Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Hebrews 11:20-26
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Hebrews 11:20
Verse 20: Like his father and mother before him Isaac also believed God would give their family the reward He had promised. One vivid example of his faith can be seen in the blessings he gave his two sons: Jacob and Esau. At 137 years of age Isaac summoned his eldest son Esau to formally pass on to him his paternal blessing. As we know, his younger son Jacob, with the help of his mother, stole that blessing and in the end Esau received only a greatly reduced consolation (Ge 27:39, 40). The point in this story to which the author of Hebrews wishes to draw our attention is the faith Isaac expressed when he gave his blessing. He spoke prophetically about the future and was confident everything he declared would come true (Ge 27:37): Jacob’s family would prosper, become a nation, dominate the nations arising from his relatives and be protected just as God had protected Abraham (Ge 12:3; 27:29). In effect, he expected everything God promised his father to come to pass among his descendants. Though the promises went largely unfulfilled during his own lifetime, he still had faith that God would do what He said in the future.

Monday: Hebrews 11:21
Verse 21: When it came time for Jacob to bless his twelve sons, the blessings he spoke were even more elaborate than the one he received from Isaac (Ge 49:1-27). He went into great prophetic detail including a remarkable Messianic prophecy concerning the tribe of Judah (Ge 49:8-12). But the author focuses on an event which took place earlier. Sensing he was going to die Jacob called Joseph to him and made him swear he would bury his bones in a cave near Hebron where his parents and grandparents were buried (Ge 49:28-32). His concern about his burial site arose from much more than mere family sentiment. By faith he was sure Canaan would one day be their family homeland and would be connected with God’s eternal blessings (Ge 12:3).

Tuesday: Hebrews 11:21
Verse 21 (continued): After hearing Joseph swear that he would do all he was asked, Jacob, apparently close to death (Ge 47:29; 49:33), either hoisted himself up so he could bow in bed before the Lord in worship (Ge 47:31) or stood before the Lord to worship, holding himself erect by leaning on his staff (Heb 11:21). The ambiguity over the position he took in worship (compare: Ge 47:31 and Heb 11:21) arises from two possible translations of the Hebrew word. It can either mean “bed” or “staff” depending on how it’s pronounced. The Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) interpreted it as “staff.” Regardless of which position Jacob took, the heroic heartfelt effort of that old man willing himself upright off his death bed to worship God shows the profound depth of his faith.

Wednesday: Hebrews 11:21
Verse 21 (continued): Jacob next blessed Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh (Ge 48:1-22). The whole event was remarkably prophetic: First, Jacob rehearsed the promises God had spoken to him as a young man, showing he still believed everything he’d been told (Ge 48:3, 4); then he adopted Joseph’s two sons (Ge 48:5, 6) as his own so that hundreds of years in the future when Israel conquered Canaan Joseph’s family would receive a double-portion. When the land was allotted among the tribes, instead of just one portion, Joseph would inherit two. Then in the very act of laying his hands on his grandsons Jacob made another prophetic pronouncement. He gave the eldest son’s blessing to the younger. Led by the Spirit he declared the greatest prosperity to the tribe of Ephraim rather than Manasseh (Ge 48:13-20) which indeed history proved to be the case. Verse 21 (continued): And finally, Jacob predicted Joseph would also return to the promised land (Ge 48:21, 22; Ex 13:19) and even gave him a small plot of land which he owned near Shechem (Ge 33:19; Jn 4:5).

Thursday: Hebrews 11:22
Verse 22: No one understood the deep statement of faith made by his dying father better than Joseph. True to his word he took his father’s mummified body to the cave at Macpelah and buried him there (Ge 49:30-32; 50:1-14). Then when it came time for him to die, he followed his father’s example. He too made his relatives swear an oath to carry his bones to the promised land (Ge 50:22-26), only he did not require that they bury him immediately. Instead he arranged for his body to be mummified and placed in a coffin (movable) rather than a stone tomb (permanent) (Ge 50:26) so it could be transported whenever Israel left Egypt to return to the “promised land.” Again, Joseph is another example of an Old Testament saint who was willing to die without seeing promises fulfilled, yet certain they would be in the future.

Friday: Hebrews 11:23
Verse 23: Moving forward through nearly 300 years of Israel’s history the author next turns his attention to the life of Moses. Had Moses’ parents not had faith he would not have lived past infancy. Despite Pharaoh’s order that all male Hebrew babies be killed, Moses’ parents recognized he was “a beautiful child,” meaning he was “lovely in the sight of God” (Ac 7:20), so they risked their lives to save him. By saying “they were not afraid of the king’s edict” the author is not telling us they didn’t fear what might happen to them if they were caught, but that they feared God’s judgment far more. Death was preferable to answering to God for murdering their own son, particularly a child in whom God took special delight. They were people of faith who believed that God exists (Heb 11:6), that He sees all things (Heb 4:13) and that He will ultimately hold the wicked accountable for their deeds (Heb 10:27, 30, 31). They viewed all present activity in light of a future appointment with God.

Saturday: Hebrews 11:24-26
Verses 24, 25: At the age of 40 Moses transferred his loyalty from the royal family who adopted him to the Hebrew slaves to whom he had been born. In one rash act (Ex 2:11, 12) he severed his ties to Egypt and became a fugitive, fleeing to a distant region of what is today the northwest corner of Saudi Arabia (Midian). The author explains that Moses made this choice because his spiritual well-being was more important to him than his physical well-being. He would rather endure hardship with God’s people than a lifetime of pleasure which abruptly ends at death leaving a person separated from God forever. Verse 26: During Moses’ lifetime Israel’s knowledge of the coming Messiah (“Christ”) (Ge 3:15; 12:3; 49:8-10; Dt 18:18; Ac 7:37) was limited compared to the depth of revelation later given to David and the prophets who followed him. Yet, by using the phrase “the reproach of Christ” the author seems to be implying that Moses did have some understanding of the coming Messiah and saw his own suffering as connected to the Messiah’s. In light of the fact that Moses repeatedly met with the pre-incarnate Christ (Ex 33:11), it should come as no surprise. He must have known that the tabernacle and sacrifices, especially the Passover, pointed toward a greater sacrifice which God Himself would some day provide (Ge 22:13, 14)­—one to which all the symbols shown Moses merely acted as prophetic signposts. So like Abraham before him (Heb 11:10, 14-16) Moses was seeking eternal life, not a luxurious life in Egypt or, for that matter, even a prosperous life in the promised land.

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