Epistle to the Hebrews (11:13-16)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Epistle to the Hebrews

All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own.If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back.But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” Hebrews 11:13-16

It is interesting to note here that these people (Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Jacob) who believed in God’s promise for a large descendant did not see it accomplish. They died without seeing the vast multitude but believed in it without the shadow of a doubt.

We read in Romans 4:

Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith.” Romans 4:13

These people called themselves foreigners even though there was a land promised to them. Canaan was the visible promised homeland but heaven is the divine homeland.  The christian soul also groans to go home and be set free from this sinful world. Heaven is my home and my soul longs to be there the soonest. This heavenly place has solid eternal foundations.

God’s tangible promise of a large posterity eventually accomplished itself. But the real promise regarding Abraham’s posterity was Christ. There’s a symbolical spiritual representation of God’s promise to Abraham regarding the promised land and a large posterity. The spiritual children of Abraham are those who put their faith in God. A Jew is by blood descendant of Abraham but he is not necessarily the spiritual child of Abraham.

We read in Romans 2:28 that the real Jew is one whose heart is right with God and not because he is of the posterity of Abraham. This righteousness does not come by obeying the law but by having faith like Abraham. So even a non-Jew can be Abraham’s children if he has faith in God.

For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision.No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit.”

God’s promise to Abraham was made before any law was given. Abraham was uncircumcised, had not the Mosaic law when he was called righteous by God. This righteousness  was imputed to him because of his faith (Romans 4:3-15). This proves again that faith is a vital element in our relationship with God. Without faith it is impossible to please Him.

In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God. What’s more, the Scriptures looked forward to this time when God would declare the Gentiles to be righteous because of their faith. God proclaimed this good news to Abraham long ago when he said, “All nations will be blessed through you.”So all who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith.” Galatians 3:7

Paul, a master in Jewish law, argues it as such:

God gave the promises to Abraham and his child.And notice that the Scripture doesn’t say “to his children,” as if it meant many descendants. Rather, it says “to his child”—and that, of course, means Christ.” Galatians 3:15,16

In the original Hebrew text the distinction of “child” is remarkable (Genesis 12:7).

God’s children are those who have faith in the promised Messiah, Christ.

For you are all childrenof God through faith in Christ Jesus“. (Gal 3:26)  God’s promise made to Abraham belongs to those who have faith like him.

And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.” (Gal 3:29)

It is interesting enough to note that faith in God has always been the element which made people righteous. It is not something new in the New testament. It was not the law or any good deeds which made people righteous but entire trust and reliance on God. God desires that we voluntarily submit ourselves under His mighty hand. He wants to be all in all. All of our accomplishments should be because of His sole intervention and not because of our strength, fertility, intelligence and wealth. Sarah got it right and she could not boast that she is the mother of such a large posterity because of her fertility. These people who lived by faith and voluntarily put aside their strengths are those who God takes pleasure in. God is a jealous God and wants to have all the glory.

We read in Isaiah:

For there is no other God but me,a righteous God and Savior.There is none but me.Let all the world look to me for salvation!For I am God; there is no other.” Isaiah 45:22

That is why I told you what would happen;I told you beforehand what I was going to do.Then you could never say, ‘My idols did it.My wooden image and metal god commanded it to happen!’You have heard my predictions and seen them fulfilled,but you refuse to admit it.Now I will tell you new things,secrets you have not yet heard.They are brand new, not things from the past.So you cannot say, ‘We knew that all the time!’” Isaiah 48:5-8

In Psalm 33:16-19 we read:

No king is saved by the size of his army;no warrior escapes by his great strength.A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save.But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.”

Faith in God allows us to get rid of all our strength and entirely rely on God. God is a God of miracle. He does things that are not logical to human beings and might ask you to do things that are absurd. If it was logical then you will not require faith but rely on your own abilities.  This is why this God almighty planned beforehand to confuse the intelligence of the wise when He sent His Son to die on a cross.

God is reputed for doing things His own way. No one can predict what God will do.

No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God—his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began.But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord. That is what the Scriptures mean when they say,“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Cor 2:9

Faith in God requires the laying aside of our intelligence, wisdom, strength and wealth. You need to surrender. God is not ashamed to be called the God of those who rely on Him. This also means God takes no pleasure in those who do not have faith in Him. God is the God of those who have faith in Him.

God’s plan opposed the logic and wisdom of those who consider them intellectuals, philosophers and spiritual leaders. God’s plans have many reasons to be considered absurd by human beings. How can the promised Messiah be born in a manger? How can the Son of God die on a cross? Nothing good comes from Galilee the Jews said (John 7:52). How can the son of a carpenter be the Messiah? The Jews were expecting a military leader who will free them from the tyranny of the Romans but what they got was someone who taught about giving your other cheek if slapped. The Gospel has nothing in itself which is wise to human beings. There’re many human reasons to be ashamed of. We are not talking about someone like Alexander the Great, Pharaoh or Caesar. Isaiah portrayed Jesus as a tender shoot, someone who was despised and had no physical beauty (Isa. 53)

The Jews are offended at the mention of Jesus being the Messiah. An intellectual like Paul knew his preaching sounded foolishness but it was just the truth. How then can someone believe in such a message? It is only by faith. You need to lay aside your wisdom in order to have faith in God’s salvific plan. It humbles you.

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.”So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish.Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom.So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.” 1 Cor 18:29

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Posted May 11, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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