Lesson 43

The Epistle to the Hebrews

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

11:17 By faith, Abraham, being tested, offered up Isaac. Yes, he who had gladly received the promises was offering up his one and only son; 11:18 even he to whom it was said, "In Isaac will your seed be called;" 11:19 accounting that God is able to raise up even from the dead. Figuratively speaking, he also did receive him back from the dead. 11:20 By faith, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even concerning things to come. 11:21 By faith, Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshipped, leaning on the top of his staff. 11:22 By faith, Joseph, when his end was near, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel; and gave instructions concerning his bones.

Today's Lesson    

The birth of Isaac was just the beginning of the promises to Abraham. God had promised to make of Abraham a great nation. His descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. So when Isaac was born while Sarah was 90 years old and Abraham was 100, the beginning of their prayers and their promises were answered. From Isaac came the twins Jacob and Esau. From Jacob, who would later be called Israel, came twelve sons who were the founders of the twelve tribes.


Abraham had received the downpayment of God's promise, Isaac. After Isaac had grown older, Abraham was tested. He was told to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice on the top of Mount Moriah. Abraham did not understand why God would demand this sacrifice, but here we are told that Abraham believed that God was capable of raising Isaac from the dead. It was the faith of Abraham that was being tested. The hand of Abraham that was prepared to offer up his only son was stalled. Instead, God provided a ram and Abraham received Isaac back, figuratively speaking, "from the dead."


The faith of Abraham was passed along to his son. Isaac showed the faith that God acknowledges throughout his whole life. The part of his life that is highlighted in this lesson is the blessing that Isaac placed upon his twin sons Jacob and Esau. Even though Isaac was deceived by Jacob when he gave the blessing, Isaac delivered the blessing as though God were speaking through the promise that He had first given to his father Abraham.


God examines faith throughout one's entire life. If there was a figure in Jewish history that started off with less promise than any other, that person might have been Jacob. Jacob was constantly trying to trick someone, to gain some unfair advantage. He took things into his own hand. He was a deceiver.


But God worked on Jacob. The deceiver was deceived and the man who had favorites lost those that were most precious to him. In the end, Jacob was changed through the work of God. Jacob became Israel and the deceiver became a man of faith. We are reminded here that in the end, while he was dying, Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph with the same faith as his father Isaac. Jacob received the inheritance and the promise from Isaac who had received it from Abraham. And he passed it on to his own sons.


Joseph also demonstrated faith, only in the case of Joseph that faith was demonstrated throughout his long life. Joseph is often considered the one figure of the Old Testament that most pre-figures Christ. Like the others mentioned here, Joseph died in faith, the inheritor of the promises of God.


Are you at the beginning of your walk of faith or at the end? How far are you willing to go in your life as you walk by faith?


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