ἔστιν μοι

ὑπόστασις του γενηθῆναί με ἀνδρὶ - estin moi hupostasis tou genaethaenai me andri

I have hope, if I should even have a husband tonight).  One objection to this sense

of the word here is that it is usually followed, when so intended, by a genitive of

the person, not of the thing; though Ruth 1:12 is an instance to the contrary.

But apart from this consideration, the consensus of the Greek Fathers is a weighty

argument for the retention of the rendering of the Authorized Version.  Either

rendering, be it observed, gives the same essential meaning, though under different

mental conceptions. Faith is further said to be the evidence of things not seen;

ἔλεγχος  - elegchosconviction; evidence; reproof - meaning, not as some take it,

inward conviction of their existence, but in itself a demonstration, serving the

purpose of argument to induce conviction. So Dante, in continuation of the passage

quoted above:


                                    “And from this credence it is fit and right

To syllogize, though other sight be none:

Therefore faith holds the place of argument.”


Is this meant as a definition of faith, or only a description of its effect and

operation, with especial regard to the subject in hand? Virtually a

definition, though not in the strict logical form of one. At any rate, the

constituents and essential characteristics of faith are here laid down; i.e. of faith

in its most general sense — that of belief in such things, whether past, present,

or future, as are not known by experience, and cannot be logically demonstrated.

Faith, in the general sense indicated, is and has ever been, as the chapter goes

on to show, the very root and inspiring principle of all true religion. And be it

observed that, if well grounded, it is not irrational; it would rather be irrational

to disregard it, or suppose it opposed to reason. Even in ordinary affairs of life,

and in science too, men act, and must act, to a great extent on faith; it is essential

for success, and certainly for all great achievements — faith in the testimony and

authority of others whom we can trust, faith in views and principles not yet

verified by our own experience, faith in the expected outcome of right proceeding,

faith with respect to a thousand things which we take on trust, and so make

ventures, on the ground, not of positive proof, but of more or less assured

conviction. Religious faith is the same principle, though exercised in a

higher sphere; and it may be as well grounded as any on which irreligious

men are acting daily. Various feelings and considerations may conspire to

induce it: the very phenomena of the visible universe, which, though

themselves objects of sense, speak to the soul of a Divinity beyond them

(Psalm 19:1-6); still more, conscience, recognized as a Divine voice within us,

and implying a Power above us to whom we are responsible; then all our strange

yearnings after ideals not yet realized, our innate sense that righteousness

ought to triumph over iniquity, as in our disordered world it does not yet;

— which things are in themselves prophetic; and, in addition to all this, the

general human belief in Deity. And when, FURTHER, A REVELATION

HAS BEEN GIVEN,  its answering to our already felt needs and aspirations,

together with the usual considerations on which we give credence to testimony,

induces faith in it also, and in the things by it revealed; natural faith is thus

confirmed, and faith in other verities is borne in upon the soul; which is

further itself confirmed by experience of the effects of entertaining it. In

some minds, as is well known, and these of the highest order, such faith

may amount to certitude, rendering the “things unseen” more real to them

than “the things that do appear.” It cannot be said that to accept such faith

as evidence is contrary to reason; our not doing so would be to put aside as

meaning nothing the deepest, the most spiritual, the most elevating

faculties of our mysterious nature, by means of which, no less than by our

other faculties, we are constituted so as to apprehend THE TRUTH!   And

we may observe, lastly, that even to those who have not themselves this

“fullness of faith,” its very existence in others, including so many of the

great and good, may surely be rationally accepted as evidence of realities

corresponding to it.


2 “For by it (i.e. faith, ἐν ταύτῃ -  en tautaein this) the elders obtained

a good report.” literally were witnessed of; i.e. it was in respect of their faith,

which inspired their deeds, that they were praised. (For a similar use of the

preposition ἐν, compare I Corinthians 11:22, ἐπαινέσω ἐν τουτῳ - epaineso

en toutoshall I praise in this). Thus is introduced the illustrative review of

Old Testament instances, the purpose of which has been explained above.

It begins from the beginning, Abel being the first example. But in the Old

Testament the account of the creation precedes that first recorded instance;

and, therefore, it is in the first place fittingly referred to, the existence of an

unseen creative power mentally perceived beyond things visible, being the

 primary article — the very foundation — of all religious faith (compare v. 6).


3 “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of

God, so that things which are seen (or, that which is seen) were not made of

things which do appear.” “By the word of God” has reference to “and God said,”

of Genesis 1, which chapter enunciates the primary article of all definite religions

faith, viz. the existence and operation of God, as the unseen Author of the visible

universe. Even without a revelation to declare this, faith’s office is to

apprehend it from observation of the phenomena themselves; as is

intimated in Romans 1:20, where even to the Greek the invisible

things of God from the creation of the world” are said to be “clearly seen,

being understood [νοούμενα nooumenabeing understood: compare νοοῦμεν

nooumenwe understand - in the passage before us] by the things that are made,

even His eternal power and Godhead.” The drift of both passages is the same, viz.

this, and no more — that faith recognizes an unseen power and Godhead behind,

 and accounting for, the seen universe.  Commentators, who — taking μὴ ἐκ

φαινομένων mae ek phainomenon -  no out of appearing; of being apparent –

as equivalent to ἐκ μὴ φαινομένων ek mae phainomenon - , and hence seeking

to explain what is meant by “nonapparent things” — perceive here a reference

either to the formless void (Genesis 1:2) out of which the present creation was

made, or to the Platonic conception of eternal ideas in the Divine mind, read

into the text what is not there.



The Nature and Power of Faith (vs. 1-3)


In the close of the previous chapter, the apostle has spoken of faith as the

principle of spiritual life, and the spring of patient endurance. He has

quoted a great saying from Habakkuk, “The just shall live by faith;” and he

now proceeds to vindicate its truth in a series of brilliant biographical

illustrations. First of all, however, the apostle supplies a theoretic definition

or description of saving faith.


  • THE NATURE OF FAITH. (v. 1.) Faith is a natural principle of the

mind. All men exercise it with regard to earthly things. But spiritual faith

has for its objects a higher class of realities — the truths of religion

revealed in the Bible. In the text this faith is looked at in the most general

and comprehensive way. It is viewed, not so much as an act, but as a state

of mind, and as antithetical to sight.


Ø      Faith is the eye of the soul. It is the conviction of things not seen”

the organ by which we look upon the invisible and the eternal. And,

if faith is the eye, THE BIBLE IS THE EYE-GLASS  through which

faith looks. The objects of spiritual faith are all supernaturally revealed

truths — “the things of God,” (I Corinthians 2:11),  the things of the

Spirit.”  (Ibid. v. 14).  These embrace all the great truths concerning:


o       God,

o       man,

o       the way of salvation,

o       the Church,

o       the last things.


The believer’s conviction of these “things not seen” rests upon the

testimony of God, given not only outwardly — by the lips and pens of

inspired men, but inwardly — by the witness of the Spirit Himself

within the soul. “Seeing is believing” in the world of sense; but in

the domain of faith this maxim is reversed, for in spiritual things

“believing is seeing.”  (“Except a man be born again, he cannot

see the kingdom of God.”  - John 3:3 – I consider this both

figuratively and in reality! – CY – 2014)


Ø      Faith is the hand of the soul. It is “the confidence of things hoped for.”

The universe of the unseen contains those glorious realities which are the

objects of spiritual hope. And THOSE REALITIES FAITH GRASPS.

 Saving faith is appropriating faith. The “things hoped for” are all

involved in the coming of Christ’s kingdom, which shall bring with it

the final triumph of truth over error, and of good over evil. They

include also, in subordination to this crowning hope, whatever is

necessary for the spiritual cleansing and culture and comfort of the

individual believer; as e.g.:


o       the forgiveness of sins,

o       peace with God,

o       victory over indwelling evil,

o       growing likeness to Christ,

o       the communion of saints, and

o       the prospect of a blessed immortality.


The man whose heart reposes on these hopes will be no longer

dominated by the things “which are seen” and “temporal.”

(II Corinthians 4:18)  He will become heavenly-minded.

His faith will make him the longer the more humble, pure,

laborious, courageous, meek, long-suffering, forgiving.

“The just shall live by faith.”



author specifies, as one of the great objects of faith, what is really the

fundamental truth of all religion, as it is also the first utterance of

revelation (Genesis 1:1) — the doctrine of the creation of the world by

THE LIVING GOD!   For our knowledge of this truth we are indebted

exclusively to the Bible. Human theories regarding the origin of the

universe have been mere conjectures. Heathen philosophers have dreamed

of the eternal existence of matter; or they have taught, in some form or other,

the doctrine “that what is seen hath been made out of things which do

appear.” UNAIDED REASON  has never ascended by the steps of the

design-argument up to nature’s God.”  (It is still fumblingly argued

by secularists in the 21st century in their efforts to undermine and

thwart Creationism.  (Two passages of scripture come to mind:


o       “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh:  the Lord shall

have them in derision.”  (Psalm 2:4)

o       “Ever learning,  and never coming to the knowledge of

the truth.  Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses,

so do these also resist the truth:  men of corrupt minds,

reprobate concerning the faith.  But they shall proceed no

further:  for their folly shall BE MANIFEST TO ALL MEN,

as theirs also was.”  II Timothy 3:7-9 – CY – 2014)


Paley’s famous illustration of the watch suggests a conclusive syllogism

only to the Christian theist. What, then, does the apostle assert here

regarding creation?


Ø      That all that exists in time and space was skillfully framed and

finished by a simple fiat of the Almighty.


Ø      That it follows that the universe was not formed out of any pre-existing

materials whatsoever, but was CREATED BY GOD OUT OF

NOTHING! The question of the mode in which “the worlds have

been framed” is one, when regarded from the spiritual point of view,

of very slight importance. It matters little whether “what is seen”

assumed its present form in connection with a series of creative acts,

or by a process of evolution. What faith lays stress on is this, that

the universe is in no sense self-existent, but owes its genesis to the

will of a personal Creator. Ancient paganism deified the power of

nature, and atheistic evolution in our own time sees in matter the

“promise and potency” of all life. But the candid, sober confession of

science still is, that “behind and above and around the phenomena of

matter and of force, remains the unsolved mystery of the universe.”

Now, revelation explains this mystery. The doctrine of A PERSONAL

CREATOR  is the foundation-doctrine of FAITH!   If this truth be

accepted, it follows that miracles are possible, and that a supernatural

revelation is not an unlikely blessing. If God has made us in Hhis own

image, then surely we are heirs of immortality; and, although we have

gone astray from Him, peradventure He may hear us when we call upon

Him, and may graciously receive us back into His favor.



“things not seen” and “hoped for” control the life of the believer. They

engage his attention. They call forth his energies. They mold his habits.

They direct his affections. The conviction and the confidence which make

his character what it is are grounded, not upon knowledge, but upon

testimony. This truth receives splendid illustration in the lives of the saints

who lived during the twilight before the rise of the Sun of righteousness.

(Malachi 4:2)  “The elders” are the Hebrew fathers, and “the world’s gray

fathers” of antediluvian times. They trusted in a Savior who was yet only

“hoped for,” and in a sacrifice for sin that was “not seen. Although they

lived so very long ago, and although the truth which they rested on was

still but imperfectly developed, yet theirs was saving faith, and it was

vigorous, valiant, victorious. For, faith is the belief of a Divine testimony,

whatever that testimony may be. Under every dispensation the believer has

ventured his eternal interests upon THE BARE WORD OF GOD!  “The

elders had witness borne to them,” i.e. the approving testimony of God and

His Word. And the apostle proceeds, in the verses which follow, to name

some of these illustrious eiders, and to show that their excellence of character

was due to the moral power of their faith. This chapter, accordingly, may

be said to point out some of the great constellations which blazed in the

firmament of the Jewish dispensation. Or it may be compared to a national

picture gallery of the soldiers of faith, and their battles. Or its verses may be

likened to the epitaphs on the ancient monuments in the fair and venerable

abbey of the Old Testament Church. In conclusion, have we this faith? The

assent of the intellect to Bible truth is not enough. Faith for us means

personal trust in A PERSONAL SAVIOUR!  Spiritual faith is a grace;

it is GOD-GIVEN!  Only the Holy Spirit can enable us to be guided, in

our whole walk and conduct, by the unseen and eternal realities.


4 “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by

which i.e. faith, not sacrifice, “faith” being the ruling idea of the whole passage)  

he obtained witness (literally, was witnessed of) that he was righteous, God

testifying (literally, witnessing upon, or, in respect to) of his gifts: and by it (faith)

he being dead yet speaketh.”  In the traditions preserved in Genesis of the dim

and distant antediluvian period, three figures stand out prominently as

representing the righteous seed in the midst of growing evilAbel,

Enoch, and Noah. These are, therefore, first adduced with the view of

showing that it is in respect of faith that they are thus distinguished in the

sacred record. With respect to Abel, it is not necessary to inquire or

conjecture whether the bloody character of his offering is to be considered

as constituting its superior excellence. The record in Genesis simply

represents the two brothers as offering each what he had to offer in

accordance with his occupation and pursuits, the only difference being that

Abel is said to, have offered his firstlings and the fat thereof, while nothing

is said of Cain having brought his first fruits or his best. Then, in the

account of the result, we are only told that unto one the LORD had

respect, and not to the other, without mention of the reason why. It is

usual to find a reason in the nature of Abel’s offering as signifying

atonement, and to suppose his faith manifested in his recognition of the

need of such atonement, signified to him, as has been further supposed, by

Divine command. This view of the intention of the narrative is indeed

suggested by the description of what his offering was, viewed in the light

of subsequent sacrificial theory; but it is not apparent in the narrative taken

by itself, or in the reference to it in the passage before us. The

acceptableness of the offering is here simply attributed, as of necessity, to

the faith of the offerer, without any intimation of how that faith had been

evinced. And with this view of the matter agrees the record itself, where it

is said that “unto Abel and his offering the LORD had respect;” i.e. to Abel

first, and then to his offering — the offering was accepted because Abel

was, not Abel on account of his kind of offering. “And he being dead,” etc.,

refers plainly to Genesis 4:10, “The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto

me from the ground.” The same voice of innocent blood, which appealed

at the beginning of human history to the God of righteousness, cries still

through all the ages; it sounds in our own ears now, telling us that faith

prevails on high, and that “right dear in the sight of the LORD is the death

of His saints.” (Psalm 116:15)  Compare ch. 12:24 for an allusion again to the

cry of the blood of Abel. The word λαλεῖν laleinto speak .is there also used,

supporting the reading λαλεῖ. – lalei -  speaketh, rather than the λαλειται laleitai -

speaketh of the Textus Receptus here. 



The Sacrifice of Abel (v. 4)


“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice,” etc. The text

brings before our notice three chief points.



unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.” This superiority was

manifest in that Abel selected the best of his flock for his offering, while

Cain does not appear to have made any such selection, but to have offered

that which was most readily obtained.  Abel is very particular in the matter

of his sacrifice; not any of the flock that comes first to hand, but the firstlings.

Neither did he offer the lean of them to God, and save the fat for himself,

but gives God the best of the best. But of Cain’s offering no such care is

recorded to be taken by him. When the heart is right even the best of our

possessions will seem too poor to offer unto God.


Ø      In the spirit of the offerer.  “By faith Abel offered.” This is the grand

distinction. Abel had faith in God, while it is clearly implied that Cain

had not. Abel seems to have been humble; Cain was manifestly proud

and presumptuous. This is clear from his anger at the non-acceptance

of his offering, and his dreadful daring in bandying words with Jehovah.

How could an offering from such a character be acceptable to God? In

His sight it is not the material but the moral and spiritual qualities that

determine the worth or worthlessness of an offering. “The sacrifices of

God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou

wilt not despise.”  (Psalm 51:17)  “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.”

(Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:6-8; Matthew 9:13; 12:7)  “Therefore if thou

bring thy gift to the altar,” etc. (Ibid. ch.5:23-24).



he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts.”


Ø      The matter of this testimony. “That he was righteous.” He was a true

believer in God, a sincere and humble worshipper of Him, an upright

and honorable man. Our Lord spake of him as “Abel the righteous;”

and John says that his works were righteous. “Jehovah had respect

unto Abel and to his offering.”

Ø      The matter of this testimony.  (Abel presented an animal from his

flock while Cain offered the work of his hands.   Surely there

was some important significance in God clothing Adam and Eve

after their sins with animal skins, intimating a sacrifice of blood.

CY – 2014)



dead yet speaketh.” By reason of his faith his life is a permanent power for

good to men. He speaks to us truths of the greatest importance; e.g.:


Ø      That God will graciously accept the worship of sinners when it is

offered in a right spirit.

Ø      That faith is essential to the true spirit of worship. By faith Abel

offered unto God,” etc. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him,”

(v. 6)

Ø      That when the true spirit of worship exists MAN WILL OFFER

HIS BEST TO GOD! Abel offered of the firstlings of his flock

 and of the fat thereof.”  When we feel aright toward God we shall

humbly and heartily present unto Him the best of our thoughts,

affections, services, and possessions.


  • THE EXTENT OF ABEL’S FAITH. It cost him his life. He died

through it. The first example of faith that the writer finds is one where the

believer loses his life through his faith. Moreover, he loses his life through

faith that had Divine testimony borne to it. God makes it plain that He

accepts the true obedience, but He does not preserve the natural life of him

whom He thus accepts. The path of faithful obedience may be the path to

natural death.


  • CAIN’S UNBELIEF. By the results of that unbelief Cain still speaks.

He did not believe that a sin offering was needed. Then came the results of

the unbelief.


Ø      Non-acceptance of what he did offer.

Ø      Consequent envy and malice of his brother, who had been witnessed to

as righteous.

Ø      Malice leads to actual murder.

Ø      Cain, filled with remorse, looses the links that bind him to his fellow

men. Abel’s faith has to be looked at, not only in its results to him,

but in contrast with the results of Cain’s unbelief.


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.”   literally, hath

been witnessed of that he had been well-pleasing to God. The allusion is,

of course, to the testimony in Genesis (5:24), the Septuagint being closely

followed, which has, καί εὐηρέστησεν Ἐνώχ τῳ θεῷ καί οὐκ ηὑρίσκετο διότι

μετέθηκεν αὐτὸνθεός kai euaerestaesen Enoch to Theo kai ouk haeurisketo

 dioti metethaeken auton ho Theos  Enoch was very pleasing to God, and was

not found, because God took him away whereas the literal translation of our

Hebrew text is, “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, because God

took him.”



The Character and the Translation of Enoch (v. 5)


By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death,” etc. That

Enoch should immediately succeed Abel in this record of the ancient

heroes of faith is not a little significant. How remarkable is “the contrast

between the fate of Abel and Enoch! The one was crushed to the earth by

the hand of a brutal and ferocious murderer; the other was conveyed to

heaven, most likely by the ministry of some benevolent intelligence. The

one met death in its most repulsive form, and will probably be the longest

tenant in the sepulcher; the other entirely escaped it, and was the first to

possess the happiness of perfect and immortal humanity. There is

something instructive in these characters being placed side by side on the

page of revelation. The contrast seems to furnish an illustration of the

mysterious diversities of fact and circumstance, which are perpetually

occurring in the moral government of God.” Our text brings before us:



translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” It is a great and

blessed thing that it is possible for man to please God. We know that we

have grieved Him by our many and heinous sins; and it is a fact full of

encouragement that we may so live as to yield him positive satisfaction. In

His infinite condescension He is so interested in us that our character and

conduct are viewed by Him either with delight or with sorrow. That man

should please God implies:


Ø      A revelation of His will. Enoch had no portion of the sacred Scriptures.

His revelation of God was small and dim as compared with ours. But

evidently he believed in the existence of the Supreme Being, was

convinced “that He is,” and he knew something of His holy will.

We live in the clear and full light of DIVINE REVELATION!

 “God hath spoken unto us in His Son.” We know without any

uncertainty what to do and what not to do, if we would please God.


Ø      Personal sympathy with Him. The moral separation which sin causes

between the soul and God had been removed in the case of Enoch.

The consciousness of the Divine presence was not painful to him,

but blessed. “Enoch walked with God.” The will of God must have

appeared to him not tyrannical or harsh, but reasonable and gracious;

for otherwise his life could not have been brought into such relations

with it as would please God. And still moral sympathy with Him is an

indispensable condition of pleasing Him. While we regard Him with

suspicion or distrust, while we esteem His commandments as grievous,

our lives cannot be viewed by Him with complacency. As a first step

towards pleasing God we must heartily “receive the reconciliation”

which He offers to us IN JESUS CHRIST!

(Romans 5:10-11).


Ø      Sincere effort to do His will. To know and approve the will of God

without cordial and continuous effort to conform to it cannot be

pleasing to God. Enoch embodied his religious knowledge in his

practical life; he translated his convictions into actions. And so must

every one who would please God (compare John 14:21-24; James 1:25).

It was by faith that Enoch pleased God. He walked by faith, not by

sight.   (This contemporary Christianity seems to have trouble with? –

CY – 2014)  The Lord Jesus Christ presents to us the supreme and

 perfect example of  pleasing God.   “I do always those things that

please Him.”  (John 8:29)  His joy was to do the will of Him who sent

Him. Twice the Father testified of Him from heaven, “This is my

beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased:  hear ye Him.”  (Matthew

3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 9:35 – at His baptism and at His Transfiguration) 

Him the Father ever viewed with infinite complacency, He is also the

Reconciler of man unto God. Moreover, “He giveth power to the faint,

 and to them that have no might He increaseth strength”  (Isaiah 40:29), 

that they may please God in their lives. Let us trust Him, accept Him,

and imitate Him.



Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and he was not found,

because God had translated him.” Notice two points.


Ø      The nature of this translation. We have no means of satisfying all the

inquiries which curiosity may make as to how this man of God was

translated; but we may bring together a little of the light which the

Scriptures shed upon it. It is certain that he did not pass from earth

by the same way as other men; that he entered heaven without passing

through “the gates of death.” But his body must have undergone

some great change; for “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom

of heaven.”  (I Corinthians 15:50)   This change was probably similar

to that which is reserved for those who are alive at the coming of

our Lord.We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,” etc.

 (Ibid. vs.50-54). Paul says, “There is a natural body, and there is

 a spiritual body.” What the properties and

characteristics of the spiritual body are we know not as yet. But we think

that the body of Enoch was spiritualized by God. Its vital relations with

earth were severed; it underwent an essential change or changes.

Previously it was mortal and corruptible; then it became immortal and

incorruptible. Previously it was of the earth, earthy; then it became of

heaven, heavenly. So changed was it that Enoch was no longer fit for

earth; his body, as well as his spirit, unable to find its true sphere on earth,

rose heavenward, Godward. His body was so refined and purified by

God as to be capable of the blessedness and glory of heaven. And thus

“he was not; for God took him.” (Genesis 5:24)  “He was not found,

because God translated him.”


Ø      The design of this translation. Why was Enoch thus removed from



o       His translation was a distinguished honor and reward to Enoch

himself.  By it he was taken from that dark wickedness and

daring blasphemy (Jude 14-15) which must have been so

painful to a soul in sympathy with God, as was Enoch’s. But

two men of all the departed myriads have been honored by God

with a triumphant entrance into Paradise without passing

through the gloomy portals of death. Of these, Enoch was one.

(Elijah the other – CY – 2014)  His character was extraordinary,

and extraordinary was his reward. There is a beautiful propriety in

such a reward for such a life. It is remarkable that the only two

men who passed from this world without tasting of death were

distinguished as prophets fearless in rebuking evil-doers and

asserting the Divine claims, and each in an age of dominant

wickedness. And it would seem that their translation was a

decided testimony from Heaven that he who stands unmoved,

 though alone, for God, is the man whom the King delights

to honor.


o       His translation was fitted to impress beneficially the men of

that age.  Enoch was a prophet to a race of daring sinners.

His serene and holy walk had failed to benefit them; his

prophetic exhortations and rebukes had embittered them

against him; and now perhaps his sudden and strange

removal from them will give new and additional emphasis

and energy to the words which he had spoken, and the life

which he had lived amongst them. They were living in the

material and temporal alone; this translation was suited to

impress them with the reality and importance of the spiritual

and eternal. They were atheistic, some of them anti-theistic;

but this extraordinary removal of the holy prophet of God from

sublunary scenes would perhaps force upon them, at least for a

time, the conviction of the existence and presence of a Power

unacknowledged by them heretofore.  Let us, through

Jesus Christ,  seek in this life to please God, and then,

through Jesus Christ, death will prove our introduction to

an everlasting, ever-increasing, and ever-brightening life.


(“The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart:  and merciful men

are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from THE

EVIL TO COME.”  - Isaiah 57:1)




The Faith of Enoch (v. 5)


Of Enoch we know next to nothing in one sense. We are ignorant of the

details of his life; not even one great striking event is preserved to us. But

of the great principle and result of his life we are not ignorant, and it is

quite permissible for us to make conjectures by way of illustration. In

considering what is here said, we must notice the order of the argument.


  • WHAT HAPPENED TO ENOCH. He was translated so as not to see

death. This must have happened in some way manifest to his neighbors, so

that they might take knowledge of the event and profit by it. The

translation is to be looked on in the light of a reward; but, after all, this

may not be its chief significance. It may have been for the sake of others, to

whom God’s approval of Enoch had to be made manifest. It is no slur upon

Enoch to imagine that men as holy as he have been on the earth, yet they

have had to die; perhaps live in privation, and die in pain. Therefore we can

hardly be wrong in assuming that Enoch’s translation was in such a public

way as to teach those willing to be taught, and act as a rebuke to the

unbelieving. There is something eminently evangelical in such an operation

of God. He would draw men to faith in Him by showing what can happen

to his believing ones. He shows the way of blessing before He shows the

way of cursing. The translation of the holy, righteous man comes before




TRANSLATION POSSIBLE. “He pleased God.” Long before his

translation he had had proof of this. God does not defer the signs of his

pleasure. He has made us so that the way of obedience is the way of

pleasantness, even while we walk in it. But all that God had thus given

Enoch by the way was for his own sake. The common unheeding world

knew nothing of the joys coming to Enoch through his religion. Now at

last, in his translation, something shall be given for a joy to Enoch, and at

the same time an instruction to the world. Enoch might have pleased God

and yet not been translated; but he could not have been translated unless he

had pleased God. Then from this inference the writer proceeds to yet

another — that Enoch must have lived a life of faith. To please God certain

conditions are requisite, and in the very front of these is faith. We cannot

please God unconsciously, as the heavenly bodies do in their movements,

or a plant in its growth. We must do such things as the will of the Invisible

requires. He will not be pleased with anything we do simply because we do

our best according to the light of nature. But this is a matter which may be

dealt with in a homily by itself.


  • ENOCH’S EXPECTATIONS. God translated Enoch, but it does not

follow that Enoch expected to be translated. All that Enoch could be sure

of was that a good present would be followed by a better future. Enoch left

this world by a gate that has been very rarely opened — a gate the mode of

whose opening we can hardly comprehend. It may never be opened again

till that day which is hinted at in I Thessalonians 4:17, when Christ’s people

then living will be caught up to meet their Lord in the air. If Enoch had

expected translation without the pains of death, he would not have been

showing the spirit of true faith. True faith will go on humbly serving God

on earth, and feeling that entrance to heaven will come in God’s good time.


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.” The purpose of this verse, in connection

with the conclusion of the last, is to show that the Scripture record does

imply faith in Enoch, though there is no mention of it there by name: it is of

necessity involved in the phrase, εὐηρέστησεντῳ θεῷ above.  The expression

in the Hebrew, “walked with God” (be it observed), involves it equally; so

that the argument is not affected by the quotation being from the Septuagint.




The Impossibility of Pleasing God Without Faith (v. 6)


“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he that cometh unto God

must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek

Him.”  The fact that Enoch walked by faith, and that his life was well pleasing

to God, suggested to the writer this general axiom on THE INDISPENS-

ABLENESS OF FAITH  in order to secure the Divine complacency. Two

principal observations will bring before us the chief teaching of our text.



PLEASING HIM. “Without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that

cometh to God ,” etc. Having asserted that apart from faith man cannot

please God, the writer proceeds to show this by affirming that he who

comes to God must believe certain truths concerning Him, thus clearly

implying that we cannot please God without coming to Him.


Ø      Coming to God implies distance from him. The unrenewed soul is far

from God by sin. Sin against Him generates suspicions concerning Him,

dread of Him, and so banishes the soul far away from Him. Like the

prodigal son, the sinner wanders away from the gracious Father

“into a far country.” (Luke 15:13)  The expression, “them that seek

Him,” also suggests that the seekers have not the consciousness of

His presence and favor; they do not always realize His nearness

unto them, or they would not need to seek after Him.  (See

Romans 10:6-10)


Ø      Coming to God is the approach of the soul unto Him. As the implied

distance from Him is not local but moral, so the coming to Him is not

physical but spiritual. It is the soul drawing near to Him in thought and

desire, in affection and devotion.


o       The penitent thus comes to Him with confession and prayer

for pardon.

o       The poor and needy, with petitions for succor and supply.

o       The thankful, with warm tributes of gratitude and praise.

o       The pious, with lowly loving adoration.


Ø      This approach of the soul to God is gratifying unto Him. That His

creatures, created in His image and for fellowship with Himself,

should stand aloof from Him in distrust, or suspicion, or

 indifference, or by reason of absorption in other things, is painful

to Him. His fatherly heart yearns for the confidence and love of His

children. He welcomes the first approach of the penitent sinner to

Him, even as the father of the returning prodigal saw him while he

was yet afar off, and was moved with compassion, and ran,

and fell on his neck, and kissed him.”  (Luke 15:20)  He is pleased

when His children regard Him with assured confidence and warm

affection, and come to Him in their necessities and satisfactions,

their sorrows and joys, etc.



APPROACH TO HIM. “For he that cometh to God must believe that He

is,” - Precisely the faith that there is a God, and One who will reward those

who seek after Him, found place in Enoch, and could find place in him. Far

front intending to ascribe to Enoch the New Testament faith, the author

defines the faith here in its general form as it applied to the time of Enoch.

The faith which is essential to the approach of the soul to him is:


Ø      Faith in His Being. “Must believe that He is.” And we have the amplest

and firmest ground upon which to base this article of our faith. The Bible

says “THAT HE IS;” the universe witnesses to the same great truth;

and human consciousness confirms the testimony.


Ø      Faith in His entreatableness. That He is a Rewarder of them that

diligently seek Him.” This implies faith in His accessibility; the belief

that we may approach unto Him; that our prayers will reach His ear.

He hears:


o       the sigh of sorrow,

o       the moan of misery, and

o        the whispered aspiration of the pious heart.


He is perfectly acquainted with the godly soul’s sincere desire, uttered

or unexpressed. (“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: 

for we know not what we should pray for as we ought:  but the Spirit

Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be

uttered.  And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind

of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according

to the will of God.”  (Romans 8:26-27)  He not only hears prayer, but

HE ALSO ANSWERS IT!   The teaching of the sacred Scriptures on

this point is both full and explicit (Psalm 37:4; 50:15; Matthew 7:7-11;

18:19; 21:22; John 15:7; 16:23-24; James 1:5-6; 5:16-18; I John 5:14-15).

The testimony of the godly is no less clear and decisive. “He is a

Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” This means more than that

the exercise of prayer to God in itself exalts and enriches, calms and

cleanses the praying soul. The reflex benefits of prayer are undoubtedly

very great and precious, but their existence depends upon the belief

that God hears and answers prayer. Prayer would lose its reality and

become a mere pretence, offensive to all honest souls, if we had not

faith in God as “a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” But the

seeker must be diligent; he must be earnest. “Then shall ye call upon

me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.

Ye shall seek me, and  find me, WHEN YE SHALL SEARCH FOR

ME WITH ALL YOUR HEART.”   (Jeremiah 29:12-13)  The prayer

must be fervent and persevering, or it may fail of its reward. When

prayer mounts upon the wing of fervor to God, then answers come

down like lightning from God.  Thus we see that “without faith it is

 impossible to please God.” Our subject shows:


o       The necessity of cultivating and exercising faith in God.

o       The advantages of believing prayer to God.



Faith Needed to Please God (v. 6)


  • IT IS, THEN, POSSIBLE TO PLEASE GOD. Some there are who care

nothing whether He be pleased or not. God’s will, God’s delight in the

obedience of men, never enters into their thoughts. They live to please

themselves. They can even understand that some object may be served by

trying to please other men. And yet those who live for self-pleasure are

sure to be disappointed. God has meant our pleasure to come through first

of all pleasing him. (“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His

righteousness and all these things will be added to you.”  (Matthew 6:33)

The great law of man’s being is that he should serve the

purposes of God, and he can only serve those purposes by finding out what

they are, and taking God’s means to carry them into effect. If, then, it is

God’s will that we should please Him, He will surely show us what to do

and how to do it. There ought to be in our hearts a desire to please God.

We are not without the wish to stand well with our fellow men, to have

their good word. How much more, then, we should desire to become

acceptable to Him who is perfect goodness! If Enoch pleased God, we may

do it. And the first thing to be considered is, not whether it be difficult or

easy to do it, but whether it be possible.


  • HOW GOD IS TO BE PLEASED. Remember always that, in the

writings of apostles and evangelists, when God is spoken of Jehovah is

meant, Jehovah as over against the gods of heathendom. Their priests

taught that it was possible to please them, and showed how the thing was

to be done, by offerings of all sorts, and by adding constantly to the wealth

of their shrines. The offerings in themselves were reckoned good; and well

they might be, for they made many priests rich. Jehovah also received

offerings, but to Him the offerings had no value except as expressive of

intelligent obedience. The offerings were for the sake of men rather than of

God Himself. He must be pleased by something different from mere gifts of

what He has Himself created. And here the writer gives us one of the

essentials towards pleasing God. Apart from FAITH we cannot please Him.

There are many elements in the character that is pleasing to God, and one

element is made prominent at one time, another at another. We know that

Enoch must surely have been a loving man, for without love it is impossible

to please God. Here the important thing was to insist on his being a

believer. Idols could be approached without faith, for they were really not

approached at all; no heart of man ever came into living contact with them.

But of God there was no image; the worshipper had to believe that there

was a real existence all unseen. Suppose for a moment that we had set

before us for search and discovery an object perceptible by the senses.

Before beginning the search, should we not be wise in assuring ourselves

on the following points?


Ø      The real existence of the object.

Ø      The probability of finding it.

Ø      A corresponding reward for the possible toil of the search.


There has been faith on these points which has had no rational basis, and of

course has ended in disappointment; e.g. the enthusiastic searching for the

philosopher’s stone. But here is an object, the object supreme of all —

God, the Fountain of being and blessedness; and this object cannot be

known by the senses. There are many so-called arguments for the existence

of a God, but men who think that they therefore really believe in the

existence of a God are self-deceived. Believing in the existence of a Being

to whom this name of God is given must be an act of pure faith. Men must

say, “I cannot believe otherwise; I cannot believe the contrary.” Then to

this must be added the practical impulse to come in contact with Him. Note

here exactly what is demanded, as the ordinary version fails to give us quite

the meaning. He that comes to God must believe in God’s existence, and

that when men seek him out and come to know Him in actual experience

and service, He gives them most real, substantial rewards. For the seeking

out diligence is of course required, but diligence is not the quality primarily

referred to. “Seek out” is only a more suggestive way of saying “find.”


7 “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as

yet, moved with fear (εὐλαβηθεὶς eulabaetheismoved with fear; being

pious), prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by which (i.e. faith)

he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by

faith (κατὰ πίστιν kata pistinby faith). The “things not seen as yet” were the

divinely predicted events of the Deluge. The word εὐλαβηθεὶς (translated as above

in the Authorized Version) is taken by many commentators as implying godly fear,

a sentiment of piety, with reference to the previous χρηματισθεὶς chraematistheis

being warned - since the noun εὐλαβηία eulabaeiafear - seems to have this special

sense in ch.12:28, μετὰ αἰδοῦς καὶ εὐλαβείας  - meta aidous kai eulabeiaswith

reverence and godly fear - (see what was said under ver. 7, where the word occurred);

so too the adjective, εὐλαβής eulabaesdevout; pious (Luke 2:25; Acts 2:5; 8:2).

Hence the emendation, moved with godly fear,” in the recent “Revised Version.”

But, inasmuch as the verb εὐλαβεὶσθαι  - eulabeisthai - has in the New Testament, as

elsewhere, only its original import of caution or circumspection, there is no

need to suppose here a further meaning (compare Acts 23:10, the only other

passage in the New Testament where the verb occurs).  We may take only

prudent forethought to be expressed which enlarges on the lesson thus conveyed

to the effect that he who acts on simple faith, regardless of the world’s

opinion or of ridicule, is the one who is truly prudent. And we may add

that such prudence legitimately comes in as a motive in the religious life.

The antecedent of “which” (δι. ἧς di haesthrough which), though the

ancients generally understand κιβωτὸν kibotonark -  is taken as above by

most moderns; the reason being, not only that faith (see in v. 4) is the ruling idea

of the whole passage, but also that it suits better the expressed results, especially

the second, “became heir,” etc. For to say that he became heir of the righteousness

which is according to faith through the ark, as being the evidence of his

faith, or as being the means of his preservation, is less intelligible than to

say that through faith he became so. The sense in which Noah “condemned

the world” is illustrated by Matthew 12:41-42, “The men of Nineveh,”

etc., “The queen of the South, etc. (compare Romans 2:27). His becoming

“heir,” etc., rests on the view of the fulfillment of primeval promise being

transmitted as an inheritance to the faithful. Noah, as he appears in

Genesis, was eminently heir in this sense, as alone in his day appropriating

it and as transmitting it to his seed. In like manner Abraham, who is next

mentioned, was the prominent heir among the subsequent patriarchs (compare

Romans 4:13). The idea running through the whole Old Testament is

that, in the midst of a sinful world, an inheritance of salvation was

transmitted through a chosen seed, till the Christ should come as the “Heir

of all things,” the perfected Head and Representative of all redeemed

humanity. The word δικαιοσύνης  - dikaiosunaesrighteousness - as that of

which Noah was heir, may have been suggested with reference to him by his

being the first who is called δίκαιος dikaiosjust - in Genesis 6:9, and by this

being his usual designation (Ezekiel 14:14, 20; Eccliesiasticus. 44:17; Wisdom

of Solomon 10:4, 6; compare II Peter 2:5, δικαιοσύνης κήρυκα dikaiosunaes

kaerukapreacher of righteousness). The whole phrase, τῆς κατὰ πίστιν

δικαιοσύνης taes kata pistin dikaiosunaesof the righteousness which is by

faith - may be taken to imply the Pauline doctrine of justification

by faith, which may be supposed to have been familiar to the readers of this

Epistle, having been already fully enunciated by Paul, and dwelt on by

him as especially exemplified in Abraham. Paul, indeed, does not use

this exact phrase, but δικαιοσύνης πίστεως dikaiosunaes pisteosrighteousness

of faith  (Romans 4:11, 13); ἐκ πίστεως ek pisteos – out of faith – (Ibid. ch.10:6);

ἐπὶ τῇ πίστει epi tae pistei – on the faith - (Philippians 3:9); but still the meaning

may be the same. The correspondence is an instance of Pauline thought in this

Epistle, while the difference of phrase affords a presumption, though by no

means in itself conclusive, against Pauline authorship.



The Faith of Noah (v. 7)


“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with
fear, prepared an ark”
etc. Very exalted was the character of Noah as briefly

described in Genesis 6:8-9. And his purity and piety are the more conspicuous

and commendable by reason of the terrible corruption and violence which were

universal in his age (Ibid. vs.5-7, 11-13). Our text leads us to look at the faith

of Noah in three aspects.


  • IN ITS BASIS. Noah was “warned of God of things not seen as yet.”

His faith rested upon a Divine communication (Ibid. vs.13-21).


Ø      This basis was exclusive. Noah had nothing else upon which to

ground his faith — nothing which could serve as an auxiliary

support to it. On the other hand, matters were not lacking which

were calculated sorely to test his confidence; e.g.:


o       The entire absence of any precedent of an event corresponding

to that which had been announced to him.  (We are in the same

situation in reference to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ – CY

– 2014)  The world had existed long, but no such devastating

flood had ever occurred.  (Jesus has never broken the eastern sky

before!  CY – 2014)


o       The uniformity of the courses and operations of nature. It surely

would not have been strange if he had reasoned thus with himself:


“Not but by a miracle

Can this thing be. The fashion of the world

We heretofore have never known to change;

And will God change it now?”


                                    (See II Peter 3:4)


o       His own soul might have suggested serious doubts. Would God

destroy all His human creatures — the creatures whom He had

created in His own likeness? True, the race had become terribly

depraved, men were great sinners; but could He not save them?

Would He destroy the innocent child as well as the hardened

rebel? And would He wreck the beautiful and fertile earth which

He had made and embellished? Or the question may have arisen

— Why should he and his family alone be spared in the universal

destruction? He was conscious of imperfections and sins, his

family too were sinners; then why should the Almighty bestow

His mercy upon them, and upon them only? To meet doubts and

questionings of this or any other kind, Noah had simply THE

WORD OF GOD which had been made known unto him, and

his faith rested upon THAT WORD!


Ø      This basis was sufficient for Noah. He founded his faith upon the

communication which he had received from God, as upon a rock; and

his faith remained firm and steadfast throughout its protracted and

severe trials. God had spoken to him, and that was enough for him.


  • IN ITS EXPRESSION. Noah, “moved with fear, prepared an ark to

the saving of his house.” He manifested his belief in the Divine

communication by his obedience to the directions therein conveyed

(Genesis 6:14-16). His faith was expressed in an appropriate and very

remarkable course of action. That we may the more fully realize the

strength of his conviction, let us notice that the work in which it found

expression was:


Ø      A work of great magnitude. The dimensions of the ark are stated in

(Ibid. v. 15. If we take the cubit to be twenty-one inches, “the ark

would be five hundred and twenty-five feet in length, eighty-seven

feet six inches in breadth, and fifty-two feet six inches in height.

This is very considerably larger than the largest British man-of-war.


Ø      A work of long duration. From (Ibid. v.3, some have concluded

that one hundred and twenty years intervened between the

commencement of the ark and the coming of the Deluge. But the

interpretation of that verse on which this conclusion is based is

doubtful. Yet the work of  preparing the materials for and

constructing the ark must have been a very long one — a work

of many years. And through all those years he was

nerved and sustained by faith, and faith alone.


Ø      A work involving very great expenditure. The building of such an ark in

any age and in any circumstances would have been utterly impossible

apart from great expense of time and toil and wealth. But to these

demands also the faith of Noah was equal.


Ø      A work prosecuted despite of derision. There were probably men of

science and philosophy who pronounced the predicted deluge an

impossibility, and pitied the prophet as a deluded fanatic. And there

were men of a lower type who would greet him with scoffs and jeers,

and make him the butt of their scornful laughter and contemptuous

sarcasm. Yet the faith of the man of God failed not. The great work

was steadily prosecuted, and in due time was fully accomplished.


  • IN ITS RESULT. “By which he condemned the world, and became

heir of the righteousness which is by faith.”


Ø      The condemnation of the unbelieving world.


o       His holy fear condemned their security and vain confidence;

o       his faith condemned their unbelief; and

o       his obedience condemned their contempt and rebellion.


Good examples will either convert sinners or condemn them!


Ø      The acquisition of a character eminent for righteousness. “Became heir

of the righteousness which is according to faith.” “Noah was a just man

and upright” (Genesis 6:9)  before he was commanded to build the ark;

but in that work his faith was splendidly exemplified and his righteousness

greatly increased.  His righteousness was great as his faith. It is important

to observe that the faith of Noah which was manifested in such an

extraordinary and exemplary manner, and by reason of which and in the

measure of which he was regarded as righteous, was not fixed upon

the coming Messiah as its special object, but upon the communication

which he had received from God concerning the Flood. He fully

accepted the Divine testimony and nobly acted upon it, and as a

consequence God accepted him as righteous.  “Even as Abraham

believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness.”

(Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6)  And he who believes in

God now will accept His Son whom He hath sent. “This is the work

of God, that ye believe on Him whom Hhe hath sent.”  (John 6:29)


Ø      The salvation of himself and his family. While all other human beings

were destroyed by the flood, he and his wife, his three sons and their

wives, were saved in the ark which he had built.  Many are the lessons

which our subject suggests. We mention a few of them:


o       That there is justice as well as mercy, severity as well as

kindness, in God.

o       That it is foolish, and it may be ruinous, to refuse to believe

a thing because it seems to us improbable, or is to us


o       The sacred Scriptures announce the coming of events of

stupendous importance and solemnity:

§         the destruction of the world,

§         the judgment of mankind, etc.

Let us believe the announcement.

o       A secure Refuge is provided for man in view of these coming

trials, and it is adequate for all, open to all, and free for all —

even JESUS CHRIST!   Let us enter in by faith, and

eternal security and blessedness will be ours.



The Faith of Noah 2 (v. 7)


Going from Enoch to Noah, we pass from a mere hint as to character into

the greatest fullness of detail. Enoch’s faith we have to take upon trust, for

no act of his life is recorded from which we could infer his faith. Noah’s

faith, on the other hand, we can see for ourselves. It is set before us in a

great and notable action, and not to see it would argue great spiritual

blindness on our part. Note:



the Deluge that we cannot understand, never shall understand. Its mode, its

details, its extent, we shall have to leave unsettled questions. Difficulties

inherent in the record we must confess. But at the same time, our

ignorance and perplexity will be a small matter if only we take care not to

lose the spiritual significance of the record. We have in the Deluge great

illustration of human faith on the one side, human unbelief on the other.

Noah had a revelation, an intimation of impending destruction, which he

believed to be from God and to be the truth. Straightway he began to show

his faith by his works, thus becoming by his very action a prophet to his

neighbors and a test of their disposition. Noah, the believer, is the great

central figure in connection with the Flood, and the narrative of it is given,

not for the sake of recording a stupendous physical change, but for the

sake of illustrating how the character of one man may influence the destiny

of a whole race.



Everything in the way of human experience and ordinary probability was

against him. He was not guarding against any of those things which men

take trouble to guard against. Possibly the certainty of a greater evil led

him, comparatively speaking, to neglect smaller ones. It would seem to the

world that he might have employed his time more profitably, and also his

substance. He could not make his work appear a prudent or a rational one;

as he went on with the work and felt his loneliness, he would often be

compelled to ask whether he was deluding himself, or was really in the

path of duty.



PROFESSED FAITH. It does not appear that he went about proclaiming

destruction. The revelation was made to him to secure his own safety. His

real belief in the Deluge was shown in the most convincing way by his

building of the ark. Many beliefs are only in word; they do not at all

influence life; nay, more, the stress of necessity may bring action that

contradicts them. We have to watch what a man does if we would know

what he really believes.



the ark, he condemned the world. The believer cannot help condemning the

unbeliever. He does not wish to condemn, but his very action is a censure;

and the more full of spirituality the action, the more does it look like a

censure of others. And in the case of Noah the condemnation was

unusually manifest. For if he was right, then all round him, on every side,

ark-building ought to have begun. The condemnation indeed was mutual,

and only time could show which condemnation was grounded in right and



  • NOAH’S RESPONSIBILITY. He built an ark for the saving of his

house. To neglect the Divine demand for faith will not only ruin us, but

may bring suffering to others. Noah had his family to think of. Blessing and

security came to his children through his obedience. The highest things can,

of course, only come by individual faith and submission, but something will

come to others if only we believe. The believer, while he serves himself,

cannot but be of service to others.



Faith of the Antediluvian Saints (vs. 4-7)


The apostle, having gone to the first page of the Bible for the foundation doctrine

of faith, has only to turn the leaf to find his first historical illustrations.


  • THE EXAMPLE OF ABEL. (v. 4.) In what respect was Abel’s

sacrifice “more excellent” than Cain’s?


Ø      Some answer — Because its materials were more valuable, and also

more carefully selected. Cain presented an oblation of vegetables,

taking the first that came to hand; while Abel offered an animal

sacrifice, and the choicest which his flock could supply. (“firstlings

Genesis 4:4)


Ø      Others judge that Abel’s sacrifice was “more excellent” because of the

living faith of which it was the expression. He worshipped in spirit and

in truth; whereas Cain’s offering was that of a formalist and a hypocrite.


Ø      But the true view, we apprehend, must go deeper than either of these.

Abel’s sacrifice was better, not merely because he brought it in faith, but

because his faith led him to select an offering which was in itself more

appropriate than that of Cain. “The Lord had respect unto Abel” for

what he himself was, as reflected in what he gave (Ibid.). His offering,

we may presume, was an act of faith resting upon the Divine testimony

regarding “the seed of the woman” (Ibid. ch. 3:15) and the necessity of

atonement by blood. But Cain, in presenting only fruit, declared thereby

his disbelief in the gospel promise, and his repudiation of the appointed

way of salvation.  So, God bore visible witness to Abel “that he was

 righteous” (Ibid. vs.4-12); and the first martyr has in consequence

become distinguished as “righteous Abel” (Matthew 23:35; I John 3:12).

Indeed, Abel still speaks to the whole Church by his faith. He teaches

us that we can only approach God THROUGH THE PROPITIATION

OF CHRIST  and that in pleading the one propitiation we must bring

also the sacrifice of “a broken spirit.”  (Psalm 51:7)


  • THE EXAMPLE OF ENOCH. (vs. 5-6.) What a contrast between

the end of Abel’s earthly life and that of Enoch! And what a pleasant break

in the melancholy monotone of Genesis 5., “And he died,” are the sweet

words used regarding Enoch’s removal: “He was not, for God took him”

(v. 24)! Here we have:


Ø      A statement regarding Enochs translation. (v. 5.) His faith is

represented as the reason on account of which he was transported to

heaven without tasting of death. His wonderful removal was the reward

of his singularly holy life; and that, in turn, was the fruit of his faith.


Ø      An argument in support of this statement.


o       Such is the representation of the Old Testament (v. 5). Enoch’s

translation is there said (Genesis 5:24) to have taken place in

consequence of the peculiar favor of God. Scripture bears witness

to him “that he had been well-pleasing unto God” before it

informs us of his glorification.


o       It is self-evident that none but a believer can obtain the Divine

favor (v. 6). The spring of holiness is always faith. Enoch, like

Abel, had met with the unseen Jehovah over a bleeding sacrifice.

He had lived under a sense of the Divine presence, He had

confided in God, and cultivated congeniality with Him. He had

been a witness for Him to a sensuous and ungodly world. The

apostle mentions in this connection two indispensable articles of

faith regarding God. First, His being. To believe in God is to be

convinced of a truth “not seen,” and made evident only by

revelation.  Secondly, his benevolence. To believe in God as

a Rewarder is to cherish “the confidence of things hoped for.”

But the gospel revelation alone assures us of Jehovah’s accessibility,

and of the principles of His moral administration. Yet Enoch, albeit

he lived in the scanty twilight of the patriarchal economy, firmly

grasped these great doctrines; and the faith of them led him on,

step by step, until he found himself in the glorious presence of

God in heaven.


  • THE EXAMPLE OF NOAH. (v. 7.) The name of Noah is

associated with a stupendous catastrophe, the faith of which, while it was

“not seen as yet, “brought deliverance to himself and his family, and

constituted him the second father of the human race.


Ø      Noahs faith was severely tried. The Deluge, of which he was

forewarned, was an unprecedented event, (so the Second

Coming of Jesus Christ – Matthew 24:36-39 – CY – 2014) and

could only take place by a miracle. Then, for more than a century

after the warning was given, and indeed until the very day when it

began to be fulfilled, there were no premonitions of its fulfillment.

During all that time, too, Noah had to labor at the gigantic task

of constructing the ark, amid the jeers of an ungodly world.


Ø      His faith bravely triumphed. The victory is seen in his “godly fear,”

and his unquestioning obedience. It appears in his invincible

perseverance as the builder of the ark, and. as “a preacher of

righteousness.” It is reflected in the confidence with which he

obeyed the Divine summons to enter the ark while the sky was

yet cloudless. And Noah’s triumphant faith “condemned the world;”

for the event showed that THE DOOM OF ITS UNBELIEF was just.


Ø      His faith was richly rewarded. It brought him the highest honor. It was

the means of confirming his already eminent piety, and of certifying his

possession of “righteousness.” It made him an “heir of God.”




Ø      In Abel, we see faith as the condition of acceptable worship;

Abel’s faith condemns the spirit which denies the necessity of

an expiatory atonement.


Ø      In Enoch, as the root of godliness;  Enoch’s faith condemns

the spirit of secularism, positivism, agnosticism


Ø      In Noah, as the principle of separation from the life and destiny

of the ungodly.  Noah’s faith condemns the spirit which

stumbles at the possibility of miracles.



8 “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which

he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed (literally, when called,

obeyed to go out, etc.); and he went out, not knowing whither he went.”

The reference is to the first call of Abraham (Genesis 12:1), his obedience to

which is the first instance of the faith which the whole life of the father of

the faithful so eminently exemplifies.  The fact of the place he was to go to

being so far unrevealed (intimated only as “a land that I will show thee”)

enhances the faith displayed, He followed the Divine voice as it were blindly,

not seeing whither it was leading him, knowing only that it was right to follow it.

So to those who walk by faith now the future may be unknown or dim.


“Lead thou me on.

... I do not ask to see

The distant scene; one step enough for me.”



The Faith of Abraham Going Forth into the Unknown (v. 8)


We have to notice what Abraham’s faith rested on:


  • A DIVINE CALL. It was not an impulse of his own. Not in

ambition, not in discontent, not in self-will, did he go forth. Nor was it a

suggestion from some other human being. The voice came from above,

speaking to what was inmost in him. Jehovah had chosen him for a purpose

of His own, and therefore made the authority of the summons indisputably

clear. It is the fact of this Divine call at the beginning which makes the

observation of Abraham’s subsequent course so interesting. We desire to

see what God will make out of a man to whom He gives a special

summons. It is a great deal when any of us can be quite sure, amid the

difficulties and perplexities of life, that we are where God has put us.


  • A DIVINE PROMISE. The promises of God give a better resting place

for faith than any projects of our own. God had said definitely to

Abraham that there was a land of inheritance for him. Abraham, so far from

going out on the great journey of life with nothing better than a

peradventure, really had the best of prospects. All he had to do was to

show the obedience of faith. God always presents us with a hope when He

calls us to a duty. He sets before us great ends corresponding to our nature

and to His interest in us.


  • DIVINE GUIDANCE. This was the element in the Divine call

which would try Abraham most, that he knew not where he was going.

This would expose him to the wonder and the ridicule of his neighbors.

Human prudence seems such an excellent principle of action, seems to

keep men out of so many troubles, seems to achieve such satisfactory

results, that men can hardly think of a higher and a better one. But then

human prudence has its value only in a certain path. We cannot begin by

choosing our path according to God’s directions and then going on in it

according to our own judgment. Everything must be:


Ø      begun,

Ø      continued, and

Ø      ended in God.


9 “By faith he sojourned in (rather, went to sojourn in) the land of promise,

as in a strange country (literally, as one belonging to others; i.e. not his own;

“As in an alien land” (Wickliffe); compare Genesis 23:4, “I am a stranger and

sojourner with you”), dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs

with him of the same promise:  10 For he looked for a city which hath

foundations, whose  builder and maker is God.”  Of course, here, “with Isaac

and Jacob” means “as did also Isaac and Jacob.” The three successive

patriarchs are presented in Scripture as representing the period of nomadic

life in the land of promise, not yet possessed; alike supported by faith in the

Divine word; and hence they are ever grouped together (compare Genesis

28:13; 32:9; 48:15; 50:24; Exodus 3:6; Deuteronomy 9:5; I  Kings 18:36, etc.;

also Matthew 22:32; Luke 13:28). The meaning of their history to us, and

the object of their common hope, are further set forth in vs. 13-17, and

will be under them considered. In the mean time an instance of Abraham’s

faith, peculiar to himself, is adduced.



The Faith of Abraham (vs. 8-10)


“By faith Abraham, when he was called,…..obeyed; and he went out, not

knowing whither he went! Abraham was a good and a great man. “He was

called the friend of God.” (James 2:23)  Even amongst the heroes of

religious faith he is conspicuous as a believer in God. Paul speaks of

him as “the father of all” (Romans 4:16)  the faithful. Let us consider the

exhibition of his faith which our text presents. We discover it:



when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for

an inheritance, obeyed,” etc. The summons here mentioned is recorded in

Genesis 12:1-5. This call was:


Ø      of Divine origination. It was not solicited from God by Abraham, but

addressed by God to Abraham. The initiative was Divine, not human.

Every summons to the true and good is from above. Every aspiration

and effort after holiness and usefulness is the result of Divine

influence. This call was:


Ø      a Divine communication. How it was addressed to Abraham, whether

through his bodily senses or direct to his spiritual consciousness, we

know not. But we know the fact that the summons came to him, and

was felt by him to be a sacred and Divine command. A mysterious and

mighty impulse came upon him, and he felt that it was from God. The

call was to depart from his country and kindred to a land whither God

would lead him. And it seems that either then or formerly he was called

to a truer and higher life.  Whether he was ever an idolater we cannot

tell; but if such were the case, he was summoned from polytheism to

monotheism. Most glorious and animating was the destiny which was

set forth for him and his posterity (Genesis 12:2-3). But at present we

have to do with his call to leave his home in Ur of the Chaldees, and

to follow whithersoever the unseen hand might lead him. In his prompt

and pious obedience to that call we have an impressive illustration of

his faith.


o       He obeyed, notwithstanding the fact that his obedience involved

considerable sacrifices. Unto a man like Abraham it could not

have been a light thing to depart “from his country, and from

his kindred, and from his father’s house.” (Ibid. v. 1)  It must

have been a trial to him to go forth from places which were

hallowed by precious and sacred memories, to sever many

close and tender social associations, and without any prospect

of returning to these cherished friends and familiar scenes again.

Yet he obeyed the heavenly call. His faith in God was mightier

than his strongest human feelings.


o       He obeyed, notwithstanding his ignorance of his destination

and of the way by which it was to be reached. Abraham must,

we think, have had some idea as to the direction and destination

of his journey. But he was called, not to any country which is

named in the call, but “unto a land that I will show thee.”

(Ibid.)  “And he went out, not knowing whither he went.”

(v. 8)  The distance he might have to travel, the difficulties

and dangers he might have to encounter, the scene and

circumstances in which his journey would end, he knew not.

Yet he went out, obedient to the voice which faith alone

could hear, and guided by the hand which faith alone could

see. The Divine call is addressed at some time or other to every

man.  (Titus 2:11)  The summons from carnal existence to

spiritual life, from selfish pursuits to generous sympathies and

services, from the local and temporal to the universal and

eternal, from sin to holiness, — the call to God by Christ Jesus

sounds at some time in the soul of every man. It is addressed by

various voices and at different times; to some it comes again and

again; and it is variously treated by those who hear it. Be it ours

like Abraham to:


§         attentively hear,

§         heartily believe, and

§         promptly obey the heavenly mandate.


If we have believing]y received the summons, let us not hesitate

to go forward, though the way be unknown to us. Complying

with the Divine command, the Divine conduct will never fail us.




sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country,” etc. When

Abraham arrived in Canaan Jehovah appeared unto him, and promised to

give that land to him and to his seed (Genesis 12:7; 13:15, 17; 15:18);

yet he never possessed that land. Very forcibly is this fact stated by

Stephen: “And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set

his foot on: and he promised that he would give it to him for a possession,

and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child.”  (Acts 7:5)  Once in

the life of Abraham the fact that he had no actual possession in that land

was very forcibly and feelingly expressed. In his great and sacred sorrow

by reason of the death of his beloved wife, he had to purchase a place in

which to bury her mortal remains. “And Abraham stood up from before his

dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying, I am a stranger and a

sojourner with you: give me a possession of a burying-place with you,

that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” And he paid four hundred

shekels of silver for the field and the cave of Machpelah for a possession

of a burying-place (Genesis 23.). The points which we wish to bring out

as taught in v. 9 are these:


Ø      Though the land was promised to him, yet he never possessed it.

“He sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country;”

or, “as in a land not his own.”


Ø      Though he dwelt in the land, it was as a stranger. He became a

sojourner there, not a settler or a citizen. He had no home there.

He did not attempt to build a fixed dwelling-place, but took up

his abode in tents, which could easily and speedily be removed

from place to place.


Ø      Yet he believed Godlived by faith in God and in His promise.

The surprising point is that Abraham, deceived, as you might almost

say, did not complain of it as a deception; he was even grateful for

the non-fulfillment of the promise; he does not even seem to

have expected its fulfillment; he did not look for Canaan, but

‘for a city which had foundations;’ his faith appears to have

consisted in disbelieving the letter, almost as much as in believing

the spirit of the promise.. Abraham’s life in Canaan as exhibited

in the ninth verse may be viewed:


o       as a picture of our life upon earth. There is no abiding-place

for man in this world; and the Christian’s treasure is in heaven,

not upon earth; his inheritance also is not here, but is “reserved

in heaven for” him. (I Peter 1:4)  This part of Abraham’s life

may be viewed:


o       as a pattern for our life upon earth. We should emulate the

spirit of the illustrious patriarch. “Seek the things that are

above,” etc. (Colossians 3:1-2).



for the city which hath the foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God.”

We must not attribute to Abraham views of the future state as full and

clear as those which are unfolded in the New Testament. Yet it is evident

that the writer of this Epistle intended to teach that he and the other

patriarchs expected the fulfillment of the promise of Canaan in something

higher than any earthly city. Abraham believed God’s promise; but by faith

he looked for even more than its literal fulfillment. His faith hoped for and

anticipated a more glorious inheritance than the earthly Canaan, and a

fairer, firmer, and diviner city than was ever designed by human skill or

constructed by human strength. He looked forward to:


Ø      A state of social blessedness. “He looked for the city.” A city is

suggestive of society. In Canaan Abraham was a sojourner amongst

strangers; he anticipated being a citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem,

and at home in congenial society. Heaven is a scene of the most



Ø      A state of permanent blessedness. “The city which hath the

foundations.” The inhabitants of the heavenly world are immortal;

and their “inheritance is incorruptible, undefiled, and fadeth not

away.” (I Peter 1:4)  The crowns which the faithful wear in that

high realm are “crowns of glory that fade not away.” (Ibid. ch. 5:4)

Its holy enjoyments are EVERLASTING!.


Ø      A state of Divine blessedness. “Whose Builder,” or Architect, “and

Maker is God.” As an edifice illustrates the mind of the architect and

the character of the builder; so in the new Jerusalem will be specially

displayed the skill and the strength, the goodness and the glory, of

the great God.  (Having seen this wonderful earth which He hath made,

we have no other reference with which to compare!   I Corinthians 2:9

says “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the

heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that

love Him!”  “He hath prepared for” His people this city. Its securities

and sanctities, its occupations and enjoyments, are ALL FROM HIM!

“And He shall dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and

GOD HIMSELF shall be with them, their God.”  (Revelation 21:3)

This state Abraham was eagerly expecting. The sublime hope

of it sustained him in his earthly sojourn. TO US  a fuller, clearer,

brighter revelation of the future is given. If we have obeyed the Divine

call and are following the Divine guidance, let us hold fast and cherish

the inspiring hope of perfect holiness and perpetual blessedness, in

“the city which hath the foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God.”


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.  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.” The vitality of

Abraham’s faith is represented as evinced by its surviving and triumphing

over a succession of trials, over apparent impossibilities. One such peculiar

trial was the long delay of the birth of a legitimate heir through whom the

promise of an innumerable seed might be fulfilled, and this till it seemed out

of the question in the natural course of things. Yet “he staggered not at the

promise of God through unbelief… being fully persuaded that what he had

promised he was able to perform” (see Romans 4:17-23, which is a

fuller statement of the idea of this verse, including the use of the words

νενεκρωμένονnenekromenon -  having been dead - and νέκρωσιν nekrosin

deadness -   to express effeteness, and ἐνεδυναμώθη enedunamothaewas

strong; he was invigorated - corresponding to δύναμιν ….ἔλαβεν dunamin

elabenstrength, power, ability…..obtained -  here. This is a further instance

of Pauline thought in this Epistle — ideas already enlarged on by Paul

being taken for granted as understood.) In Romans Abraham’s faith in this

regard is treated as typifying Christian faith in the resurrection from the

dead (v. 24), as is also, in the chapter before us (v. 19), his faith

displayed on the occasion of the offering of Isaac. For to us also our

inability to conceive the mode of accomplishment of what well-grounded

faith assures us of is no just cause for staggering. “How are the dead raised

up? and with what kind of body do they come?” was asked by the

Corinthian doubters (I Corinthians 15:35). Paul directs them, in reply, to faith in

“the power of God” (compare Mark 12:24) to accomplish His purposes and fulfill

His promises in ways unknown to us, transcending, though analogous to, the

mysterious processes of nature that we see before our eyes. For “with God

all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)  Sarah is here joined with Abraham,

as also “receiving power” by faith, i.e. her own faith, as the structure of v. 11

seems evidently to imply. But how is this consistent with the account of her

in Genesis, where she is nowhere held up as an example of faith; nay, is

censured for incredulity (Genesis 18:12-16) with respect to the promise

of offspring? The answer may be that her temporary unbelief is concluded

to have been succeeded by faith, as proved by the result, viz. that she

received power.” And, indeed, her laughter recorded in Genesis 18, does

not seem intended to imply any permanent “heart of unbelief;” for even

Abraham had laughed as she did when the same announcement had been

previously made to him (Genesis 17:17), and the “laughter” associated

with her memory has quite a different meaning given it when that of

temporary incredulity was changed into that of joy on the birth of the

promised son, who was consequently called Isaac (equivalent to

“laughter”). It is, however, Abraham himself who is put prominently before

us as the great example of faith; Sarah is only introduced by his side (with

the words καὶ αὐτὴ - kai autaealso herself) as sharing it and cooperating

to the result. To him singly the writer returns in v. 12, διὸ καὶ ἀφ. ἑνὸς

 dio kai aph. enos -  wherefore also from one etc.


13 “These all (i.e. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the nomadic patriarchs, not including

the antediluvian heroes, to whom what is further said does not apply) died in faith

(literally, according to faith, κατὰ πίστιν, as in ver. 7),  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 reference is to the confession of Abraham to the sons of Heth

(Genesis 23. 4), “I am a stranger and a sojourner with you,” together with

Jacob’s words to Pharaoh (Ibid. ch. 47:9), “The days of the years of my

 pilgrimage,” etc. The import of such confession, intimated in the preceding

part of the verse, is now educed.


14 “For they that say such things declare plainly (or, make manifest ) that they

seek a country (i.e. a native country, πατρίδα patridaown country; fatherland).

15 And truly if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came

out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.   16 But now (i.e. as it is)

they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not

ashamed to be called their God (see reference under v. 9): for He hath

prepared for them a city. In consideration of the drift of the whole of this

interesting and suggestive passage (vs. 9-10, 13-17), the question arises whether

the patriarchs are represented as actually themselves looking forward to a

heavenly inheritance. In their history as given in Genesis, as, indeed, in the Old

Testament generally (at any rate, in the earlier books), there is, as is well

known, no distinct recognition of the life to come. The promise to

Abraham seems to imply only an innumerable seed, its possession as a

great nation of the earthly land of promise, and through it some undefined

blessing to all the families of the earth. Nor are the patriarchs represented

as looking forward to a fulfillment of the promise beyond the limits of the

present world. Even so their history is singularly instructive. They lived in

hope of things not seen through faith in THE DIVINE PROMISE!   The very

fact that they were content to die without themselves attaining, if so Gods

purpose might be accomplished to their seed, invests them with a peculiar

grandeur of unselfishness. Their faith was essentially the same principle as

that of Christians, even though the final object of Christian hope were

hidden from their eyes; while their dwelling in tents as strangers, and the

home and city seen afar off, are apt emblems of the present life and the

heavenly citizenship of Christians. It may be that this is all that is intended

in the Epistle, the history being allegorized, as that of Isaac and Ishmael is

in the Epistle to the Galatians. If so, the apparent attribution of a heavenly

hope to the patriarchs themselves must be accounted for by a blending of

the actual history with its ideal meaning, such as was observed in the

chapter about Melchizedek. But it is difficult to understand the expressions

used as implying no more than this. Abraham is said to have himself looked

for the city that hath the foundations,” of which GOD IS THE BUILDER –

a description which cannot but denote the heavenly Jerusalem, of which

the city whose foundations were on the holy hills below is regarded

elsewhere as but a type and emblem (compare ch.12:22; 13:14; Galatians 4:26;

Revelation 21:14; also infra, ch. 8:2, where ἣν ἔπηξενκύριος haen epaexen

ho Kurioswhich the Lord pitched - is said of the heavenly tabernacle). This

interpretation is further supported by our finding in Philo similar views of a

heavenly counterpart to Jerusalem as the final object of Israel’s hope.

Again, the country desired by the patriarchs is, in v. 16, distinctly called a

heavenly one. Nor is the view at all untenable that, notwithstanding the

silence of the ancient record on the subject, they did look forward to a life

after death with God, seeing in the promised earthly inheritance an emblem

and earnest of a heavenly one. Well known is Bishop Warburton’s

argument that a belief in a future state, which was so ancient and universal,

and so prominent especially in the religion of Egypt must almost of

necessity have been shared in by the race of Abraham, and hence that the

silence about it in the Mosaic record must be due, not to its absence from

the creed of Israel, but to the peculiar purpose of the Mosaic dispensation.

Worthy of attention also are Dean Stanley’s words (Lect. 7. on ‘Jewish

Church’) “Not from want of religion, but (if one might use the expression)

from excess of religion, was this void left. The future life was not denied or

contradicted, but it was overlooked, set aside, overshadowed, by the

consciousness of the living, actual presence of God Himself.”  But though

such void there is, however to be accounted for, there are still, even in the

Pentateuch (as certainly in the Psalms and prophets), occasional glimpses

of the hope of immortality.  (This Christ brought to light – II Timothy

1:10 – CY – 2014) The mystic tree of life in the midst of the

garden, the predicted bruising, of the serpent’s head, the mystery of

Enoch’s departure from the world, and notably (as our Lord Himself points

out) God still calling Himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (“the

God of the living” – Mark 12:27 – CY  - 2014) after they had been long ago

gathered to their fathers, are intimations, even in the Pentateuch, of a belief in

man’s immortal hopes. And it may be added, with reference to the history

immediately before us, that Jacob’s application of the idea of his being a

“sojourner “ — used by Abraham with reference to the abode in Palestine

to the whole course of his life upon the earth, in itself suggests the meaning

attached to such language in the Epistle. Hence no violence is done to the

meaning of the history rather it may be that its deeper meaning is brought out, if

the patriarchs are regarded as entertaining a hope of a heavenly inheritance to

themselves, and seeing beyond the earthly types. But even f we suppose such

immortal hopes as having been in them at the most but vague and dim, still their

faith in and longing for a fulfillment of the promise in any sense was really a

longing and reaching after the eternal realities which the first fulfillment

typified. Compare the view taken in ch.4. of the meaning of Gods

rest.” Delitzsch thus enunciates this view of the passage before us: “The

promise given to the patriarchs was a Divine assurance of a future rest.

That rest was connected, in the first instance, with the future possession of

an earthly home; but their desire for that home was at the same time a

longing and a seeking after Him who had given the promise of it, whoso

presence and blessing alone made it for them an object of desire, and

whose presence and blessing, however vouchsafed, makes the place of its

manifestation to be indeed a heaven. The shell of their longing might thus

be of earth; its kernel was heavenly and Divine, and as such God Himself

vouchsafed to honor and reward it.  (It is God, Himself, who has

“set the world [eternity] in their heart” – Ecclesiastes 3:11 – CY – 2014)

From the general mode of life of the patriarchs the review now passes to

particular acts of faith, beginning with Abraham’s memorable one, the

offering of Isaac.



The Christian’s Condition in this World (vs. 13-14)


“These all died in faith, not having received the promises,” etc. By “these

all” we understand Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Jacob. They died in

faith. Their faith, though at times it was sorely tried, continued unto death.

And their death was according to or consistent with their faith. They

departed this life still believing in the promises, and anticipating their

fulfillment in the life beyond. We take what is said of the patriarchs in these

two verses as descriptive of the Christian’s condition in this world.




The patriarchs “all died in faith, not having received the promises, but

having seen them and greeted them from afar.” They did not inherit

Canaan. The promises of God to them were not fulfilled in this life. The

hopes which those promises awakened were not realized when they died.

But our text teaches:


Ø      That they firmly believed in the blessings promised to them. By

faith they saw them from afar.


Ø      They anticipated the possession of these blessings. They “greeted them.”

From afar they saw the promises in the reality of their fulfillment; from

afar they greeted them as the wanderer greets his longed-for home, even

when he only comes in sight of it at a distance, drawing to himself as it

were magnetically and embracing with inward love that which

is yet afar off. The exclamation, “I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord”

(Genesis 49:18), is such a greeting of salvation from afar. The image

is that of sailors who, catching a glimpse of the shores they wish to reach,

salute them from a distance.” Cowper expresses the idea. He speaks of:


The savage rock,…

That hides the seamew in his hollow clefts

Above the reach of man. His hoary head,

Conspicuous many a league, the mariner,

Bound homeward, and in hope already there,

Greets with three cheers exulting.”


Such was the attitude of the patriarchs to the blessings promised

unto them by the Lord. And in this respect Christians to some extent

resemble them. The highest and brightest hopes of the Christian are

not attained here. This world is the scene of the pursuit rather than

the attainment of the divinest satisfactions. Is there any one whose

brightest and best hopes have been realized in this world? Is our life

as good and glad and great a thing as we pictured it in our early days?

Are we as true and pure, as brave and noble, as we hoped and

expected to be? Verily, we have not attained; we are not

satisfied; we have not received the promised blessings. But these

blessings still beckon us onward. We long and hope for the realization

of them.  So far as we are religious, we are in a state of aspiration and

unsatisfied desire.   In disappointment ever renewed, in thoughts and

affections ever transcending all our possibilities, consist all

the noble unrest, the progressive goodness, the immortal capacities

of our nature, rendering it the creator of poetry and the moral creature

of God.” We anticipate the fruition of our hopes hereafter. “As for me,

I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I

awake, with thy likeness.”  (Psalm 17:15)



SOJOURNER — A PILGRIM. “Confessed that they were pilgrims on the

earth” (compare Genesis 23:4; 47:9), All men are pilgrims in this world.

David, in the height of his power, confessed this (I Chronicles 29:15).

Whether they will or not, every man is moving ever onward from the seen

TO THE UNSEEN,  from the temporal to the eternal. Some are unwilling

pilgrims. If they could they would be citizens here, not sojourners. But if

they attempt to settle down, some sharp shock soon reminds them that

their condition here is not stationary, but itinerant and changeable. The

Christian cheerfully recognizes the fact that he has no continuing city here;

he confesses that he is a pilgrim on the earth. Mark some of the features of

this pilgrimage.


Ø      It is irretraceable. There is no opportunity of going back to past scenes

and experiences. The movement is invariably onward.


Ø      It is continuous. There are no stoppages on this journey. Life never

pauses in its motion.


Ø      It is rapid. Compared with the work to be done in it, and with the

boundless and solemn future to which it leads, how brief is life!

(“We spend our years as a tale that is told!” – Psalm 90:9 – And

to think that I am blessed in my 71st year through God’s great

grace! – CY – 2014) 



SEEKING HIS HOME ELSEWHERE. “Confessed that they were

strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare

plainly that they seek after a country of their own.” They seek a fatherland,

a home. There is much in this world which is uncongenial to the true

Christian. He has desires which this world cannot satisfy. He does not want

to stay here permanently, He does not feel at home here. But he is seeking

his home in heaven; he is pressing onward to his Father’s house. There

many of his best and dearest friends have already entered; there many of his

spiritual kinsfolk dwell; there the elder Brother and the heavenly Father are

at home; and as he journeys thither he sings:


“There is my house and portion fair,

My treasure and my heart are there,

And my abiding home.”


While on the journey let the Christian pilgrim rejoice:


Ø      In the excellence of the way on which he travels. “A highway shall be

there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness,” (Isaiah


Ø      In the attractiveness of the prospects which beckon him forward.

Ø      In the delightfulness of the companionships of the journey. He himself

shall be with them, walking in the way the redeemed shall walk in it.”

(Ibid. v. 9)

Ø      In the blessedness of the destination to which He travels. They “shall

come to Zion with songs,” etc. (Ibid. v.10)



The Christian’s Attitude in this World (vs. 15-16)


“And truly if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came

out” etc. These words, telling us how the patriarchs regarded the country which

they had left and the country for which they looked, suggest to us that the Christian’s

attitude in this world is that of :



BEHIND. And truly if the patriarchs “had been mindful of that country

from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to return.”

Though having no possession in Canaan, they did not wish to go back to

Ur of the Chaldees. Though strangers in Canaan, they did not desire to

return to their old home to seek for friendships there; for had they wished

to do so, opportunities were not lacking for the realization of such a wish.

There are at least two senses in which the Christian has renounced the

things which are behind.


Ø      He has no desire to return to a life of worldliness or of sin. He could do

so if he wished, but he is not disposed to do so. He has no relish for those

pursuits and pleasures of this world, which are followed without any

thought of the life and the world which lie beyond. And a life of sin is

abhorrent to him. To go back to the old life would be to pass from light

into darkness, from liberty into bondage, from noble unrest to seek for

ignoble satisfactions, and the true Christian will not entertain such an



Ø      He has no desire to return to the past seasons and experiences of life.

There may be times when he has a brief and unhealthy longing for the

lost innocence of childhood, or for the too-fleeting enjoyments of youth,

or for the recurrence of past opportunities which were neglected or only

partially improved. There are, we conceive, few persons but at times have

painfully felt such longings. But the calm, considerate desire of the

Christian is not to go back to any of these things. His judgment

assures him that if he could return to the past, or recall departed

seasons and opportunities, he would probably make no better use

of them than he has already done (or even worse – CY – 2014).

Hence, like Paul, he endeavors to “forget those things which are

behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

I press toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God

in Jesus Christ.”  (Philippians 3:13-14)



now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not

ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city.”


Ø      The object of their desire. “They desire a better country, that is, a

heavenly.” Heaven is better than the best of earthly countries or

homes. It is better:


o       In its society. The Christian will not feel himself a stranger

there; for he will be with kindred spirits. Good people here

are not always agreeable; but in heaven the society is always

genial and refreshing.


o       In its services. The service of God is delightful at present,

though that which we render is very imperfect in its character,

and often interrupted in its exercise, and very contracted in

its sphere. But hereafter we shall consecrate our perfected

powers to Him, and “serve him day and night in

His temple,” without weariness and with joy unspeakable.


o       In its enjoyments. “In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy

right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

The heavenly enjoyments are distinguished for:

§         their purity,

§         their plenitude, and

§         their perpetuity.


o       In its security. Sickness, sorrow, death, and sin, the prolific

parent of suffering, cannot enter heaven.  (It is a place

“wherein dwelleth righteousness.”  - II Peter 3:13 – CY –

2014)  Verily, the heavenly is a better country.


Ø      The propriety of their desire. They who have received the Divine call, as

the patriarchs had and the sincere Christian has, should aim at the end of

their calling; they should seek to realize it, and endeavor to act up to it. In

seeking the better country Christians are doing so; “wherefore God is not

ashamed of them, to be called their God.” (v. 16)  It is fitting that the

children should long for their Father’s house;wherefore God is not

ashamed of them,” etc.


Ø      The blessedness of their desire. It will end in full fruition. The longing

which is never satisfied is only a protracted pain. The longing for what is

worthy, and which is lost in its fulfillment, issues in blessedness. Such

is the desire of the Christian. “God is not ashamed of them, to be

called their God; for He hath prepared for them a city.” If God by

His promises had kindled their hopes only to disappoint them, He

might be “ashamed to be called their God.” If He was their God

and Father, yet provided no home for His children, He might be

“ashamed to be called their God.” But He has provided for the

satisfaction of the hopes which He has awakened; and the

home for which they long He has established. “He hath prepared

for them a city.”  Since we are journeying homeward:


o       Let us not be much concerned for either the pleasures or the

possessions of this world.

o       Let us not count it a strange thing if we have some discomforts

on the way.

o       Let us not dread death, for it is the gate of admission into the

city which God hath prepared for his people.   (A passing

from death into life – John 5:24)


17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up (literally, hath offered up,

denoting an accomplished act of which the significance continues) Isaac: and he

that had received (rather, accepted, implying his own assent and belief) the

promises offered up his only begotten son, 18  Of  whom it was said, That

in Isaac shall thy seed be called: 19 Accounting that God was able to raise

him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.”

The above rendering varies slightly from the Authorized Version in vs. 18-19.

For, in v. 18, πρὸς ὃν – pros honof whom – is more naturally connected with

the immediate antecedent, ὁ.…ἀναδεξάμενος, - ho anadexamenoshe received;

the one receiving -  than with  μονογενῆ - monogenaeonly begotten: and, in

v. 19, there is no need to supply “him” after ἐγείρειν egeireinto raise:

the Greek seems obviously to express belief in GOD’S GENERAL POWER

TO RAISE THE DEAD,  not His power in that instance only. The offering

of Isaac (specially instanced also by James,  James 2:21), stands out as the

crowning instance of Abraham’s faith. The very son, so long expected, and

at length, as it were, supernaturally given, — he in whose single life was

bound up all hope of fulfillment of the promise, was to be sacrificed after all,

and so seemingly all hope cut off. Yet Abraham is represented as not hesitating

for a moment to do in simple faith what seemed God’s will, and still not wavering

in his hope of a fulfillment somehow. Such faith is here regarded as virtually faith

in God’s power EVEN TO RAISE THE DEAD! . (For a similar view of Abraham’s

faith as representing “the hope and resurrection of the dead,” compare Romans

4:17, 24.) The expression, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called” (literally, “In

Isaac shall be called to thee a seed”), quoted from Genesis 21:12, means, not that

the seed should be called after the name of Isaac, but that the seed to be called

Abraham’s should be in Isaac, i.e. his issue. The concluding phrase, “Whence also

he received him in a figure” (ἐν παραβολῇ - parabolae - in a parable), has been

variously interpreted.  Notwithstanding the authority of many modern

commentators,  we may certainly reject the view of παραβολῇ  carrying here the

sense borne by the verb παραβἀλλεσθαὶ - paraballesthai -  that of venturing or

exposing one’s self to  risk, or that of the adverb παραβόλως parabolos

unexpectedly. Even if the noun παραβολῇ could be shown by any instance to

bear such senses, its ordinary use in the New Testament as well as in the

Septuagint must surely be understood here. It expresses (under the idea of

comparison, or setting one thing by the side of another) an illustration,

representation, or figure of something. Its use in this sense in the Gospels is

familiar to us all; elsewhere in the New Testament it occurs only in this Epistle,

ch. 9:9, where the “first tabernacle is spoken of as a παραβολῇ. Still, the

question remains of the exact drift of this expression, ἐν παραβολῇ. It

surely is, that, though Isaac did not really die, but only the ram in his stead,

yet the transaction represented to Abraham an actual winning of his son

from the dead; he did so win him in the way of an acted parable, which

confirmed his faith in God’s power to raise the dead as much as if the lad

had died. For such use of the preposition ἐν we may compare I  Corinthians

13:12, Βλέπομεν διἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματιBlepomen diesoptrou en ainigmati

we see through a glass; mirror; darkly, which may mean (notwithstanding the

different view of it given doubtfully by the distinguished commentator on the

Epistle in the ‘Speaker’s Commentary’), “We see, not actually, but in the way

of an enigmatical representation, as through a mirror.” The above seems a mere

natural meaning of the phrase, ἐν παραβολῇ, than that of the commentators

who interpret it “in such sort as to be a parable or type of something else to

come,” viz. of the death and resurrection of Christ. It does not, of course,

follow that the transaction was not typical of Christ, or that the writer does

not so regard it; we are only considering what his language in itself implies.

Rendered literally, and with retention of the order of the words, the sentence

runs: “From whence [i.e. from the dead] him [i.e. Isaac, αὐτὸν  - autonhim –

being slightly emphatic, as is shown by its position in the sentence, equivalent

to illum, not eum; and this suitably after the general proposition preceding] he

did too in a parable win [ἐκομίσαντο ekomisantoreceived; requited -  

compare v. 39, οὐκ ἐκομίσαντο τὴν ἐπαγγελίανouk ekomisanto taen

epangelianreceived not the promise].” With regard to what we may call

the moral aspect of this peculiar trial of Abraham’s faith, a few words may

be said, since a difficulty naturally suggests itself on the subject. How, it

may be asked, is it consistent with our ideas of Divine righteousness, that

even readiness to slay his son should be required of Abraham as a duty?

How are we to account for this apparent sanction of the principle of human

sacrifices? To the latter question we may reply, in the first place, that the

narrative in Genesis, taken as a whole, affords no such sanction, but very

much the contrary. All we are told is that the great patriarch, in the course

of his religious training, was once divinely led to suppose such a sacrifice

to be required of him. The offering of sons was not unusual in the ancient

races among where Abraham lived; and, however shocking such a practice

might be, and however condemned in later Scripture, it was due, we may

say to the perversion only of a true instinct of humanity — that which

suggests the need of some great atonement, and the claim of the Giver of

all to our best and dearest, if demanded from us. That Abraham should be

even divinely led to suppose for a time that his God required him to

express his acknowledgment of this need and this claim by not withholding

from him as much as even the heathen were accustomed to offer to their

gods, is consistent with God’s general way of educating men to a full

knowledge of the truth. But the sacrifice was in the end emphatically

forbidden by a voice from heaven; to Abraham thenceforth, and to his seed

for ever, it was made dearly known that, though God does require

atonement for sin and entire submission to His will, He does not require

violence to be done to tender human feeling, or any cruel rites.



Faith of the Hebrew Pilgrim Fathers (vs. 8-19)


What American on could look without emotion on the granite boulder at

New Plymouth — “the corner-stone of a nation” — upon which the

Pilgrim Fathers of New England stepped ashore from the Mayflower? And,

in like manner, what Jew can think but with enthusiasm of those three

glorious names — Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? The verses before us were

well fitted to stir the hearts’ blood of the Hebrews to whom this treatise

was addressed. And they should stir ours too; for these patriarchs are the

Pilgrim Fathers of all the men of faith. We shall consider the passage

chiefly in connection with Abraham, the father of the faithful. In his

spiritual life there were at least four great crises — four occasions upon

which his faith was severely tried, and came forth victorious. The apostle

introduces his reference to each of these with the expression which is the

refrain of the whole chapter — “ By faith” (vs. 8-9, 11, 17).



It was a hard command which he received, to leave his native country,

and to cast himself upon the bare promise of God for another home. He

had to break the ties which bound him to the scenes of his youth. He was

at first ignorant as to what country he was going. His long journey would

expose him to hardships and dangers. Yet Abraham did not hesitate to

obey. He gathered his flocks together, and set out with his household

caravan. It was impossible that he could have comprehended the large plan

of Providence, of which only one little corner was unfolded in his call; but

the precept and the promise were sufficient to determine his action. So he

put his hand trustfully into the great hand of God, and allowed Him to

guide his feet. Abraham’s emigration was the first link in the golden chain

of the triumphs of his faith. It teaches us such lessons as these — that

personal religion:


Ø      takes its rise in God;

Ø      is the fruit of a Divine revelation; and

Ø      is the product of an earnest faith.



PILGRIMAGE. (vs. 9-10, 13-16.) When he arrived in Canaan, the

patriarch found that he was not to receive immediate possession of the

land. Indeed, while he lived, it remained still but the land of promise. He

dwelt in tents. He did not build any walled city. The only piece of ground

which he ever acquired was a burying-place. But his view of the meaning

of the covenant expanded with his spiritual experience. Abraham and

Sarah, Isaac and Jacob, gradually learned that the promise of an inheritance

in the literal Canaan was in their own case an illusion. Yet they did not

conclude that it had been a delusion. They learned to understand the

promises spiritually, and were persuaded that God would fulfill His word

even to themselves, in a deeper way than at first they had dreamed. So they

steadfastly maintained their faith; and, viewing Canaan as a type of heaven,

“confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Abraham

was content to feel always from home in this world. Although he became

immensely wealthy, he continued spiritually a pilgrim. His maxim was not

that of sense, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush; “rather, as a

prince of the men of faith,” he looked for the city which hath the

foundations.” The fatherland for which he longed was not the place of his

birth, else he could easily have re-crossed the Euphrates (v. 15). “The

heirs of the promise” sought their home in heaven. And so, “These all died

in faith,” is the epitaph common to all the monuments in Patriarchs

Corner of the abbey church of the Old Testament. And because they so

died, God condescended to take one of his great Bible-names from those

Hebrew Pilgrim Fathers — “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”



PROTRACTED CHILDLESSNESS. (vs. 11-12.) This severe trial

Sarah shared with him. If the faith of Abraham forms, as it were, the

magnificent frontispiece of the volume of Jewish history, Sarah’s faith

occupies the positron of the vignette upon the title-page (Isaiah 51:2).

The time came when the birth of a child to them was, humanly speaking,

doubly impossible; and yet God said that the covenant would not be

fulfilled in the line of Ishmael. Had it not been for their faith, accordingly,

Sarah’s son Isaac would never have been born; and the promise could not

have been realized that Abraham should have a posterity — both natural

and spiritual — numerous as the stars in the Eastern sky, or as the sand

grains upon the shore of ocean.  (Genesis 22:17)



SON. (vs. 17-19.) This extraordinary event was the final strain to which

his faith was subjected. It was a dreadful ordeal, and one from which even

most good men would have recoiled with horror. The patriarch was

commanded to offer up the most precious of all sacrifices. He was to

perform a deed abhorrent to the most sacred human affection. He was

required to put to death the heir of the Divine promise, and thus appear to

destroy the hopes which clustered round him. Yet by faith Abraham

sustained this last and crowning trial. His submission was entire. His

obedience was perfect. The apostle says definitely that he “offered up

Isaac;” for the sacrifice was completely accomplished in the patriarch’s will

before the angel stayed his hand. And what was the faith which comforted

his heart and nerved his arm, at this unparalleled crisis of his spiritual life?

Abraham accounted that “God is able to raise up, even from the dead.” He

was sure that Isaac would be restored to life again, rather than that the

promise should fail. Isaac’s resurrection would not be a greater miracle

than his birth had been. And, the apostle adds, the patriarch really did

receive Isaac from the dead, figuratively speaking (v. 19). An

achievement so sublime evinced that complete self-consecration and

submission to God’s will which belongs only to perfect faith, and thus

certifies Abraham’s right to the lofty title of “father of the faithful.”




Ø      Are we ready to obey any call of God, whether relating to our outer life

or to our soul-life?

Ø      Do we feel ourselves to be strangers and pilgrims on the earth,” or

could we take an eternity of our present life, provided our material

circumstances were comfortable? (This seems to be what we

erroneously desire at times?  CY – 2014)

Ø      Have we the faith which can laugh at impossibilities rather than

   disbelieve the Divine promise?

Ø      Have we unreservedly consecrated to God our soul, our life, our all?


Happy is each heart that can “make melody to the Lord” in the words of

the hymn:


“The God of Abraham praise,

 At whose supreme command

          From earth I rise, and seek the joys

   At His right hand.

           I all on earth forsake, —

           Its wisdom, fame, and power;

         And Him my only Portion make,

                My Shield and Tower.”





The Christian’s Attitude in this World (vs. 15-16)


“And truly if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came

out” etc. These words, telling us how the patriarchs regarded the country which

they had left and the country for which they looked, suggest to us that the Christian’s

attitude in this world is that of :



BEHIND. And truly if the patriarchs “had been mindful of that country

from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to return.”

Though having no possession in Canaan, they did not wish to go back to

Ur of the Chaldees. Though strangers in Canaan, they did not desire to

return to their old home to seek for friendships there; for had they wished

to do so, opportunities were not lacking for the realization of such a wish.

There are at least two senses in which the Christian has renounced the

things which are behind.


Ø      He has no desire to return to a life of worldliness or of sin. He could do

so if he wished, but he is not disposed to do so. He has no relish for those

pursuits and pleasures of this world, which are followed without any

thought of the life and the world which lie beyond. And a life of sin is

abhorrent to him. To go back to the old life would be to pass from light

into darkness, from liberty into bondage, from noble unrest to seek for

ignoble satisfactions, and the true Christian will not entertain such an



Ø      He has no desire to return to the past seasons and experiences of life.

There may be times when he has a brief and unhealthy longing for the

lost innocence of childhood, or for the too-fleeting enjoyments of youth,

or for the recurrence of past opportunities which were neglected or only

partially improved. There are, we conceive, few persons but at times have

painfully felt such longings. But the calm, considerate desire of the

Christian is not to go back to any of these things. His judgment

assures him that if he could return to the past, or recall departed

seasons and opportunities, he would probably make no better use

of them than he has already done (or even worse – CY – 2014).

Hence, like Paul, he endeavors to “forget those things which are

behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

I press toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God

in Jesus Christ.”  (Philippians 3:13-14)



now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not

ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city.”


Ø      The object of their desire. “They desire a better country, that is, a

heavenly.” Heaven is better than the best of earthly countries or

homes. It is better:


o       In its society. The Christian will not feel himself a stranger

there; for he will be with kindred spirits. Good people here

are not always agreeable; but in heaven the society is always

genial and refreshing.


o       In its services. The service of God is delightful at present,

though that which we render is very imperfect in its character,

and often interrupted in its exercise, and very contracted in

its sphere. But hereafter we shall consecrate our perfected

powers to Him, and “serve him day and night in

His temple,” without weariness and with joy unspeakable.


o       In its enjoyments. “In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy

right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

The heavenly enjoyments are distinguished for:

§         their purity,

§         their plenitude, and

§         their perpetuity.


o       In its security. Sickness, sorrow, death, and sin, the prolific

parent of suffering, cannot enter heaven.  (It is a place

“wherein dwelleth righteousness.”  - II Peter 3:13 – CY –

2014)  Verily, the heavenly is a better country.


Ø      The propriety of their desire. They who have received the Divine call, as

the patriarchs had and the sincere Christian has, should aim at the end of

their calling; they should seek to realize it, and endeavor to act up to it. In

seeking the better country Christians are doing so; “wherefore God is not

ashamed of them, to be called their God.” (v. 16)  It is fitting that the

children should long for their Father’s house;wherefore God is not

ashamed of them,” etc.


Ø      The blessedness of their desire. It will end in full fruition. The longing

which is never satisfied is only a protracted pain. The longing for what is

worthy, and which is lost in its fulfillment, issues in blessedness. Such

is the desire of the Christian. “God is not ashamed of them, to be

called their God; for He hath prepared for them a city.” If God by

His promises had kindled their hopes only to disappoint them, He

might be “ashamed to be called their God.” If He was their God

and Father, yet provided no home for His children, He might be

“ashamed to be called their God.” But He has provided for the

satisfaction of the hopes which He has awakened; and the

home for which they long He has established. “He hath prepared

for them a city.”  Since we are journeying homeward:


o       Let us not be much concerned for either the pleasures or the

possessions of this world.

o       Let us not count it a strange thing if we have some discomforts

on the way.

o       Let us not dread death, for it is the gate of admission into the

city which God hath prepared for his people.   (A passing

from death into life – John 5:24)



Abraham’s Faith in Offering Isaac (vs. 17-19)


This is to be considered here as an illustration of faith. All our modern

difficulties as to the right and wrong of Abraham’s conduct never occurred

to the writer of this Epistle. A human sacrifice was not abhorrent to

Abraham’s views of religious necessity. Here we have simply to look at the

faith a father showed when called to give up his only son. See:



natural affections; for Abraham, having loved his son, loved him to the end.

The very depth and intensity of his natural affection make his faith appear

the stronger. We must not for a moment admit that natural affection could

be even deadened in his heart to allow him to do such a thing. But

assuredly his natural inclinations must have had a struggle with his faith

before they surrendered. It is an almost universal tendency among parents

to wish that their children should have the rewards and comforts of life.

Wherever failure and suffering may come, they are not to come to them.

The mother of James and John showed this feeling very strongly.

(Matthew 20:21)  This is the way in which natural affection gets spoiled and

 made a hideous thing through selfishness. This is the way in which natural

affection often defeats itself, and instead of doing the best thing for children

does the worst. Here surely is an example for parents in dealing with their

children. Let them try to find out what God would have them do, what

is really best upon a large view of the future, and not what seems best, not

what is easiest and most comfortable. God called both Abraham and his

son to self-sacrifice, and his view was far better than any inclination

or judgment of their own.



there ever a finer chance for the tempter to make the worse appear the

better reason, to strengthen natural inclination by plausible representations

as to what was the Divine will? It seems most reasonable to say, “Isaac is

the child of promise: the future for generations depends on his life;

whatever else may happen to him, it is clear he is not to die now.” And

only too often in life plausible reasons for what turns out in the end an

utterly wrong course are found with very little ingenuity. It is not enough

that a way should seem right to love and prudence. Opportunities may

come seeming on the surface of them to have signs of Providence, and yet

all the time the real pointing of Providence may be neglected. The mind

gets led away with unconscious sophistries. Now, it is in view of just such

circumstances that God comes in with His clear authority to take the place

of our plausible views and arguments. There are times when distinct,

impressive intimations are not needed, when ordinary common sense and

right feeling are quite enough. But also there are times when one clear,

significant word from above will settle everything to the humble and

docile mind.



God did not come in with this trial of faith at the beginning of His dealings

with Abraham. He showed him first of all much of His power and His

guiding hand. The child whom He asked in sacrifice had first of all been

given in miracle. Divine demands are always proportioned to strength and

to previous experiences. And so, however hard the trial might be to the

feelings of the father, yet it had its eminently reasonable side when it

appealed to the experience of the believer. God was putting honor upon

Abraham in judging him fit for such a demand as this.


20 “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.”

Here the word καὶ - kaiand - gives force to what is meant; words uttered

by the patriarchs in the spirit of prophecy being now adduced as further

evidence of their faith.  To those inspired by this spirit even the distant future

is realized as present; and faith is not only a condition of such prophetic visions

being granted to them, but is also evinced by their trusting the visions as

Divine revelations, and speaking with confidence accordingly. The prophet

seems as though able himself to control the future by giving or withholding

blessing (compare Jeremiah 1:10); but it is really that his mind and will are at

one with THE MIND AND WILL OF GOD,  a Divine voice speaks within

him, and through faith he is receptive of it and gives it utterance. Thus it was

that even the future characters, and changing relations to each other, of the

yet unborn races of Israel and Edom are represented as having been

foreshadowed in the blessings of that dying patriarch.


21 “By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the

sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.”

Here two distinct incidents are referred to, both at the close of Jacob’s life.

That first mentioned, the blessing of the sons of Joseph (Genesis 48:2),

closely resembles the dying act of Isaac already spoken of, and has a

similar significance. In both cases, too, human intention is overruled, in that

the younger son obtains the higher blessing; and each patriarch accepts

alike the Divine intimation to this effect, thus further evincing faith in a

power and a will above his own. The latter part of the verse, “and

worshipped,” etc., is quoted from Ibid. ch. 47:31, and refers to a

previous instance of the dying Jacob’s faith, in his charge to Joseph to bury

him with his fathers in the land of promise. The reversal in the text of the

historical order of the two instances may be because the one referred to

first is cognate with the instance of Isaac’s faith which has gone before, the

other with that of Joseph’s which follows. For the benedictions of Isaac

and Jacob, when a-dying, expressed faith in revelations made to them

about the several races of their future seed; the deathbed charges of Jacob

and Joseph expressed faith in the chosen seed’s inheritance of the Promised

Land. Though in the verse before us Jacob’s charge to Joseph, with a view

to this inheritance, is not mentioned, yet the quotation from the account of

it in Genesis, “and worshipped,” etc., would be sufficient, in this concise

summary of instances, to recall it to the mind of readers, and so intimate

the writer’s meaning. The variation of the Septuagint, which is here followed as

usual, from the Massoretic text, in reading “staff” instead of “bed,” is due

to the ambiguity of the Hebrew word, which has one meaning or the other

according to its pointing. “Bed” seems more likely to have been intended,

inasmuch as the bed on which the patriarch lay is twice again mentioned

(Ibid. ch. 48:2; 49:33) in the account of the closing scene; and we find

also a similar expression used of David in his old age (I Kings 1:47).

But the variation is unimportant, the essence of the passage being in the

word translated “bowed himself,” which in the Hebrew as well as the

Greek certainly expresses an act of worship. The only difference is that,

according to one rendering, this worship was expressed by his bowing over

the staff on which he leaned as he sat upon the bed (Ibid. ch.48:2);

according to the other, by his turning round to prostrate himself with his

head upon the pillow.



Faith Giving Serenity and Magnanimity in Death (v. 21)


“By faith Jacob, when he was a-dying,” etc. Let us notice:


  • THE IMPORTANT EVENT. “He was a-dying.” In any circumstances

and in any case death is an important and solemn event. It is so for several



Ø      Think of the mysteriousness of death. There is the mystery of the

dissolution of the soul from the body. There are the mysteries of Hades.

Where is Hades? What is it? What is the mode of human existence

there? There is no authoritative response to our inquiries.


Ø      Think of what death terminates. It ends our visible association with

earthly scenes, circumstances, and societies; it writes “finis” upon all

the privileges of this life; it concludes our opportunities for the

discharge of the duties of this life.


Ø      Think of what it inaugurates. It introduces us to the retributionary

and eternal state. Yes, death is important and solemn. Jacob’s death

is worthy of study; it is interesting, instructive, and sublime.


  • THE INTERESTING ATTITUDE. “Leaning upon the top of his

staff.” Some things of little worth in themselves are yet very precious by

reason of their associations. Such in all probability was this staff. It was

rich in associations, fruitful in suggestions. It was, perhaps, the same one

that is mentioned in a former portion of his life: “With my staff I passed

over this Jordan.” (Genesis 32:10)  Probably he took it with him when he

left his home and his parents with a guilty and sorrowful spirit; with him,

perhaps in his hand, at Luz when he slept with the stones for his pillow,

and dreamed, etc.; with him that other night, when “there wrestled a man

with him until the breaking of the day.” (Ibid. v. 24)  It supported his feeble

frame when he met his long-lost Joseph at Goshen; and now it is with him in

the “last scene of all,” as he worships leaning upon the old staff. What

associations clustered round it! What emotions it would evoke! what

gratitude! trust! etc.


  • THE SUBLIME ENGAGEMENT. The venerable patriarch was



Ø      In blessing men. “Blessed each of the sons of Joseph.” The meaning of

this may be ascertained by referring to Genesis 48:15-20. The blessing

comprised petition, benediction, and prediction of good. A bequest like

this is better than proud titles or vast domains. The richest human bequest

is the blessing of a holy man. Parents, bestow upon your children this.

Children, prize this.


My boast is not that I deduce my birth

From loins enthroned, and rulers of the earth;

But higher far my proud pretensions rise

The son of parents passed into the skies.”



Now turn to the staff for a minute. In blessing the lads Jacob thought

and spake of God’s goodness to himself. Would not the staff inspire

him with confidence in assuring that goodness to others? As it reminded

him of that sad departure from home, and of other trials, and of the way

in which God had led him and sustained him and prospered him, it

would fill him with assurance and hope for these two grandchildren.

Observe how self-forgetful and magnanimous the patriarch was in this.

He has not a thought or purpose for himself. He does not seek to be

ministered unto, but he ministers unto others. Such is his attitude

towards men in dying. He passes from this world pronouncing

benedictions upon men.


Ø      In worshipping God. “And worshipped.” In this also the staff

would stimulate the aged saint, as it revived his recollections of:


o       the fidelity and forbearance,

o       the mercy and munificence,


of the dealings of God with him.  Towards God his dying attitude

was religious and reverent. He died devoutly adoring Him. How

different is the death of the impenitent! and of those who, although

penitent, have to seek God on the bed of death! “Let me die the

death of the righteous,”  (Numbers 23:10)  But how may we do so?



faith.” This is true as regards:


Ø      The blessing. Unbelievers would pronounce his blessing an absurd

superstition, empty sentiment, wasted breath. The patriarch believed

in the power of intercessory prayer, and so he prayed for the sons of

Joseph. He believed that God often conveys His blessing to men

through men, that He blesses man by man. So he utters words of

blessing on the lads. Do you think they were vain? I am sure they

were not. The memory of them would be a mighty influence for good

in their lives. And as their father would tell them in after days of their

grandfather and his blessing, high and holy purposes would kindle

within them.


Ø      The worship. Jacob believed in the Being of God. God was a reality to

him, or he would not have worshipped. He believed in the holiness and

spiritual beauty of God or he could not have worshipped Him.


Ø      The dying. That by faith the aged saint worshipped God and blessed

men “when he was a-dying is a point of importance. Life and

immortality were not brought to light then as they are now. The revelation

as to the departed was very dim. Yet by faith Israel died calmly,

victoriously. It was by faith in God rather than in immortality. He could

trust all his interests and all his being TO GOD!   He was confident

that He would do well and wisely and kindly with him and for him;

and so he fell asleep in the everlasting arms.  Faith in God is the secret

of victory BOTH IN  LIFE and in DEATH!   Let us cultivate it.


22 “By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the

departing (Exodus) of the children of Israel; and gave commandment

concerning his bones.”  The reference is to Genesis 50:24-25, which,

after what has been said above, requires no further comment.




  The Faith of Joseph; or, Assured Confidence in the Close of Life (v. 22)


“By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children

of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.,” We have here:




end of Joseph’s life upon earth was at hand, and he was well aware that

such was the case. Very extraordinary had been his career — remarkably

checkered and eventful, now dark and anon dazzling, now full of trial and

anon full of triumph, useful beyond any other in that age, and very

illustrious; yet it is now nearly ended. It reminds us that the most

distinguished and powerful, the most holy and useful life, must come to an

end here. At this time Joseph’s glances were not cast back regretfully to

the greatness and grandeur which he was about to leave, but forward

hopefully to a splendid future. He had a firm assurance that a great future

awaited his family, and this faith rested upon that God who in His

providence had so wonderfully led him and so richly blessed him. By faith

Joseph, when his end was nigh, made mention of the departure of the

children of Israel. “And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die; and God will

surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he

sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”  (Genesis 50:24)


Ø      This assurance forms a fitting conclusion to a life of distinguished

piety. The faith which had sustained him in the changeable and often

trying experiences of life is clear and vigorous in its closing scenes.

In Joseph’s case the testimony of his active and public life, and the

testimony of his last hours, beautifully harmonize.


Ø      This assurance was suited to the needs of his kinsfolk at this time.


o       As a caution against entertaining the notion that Egypt was to be

their home. The Israelites at this time were peaceful and very

prosperous in the land. They were in danger of losing sight of the

destiny to which God had called them, and of endeavoring to find

a final settlement in the land of their temporary sojourn. The word

of Joseph was fitted to guard them against this peril. It is in worldly

comfort and prosperity that men are most prone to be unmindful

of their heavenly calling.


o       As a comfort to them under the loss of his protection. It would not

have been strange if the Israelites had feared for their peace and

safety when their kind brother and powerful patron was removed

by death. But Joseph’s calm assurance would encourage them to

believe in God’s continued interest in them, in His providential

care over them, and in the fulfillment of the promises which He

 made to their fathers. When friends die, when great and good

men are summoned home, let this be our encouragement, that

God ever lives to save His people and to carry on His work.




Joseph was a great man in Egypt. His elevation and honor, the triumph of

his genius and the success of his plans, his prosperity and power, had all

been won and enjoyed in Egypt. He had contracted a distinguished

marriage with an Egyptian princess. Pharaoh “gave him to wife Asenath

the daughter of Potipherah priest of On.” (Genesis 41:45)  In Egypt

“the priestly caste was the royal caste also.” In authority and rank, in state

and splendor, in greatness and power, Joseph was inferior only to the king

himself. Yet he wished both in life and in death to be numbered amongst

the Israelites. Hence he “gave commandment concerning his bones.”

“And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will

surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.” (Ibid.

ch. 50:25)  We discover in this an evidence of:


Ø      His warm affection for his family. For some years of his life, for more

than seven years of his prosperity and power, we have no evidence

of any interest taken by Joseph in his father and brothers; but now

he manifests a tender and tenacious attachment to them. This is the

more worthy of commendation when we call to mind the grievous

injury which his brothers had done him aforetime. Joseph loves his

kindred who had treated him so ill more than the Egyptians who

had treated him so well. “Love as brethren.” 


Ø      His unwavering fidelity to his God. Joseph’s faith in Jehovah had not

been undermined or shaken by his residence in idolatrous Egypt.

Through life and in death he was faithful to the God of his fathers,

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. “Be thou faithful unto death,”

(Revelation 2:10)



OF THE HOPE OF IMMORTALITY. Joseph “gave commandment

concerning his bones.” He “took an oath of the children of Israel that they

would carry his dead body with them, when God should lead them into the

land which He had promised unto their fathers. Why should so wise and

good a man be so concerned concerning his body? Such concern in such a

man is inexplicable apart from the craving of the human heart for

IMMORTALITY and not for a vague, shadowy existence after death,

but for immortality associated with a distinct and recognizable form.

The same craving found expression amongst the Egyptians in their embalming

of their dead. Joseph must have had some measure of faith in such an

immortality. This craving is met in Christianity. Our Savior Jesus Christ

hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”  (II Timothy

1:10)  “There shall be a resurrection both of the just and the unjust.”

(Acts 24:15)  The hour cometh, in which ALL THAT ARE IN THE


 shall hear His voice, and shall come forth, they that have done good,

unto the RESURRECTION OF LIFE; and they which have done evil,

untothe RESURRECTION OF DAMNATION.”  (Matthew 5:28-29)

 Both the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body are

revealed to us as facts in the Christian Scriptures. Therefore, with our

clearer revelation and richer privileges, as the end of our earthly life draws

nigh we may realize a fuller and firmer assurance than he did whose faith

we have been considering. For we know that if the earthly house

            of our tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not

made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”  (II Corinthians 5:1)



Faith of Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph (vs. 20-22)


Each of these patriarchs died in the firm confidence of “things hoped for,”

and pronounced prophetic blessings upon his descendants accordingly. The

patriarchal benedictions were the expressions of a faith in the promises of

the covenant, which was strong enough to bear the test of a death-bed.


  • ISAAC’S BLESSING. (v. 20.) The prophecy here referred to was

divinely inspired. It was not the utterance merely of parental love. The

Holy Spirit revealed to Isaac the fortunes of his two sons; and, believing

the revelation, he felt himself impelled by an irresistible impulse to declare

it. The sin of Rebekah and Jacob in intercepting for the latter what his

father had intended for Esau did not make the promise of none effect. Had

Isaac been announcing only his own pleasure, he would most certainly have

recalled the words which Jacob had appropriated so treacherously; but the

patriarch felt that he dared not do so. He was persuaded that he had been

made only the mouthpiece of the Divine will respecting the person who

stood before him at the time. He saw that the blessing of the firstborn had

been providentially directed towards his younger son, and he confessed his

inability to reverse it (Genesis 27:33). Isaac blessed his sons “by faith”

in the revelation regarding them of which he was the recipient.


  • JACOB’S BLESSING. (v. 21.) It was faith in a Divine testimony

made in turn to Jacob that caused him (Genesis 48:5, 15-20) both to

predict that Joseph should have a double portion in Israel through his two

sons, and to bestow the larger blessing upon Ephraim, the younger. The

patriarch knew that it would be a greater honor to these two young men to

become each the head of a little Israelitish clan, than even to take rank

through their mother as Egyptian princes. And behind this benediction of

his grandsons there lay also Jacob’s firm faith in that provision of the

covenant which gave the land of Canaan to his posterity. He had exacted

from Joseph a promise upon oath that he should not be buried in Egypt, far

from the graves of his kindred; and he devoutly thanked God, “leaning

upon the top of his staff,” for the assurance that his body should rest in the

land of promise (Ibid. ch.47:29-31). All this shows Jacob’s faith in the

future return of the Hebrews to Canaan as the land of their inheritance.

And his faith looked also, we are persuaded, to the “heavenly country” of

which the land promised to Abraham was only the type.


  • JOSEPH’S BLESSING. (v. 22.) Amid the stern realities of the

dying hour, the illustrious Joseph evinced the same bright and strong faith

which had distinguished his father and his grandfather. It had never

counted for much to him that he was Pharaoh’s prime minister. He had

always been at heart a Hebrew, not an Egyptian. His hope was in the

covenant promises. So, foreseeing the affliction of his people in Egypt, and

their eventual exodus, he resolved that his body should not be buried in

that land. His embalmed remains must be made useful, during the whole

period of their bitter bondage, as a witness to Israel of the faithfulness of

the God of Abraham. And the tribes must carry his bones with them when

they go to take possession of their inheritance. Joseph’s faith is so great

that he is content that his coffined clay should meanwhile remain unburied.

So he died, leaving with his brethren this blessing: “God will surely visit

you” (Genesis 50:24-25). His tender farewell shows us how steadfastly

the eye of his faith was gazing upon the unseen.


  • CONCLUSION. The Christian Hebrews of the first century needed “like

precious faith” (II Peter 1:1) with these three patriarchs, to enable them to

discharge the duties and endure the sufferings to which they were called in

connection with their Christian discipleship. And so also do we Gentile

believers of these last times. Only faith in “things to come” — confidence

in the life and immortality which have been brought to light through the

gospel (II Timothy 1:10) enable us to live obediently and to die triumphantly.


23 “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his

parents, because they saw he was a proper (ἀστεῖον asterionproper;

beautiful; handsomethe word used of the child in Exodus 2:2, there translated

“goodly,” and in Acts 7:20, “fair”) child; and they were not afraid of the king’s

commandment.”  Here the usual following of the Septuagint  again appears in the

hiding being attributed to both parents (this is certainly the meaning of

πατέρων pateronparents -  not as some interpret because of the masculine form -

father and grandfather). In the Hebrew it is the mother only that is spoken

of as hiding him; whereas in the Septuagint the verbs are in the plural, ἰδόντες δέ -

when she saw - though with no expressed nominative. It is not necessary to

understand a special faith in the fulfillment of the promises through the

child thus hidden to be implied, though it may be so intended. But the mere

fearlessness in obeying the dictates of heart and conscience in the face of

danger, and the mere reliance on Providence, thus displayed, expressed




The Faith of the Parents of Moses (v. 23)


“By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid, etc. The writer now passes

from Joseph to Moses; from the time of the peace and prosperity of the

Israelites in Egypt to the time of their heavy oppression and bitter

persecution. This persecution culminated in the terrible edict that all their

male children that should be born should be cast into the Nile. It was at this

time that Moses was born. Hence the Jewish proverb, “When the tale of

bricks is doubled then comes Moses.” Some of our own proverbs set forth

the same truth. “Mans extremity is God’s opportunity.” “The darkest hour

of the night is that which precedes the dawn.” Our text tells how by faith

the parents of Moses protected their child from the fate decreed by

Pharaoh, and preserved his life in infancy. We notice:



Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because

they saw he was a goodly child.” They seem to have believed that their

lovely child was the gift of God, and that He was not unmindful of the gift

which He had bestowed. Moses was distinguished for his beauty. “He was a

goodly child” (Exodus 2:2). He was exceeding fair,” or “fair unto

God” (Acts 7:20). Josephus tells that when the daughter of Pharaoh

saw the babe, “she was greatly in love with it, on account of its largeness

and beauty.” He also tells that when he was three years old every one who

saw him was “greatly surprised at the beauty of his countenance: nay, it

happened frequently that those who met him as he was carried along the

road were obliged to turn again upon seeing the child; that they left what

they were about, and stood still a great while to look on him; for the

beauty of the child was so remarkable and natural to him on many

accounts, that it detained the spectators, and made them stay longer to

look upon him.” Probably his parents believed that so strikingly beautiful

a child was destined by God for some great and good end. They may have

had a presentiment that God designed him for the accomplishment of some

important work. His beauty was to them a presage of his illustrious career.

It awakened or strengthened their confidence in the Divine interest in the

life of the child. A truth of unspeakable preciousness is this. God is

interested deeply and graciously in every human life. He cares not only for

the young life before which a great career extends, but for the obscurest

and feeblest human creature. “The Lord is good to all; and His tender

mercies are over all His works.” (Psalm 145:9)  There is not a sparrow which

“is forgotten in the sight of God. But the very hairs of your head are all

numbered.” (Luke 12:6-7) “He careth for you.”  (I Peter 5:7)




of Moses believed that God could protect their child notwithstanding the

cruel edict of the mighty Pharaoh. They showed their faith by concealing

their cherished treasure in their house for three months. They showed it yet

more clearly and impressively when they placed that treasure in its frail

little vessel amongst the flags on the brink of the Nile. They committed

their beloved child, not to the margin of the river and its flags, but to the

ever-observant and almighty providence of God. Their faith was as

reasonable as it was strong. God can either preserve from danger or deliver

out of the very midst of it. The most determined edicts of the mightiest

monarchs are utterly powerless against His counsels. “He shall cut off the

spirit of princes; he is terrible to the kings of the earth.”(Psalm 76:12)

 “He poureth contempt upon princes.” (Ibid. ch. 107:40)  “God is the Judge;

He putteth down one, and setteth up another.” (Ibid. 75:7)  He is able to guard

His faithful servants against the wrath and the power of fierce sovereigns.

He can preserve His people unhurt in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:19-27); or

can make even hungry lions to be unto them as gentle companions (Ibid.

ch.6:16-23). Trust in Him is, therefore, the highest wisdom  for His

gracious interest in  humanity is infinite, and His power to defend and

 save is almighty.



COURAGE. It did so in the parents of Moses. Notice:


Ø      Their ingenuity. For three months they successfully concealed their

beloved babe. They managed to hide the infant from Egyptian eyes,

and to prevent his cries from reaching Egyptian ears. They skillfully

constructed the ark, and judiciously selected a refuge for it. They

did these things by faith. Faith stimulates ingenuity; it quickens the

inventive faculties. And when, as in the case before us, love is engaged

as well as faith, and the object of affection is in danger, then the

inventive faculties are stirred to their highest and utmost exercise.

Great inventions and discoveries are impossible apart from great faith.


Ø      Their courage. “They were not afraid of the king’s commandment.” It

has been well said that “faith has an eagle’s eye and a lion’s heart. It has a

lion’s heart to” confront the difficulties and dangers of the present, and it

has an eagle’s eye to descry the success and blessing of the future. The

servant of Elisha was terrified when he saw the Syrian army surrounding

Dothan; but Elisha was perfectly calm, because by faith he beheld the

hosts of his heavenly guardians. (II Kings 6:15-17)  Faith nerves the

soul with invincible courage.  The most earnest believers are the

greatest heroes.  The  ancient religious believers “through faith

subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness,” etc. (vs. 33-38).

How splendidly was the faith of the parents of Moses

vindicated! God kept the infant in safety during the three months

in which it was concealed in the house. His eye was fixed on that

little ark of bulrushes on the brink of the Nile, making it more secure

than if it had been enclosed by castle walls or guarded by hosts of

mailed warriors. His hand, unseen and unsuspected, led Pharaoh’s

daughter to that part of the river where the frail ark with its

priceless treasure floated. And in His providence He ordered all things

for the protection and education of the life of that Hebrew child, and

for the fulfillment of his great destiny. Therefore,“trust in the Lord

with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.”

(Proverbs 3:5-6)


24 “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to

be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;  25  Choosing rather to suffer

affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for

a season;  26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the

treasures in (or, of) Egypt; for he had respect unto (literally, looked

away to) the recompense of the reward.”   As in the speech of Stephen (Acts

7.), so here, the narrative in Exodus is supplemented from tradition, such

as is found also in Philo. Moses’ refusal to be called the son of Pharaoh’s

daughter, i.e. his renunciation of his position in the court in order to

associate himself with his oppressed fellow-countrymen, is not mentioned

in the original history, though it is consistent with it, and indeed implied.

Stephen further regards his taking the part of the Israelite against the

Egyptian Exodus 2:11-13) as a sign that he was already conscious of

his mission, and hoped even then to rouse his countrymen to make a

struggle for freedom. The reproach he subjected himself to by thus

preferring the patriot’s to the courtier’s life is here called “the reproach of

Christ.” How so? Chrysostom takes the expression to mean only the same

kind of reproach as Christ was afterwards subjected to, in respect of his

being scouted, and his Divine mission disbelieved, by those whom He came

to save. But, if the expression had been used with respect to Christian’s

suffering for the faith (as it is below, ch.13:13), it would certainly imply

more than this; viz. a participation in Christ’s own reproach, not merely a

reproach like His. (Compare II Corinthians 1:5, τὰ παθήματα τοῦ χριστοῦ -

ta pathaemata tou Christouthe sufferings of Christ  and Colossians 1:24,

τῶν θλίψεων τοῦ χριστοῦ -  ton thlipseon tou Christouof the afflictions

of the Christ - where there is the further idea expressed of Christ Himself

suffering in His members.) And such being the idea which the phrase in

itself would at once convey to Christian readers, and especially as the very

same is used below (ch. 13:13) with reference to Christians, it

must surely be somehow involved in this passage. But how so, we ask

again, in the case of Moses? To get at the idea of the phrase we must bear

in mind the view of the Old and New Testaments being but two parts of

ONE DIVINE DISPENSATION!   The Exodus was thus not only typical of

the deliverance through Christ, but also a step towards it, a preparation for it,

a link in the divinely ordered chain of events leading up to THE GREAT

REDEMPTION!   Hence, in the first place, the reproach endured by Moses in

furtherance of the Exodus may be regarded as endured at any rate for the

sake of Christ, i.e. in His cause whose coming was the end and purpose of

the whole dispensation. And further, inasmuch as Christ is elsewhere

spoken of as the Head of the whole mystical body of His people in all ages

— all to be gathered together at last in Him — He may be regarded, even

before His incarnation, as Himself reproached in the reproach of His servant

Moses. Compare the view, presented in ch.3., of the Son being Lord

of the “house” in which Moses was a servant, and the comprehensive sense

of “God’s house” implied in that passage. Nor should we leave out of

consideration the identification, maintained by the Fathers generally (see

Bull, ‘Def. Fid. Nic.,’ I. 1.), of the Angel of the Pentateuch, of Him who

revealed Himself to Moses as I AM from the bush, with the Second Person

of the holy Trinity, the Word who became incarnate in Christ. (Compare John

1:1-15; also Ibid. ch. 8:58, read in connection with Exodus 3:14; and

I Corinthians 10:4, where the spiritual rock that followed the children

of Israel in the wilderness is said to have been Christ.) Whatever, however,

be the exact import of the expression, “reproach of Christ,” in its

application to Moses, it is evidently selected here with the view of bringing

his example home to the readers of the Epistle, by thus intimating that his

faith’s trial was essentially the same as theirs.



Moses Relinquishing Earthly Advantages (vs. 24-25)



come to manhood, has passed through all the perils of infancy and

childhood, perils in which the prudence and courage of others count for the

effective safeguards, to find himself at last face to face with the worst perils

that can beset a human life. The edict of a tyrant is not so dreadful an evil

as the temptations to self-advancement. The hour of temptation is the hour

when all available considerations of duty and interest should be gathered

together to fortify the heart. The peril to Moses as an infant was practically

nothing; Jehovah’s miraculous intervention could come in any moment to

shield him. But the peril to Moses as a man was very great when the

prospect of high rank in the Egyptian court stood right before his eyes.

Nay, more; from Moses we may pass to Jesus. Jesus was in no real peril

when Herod sent out his band of destroyers to Bethlehem; but in those

after years, when he had to face the prospect of toil and suffering, there

was a real peril to His inner man — the pressure of considerations which

only the peculiar strength of His nature enabled him to resist.



spirit of the world says, “Look at the position which you at present occupy

— a position thousands would give anything to attain.” Moses is the son of

Pharaoh’s daughter, and what more can he have but the kingdom? If he

gives up his position, what has he left? Nothing, truly, unless he has had

the revelations given to faith. And these revelations we are sure Moses

must have had in abundance. If Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, had

revelations of the coming inheritance and glory of their people, is it

credible Moses would not also have revelations such as would effectually

strip the aspect of the court wherein he lived of all its glitter? When we

have the spirit of faith in us, the discouragements of the present are

dwarfed before the attractions of the future. It is seen that the life of faith

has joys beside which the joys of the life of sight are poor indeed. What are

the Pharaohs of Egypt compared with Moses? Mere names. Whereas

Moses has contributed to the coming of Christ, that is, to the uplifting and

purifying of the whole world. When the critical moment came, the eye of

Moses was so purged that he saw where his own real interest lay. He saw

which was the better thing for him to choose for his own sake. He saw

that, in choosing affliction with the people of God, he was choosing an

exceeding great reward, which would more and more manifest itself as




OF FAITH. We know not when the critical moment may come, therefore

we must be ever ready for it. Men must not leave the making of weapons

for the day of battle. The experience of a lifetime makes the physician wise

and successful in the hour of disease. We must be assiduous in laying up

treasures of faith against the day when the persuasions of this world will try




The Great Choice of Moses (vs. 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.” In the providence of

God the adoption of the infant Moses by the daughter of Pharaoh was the

means by which he received the education and training necessary for the

great work for which God had destined him. To the human mind, taking

into consideration the condition of the Israelites at that time, there does not

seem to have been any other means by which he could have obtained

instruction so complete and discipline so thorough. “By means of this

princely education, he became a person most accomplished in

his temper, demeanor, and intellect; he was also trained in that largeness of

view and generosity of spirit which are supposed to result from such

relations, and which qualified him to sustain with dignity and authority the

offices of ruler of a people and general of armies, which eventually

devolved upon him. This education, also — involving, as it must have

done, an intimacy with the highest science and philosophy of Egyptian

sages — was well calculated to secure for him the attention and respect of

the Egyptians when he stood forth to demand justice for an oppressed

race.  “Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians; and he

was mighty in his words and works” (Acts 7:22). The choice of which

our text speaks was his calm and deliberate decision to separate himself

from the Egyptians among whom he had hitherto lived, and to identify

himself with the Israelites to whom he belonged by descent and parentage.

He freely chose the oppressed people of God as his people. This involved

the great avowal that their God was his God; that he rejected the gods of

Egypt, and reverently and heartily accepted Jehovah as his God — the

Sovereign of his being and his Supreme Good. But brought up in the

Egyptian court, instructed by Egyptian teachers, how would Moses

become acquainted with his connection with the Israelites, with their

history and their hopes, and with the sublime character of the God whom

they acknowledged? In the providence of God it was so ordered that his

own godly mother was his nurse, and she would instill these things into his

active and receptive mind, and teach him the simple and holy faith of their

religion. Moreover, when we call to mind the place which, in the Divine

purposes, he was to occupy and the work he was to do, we cannot but

conclude that God communicated directly with his mind and. spirit, and he

received immediate enlightenment and impulse from Him. And thus

prepared, in due season he makes the great decision actual, and openly

chooses the living and true God for his own and only God, and the down

trodden people of God for his people. Several aspects of this choice are

mentioned in the text.



was grown up.” “When he was full forty years old” (Acts 7:23). Moses

made the great choice neither in the heat and impulsiveness of youth, when

the judgment is immature and the decisions hasty, nor in the decadence of

age, when the faculties are failing, and the mind no longer perceives with

its former clearness or considers with its former comprehensiveness and

force. He came to the great decision at a time when his mental faculties

may reasonably be held to have been in full maturity and vigor, and when

he was able correctly to estimate the significance and importance of that

decision. Moreover, the choice was made at a time when it would require

an effort to break away from old associations and modes of life. Generally

speaking, a person’s habits are formed and fixed at forty years old; and he

does not easily take to new circumstances and associations and customs.

But Moses did so. These considerations point to the conclusion that the

choice was made intelligently, deliberately, and with entire decision.




Ø      Eminent position and brilliant prospects. “Moses… refused to be called

the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.” He was the adopted son of the king’s

daughter; but he sacrificed that princely position. If Jewish traditions are

atall reliable, he occupied a position of great eminence and influence

amongst the Egyptians. His prospects also were dazzling. Some say that

he would probably have succeeded to the throne. All these things he

renounced in making his great choice.


Ø      The pleasures of the world. Moses declined to enjoy the pleasures of

sin for a season.” What are these?


o       The gratifications which are prohibited by God: The lust

of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the vain-glory of life,

is not of the Father, but is of the world.”  (I John 2:16)


o       The pursuits which are condemned by conscience.To him

who esteemeth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.”

“He that doubteth is condemned if he eat, because he eateth

not of faith: and whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans

14:14, 23).


o       Anything which diminishes spiritual susceptibility or strength,

 or retards spiritual progress. There is pleasure in some of the

things which are divinely prohibited. There are gratifications

connected with sin. It were folly to deny it. But they are only

“for a season.” (Afterward they bear bitter fruit, even death!

CY – 2014)  They will not bear reflection even in this present

life. They will have no existence in the future life. (There

will be something better and purer!  - CY – 2014)  All these

pleasures Moses cast aside.


Ø      The treasures of the world. Moses turned away from “the treasures of

Egypt.” It seems beyond doubt that he must have lived in affluence in

Egypt; and as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, he must have had

prospects of great wealth for his own portion. How strong the

fascination of riches is for many persons! And this fascination is

more fully realized when men have reached the age of Moses than

in earlier days. At the age when he made his great decision it costs

no small effort to relinquish voluntarily the almost certain prospect

of great wealth. Yet Moses did so.




Ø      The endurance of evil treatment. Moses was well aware that by reason

of his choice he would very likely have “to suffer affliction with the

people of God.” The Israelites were treated by the Egyptians as slaves;

they were an oppressed, a cruelly ill-used people. Moses knew this

when he determined to cast in his lot with them. “To be evil entreated”

was almost certain to be his portion; but it would be “with the people

of God.” An important fact that. They were:


o       a people of a pure faith,

o       sustained by a mighty hand, and

o       inspired by a glorious destiny.


Ø      The endurance of bitter reproach Moses looked forward to “the

reproach of Christ” as a probable result of his choice. He would be

exposed to ridicule for his folly in leaving his brilliant prospects at

court to become identified with an oppressed and despised people.

The writer calls the reproach which Moses suffered the reproach of

Christ, as Paul (II Corinthians 1:5; Colossians 1:24) calls the

sufferings of Christians the sufferings of Christ, i.e. of Christ dwelling,

striving, suffering, in His Church as in His body; to which this reproach

is referred according to the idea of the unity of the Old and New

Testaments, and of the eternal Christ (the Logos) already living and

reigning in the former.” Reproaches do not strip a man of his worldly

goods or break his bones; but to some they are even harder to bear than

these things. They enter terribly into the soul. Thus David cried,

“Reproach hath broken my heart.”  (Psalm 69:20)



“had respect unto the recompense of reward.” He looked forward to the

fulfillment of the promises made unto their fathers — that they should

possess the land of Canaan, that they should be a great and independent

nation, and that in them all nations should be blessed. And beyond earth

and time he looked for a great reward and an eternal. He had yearnings for

immortality. And his hopes reached beyond the bounds of time and space

to a perfection heavenly, everlasting, and Divine. This was not the grand

motive for his great choice. He did not consecrate himself to the true God

because of the rewards of his service. Higher and purer were the motives

which determined his choice. But the prospect of these rewards

encouraged him in making the choice. And as to ourselves, we should

choose to believe the true, do the right, love the beautiful, and reverence

the holy, even if no advantage accrued to us by so doing. But there is an

advantage in godliness, there is a peerless prize for the faithful servant; and

we may take encouragement in the duties and difficulties, the sufferings

and crosses of life, by the contemplation thereof.



been guided by his senses, Moses would have viewed these matters in an

entirely different light, and have made the directly opposite choice. He was

guided by his soul. He listened to the higher voices of his being, and

complied with them. He looked at things with the eye of faith. By faith he

saw the vanity and transitoriness of the things he was renouncing, the

reality and righteousness, the essential and abiding worth of the things he

was embracing, and he made the choice — the true, the wise, the blessed

choice. Let those who are not yet decidedly religious copy the example of

Moses. To be guided simply by sight and sense in making the great election

is irrational and ruinous. Let faith and reason be brought into exercise, and

then your choice will be hearty and earnest for the service of THE LORD



27 “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the

king: for he endured, as seeing Him who is invisible.” This forsaking of

Egypt must, because of the order in which it comes and of Moses alone

being mentioned, be his flight related in Exodus 2:15, not the final

Exodus. The only seeming difficulty is in the expression, “not fearing the

wrath of the king,” whereas in the history Moses is represented as flying in

fear from the face of Pharaoh, who sought to slay him. But the two views

of his attitude of mind are reconcilable. The assertion of his fearlessness

applies to his whole course of action from the time when he elected to

brave the king in behalf of Israel. In pursuance of this course, it became

necessary for him to leave Egypt for a time. In this, as well as in staying,

there was danger; for the king might pursue him: he might, perhaps, have

secured his own safety by returning to the court and giving up his project;

but he persevered at all hazards. And thus the apprehension of immediate

danger under which he fled the country with a view to final success, was in

no contradiction to his general fearlessness. Further, his being content to

leave Egypt at all, and that for so many years, and still never relinquishing

his design, was an additional evidence of faith, as is expressed by the word

ἐκαρτέρησεν ekarteraesen - . he endured.” The vision through faith of the

unseen heavenly King kept alive his hope through those long years of exile:

what was any possible wrath even of the terrible Pharaoh to one supported by

that continual vision?



Seeing the Invisible One (v. 27)


“He endured, as seeing Him who is invisible.” These words suggest the

following observations.



the invisible One. “God is a Spirit;” and the physical eye cannot behold

pure spirit. Organs of sense have no fitness for immediate dealing with the

great verities of the spiritual realm. Truth, holiness, love, cannot be

perceived by the senses; for they have neither material form nor visible

color, Neither can the Infinite Spirit be seen by our finite sense. When He is

represented as manifesting Himself to man (Genesis 12:7; 17:1; 18:1), it

does not mean that the essence or substance of God was seen by human

eye, but that He assumed some visible form in which He communicated with

man. When Jacob is said to “have seen God face to face” (Ibid.  ch.32:30),

and a statement of similar import is made of Moses (Exodus 33:11), we

must understand thereby that He drew near to them in a very

remarkable theophany, that He granted to them some full and clear

manifestation of the Divine, and at the same time admitted them to intimate

spiritual communion with Him. To Moses himself the Lord said,” Thou

canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live” (Exodus

33:20). “No man hath seen God at any time,” etc. (John 1:18). He is

“the King eternal, immortal, invisible”;  “dwelling in the light which no

man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see”

(I  Timothy 1:17; 6:16). We infer the unlawfulness of any attempt to

represent God to the senses. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven

image,” etc. (Exodus 20:4-5); “To whom will ye liken God? or what

 likeness will ye compare unto him?” (Isaiah 40:18).



“endured as seeing Him who is invisible.” The Infinite Spirit cannot be

sensuously apprehended, but He may be spiritually apprehended. “Blessed

are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”  (Matthew 5:8)  The pure heart

is the organ by which the invisible One may be seen. There is another vision

beside the vision of the body; faith itself is sight; and where faith is complete,

there is a consciousness of God’s presence throughout our life and service

which amounts to a distinct vision of God’s personal presence and

government.  Thus may we blessedly realize His presence in our hearts and

lives. Thus did Enoch, as he “walked with God.” (Genesis 5:24)  And David,

“I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I

shall not be moved.”  (Psalm 16:8)  “I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.”

(Ibid. ch. 23:4)  And Paul, “The Lord stood with me, and strengthened me.”

(II Timothy 4:17)




seeing him who is invisible.” This realization of the Divine presence:


Ø      Raises the soul above the fear of man. By faith Moses did not fear the

wrath of the king; for he endured,” etc. This enabled the psalmist to

utter the triumphant challenge, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear;

 what can man do unto me?” (see also Daniel 3:13-18; Acts 4:18-20;

5:27- 29).


Ø      Inspires the soul with patience in the trials of life. It enables the

Christian to say even of severe sufferings “Our light affliction, which

is for the moment, worketh for us more and more exceedingly an

eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are

seen but at the things which are not seen,” etc. (II Corinthians 4:17-18).


Ø      Inspires the soul with energy and perseverance for the difficult duties of

life. Sometimes the sympathetic presence of a friend is very encouraging

and helpful in arduous and dispiriting labor. But the consciousness of

God’s presence and approbation always imparts courage to the heart,

resolution to the will, and energy to the arm of his faithful servants.


Ø      Exalts the tone and spirit of the entire life. “Seeing Him who is

invisible,” a life of unworthy aims or sinful practices will be impossible.

Realizing His presence, both character and conduct must grow in purity

and power, in piety and usefulness.


29 “Through faith he kept (literally, hath kept, πεποίηκεν pepoiaeken - , the

perfect being used rather than the historical aorist, as denoting an

accomplished act, with continuing effect and significance (compare

προσενήνοχεν prosenaenochenhe kept; he has made -  v. 17). But

πεποίηκεν does not mean, as some suppose, “hath instituted,” ποιεῖν τὸ πάσχα -

poiein to pascha - being the usual expression for the celebration) the Passover,

and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch

them.  29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea, as by dry land; which

the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.” The faith of Moses himself is

still mainly intended here, though the conjunction of πίστει pistei by faith –

with διέβησαν diebaesanthey passed; they crossed - seems to imply faith in

the people too. Nor is this inconsistent with the narrative; for, though they

are represented as having cried out in their sore fear, and even reproached

their leader for bringing them out of Egypt to die in the wilderness, yet on

his exhortation, “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the

LORD” (Exodus 14:13),  they may be supposed to have trusted him, and

caught something of the inspiration of his faith. Moses, indeed, stands out

as a prominent example (and this is one point in the moral teaching of his history)

of the strong faith of one great man, not only availing in behalf of others, but

also in some degree infecting a whole community, little disposed at first to

make heroic ventures.



The Faith of Moses (vs. 23-29)


These verses exhibit specimen deeds of faith done in connection with the

redemption of Israel from Egypt. None of the heroes of faith in this

illustrious roll is more eminent than Moses, and no other biography is more

dramatic. He shines amongst the constellations of “the elders” as a star of

the first magnitude. Consider:



(v. 23.) Had it not been for their piety, the child would have perished. The

preservation of his infant life was due to an act of faith in the covenant God

of their fathers. On what revelation did this faith rest? It may be that

Amram and Jochebed saw in the pre-eminent beauty of the child a forecast

of the Divine favor. More probably, however, they had received a

revelation from heaven respecting him, and had been taught to regard his

beauty as a sign for the confirmation of their faith. So their confidence in

the God of Abraham, and in the promise of deliverance from bondage, and

in the testimony regarding the part which their newly born son was to act

in the emancipation, led them to disregard Pharaoh’s cruel edict. Jochebed

was quite consciously resting the floating cradle of papyrus in the hollow

of God’s hand when she left it among the reeds on the brink of the Nile.

She believed that he would protect the child, although she herself could do

so no longer. And the romantic rescue of Moses, and his adoption by

Pharaoh’s daughter, were the reward which God gave to his parents’ faith.



24-26.) Being himself the only free Hebrew of his time, he occupied the

unique position of having it within his power to make a life-choice. And he

did this “when he was grown up;” i.e. after his judgment had ripened, and

as the result of sober and manly deliberation. Moses elected to

acknowledge Jehovah as his God, and to claim kindred with the Hebrews

as God’s peculiar people. His choice was purely voluntary, and in making it

he was actuated by principle and impelled by conscience. Notice:


Ø      His choice involved him in tremendous sacrifices. (v. 24.) Moses’

prospects in Egypt were very brilliant. He was a man of great natural

genius and of extraordinary attainments (Acts 7:22). Wealth,

refinement, ease, pleasure, power, were within his reach. He might

have become a great statesman — perhaps Pharaoh’s grand vizier.

Josephus says that he was destined for the throne itself; and in

those days Egypt was the most powerful of kingdoms. Yet,

without any misgiving, he forsook the court, and renounced

forever these dazzling prospects.


Ø      His choice exposed him to sore afflictions. (v. 25.) It involved his

identifying himself with a nation of wretched slaves, who were

oppressed by a grinding tyranny. It brought him into close contact

and companionship with hordes of ignorant bondmen. It called him

to undergo persecution as the leader of the movement for their

emancipation. Moses made his choice at the risk of his life; for,

when he had avowed it in act, by killing the Egyptian slave-driver,

“Pharaoh sought to slay” him (Exodus 2:15).


Ø      It was a heavenly-minded choice. (vs. 25-26.) It was not patriotism

alone that dictated it, although Moses was passionately patriotic.

Neither was it mere sympathy with his distressed countrymen,

although he had a tender and feeling heart. His choice was

determined by his faith in Christ, in the future of his people, and

in the realities of the unseen and eternal world. Moses chose


o       reproach on account of Christ. He was, so to speak, a

Christian before Christianity. He knew about the promised

Messiah, although he might not know Him by that name.

He believed on Him as the Deliverer that was to come; as

the “Prophet” who was to be “raised up;” as the seed of

Abraham, in whom all nations were to be blessed. And he

resolved, through grace, to adhere to the cause of Christ,

however greatly it might be despised. He chose:


o       to join the people of God. Moses had learned from his

mother-nurse of the glorious destiny of the Israelitish nation;

and had become persuaded that to belong to that nation,

even in its miserable exile, was a greater honor than to stand

upon the topmost step of the Egyptian throne. So, when he

took God for his Portion, he allied himself with the people of

God, whose were “the adoption” and “the promises.”

(Romans 9:4)   He chose:


o       the recompense of reward. Moses’ faith looked beyond

the grave.  His eye searched the eternal future until it rested

upon the heavenly Canaan. Realizing that “better and

abiding possession,” he felt that he could not remain a prince

of the house of Pharaoh. To him even those pleasures of the

court which were in themselves innocent would be “the

pleasures of sin;” and these, such as they were, he could enjoy

only for a few short-lived years. So, after comparing the best

of the world with the worst of religion, Moses decisively

resolved to choose Jehovah as his God and heaven as his

final home. And this life-choice, from whatever point of

view we regard it, is thus seen to have been determined

by his faith.



For he not only took Jehovah for his Portion; he served Him courageously,

and to the end.


Ø      His faith inspired the Exodus. (v. 27.) “He forsook Egypt,” the

reference being, as we judge, to his final departure at the head. of the

Hebrew nation. Moses believed the Divine promise regarding Israel’s

redemption. His confidence in God nerved him for the unparalleled

enterprise. He felt that he could not seriously be afraid of Pharaoh,

for his faith saw always the approving smile of the invisible Lord.

Had it not been, however, for his trust in Jehovah, the great leader

could not for forty years have sustained so nobly his onerous offices.

It was this humble confidence in the I AM who had sent him, that

kept Moses from either developing into a despot or degenerating

into a demagogue.


Ø      His faith prompted to the celebration of the Passover. (v. 28.) Moses

believed the Divine threatening respecting the destruction of the

firstborn of the Egyptians, and the promise of exemption for every

blood besprinkled Hebrew dwelling. His trust in God was the root

of his fearless courage in observing the Passover feast amidst the

bustle and. excitement of that last eventful night in Egypt.


Ø      His faith, together with that of the Israelites, led to the passage of the

Red Sea. (v. 29.) There was much unbelief, doubtless, mixed with the

faith of the mass of the host, when they stood before the waters

through which they were to march. Still, the fact of their obedience to

the command to “go forward” (Exodus 14:15) did evince some faith

on their part. The confidence of Moses, however, never wavered. And

it was his faith and theirs that moved the arm of the Almighty to

prepare a pathway for them through the bed of the sea. The Egyptians,

pursuing them, sank in the sands and waves; for Pharaoh had received

no revelation and no promise, and his pursuit was not an act of faith,

but of presumption.  (I recommend arkdiscovery.com and the section

on the Red Sea – CY – 2014)


  • CONCLUSION. The chief lesson of this section centers in the choice of

Moses. It requires faith still to enable one to make the right life-choice; for

worldly advantage does not always seem to be on the side of godliness.

The question is sometimes asked, “Is it possible to make the best of both

worlds?” And from the point of view of sense the answer is — No. Moses

certainly did not make the best of this world, according to a worldly

estimate of his life. He did not follow the principle of self-help, in the

secular way in which unspiritual men do. Rather, his choice led him

“to be evil-entreated,” and to endure “reproach.” But from faith’s point

of view the unhesitating answer to the same question is — Yes. Godliness

is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of

that which is to come”  (I Timothy 4:8), although the benefit of it in

“the life which now is” consists almost certainly in the profit of affliction

and tribulation, the profit of taking up the cross, and of treading in the

footsteps of the MAN OF SORROWS!


30 “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were compassed about

seven days.”   (see Joshua 6:1-21). The capture of Jericho may be selected for

mention, not only because of its extraordinary character, but also as being the

beginning of the campaign in Canaan, the first necessary conquest that opened

the way to the rest. The history is not further pursued in detail, this being

sufficient to suggest it all. Only, for a special reason, the case of Rahab has

attention drawn to it.




Unquestioning Faith Expressed and Vindicated (v. 30)


“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down,” etc. Let us endeavor to exhibit

the principal features of this example of the exercise of faith.



Directions were given by the Lord to Joshua for the taking of Jericho, with

the promise that on their fulfillment the wails of that city should fall to the

ground (Joshua 6:2-5). This communication Joshua conveyed to the

people; and they believed it, they received it as a message from God. They

exercised faith:


Ø      in His righteous authority over them;

Ø      in His power to fulfill His promises; and

Ø      in His fidelity to His word.


In these respects their faith is exemplary;


Ø      for His authority is supreme,

Ø      His power is almighty, and

Ø      His faithfulness infinite.




AND THE RESULT PROMISED. Generally speaking, in the Divine

arrangements the means ordained are wisely adapted to accomplish the

ends for which they are employed. But it is quite the opposite in the case

now before us. The course of action prescribed and the consequence

promised cannot possibly be regarded as cause and effect. The marching

round the city, the blowing of rams’ horns, and the uttering of great shouts,

cannot by any stretch of imagination be looked upon even as means for

leveling strong city walls to the ground. Such proceedings have no

necessary relation with such a result. If related at all, the relation is

altogether arbitrary. The things enjoined upon the Israelites were simply

conditions with which they were to comply — tests of faith and obedience;

and the Lord guaranteed a certain result upon the fulfillment of the

conditions. And without raising any objections or proposing any questions

they believed His word.


“Theirs not to make reply,

Theirs not to reason why.”


And if we are assured of His will in any matter, we should follow it

irrespective of appearances and of probabilities as they present themselves

to our minds. When He commands, it is ours to obey. When He promises, it

is ours to accept the promise, leaving the method of its fulfillment to Him.



Israelites proved the reality of their faith in the Divine communication by

complying with its requirements. “It came to pass, when Joshua had

spoken to the people, that the seven priests,” etc. (Joshua 6:8-20).

Genuine faith always leads to a course of conduct in harmony with its own

character (compare James 2:14-26).




ACTION. The Israelites went round the city as they were directed, but

not a brick of the walls fell; and they went round a second time, and a

third, fourth, fifth, and sixth time, and still all the bricks were there, firmly

cemented, and the walls stood. The defenders of Jericho would look on

those wonderful walkers, and one can imagine them saying, ‘It is a new

mode of assault you are adopting. We wonder how long you will have to

walk before the walls fall; Jericho will stand for a long time if it is to be

taken by walking.’ Nevertheless, the Israelites held in their hands the

promise, and they felt it in their hearts, and they persevered in their

obedience notwithstanding the utter absence of any sign of success. They

completed the prescribed process, and then their obedience was rewarded

with success. And in our case, faith and obedience must be persistent,

though our discouragements be great. We are called to be “imitators of

them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (ch. 6:12)

“Ye have need of patience, that, having done the will of God, ye may

receive the promise” (ch. 10:36 - compare Matthew 10:22; Romans 2:7;

Revelation 2:10).



of Jericho fell down.” When the Israelites had completely carried out the

directions which the Lord had given them, “the wall fell down fiat, so that

the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they

took the city.”  (Joshua 6:20)  Thus the result fully justified their confidence

and their conduct. And NO ONE EVER TRUSTED GOD  IN VAIN! 

Faith, resting upon God’s word or character, honors Him and gratifies Him;

and He will not, He cannot, fail the soul that trusts Him. If we honor Him

with our hearty confidence, He will honor us with His glorious salvation.


31 “By faith Rahab the harlot perished not with them that believed not

(were disobedient), when she had received the spies with peace.” Rahab is

instanced also by James (James 2:25) as having shown her faith by

works. Such special notice of her is accounted for by her being so

remarkable an instance of a heathen, an alien, one of the very doomed

Canaanite race, being through faith adopted into the commonwealth of

Israel, so as even to become an ancestress of the MESSIAH  (Matthew

1:5). Faith is thus exhibited as the acceptable principle of religious action,

not in Israel only, but in all races, as in all times. Rahab’s faith was in the

omnipotence and supremacy of the God of Israel, induced by evidence of

which she could not resist the force (Joshua 2:9-12). Her consequent

action was to protect the spies, of course with great risk to herself, lest she

should oppose the Divine will as she believed it. Her fellow-countrymen

had the same evidence before them; but it caused them only to lose

courage and faint, not to act on faith at all, either in their own gods or in

the LORD; hence they are here called (τοῖς ἀπειθήσασιν tois apeithaesasin

them that belived not; those who were disobedient; the ones being stubborn),

i.e. resisted God’s willthe same expression as is used of the Israelites who

fell in the wilderness (ch.3:18), and of the contemporaries of Noah (I Peter 3:20;

compae Acts 19:9). That Rahab was, at the time when she thus evinced her faith,

a harlot (such is certainly the meaning of πόρνη pornae - prostitute); that she

lied to the King of Jericho’s messengers (Joshua 2:4-5); and that she treacherously

aided the invaders of her country; — have been felt as difficulties with regard to

the position assigned her among the faithful. In reply to such aspersions on her

character, it is usual to allege as follows: As to her harlotry, there is no

reason to suppose that her profession was held in any disrepute among the

Canaanites, or that she was aware of there being any harm in it; and that, at

any rate after her conversion, she became the honorable wife of a chief in

Israel. As to her lying, strict truthfulness in all circumstances was not likely

to be known to her as a necessary virtue; Michal, not to mention others,

lied to Saul’s messengers in order to save David’s live, and even some

Christian casuists allow falsehood in such cases. As to her treachery, what

she held to be her religious duty properly took precedence of any sentiment

of hopeless patriotism; and, after all, what she did was only to save the

spies from a cruel death, not to correspond with the enemy or open the

gates of her city to them. Such excuses for what might seem amiss in her

are valid. But the main point to be observed is this — that, whatever her

enlightenment, as a heathen, in principles of morality familiar to us

Christians, she stands out in the sacred record as having been saved and

admitted into Israel on account of her faith in the one true God, and action

in accordance with her faith. What is said of Jael may be still more said of

her:  (Judges 5:24)  They who serve Him honestly up to the measure of their

knowledge are according to the general course of His providence encouraged

and blessed; they whose eyes and hearts are still fixed upwards, on duty,

not on self, are precisely that smoking flax which He will not quench, but

cherish rather, till the smoke be blown into a flame.” (Isaiah 42:3; Matthew

12:20)  Be it observed, however, that Jael’s murderous deed — much less

easily defensible than Rahab’s conduct — is nowhere adduced in the

New Testament as an instance of faith. Among the names that follow here

Barak is mentioned, but not Jael. The only ground for supposing her to be

approved in Scripture is her being called blessed”in Deborah’s triumphal

song, uttered in the flush of victory. But we are not bound to accept that

“prophetess,” however inspired for her peculiar mission, as an oracle on

questions of morality.



The Faith of a Heathen Woman (v. 31)


“By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not.” What did

Rahab believe? What does the Bible teach us concerning her faith? She exercised:


1. Faith in Jehovah as the true and supreme God. She believed in Him not

simply as a superior and powerful local or national deity, but as supreme

over all beings universally. This is her confession, “Jehovah your God, he is

God in heaven above, and in earth beneath” (Joshua 2:11).


2. Faith in the fidelity and power of Jehovah to fulfill His purposes in

relation to His people. “She said unto the men, I know that Jehovah hath

given you the land” (Ibid. v.:9); and therefore she was confident that

they would actually come into possession of it.


3. Faith in the fidelity of the worshippers of Jehovah. She showed

kindness to the spies, entered into an important agreement with them, and

fulfilled her part of the agreement, evidently expecting them to fulfill their

part (Ibid. vs.12, 13, 21). Three aspects of the faith of Rahab are

suggested by our text.




Ø      Rahab was an idolatrous Canaanite. She had not been blessed with

parental instructions and home influences inclining her heart to faith

in the true and holy God; but the reverse. She was the daughter of

heathen parents, instructed in a loathsome and degrading idolatry, and

belonged to a people whose “abominations and iniquities had become

full, so that the land spued out its inhabitants, and the Lord could

deal with them only in sheer destruction.” Yet she believed sincerely