Study Notes

Hebrews 11:20-23


As we have looked extensively at the people of faith listed in Hebrews 11, we have seen many examples of faith. Faith that was exhibited in various ways, which has given us instruction for our own life and walk with God.

This morning, we are going to be looking at four examples that all tie in together: Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and the parents of Moses. How do they all fit into the same category? They were people who blessed their families by faith.

11:20 Isaac Blessed Jacob And Esau

When Isaac's wife Rebekah was pregnant with twins, the Lord said,

Gen. 25:23 ..."Two peoples shall be separated from your body; And one people shall be stronger than the other; And the older shall serve the younger."

God had made His will known - the younger child had been chosen by God. But when the boys grew up, Isaac's favorite son was the oldest. After all, Esau was a "macho man," "a skillful hunter and a man of the field" (Gen 25:27).

On the other side of the spectrum was the son whom God had chosen, Jacob. Jacob was a "peaceful man, living in tents." He was a homebody.

When the time came for Isaac to bless his sons, he wasn't going to follow God's command.

Gen. 27:1-4 Now it came about, when Isaac was old, and his eyes were too dim to see, that he called his older son Esau and said to him, "My son." And he said to him, "Here I am." And Isaac said, "Behold now, I am old {and} I do not know the day of my death. Now then, please take your gear, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me; and prepare a savory dish for me such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, so that my soul may bless you before I die."

Isaac was selfishly going against God's will, and was planning to bless Esau. But when his wife found out about it, she convinced Jacob to dress up like Esau and get the blessing. As a result, Jacob got the blessing instead. Isaac blessed him, saying,

Gen. 27:28-29 Now may God give you of the dew of heaven, And of the fatness of the earth, And an abundance of grain and new wine; May peoples serve you, And nations bow down to you; Be master of your brothers, And may your mother's sons bow down to you. Cursed be those who curse you, And blessed be those who bless you."

When Isaac found out afterwards that he had blessed the son that God had chosen instead of the one he wanted, he realized by faith that God's plan was accomplished in spite of his own scheme.

So the first lesson we can learn about blessing our families in faith is that God is the one Who has control over our destinies. No matter how many schemes we cook up, we cannot put one over on Him.

Prov. 16:9 The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.

11:21 Jacob's Blessings On The Sons Of Joseph

Many years after his own blessing, Jacob blessed all of his sons as well.

Gen. 49:1-2 Then Jacob summoned his sons and said, "Assemble yourselves that I may tell you what shall befall you in the days to come. Gather together and hear, O sons of Jacob; And listen to Israel your father.

His blessing was to tell each of his sons who they really were, and tell them what their future would hold.

In his blessing, he was brutally honest. He pointed out Reuben's lack of self-control, told Simeon and Levi about their problems with anger, and confronted Judah's problems with alcohol.

But he also spoke to them about their strengths and their future. Gad would have difficulty, but he would survive. Reuben would be powerful, Judah would be victorious.

The second lesson we learn about blessing our families in faith is to be honest about their faults, and praise them for their strengths. Remember that the proverb says,

Prov. 27:5-6 Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.

Although no one likes to hear about their faults, it is in fact how we grow. And when those things are followed up by what we are good at, we gain an accurate picture of ourselves.

11:22 Joseph Mentions The Exodus

Jacob's son Joseph also blessed his family. He spoke prophetically about God's plan for them. We read in Genesis 50,

Gen. 50:24-25 And Joseph said to his brothers, "I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you, and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob." Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, "God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones up from here."

How did he know what God was going to do in their future? He knew what God would do because he knew what God had said. Years before,

Gen. 15:13-16 And {God} said to Abram, "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve; and afterward they will come out with many possessions. And as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. Then in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete."

So Joseph knew that Abraham's descendants would be in Egypt for 400 years, and then they would enter into the Promised Land.

This is another thing to know about giving a blessing: you can always speak prophetically if you are always speaking Biblically. For example, I can speak a blessing to you, saying, "Dear saint, maintain your heart for God, love Him above all else; and He will divinely ordain everything that happens to you, working it out for good in your life." How can I say that prophetically with certainty? Because I am basing the blessings on the truth Biblically.

For I know that the Scriptures say,

Rom. 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to {His} purpose.

Don't hesitate to speak prophetic blessing to those you love, as long as you are on solid Scriptural ground.

11:23 Moses Was Hidden

Finally, we have a fourth instance of blessing by faith. Moses' parents blessed him, but not in word. This blessing was in deed. In the book of Exodus, we find out that a new king arose over Egypt.

Exod. 1:9 And he said to his people, "Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are more and mightier than we.

After so many years, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were now more in number than the Egyptians themselves.

Exod. 1:15-19 Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shif-RAW, and the other was named Poo-AW; and he said, "When you are helping the Hebrew women to give birth and see {them} upon the birthstool, if it is a son, then you shall put him to death; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live." But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live. So the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said to them, "Why have you done this thing, and let the boys live?" And the midwives said to Pharaoh, "Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous, and they give birth before the midwife can get to them."

Since he couldn't get the midwives to do it, he commanded all the citizens of his nation to do the job.

Exod. 1:22-2:4 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, "Every son who is born you are to cast into the Nile, and every daughter you are to keep alive." Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a daughter of Levi. And the woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was beautiful, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got him a wicker basket and covered it over with tar and pitch. Then she put the child into it, and set {it} among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. And his sister stood at a distance to find out what would happen to him.

At great personal risk, Moses' family defied the law and saved their baby. They did everything they could to insure that he would live.

This is the fourth and final lesson regarding blessings this morning: Blessing your children, your family, your loved ones, is more than just words. It is found in action. Jesus said,

John 15:13 "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

God has put you in this time, this place, this season in your life to bless others. As He said through Zechariah,

Zech. 8:13 ‘ I will save you that you may become a blessing. Do not fear; let your hands be strong.'

God has saved you to be a blessing to others. So be that blessing.


The priesthood was committed to speak blessing to the people continually.

Num. 6:22-27 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, ‘Thus you shall bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them: The LORD bless you, and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.' So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them."

May you receive that blessing this morning. Amen.

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