Study Notes

Hebrews 11:17-19


In Hebrews eleven, we are looking at a list of people who found approval with God by their faith. Two weeks ago, we saw the faith of Abraham in moving to the land of Canaan - a land which he would receive for an inheritance. Now we are looking again at Abraham's faith - but this time the stakes are far higher than a simple relocation.

11:17-18 Abraham Was Tested

Abraham's test was no ordinary spelling or math test taken with a number two pencil in hand. No, this one was a test of his faith. And it was one with very high stakes. We find the story in Genesis 22...

Gen. 22:1-2 Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." And He said, "Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you."

No doubt Abraham's mind reeled with this statement.

I'm sure that he asked himself, "Doesn't God abhor the human sacrifices of the pagans?"

"Why is He asking me to give back the promised son He gave me?"

"How can I obey such a difficult command?"

But Abraham knew the voice of his God and trusted Him. What would he do? He would obey.

Gen. 22:3 So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.

Real faith is demonstrated by obedience. Although early in life, Abraham had postponed being obedient to God, now he is far more disciplined. Early in the morning he left, going about the strange and scary business God had ordered him to.

Gen. 22:4-5 On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance. And Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go yonder; and we will worship and return to you."

Now some people point out an inconsistency of faith here. They say, "Abraham wasn't really going to obey. He had no intention of sacrificing his son on that mountain. He says right here that he and Isaac were coming back down together."

But this is not a statement of rebellion - it is a proclamation of faith! Read verse 19...

11:19a God Is Able To Raise Men Even From The Dead

You see, God had told Abraham,

Gen. 17:19 ..."Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him."

God had promised not only the birth of Isaac, but the establishment of the family tree of Isaac. But at this point in Isaac's life, he had not yet had any children.

Abraham had such incredible faith in God that he knew for a fact that all of God's promises had to be kept. Although God was telling him to kill his own son, Abraham knew that Isaac would have to be resurrected to life in order to have descendants!

So Abraham was able to be obedient to obey the most difficult command, because he believed all of God's promises.

Obeying Commands, Believing Promises

Do you have faith like Abraham, a faith that obeys all commands because it believes all the promises?

When Jesus told people to abandon everything in their lives and follow Him, He gave them a promise:

Mark 10:29-30 Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake, but that he shall receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.

A difficult command and an unlikely promise. Would you have the faith to obey the command because you believed the promise?

When God commanded the Jews to give their tithe, the firstfruits of their income, it was a big demand. Life is hard enough to scrape by without God insisting on being given the first ten percent. But there was also a promise.

Mal. 3:10 "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. "

Do you have the faith to obey when God demands something from you, because you believe the promises He's given to you? Abraham did. The next verses of Genesis 22 tell us the story:

Gen. 22:6-13 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. And Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, "My father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." And he said, "Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" And Abraham said, "God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." So the two of them walked on together. Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there, and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." And he said, "Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me." Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind {him} a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son.

Abraham had believed that he would kill his son, and that God would raise him up again from the dead. And he did, in a sense, receive Isaac back from the dead. You see, when God said it, Abraham's mind was made up - Isaac is dead. The entire time that they travelled to Mount Moriah, Abraham's son was dead to him. So when God provided the substitution for the sacrifice, Abraham received his son back from the dead.

11:19b As A Type

Now look at those final three words of verse 19: "as a type." Abraham received Isaac back from the dead for what purpose? What was God's point in all of this? The entire episode was meant to be a "type." The writer of this book originally used the Greek word, "par-ab-ol-AY" It means just what it sounds like: a parable. You see, this entire ordeal with Abraham and Isaac was ordained to be a parable, a picture, a figure, a similitude.

God was demonstrating something important through this event. He was telling this father to kill his only begotten son as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah, which is the hill that today overlooks Jerusalem (2Chron. 3:1). They rode towards this place on a donkey. Two other men also came with them. When they arrived at the mountain, the wood of the sacrifice was loaded on the son's back and they climbed the hill. All the while this father knew that his son would rise from the dead.

Well, no doubt you recognize this picture, for it has been painted so clearly. It is a picture of God the Father and Jesus Christ, the Son of God. God was going to offer His only begotten Son as a sacrifice as well. He also rode towards Jerusalem on a donkey. He also had the wood of His own sacrifice placed on His back - the wooden cross. He also climbed this mountain called Moriah - or, as it was called in His day, Golgotha, that we call Calvary. He too ended up between two men - thieves that were also being crucified. And three days after He died, He too was reunited with His Father in life, having been raised from the dead.

It is interesting to me that Abraham seemed to know that he was acting out prophecy. That there was something else going on besides his own ordeal. Because when it was all said and done, he named the place,

Gen. 22:14 And Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, "In the mount of the LORD it will be provided."

Notice the future tense of this. God WILL provide. In that same mountain, it would be provided. Abraham saw it. Jesus told the Jews,

John 8:56 "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad."

Abraham had seen it. When Isaac asked about what was going to be sacrificed,

Gen. 22:8 (KJV) ...Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb...

God did provide Himself as a lamb - the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world.

And just like Isaac didn't have to die because God provided a substitute, so too you have a chance to be delivered from death. All of us are on death row - we are all dying because of sin. But God has offered us a substitute.

Rom. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When we accept Jesus as our sacrifice, His death counts in our place. And just like Abraham expected Isaac to be raised from the dead, Jesus was raised from the dead so that we can have a new life if we believe.

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

Isn't it time to stop your march toward death, and let God provide Himself the Lamb in your life?

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