Text: Hebrews 11:17-40
Theme: God’s people follow Him because they believe His promises to them.
Key verses: “It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac” (v. 17). “Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again…” (v. 19a). “It was by faith that Moses..chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeing pleasures of sin. He thought it better to suffer for the cause of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward. It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible” (v. 24-27). “It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down” (v. 30). “By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them…” (v. 33). “Women received their loved ones back again from death. But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection” (v. 35). “They were too good for this world…All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us” (v. 38-39).
What God said to me: Dwayne, look closely. Don’t miss what I have for you here. This chapter wasn’t written haphazardly. These examples and this order of wording was deliberate. “Receiving” my promises means much more than merely hearing them and acknowledging them. Abraham acted on those promises, clung to them, and never considered any other possible course other than what I had said to him. That is why offering his son, Isaac, though it made no human sense, was not something he questioned. He simply obeyed what I told him to do. He knew that regardless of what it might look like at the time, I always keep my promises. It wasn’t his job to understand my ways–just trust my word. Moses knew, absolutely and confidently was assured, that he had a great reward ahead for him, so he denied his temporal pleasures and forfeited his human comforts because he trusted more in what he couldn’t see than in what he could. The walls of Jericho came down because my people believed they would. I had promised them that, and they acted on that promise (despite the great and immediate danger it put them in). Some had unimaginable success and saw my promises fulfilled before their eyes. Others weren’t so “lucky.” They had the same amount of faith and commitment to me; yet, they were tortured and martyred for their beliefs. It would appear as though my promises weren’t kept for them, like I had maybe let them down with the most horrible of results. But they went to their deaths anyway. Even in their dying moments they believed my promises. A promise is a promise–and they knew I always keep my promises. Dwayne, you may not (in fact at times you will not) understand my ways and what I tell you to do. You may not see my hand moving in and around you. But never, ever doubt that what I say I will do, I will do. Nothing will thwart my plans and no one will cause my promises to be fulfilled. I will never leave you or forsake you. You can take that all the way to the eternal bank, so to speak. I never promised you a rose garden in this earth; sometimes there will be thorns and great disappointments. Look to your great heavenly rewards beyond this life. Your greatest reward is me.
What I said to God: Holy and awesome and kind and loving Lord, You have never let me down. You are the great God above all gods, and You always keep Your promises for generations past and future. Help me follow You regardless of the effect on my personal comforts and human logic. I choose not to lean on my own understanding. In all my ways I will acknowledge You. And then, when You so faithfully direct my paths, by Your grace and power I will follow You–dying to my selfish nature and even, if need be, dying from this earthly life.