Epistle to the Hebrews (11:30-31)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Epistle to the Hebrews

It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down.It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.” Hebrews 11:30-31

When God charged Joshua the responsibility to replace Moses and lead Israel to the promised land, He said:

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

God told Joshua to be careful to obey all the instructions, to meditate and not deviate from them. There were reasons for Joshua to be afraid. First he was not Moses and he could doubt that God was not going to be with him as He was with Moses. But God reassures him that He’ll be with him. Israel had to fight against so many armies in order to conquer the promised land. The story of the spies tells us that there were giants in these places. But Joshua and Caleb believed in God’s promise and said:

But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!

Joshua through faith said:

The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! And if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey. Do not rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!” Numbers 14:9

The 10 spies who did not have faith discouraged their own people. They said: “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are! The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge.We even saw giantsthere, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!”” Numbers 13:31-33

We see again the absurdity and logical reasons for not obeying and having faith. The Israelites ignored God and it’s the reason why they thought that it would impossible to fight giants and conquer all these lands by themselves.

The bible tells us that from the generation of Moses, only Joshua and Caleb could enter the promised land because they had faith in God. This was a strong warning from God. God said : “They will never even see the land I swore to give their ancestors. None of those who have treated me with contempt will ever see it.But my servant Caleb has a different attitude than the others have.”

Refusing to have faith is treating God with contempt. It’s like saying “God is unable to accomplish what He promised”. When God punished the whole generation who rebelled, He said : “In this way, they will pay for your faithlessness, until the last of you lies dead in the wilderness.” Numbers 14:33

God was angry with all these grumblings and lack of faith and said “How long will these people treat me with contempt? Will they never believe me, even after all the miraculous signs I have done among them?”

Faithlessness caused the whole generation of Israelites (those registered older than 20 years) to die in the wilderness. This offense was that serious. It is no wonder that the Epistle to the Hebrews tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God. Their children would see the promised land but not them. God cursed them and made them spend 40 years in the wilderness (as per the 40 days exploration). Bear in mind that living by faith is not just a new doctrine of the New Testament. God has always been looking for faith in the hearts of men since the beginning.

Hebrews 3:18 tells us:  And to whom was God speaking when he took an oath that they would never enter his rest? Wasn’t it the people who disobeyed him? So we see that because of their unbelief they were not able to enter his rest.”

Unbelief/incredulity/faithlessness are gross sins that we often ignore. Do you see the difference of attitude between Joshua/Caleb and the other spies? Joshua and Caleb acknowledged there were giants and difficulties but believed this land would be theirs. Living by faith does not mean we ignore the problems. On the contrary, we acknowledge them and use them as an opportunity to see God’s hand to overturn them. When Joshua and Caleb insisted that God would be with them, the Israelites wanted to stone them(Numbers 14:10). Understand by this that living by faith will attract opposition. By living by faith, we are facing uncertainty and very few people want to follow you in this risky adventure.

Numbers 14:39-44 warns us about the danger of being impulsive in our faith. A group of Israelites after  realising their lack of faith eventually mourned and repented. However, out of impulse they took the bad decision to fight the Canaanites and Amalekites. Moses did warn them that it was not yet God’s time and that they will not succeed. Nevertheless they persisted to disobey God because they had an excess of zeal. This excess of zeal eventually led to their defeat. Once again discernment and wisdom are necessary when we decide to live by faith. It was evident that God did promise Canaan to the Israelites, this was God’s will but the green light to conquer was not yet given. We need to be careful to wait upon God even though we know His will otherwise we’ll be confused.

After 40 years in the wilderness, the time had come to conquer Canaan and it was to start with Jericho. Joshua sent 2 spies to scout Jericho and they stayed at Rahab’s house. Rahab was a prostitute but the bible tells us these things about her:

I know the Lord has given you this land,” she told them. “We are all afraid of you. Everyone in the land is living in terror. For we have heard how the Lord made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt.” Joshua 2:9

God reminded Israel about how many miracles He did but God’s people still stood in unbelief that they could conquer Canaan. Amazingly, the enemies of Israel believed God’s power against Pharaoh and in opening the Red Sea! Is not it ironical? Those who are not God’s people fear your God but you doubt that your own God can do all these things?

Rahab tells us that everyone was living in terror. Rahab had faith in the God of Israel and also said “No wonder our hearts have melted in fear! No one has the courage to fight after hearing such things. For the Lord your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below. Now swear to me by the Lord that you will be kind to me and my family since I have helped you. Give me some guarantee that when Jericho is conquered, you will let me live, along with my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all their families.”” Joshua 2:11

It was not a godly woman who said these things but it was a prostitute who realised the power of the God of Israel!  She knew for sure that God would give Canaan to Israel and requested to be spared when Israel would come. She hid the 2 spies in her house while the king of Jericho was looking for them. Her hospitality and protection saved her life for she knew there was no escape.  A prostitute had more faith in God that those supposedly God’s people. I saw non-Christian people coming to church because they believed the God of Christians could do miracles. However, those who called themselves Christians are faithless and hardly believe that God still do miracles. May we repent of our incredulity.

God was with Joshua and the Israelites crossed the overflowing Jordan river on dry ground (Joshua 3:17). This permitted to reinforce Joshua’s leadership and confidence.

As Rahab said, everyone in the land feared the God of Israel.

The bible tells us “Now the gates of Jericho were tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelites. No one was allowed to go out or in.” Joshua 6:1

Once again, taking the city of Jericho was not through the military strategy of making a breach in the wall but it was to be orchestrated by God alone. The priests and warriors walked around the town of Jericho for 6 days and on seventh day they marched around the town 7 times. When they shouted, the walls of Jericho collapsed and Jericho was theirs. As promised, Rahab the prostitute was spared and given a safe place to stay among the Israelites. It might sound absurd to declare war by walking around walls 7 times, but it was God’s way of doing things. God was seeking obedience. When we face absurdity, impossibility, uncertainty and risky things while obeying God, our faith will grow. As the author opened in the chapter 11 of Hebrews:  “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”

We would not require faith in God if everything was logical and obvious. We have faith in things we do not see yet and it’s not always easy to believe in these things. What God is first looking for, is faith and obedience in us. Let us not let difficulties stand as fogs between God and us.

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Posted June 1, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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