World English Bible translation
11:9By faith, he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a land not his own, dwelling in tents, with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise. 11:10 For he looked for the city which has the foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 11:11 By faith, even Sarah herself received power to conceive, and she bore a child when she was past age, since she counted him faithful who had promised. 11:12 Therefore as many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as innumerable as the sand which is by the sea shore, were fathered by one man, and him as good as dead.
The theme of this section of the Epistle to the Hebrews, indeed some might say the theme of the whole book, is faith. Faith is the evidence of the things that we cannot see but that God has promised to us. Through faith we believe that God exists and that He wants us to search for Him. Through faith we receive the inheritance of the righteousness that God gives as a free gift to His chosen ones.
To illustrate the nature of faith, this epistle held forth the great men and women from Jewish history that were faithful in their response to God. Abel, Enoch and Noah were the first to be used as examples of faithful men. But, the greatest example of faithfulness in the ancient history of the Jewish people was Abraham. The faith of Abraham was his single-most defining characteristic. Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.
Abraham heard the call of God and obeyed. He left a settled, civilized country in which he lived with his family and ventured into a strange wilderness to be led by God to a new land. Abraham and all that came with him lived in tents and moved from place to place as God instructed, always moving closer to their goal. God was training them to follow His will and instruction. God did not lead them to an established city because God was leading them to a place of His own choosing.
And Abraham was not alone in his faith. Sarah, his wife, also exhibited great courage and faithfulness. Even though she was long past the age to bear children she continued to follow Abraham and with him believed that God would bless them through their offspring. The faith of Sarah is not mentioned in many places, but her faithfulness was a match for Abraham's own. Sarah left everything she had known and went with her husband. She followed him from place to place as God led and in the end, she was buried in land of Canaan that God had promised to them as an inheritance.
But the land was not their only inheritance. They were given much more than land. Through faith Sarah conceived the child of promise, Isaac. Through Isaac their descendants would become as numerous as the stars in the sky, as many as there were grains of sand on the seashore. Sarah gave birth to Isaac when she was 90 years old and when Abraham was 100 years of age. It is this advanced age that our author has in mind when he writes that Abraham was "as good as dead."
But there is one other thing that Sarah and Abraham inherited along with the land and her offspring. They both inherited the righteousness that God gives to those of faith. Because of their faith, God gave them His own glory and holiness. Abraham and Sarah were not perfect people. The scripture discusses the mistakes that they made and some of these mistakes were very big ones. But God doesn’t withhold His righteousness because we make a mistake or even many mistakes. Only faith makes any difference to God. Those who live by faith, and who endure in their faith until the end, will be declared righteous. Only judgment awaits the rest.
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