Study Notes

Hebrews 11:8-12


The eleventh chapter of Hebrews is listing of people who found approval from God. I have mentioned numerous times that this approval was not because of their religious and holy lives, but simply because of their faith. This morning, we look at a man named Abraham, who is a perfect example of this.

11:8 Abraham Was Called

Abraham's life is found in the book of Genesis, beginning in chapter eleven.

His father's name was TEH-rakh, and their family lived in the city of Ur of the Chaldeans. TEH-rakh was an idolater, worshipping false gods (Josh. 24:2) - he did not have a relationship with the true and living God.

One day, TEH-rakh decided to move the family to the land of Haw-RAWN. After a number of years there, TEH-rakh died, and we pick up the narrative in Genesis 12:1, when God commands Abraham,

Gen. 12:1-4 ..."Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." So Abram went forth as the LORD had spoken to him...

We might think, "Hey, what a religious man! God tells him to do something and he does it!" But what is not at first obvious is that this is not the first time that God told Abraham to go to Canaan.

In the book of Acts, Steven said,

Acts 7:2-4 "The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, 'Depart from your country and your relatives, and come into the land that I will show you.' Then he departed from the land of the Chaldeans, and settled in Haran. And from there, after his father died, God removed him into this country in which you are now living."

When Abraham was living in Mesopotamia, in the city called Ur, God had appeared to him and said, "Depart from your country and your relatives, and come into the land that I will show you."

But Abraham did not obey. Instead, they moved to Haw-RAWN. It was not until his father died, and God commanded him again, did Abraham obey.

But notice this: God said,

Gen. 12:1 ..."Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father's house..."

So what did Abraham do?

Gen. 12:5 And Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan; thus they came to the land of Canaan.

Abraham had waited to obey, which is delayed obedience. Then, he took the relatives along, in spite of what God had commanded. At best, this was partial obedience. Where is the faith in this? Notice what Hebrews 11:8 stipulates:

Hebr. 11:8 ...he went out, not knowing where he was going.

Abraham did this by faith. Although he wasn't the most obedient guy in the world, he did have the faith to believe that God was directing him to go to this place he'd never been.

11:9-10 Lived As An Alien

Now, when Abraham got to the land of Canaan, it was occupied by the Canaanites. This must have been strange. After all, God had promised that he would inherit the land, but here were these cities full of people.

Abraham didn't see how this was going to happen, but he believed God anyway. That is faith - believing God's Word, even when all the signs are pointing the other direction.

And so, Abraham lived as an stranger in a strange land. He waited a long time for the promise to happen. His son Isaac was born. His grandson Jacob was born. They were promised the same things by God. But still no fulfillment.

This is another important aspect of faith. The first was that faith believes when it cannot see in spite of what it does not know. Now we see that faith is also willing to wait patiently for a promise to be fulfilled.

Looking For The City Built By God

How can you have patience to receive what God has promised? It all depends on your perspective. Where are you looking? Are you looking for God's blessings? Or are you looking to bless God? Are you looking for what you're going to receive on this earth? Or are you looking for your inheritance in heaven?

When you go for a walk, you can focus on your feet. But you'll find that you get tired faster. You think about each step and wear out quickly. But if you look far into the distance, towards the mountains on the horizon, you'll find that you can walk for miles. Faith is the same way. If you focus on your heavenly inheritance, your earthly inheritance will be much easier to get to.

11:11-12 Sarah Able To Conceive

Now, I don't want you to think that since he had faith, Abraham stopped being Abraham. No, he was still the same guy who had delayed obeying. He was still the same man that had brought everybody and their brother with him when he was told to go alone.

When God promised to make Abraham a great nation through his offspring, I imagine that Abraham expected that he and Sarah would be having dozens of children. But they didn't. As a matter of fact, they didn't have any. And by the time that they were getting to be senior citizens, practicality set in.

Sarah came to the conclusion that since she wasn't able to have any children, that Abraham should conceive a child with her Egyptian maid Hagar.

Gen. 16:2-4 So Sarai said to Abram, "Now behold, the LORD has prevented me from bearing {children.} Please go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children through her." And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. And after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram's wife Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife. And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived...

Now Abraham had a son, but it wasn't the son that God had promised. You might think, "Who cares? Now he has a kid, the promise can be fulfilled." But in reality, God will not allow us to do things our own way. He refused to recognize this son as a legitimate heir to Abraham's promises.

Thirteen years later, when Abraham was 99 years old, God told him again that it was to be Sarah's child that would be the inheritor of the promises.

Gen. 17:16-17 "And I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be {a mother of} nations; kings of peoples shall come from her." Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, "Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear {a child?} "

Again, I want you to notice that this is not the most religious man around. And later, when God gave this promise again in Sarah's hearing, she also laughed at it.

Gen. 18:12 And Sarah laughed to herself, saying, "After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?"

But when she realized that God said it, she believed it. The two of them had faith that God could do anything. The Bible says,

Luke 18:27 ..."The things impossible with men are possible with God."


God is able to do miracles, and He is looking for people who will have faith in him. He is not looking for religious people, perfect people, the smart and handsome, the popular and beautiful. He is looking for faith.

Hebr. 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please {Him} , for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and {that} He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

God wants to reward your faith. What is he calling you to have faith in today? He's calling you the same as He called Abraham. He's calling you to a place that you've never been. He's calling you to inherit heaven and eternal life. He's calling you to receive something that is impossible with man - forgiveness of sin.

Jesus Christ has died on a cross. All the punishment that your sins deserve were put on Him. Three days later, He raised up alive from the dead and is now in heaven, waiting for you. But there's only one way to get there: to have faith. To believe that Jesus died to forgive your sins.

That's why the Bible says,

Rom. 5:1 ...having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ

The word "justified" means "just as if I'd" never sinned. If you believe by faith in what Jesus did for you, your inheritance in heaven is secured.

Rom. 10:9 ...if you confess with your mouth Jesus {as} Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved;

Go to next study

Go to previous study