The Evils of Modern Faith
Hebrews 11: 20-29.
11:1-3 defined faith as God's supernatural gift to the Elect. 11:4-7, shows His faith at work in those through whom he chose to work, Abel to Noah. 11:8-19, shows His faith at work in Abraham's life, even to the point of trusting God to raise his son from the dead.
V. 10 For [they] looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
God's faith given to his people mean that they walk in this present world in terms of eternity, looking "for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." That is, Heaven.
In my Fathers house are many mansions: if it were not
so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (Joh
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. (Col 3:2)
Hebrews 11 lists several Old Testament saints who had their affections on things above, rather than on the things of this world. Therefore, they gladly dwelt in tents, realizing they were strangers and pilgrims on this earth.
The author continues to encourage the Hebrew Christians to remain faithful to their profession in the face of the pressure to return to Jerusalem. He encourages them by showing God's faith at work in the seed of Abraham. Furthermore, it was by faith in the future promises of God that caused Isaac to bless Jacob and Esau.
V. 20, By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
Rebecca inquired of the Lord to find out what the future held, and Lord told her that the elder would serve the younger. (Gen 25:22, 23) Isaac knew this promise as given to his wife, yet he loved Esau above Isaac "because he did eat of his venison." (God loved Jacob, but hated Esau.) Without checking with the Lord as his wife had done, Isaac desired to pass the patriarchal blessing contrary to the clearly revealed will of God, and according to the desires of his flesh. (Husbands, we must listen to our wives.)
When "she imagined that the purpose of God was about to be thwarted, and resorted unto measures which ill become a daughter of Jehovah, and which can by no means be justified. We will not dwell upon the deception which she prompted Jacob to adopt, but would point out that it supplies a solemn example of a real faith being resolutely fixed on the Divine promises, but employing irregular ways and wrong means for the obtaining of them." (Pink)
Both "boys" were about 75 years old at the time Jacob fled from Esau, and arrived at Laban's. So Esau's threat against Jacob was not a "childish" threat. (Gen 27:1, 29:20, Ho 12:12. Usser)
Though Jacob obtained the blessing by deceitful means, Isaac knew that his blessing concerning things to come would be fulfilled "he shall be blessed." (Gen 7:33. The fulfillment of Isaac's words to Esau is found in Ps 60:8, 2 Sam 8:14, 2 Kgs 8:20)
It is this which should speak loudly to our hearts: he who yields to the lusts of the flesh injures his spiritual instincts, and opens wide the door for the Devil to impose upon him and deceive him with his lies! He who allows natural sentiments and affections to override the requirements of Gods revealed will, is reduced to a humiliated state in the end. How often it proves that a mans spiritual foes are they of his own household! Isaac loved Esau unwisely. (Pink)
Genesis 27 focuses on Isaac's false hope for Esau. However, Hebrews focuses on Isaac's faith in the promise of the better things to come.
Jacob said "few and evil have been the days of the years of my life". (Genesis 47:9)
"When he was dying". " He who has enabled His people to exercise faith during the vigor of life, will not withdraw His quickening power during the weakness of death." (Pink)
Jacob blessed Josephs two sons, as he exalted them to the position lost by Reuben, who was the first born. (The first born was to receive the double portion.) It should be noted that Jacob blessed Ephraim and Manasseh, and made each a tribe in Israel. Ephraim and Manasseh were half Egyptian, and were each given equal inheritance with the other 10 tribes. Furthermore, humanly speaking Ephraim and Manasseh were born in a very rich and powerful family, for Joseph was ruler of Egypt. They surely needed no further blessing, but Jacob included them in God's promise. Thus, Jacob assured them that their future was not in Egypt but was in the chosen people of God.
Jacob's blessing upon his sons was based in his sure confidence
in the future glory of the coming kingdom of God. Moreover, Joseph's
final request "concerning his bones" spoke of his clear
confidence in the future.
Vv. 23-29, the author jumps ahead 400 years to Moses by mentioning the faith of his parents. Their faith in the promises of God overrode any fear "of the king's commandment." We see echoes of V. 23 in Acts 5:29, "We ought to obey God rather than men."
Observe: We should fully expect our faith or lack thereof as revealed in our obedience to the Law Word of God to be passed on to our children.
Moses' parents believed the promise of the coming Kingdom of Christ (which in some way was clearly revealed to Abraham, Jn 8:56), so they by faith hid their child as long as possible, not fearing the king's command. At the age of 3 months and when they could no longer hide him, they, depending on the Providence of God, placed him where Pharaoh's daughter would find him. She found him, named him, and adopted him into the king's family.
V. 24, by faith Moses. We see in Moses a stark contrast between him and Isaac: Isaac yielded to the desires of the flesh when he sought to bless Esau. However, through deceitful means, the blessing went according to God's will.
When he was come to years. Gr. "being great"; that is, when he was grown up to manhood. He was at that time forty years of age. See Barnes "Ac 7:23". He took this step, therefore, in the full maturity of his judgment, and when there was no danger of being influenced by the ardent passions of youth. (Barnes)
By the faith given to him by God, he identified himself with the Hebrews rather than with Pharaohs family. He chose to separate from his rich and powerful "family", and to be identified with an afflicted people who were in forced bondage.
V. 25, pleasures of sin; that is, all the allurements of the world which so easily draw one away from God and His calling.
V 26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.
The treasures of Egypt were beyond comprehension. Egypt was probably the richest nation of its day. Consider the vast treasures Israel brought out with them 40 years after v. 26.
His choice was affliction as against the pleasures of sin. We are told that he did this because he esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward, or payment.
That is, by faith he was able to see that the future reward for identifying with Gods people would be far greater than what Egypt in all of its glory had to offer.
1 Peter 1:11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. (Acts 5:14, 2 Cor 12:10, 1:5, 2Ti 4:8.)
In other words, starting with Adam and Eve, faith has looked forward to the Messiah King who had been promised at the fall. Quite literally, this means that any and all present contempt Moses may have endured meant less to him than the very great reward, however distant ahead of him, that would be his from the Messiah. We are plainlyÐ told that not only was the coming great Kingdom of God very real to Moses, but so alsoÐ was its king.
(Israel expected a literal Messiah King on the all-powerful throne of David, and rejected the True King; He did not offer Israel a worldly, glorious, powerful kingdom as was offered to Moses and to Christ in His temptation. Note that like the glories of this world that were offered to Moses, the glories of this world were offered to Christ. See Deut 18:15, Acts 3:22, 7:37, Mat 4:8, 9.)
We are told that all saints throughout history who had "this hope" died in the faith, not having obtained the reality of the promise.
Starting with Abel, pleasing God by obedient faith is defined as righteousness. (The Hebrews 11 roll call starts with Abel, not with Adam.) Abraham is the first one mentioned who "looked for that city" whose builder and maker is God. They died in the faith, not having obtained the reality of the promise.
Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. (Ps 48:2)
Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. (Mt 5:35)
Every kingdom must have a king, and from the beginning, the promise of the heavenly kingdom had to contain a king. All men have the King's law engraved in them, for they are created in the image of the King. But it was not until Moses that that King's law was given in firm and dogmatic form. That law was and is the law of the King Who created all things and Who reigns from heaven. Through the virgin birth, he came and dwelt among men. After the resurrection, he now reigns over all of his creation from his throne on high. He rewards and condemns according to his law that he gave through Moses.
Throughout the ages, confidence in that Eternal King has conquered the fear of what man could do to the body. In Moses, we see that faith is very specific and firm, quite unlike the modern warm and fuzzy faith.
"Not a vague faith but a very specific one moved Moses. Because modern faith is often vague and fuzzy, we must not assume that Moses faith was similar. Hebrews tells us that it was specific and firm. How specific this faith was verse 28 tells us. The death of all firstborn in Egypt was decreed by God. Israel could only avoid this judgment by recourse to the Passover blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them."
Please excuse the following lengthy quote from Pink, but how can we get this close to dealing with the damnable curse of modern theology, preaching and evangelism without a mention?
It is highly important that the closest attention be paid to the order of truth set forth in #He 11:24-28. If this be done, the defectiveness of much modern "evangelism" will at once be apparent. The keeping of the passover and the sprinkling of the blood is not the first thing recorded of Moses! No man can rightly value the blood of Christ while his heart is still wrapped up in the world, and to invite and exhort him to put his trust in the same, is being guilty of casting pearls before swine. No man can savingly believe in Christ while he is determined to "enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season." Repentance precedes faith (#Mr 1:15; Ac 20:21): and repentance is a sorrowing over sin, a hatred of sin, and a turning from sin; and where there is no genuine repentance, there can be no "remission of sins": #Mr 1:4. Let every preacher who reads this article carefully weigh all that is here recorded of Moses, and faithfully instruct his congregation that the different exercises of heart recorded in #He 11:24-27 must precede that which is stated in #11:28.
It is really deplorable that such elementary aspects of Truth as we have just pointed out above need to be stressed at this late date. Yet such is the tragic case. Laodicean Christendom is boasting of its riches, and knows not that it is poor and wretched and naked. Part of those "riches" which she boasts so loudly of today, is the "great increase of light" which it is supposed that the study of "prophetic" and "dispensational" truth has brought to us. Yet not only is that a subtle device of Satans coming as "an angel of light" (#2Co 11:14), to darken mens understandings, and make them believe that his lies are "wonderful discoveries" and openings up of the Scriptures, but the present generation has far less real Light than Christendom enjoyed a century ago. By which we mean, there is far less faithful and fearless preaching of those things which make for practical godliness and holy living. But that is not the worst: Scriptural evangelism has well-nigh disappeared from the earth. The "Gospel" which is being preached today is only calculated to deceive souls and bolster them up in a false hope. To make men believe that God loves them, while they are under His wrath (see #Joh 3:36), is worse than a physician telling a diabetic subject that he may safely eat all he wishes. To withhold the preaching of the Law-its Divine authority, its inexorable demands, its spirituality (in requiring inward conformity to it:#Mt 5:22, 28), its awful curse Ð Ð is to omit that which alone conveys a true knowledge of sin: see #Ro 3:20, 7:7. To cry "Believe, believe," and say nothing about repentance, is to falsify the terms of salvation: #Lu 24:47; Ac 17:30. To invite sinners to receive Christ as their "Savior" before they surrender to Him as their Lord, is to present a false "way of salvation." To bid the lost "come to Christ" without telling them they must first "forsake the world," is to fill the "churches" with unconverted souls. To tell sinners they may find rest unto their souls without taking Christs YOKE upon them, is to give the lie unto the Masters own teaching: #Mt 11:29. (Pink)
Using what little of the English language I know, there are not sufficient words of condemnation for the modern and totally corrupt "gospel", which Scripture clearly revealed as a doctrine of devils. (2 Cor 11:15, Gal 1:6) I must say with Pink, that I offer no apology for this seeming digression from our present subject in Hebrews.
Through faith, Moses kept the passover. Israel saw God's hand at work through Moses in the plagues, so Israel did as he commanded, and followed him. Did Moses see the sacrifice of Christ in the passover? Probably not. He kept it by faith because God commanded his actions. It was Israel's mediator at the time, Moses who kept the Passover, not Israel, though Israel obeyed Moses' instructions, and was delivered from death and the bondage to Egypt.
It was the New Mediator who kept the Passover for his people:
2 Corinthians 5;7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Israel obeyed Moses, but it was Moses who by faith kept the Passover. The firstborn of Egypt died, but not of Israel.
V. 29, Moses' parting of the Red Sea was the act of God for Israel, so Israel could pass through unharmed. For Egypt, however, it was an act of presumption as they saw the parting as a natural phenomenon of which they could take advantage. The result was the destruction of the Egyptians.
How many Egyptians at heart, even claiming Christianity, have acted in presumption upon God, and faced destruction? Then they blame God for the evil that comes upon them.
In the wilderness, Israel whined and complained about both God and Moses, but none of this is mentioned in Chapter 11; rather, the emphasis is on what God's supernatural faith accomplished throughout history. His faith acted through one man at a time as that man submitted and obeyed Almighty God. What was accomplished through Moses was simply God using one man, Moses as His instrument.
For who hath despised the day of small things? (Zech 4:10)
Look back in history, and see how history has hinged on just one individual man, e.g., Augustine (345-430) Johannes Gutenbert (1398-1468), Martin Luther (1483-1546), John Calvin (1509-1564), &c.
Whether one wants to admit it or not, Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, laid the foundation for Western Christian culture. He developed Pauls theology into many areas as he confronted the evil theories of his day. John Calvin built on Augustines theology, as he continued to build on the foundation laid by Paul and then Augustine for the Western Christian Culture. One man, Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609) was the carpenter who started undermining the foundation of Christian Culture, and J.N. Darbys (1800-1880) chaotic and destructive thoughts, as found in Scofields book, control the church today.
Many Protestants, especially Calvinists and Lutherans, consider Augustine to be one of the theological fathers of the Protestant Reformation due to his teachings on salvation and divine grace. Lutherans, and Martin Luther in particular, held and hold Augustine in preeminence (after the Bible and St. Paul). And it is little wonder that Luther himself was a member of the Order of the Augustinian Eremites (1505-1521).
Pelagians heresy spread in North Africa, and got so bad that Augustine felt he had to oppose it. By the time of Augustines death in 430, Pelagianism was essentially defeated [remaining a non-issue for over 1000 years]. Through Augustines efforts, Pelagianism never became a viable doctrine in the church. However, Semi-Pelagianism has become a major doctrine under James Arminius, i.e., Arminianism. (Who Was Who in Church History. See Schaff, vol. III, ch IV.)
The complete writings of Augustine are in Anti-Nicene Fathers, and they deal with many of the heresies we are facing again today.
Note that the emphasis in Chapter 11 is on how God works through one man to accomplish his predetermined will, and not through a crowd of men. However, that one man may gather a large group of other good men to him as he follows the Lord. It is the one man who is willing to be used by God that changes history.
We are told that Moses was very meek above all men upon the face of the earth. (Num 12:3) However, Moses did not seem meek to Pharaoh nor to those in the nation of Israel who stood against him. His meekness was towards God, whom he served faithfully and well. Six verses are used to tell of Moses, by faith Moses, who is mentioned 5 times, showing us the importance of Moses in God's plan for the ages.
The emphasis is on Moses, though Abraham is held up as the father of the faithful. Moses demonstrated faith in face of an ungodly empire and its rebellious people. Moses demonstrated faith in the face of the multitude of Israelites who stood against him. He was one man who through faith withstood millions, and was victorious through faith. Like Enoch, Moses walked with God, and Michael the Archangel buried him.
Moses was the first prophet, and God gave his law through Moses. His closeness to God was shown when he appeared to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration.
Though these men in Hebrews 11 who worked for God died in the faith, God's work continues; this list is given given to those in the faith to keep them encouraged and in the faith. Accordingly, how can we be discouraged as we study these men throughout Scripture?
Let us close this section with Pink's reminder from the life of Moses:
"The keeping of the passover and the sprinkling of the blood is not the first thing recorded of Moses! No man can rightly value the blood of Christ while his heart is still wrapped up in the world, and to invite and exhort him to put his trust in the same, is being guilty of casting pearls before swine. No man can savingly believe in Christ while he is determined to "enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season." Repentance precedes faith (#Mr 1:15; Ac 20:21): and repentance is a sorrowing over sin, a hatred of sin, and a turning from sin; and where there is no genuine repentance, there can be no "remission of sins": #Mr 1:4."
1. Repentance of sin.
2. Turning from the pleasures of sin.
3. Answering the call of God to trust Christ.
Exodus 33 and Numbers 12:7-8 tells us that Moses was closer to God than any other prophet, and was unique in his revelation of God to the people. He accomplished more in his lifetime than any other Old Testament saint. and it was Moses and Elijah who appeared to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. God gave His law through Moses, and he was the first of the prophets.
Hebrews 11 tells us of various men of faith who lived and died. The epitaph in Westminster Abbey for the Wesley brothers is a fitting one: God buries His workmen, and carries on His work. Hebrews 11 gives us a list of men who worked and died in the faith as an encouragement to us, so we have no right to be discouraged in His work:
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.(1 Cor 15:58)
We should live and work worthy of our calling in Christ, so
those who follow us will be encouraged by and richer for our efforts.