DOES YOUR PATIENCE HAVE AN EXPIRATION DATE &YOUR ENDURANCE HAVE A LMIT?

Today’s reading continues in the New Testament epistle which was written unto the Hebrews. More specifically, today’s passage begins with the thirteenth verse of the sixth chapter and continues through to the twentieth verse. When you come to this particular passage of scripture you find the author transitioning from writing concerning spiritual maturity and Christian growth to now writing and speaking concerning Abraham. As you approach this passage you will find the author appealing to the life and example of Abraham in order to bring the Audience into a place of understanding concerning the tremendous need for patience and endurance. What is so unique and interesting about the life of Abraham is that his life served as the foundation for teaching in the writings of the apostle Paul, as well as in the writings of James the half brother of Jesus. There has been much debate and much controversy between the writings of James and the writings of the apostle Paul concerning the life of Abraham. The debate that exists between their writings is centered upon the reality that the apostle Paul wrote concerning Abraham how he was justified by faith alone. For the apostle Paul—he believed that while there were most certainly works manifested and demonstrated in the life of Abraham, this father of faith was entirely and solely justified by faith alone before the living God. Within the writings of James, however, you will find him writing and declaring if Abraham that he was not justified by faith alone, but was justified because of the joint partnership between faith in the promises and word of God and the demonstration and manifestation of works within his life. For James the half brother of Jesus, he believed that Abraham did in fact believe in the living God and did in fact place his trust and confidence in Him, yet it was not faith by and in and of itself that allowed him to be justified before and by the living God. The life of Abraham was used in both the epistle which was written unto the church in Rome, as well as the epistle which was written unto the churches in Galatia, and both epistles were intended in delivering a powerful theological treatise concerning the life of Abraham, and how it can impact and influence our lives.

As we come to the latter half of the sixth chapter of the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews we find the author not only appealing to the life of Abraham, but also the life of Abraham in direct connection and contrast to the promise of God. If you read this particular passage of scripture you will find the author of the epistle writing concerning Abraham, and writing concerning the promise that was made unto him by and from the Lord. What the author didn’t mention is what that particular promise was which was made unto Abraham. In fact—if you read the New Testament book of Hebrews without also reading the Old Testament book of Genesis, as well as perhaps the New Testament epistles of Romans and Galatians, you will not have any knowledge concerning that which was promised unto Abraham. Oh, it is true the author of the epistle wrote of the promise that was made unto Abraham, and it is true the author wrote of the Lord swearing on oath to establish the legitimacy of the promise, however, we are left to wonder what the promise was which Abraham received from the Lord. What’s more, is that within this passage of scripture—not only do we have the giving of the promise, but we also have the waiting for the promise. There is present within this passage of scripture—not only the reality concerning the Lord swearing on oath to confirm the promise he made unto Abraham, but we also find Abraham living his life in light of, and in direct relation to that promise. Pause for a moment and consider the reality that this single man lived the latter part of his life in light of, and in the face of a promise that was made unto him. Each and every movement within the life of this single man was centered upon the reality and concept that the Lord had spoken unto Him—and not only spoken unto him, but also gave him a promise. Consider the tremendous reality that for a period of twenty-five year’s Abraham spent his days and lived his life in light of, and in direct relation to the fact that the Lord has indeed spoken to him while in Ur of the Chaldeans, and that the Lord has given him a promise. For twenty-five years Abraham’s life was spent living in direct relationship to the voice and word of the Lord being present and manifested within his life.

In order to truly understand that which the author of the epistle unto the Hebrews was writing about concerning the life of Abraham, it is necessary and imperative that we journey back in time unto the Old Testament to identify the life of this man. The account of Abraham actually begins in the eleventh chapter of this Old Testament book, but really takes off when you come to the twelfth chapter. Consider if you will—first the language that is found at the end of the eleventh chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis, as well as the twelfth chapter.

“Now these are the generations of Torah: Torah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot. And Haran died before his father Torah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees. And Abraham and Hanor took them wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor’s wife, Micah, the daughter of Haran, the father of MIlcah, and the father of Isaiah. But Sarai was barren; she had no child. And Torah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there. And the days of Torah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran” (Genesis 11:27-32”

Within this particular set of verses we first encounter the account and story of Abraham—although at this point in time Abraham was known by a different name, which was Abram. Found within this particular passage we discover the lineage of Abraham, as Abram was begotten by Terah, who also had two other brothers—Nahor and Haran. In the final verses of the eleventh chapter we not only find that Abram’s brother Haran died, but we also find two additional realities—namely, that Abram’s wife Sarai was barren and had no child, as well as that Terah took Abram, Sarai, and Lot out of Ur of the Chaldees unto Haran. When the eleventh c halter of the Old Testament book of Genesis comes to a close it does so with Tehran—Abram’s father—dying in the land of Haran, and Abram still in that land with Sarai his barren wife, and Lot who was his late brother’s son. THE BARREN & THE ORPHAN! It’s actually quite interesting when you consider how the eleventh chapter of the book of Genesis concludes, for it does so with Abram living in the land of Haran with Sarai his barren wife, and Lot who while it is true he was his nephew, was perhaps an orphan after the passing of his father. As the eleventh chapter draws to a close it does so with Abram dwelling in Haran—perhaps unsure of why he was there, or even if he wanted to remain there. Abram had already made the journey out of Ur of the Chaldees unto the land of Canaan, for Moses recounts how it was in the heart and mind of Torah to take his son, his daughter in law, and his grandson out of and way from Ur of the Chaldees, and into the land of Canaan. These four individuals made it as far as the land of Haran before Torah died at the age of two-hundred and five years. I can imagine what it must have been like for Abram, Sarah and Lot to remain there in Haran knowing that they had left the land of their nativity to journey unto an unknown land. When we come to the end of the eleventh chapter we find Terah seeking to take Abram, Sarah and Lot, and journey into the land of Canaan where they themselves would sojourn and dwell. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if there was perhaps a certain level and certain measure of doubt that flooded and filled the heart of Abram after Torah his father had died, for Scripture seems to indicate that it was Terah who took Abram, Sarai and Lot out of Ur of the Chaldees and make the journey into the land of Canaan.

I am convinced that what makes the twelfth chapter so incredibly powerful is that while it is the Lord bringing about the beginning of a people and nation within the earth, it also seems to be an intervention within the life of Abram. Perhaps after his father died Abram wondered why and what he was doing in Haran, and even thought about returning back to Ur of the Chaldees. We aren’t given any clue or indication as to thoughts, the emotions, and the mindset within Abram in the eleventh chapter, so we aren’t sure whether or not he had second thoughts and doubts about dwelling in the land of Canaan. We aren’t given any clue or indication that Abram had any desire to return unto Ur of the Chaldees, but if that which his descendants, and offspring and seed is any indication as to what might have gone through his head, he might very well have at least entertained the thought and the idea of returning back to Ur of the Chaldees. As you read the Old Testament books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and even Deuteronomy, you will find that there were certain times when the children of Israel murmured, grumbled and complained against Moses concerning their condition there in the wilderness, and at times sought to raise up for themselves leaders who would lead them back into the land of Egypt. For a number of the children of Israel, the trials, the troubles, the struggles, the challenges of the wilderness were too much to handle, and too much to bear, and as a direct result of their being unable to handle them, they sought to return to the land of Egypt. Time and time again Moses had to contend with the children of Israel concerning their desire to return unto the land of Egypt—particularly when they found themselves hungry in the wilderness, or found themselves thirsty. More often than not their grumbling and complaining was directly linked and connected to a specific need within their lives going unmet and unfulfilled. What’s more, is that much of their grumbling and complaining occurred in direct response and direct relationship to expectations they had there in the wilderness, and those expectations going largely unmet—at least initially before the Lord intervened, showed up, and provided for them. If the descendants of Abraham—the children of Israel—and their attitude and mindset in the wilderness is any indication into the heart and mind of Abram in the land of Haran, we might deduce that Abram thought about, and at least entertained the idea of returning to Ur of the Chaldees.

What we find in the twelfth chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis is in my opinion a complete and utter intervention in the life of Abram, for whether or not he had thoughts of returning unto Ur of the Chaldees, the Lord would and could not allow him to return there. That which we find in the twelfth chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis reminds me so much of what we find in the first chapter of the Old Testament book of Joshua. It’s almost as if the Lord appeared unto and spoke unto Abram the same way He did unto Joshua—essentially revealing unto Abram that his father was dead, but he was to continue the journey which his father had begun. Abram might have had thoughts—perhaps even a desire—to return unto Ur of the Chaldees, and this moreso in direct relation and connection to the death of his father. It might very well be possible that he made the journey from Ur of the Chaldees to live the dream of his father; however, with his father now dead, Abram was left to look after and care for both Sarai and Lot. Perhaps Abram thought it would have been best for them to return to the land of their nativity—to the land of familiarity, comfort, convenience and ease—in order to make their lives a little easier. The Lord, however, would not and could not allow Abram to (1) remain in the land of Haran and not move forward, and (2) return unto Ur of the Chaldees, thus abandoning the journey. In all reality, I am convinced there are two distinct groups of individuals within the church today in this generation—first those who have come to Haran and in the place of Haran have experienced something unexpected, and have thought about remaining within that place becoming stagnant and stale. Secondly, there are those who have come to Haran and have in fact begun the journey, but there in Haran have experienced something truly traumatizing and emotional, and as a result of what they have experienced, they have sought to abandon the journey to the land of Canaan, and desire to return to the land of familiarity, comfort, and convenience. We aren’t given any clue or indication as to what Abram’s thoughts, motives and intentions were at the time of Tehran’s death, but if we consider the habits and behaviors of his descendants, and if we consider the Lord’s appearing unto him in the very next chapter, we can deduce and possibly conclude that the Lord intervened within his life to incite him to continue on in the journey—to not remain there in the land of Haran, not to return to Ur of the Chaldees.

In all reality, each and every one of us are faced with a decision on what we are going to do in that moment when we experience such a dramatic event within our lives—either we are going to remain stuck in the place we find ourselves, either we are going to return to the land and place we came from, or we are going to continue on in the journey. What we must consider is that Abram might not have continued on in the journey were it not for the Lord appearing unto him. Thank God the Lord appeared unto Abram there in Haran, for His appearing unto him was very much similar to how the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun after Moses His servant was dead. THE JOURNEY MUST CONTINUE! THERE IS NO ROOM FOR RETREAT AND RETURNING! THERE IS NO ROOM FOR REMAINING AND ABIDING! Consider if you will the encounter Abram had with the Lord there in the land of Haran, as well as the words which the Lord spoke unto Joshua on the other side of Moses’ death:

“Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarah his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came” (Genesis 12:1-5).

“Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1:1-9).

With these two passages we find the Lord intervening within the lives of both Abram and Joshua, and urging them to continue on in the journey which they had already begun. Abram had already begun the journey from Ur of the Chaldees, and was instructed by the Lord to rise up from that place, leave his father’s house, and leave the land of his nativity, and journey unto a land that He would show him. Joshua was left in the midst of the children of Israel after Moses the servant of the Lord had died, and he knew that the Lord had chosen and appointed him to lead the children of Israel into the land of Canaan, and into battle against the nations and peoples which were present within the land. In both cases, Abram obeyed the Lord and went out as he had been commanded, and Joshua obeyed the Lord and led the children of Israel into the land of Canaan. I absolutely love each of these accounts, for these accounts bring us face to face with the tremendous reality many of us will face when we have to decide whether we are going to return to the place of familiarly, comfort and ease, or whether we are going to remain where we already are and thus moving no further. The Old Testament book of Genesis reveals that Abram obeyed the voice of the Lord and continued on unto the land of Canaan, and how the first obstacle and struggle he faced was a famine in the land—a famine that was so severe that he took Sarai and Lot down into the land of Egypt to escape the famine. After the famine was over, Abram took Sarai and Lot “unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Beth-el and Hai; unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the Lord” (Genesis 13:3-4). It was at this point where Abram and Lot experienced a strife and conflict between their herdsmen, and as a direct result of the conflict, Abram allowed Lot to look upon the land and choose where he would dwell. Moses records how Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, and saw that it was well watered every where, and so Lot chose all the plan of Jordan. Ultimately and inevitably Lot and Abram separated, as Lot journeyed into the plain of the Jordan. Moses actually records how Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and how lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. What’s so interesting about the life of Abram is that immediately after we read of his father dying, we read of the Lord appearing unto and speaking unto him. Now, when we read of Abram and Lot separating themselves from each other, we read once more of the Lord appearing unto and speaking to Abram. The Lord appeared to him in the place of loss and death, and the Lord now appeared to him in the place of separation. In all reality, I am convinced that until and unless we are willing to walk through such places—the places of loss and separation—we cannot truly enter into that which the Lord has promised unto us. Consider if you will that which the Lord spoke unto Abram after he and Lot separated themselves one from another:

“And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it, and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee. Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and build there an altar unto the Lord” (Genesis 13:14-18).

The Lord would again appear unto Abram in the land of Canaan—except this third time would come after Abram would engage certain kings of the land, and rescue his nephew Lot from his captivity among foreign and pagan kings. It’s interesting that in Haran Abram experienced the death of his father; in the land of Canaan he experienced a severe famine within the land; in the land of Canaan he experienced strife between his herdsmen and the herdsmen of Lot, and as a direct result of this strife and contention, they separated one from another; and now in the land of Canaan he would also experience conflict, warfare and battle, as he had to engage himself and those with him in battle against the pagan kings of the land. Immediately after Abram had rescued his nephew Lot from the grips and clutches of the pagan kings within the land, we again find the Lord appearing unto and speaking unto him. Consider if you will the words which are recorded in the life of Abram in the fifteenth chapter beginning with the first verse:

“After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one is born in my house is mine heir. And, behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own Bowles shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.l And he believed in the Lord; and He counted it to Him for righteousness. And he said unto him, I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it. And he said, Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not. And when the fowls came down upon the carcasses, Abram drove them away. And then the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four-hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full. And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: the Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, and the Hittites, and the Perizittes, and the Rephaims, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebuistes” (Genesis 15:1-21).

In the seventeenth chapter of this Old Testament book we find yet another account of the Lord speaking unto Abram—not only concerning the promise of a son and an heir, but also concerning his very nature and identity. Consider if you will the words which are found in the seventeenth chapter of this Old Testament book beginning with the first verse:

“And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumsiced, that soul shall be cut off form his people he hath broken my covenant. And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her…Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him” (Genesis 17:1-19).

With all of this in mind, we now return to the sixth chapter of the New Testament epistle which was written unto the Hebrews where the author writes how when God made promise to Abraham, because He could swear but no greater, He sware by Himself. What is so incredibly unique and powerful about this passage of Scripture is that when writing concerning Abraham, the author wrote that after Abraham had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. Oh, please don’t miss the tremendous value and significance of that which is contained in this particular verse, for this same reality is again mentioned later on in the epistle. Beginning with the thirty-fifth verse of the tenth chapter we read the following words which were written unto those to whom this epistle was directed: “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For he have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, the might receive the promise. For ye a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:35-38). Pay close attention to what the author writes in the thirty-sixth verse, for the author emphatically declares unto the Hebrews their need for patience, and that after they had done the will of God, they might receive the promise. This comes directly on the heels of the author writing unto them and instructing them to cast not away their confidence, which has great recompense of reward. The author initially begins by instructing them to cast not away their confidence, and then immediately transitions to declaring unto them their need for patience—patience in light of that which has been promised and spoken unto them. This very reality is actually quite astonishing and remarkable, for within this passage we must ask ourselves how long we are willing to patiently endure and patiently wait for that fulfillment of that which has been spoken unto, and that which has been promised unto us. Perhaps the single greatest question we must ask ourselves when reading these words is how long we are willing to endure and patiently wait for that which the Lord promised unto us to actually come to pass. I am utterly and completely convinced there are a number of men and women among us who have great need of endurance in light of, and in the face of that which has been spoken and promised unto them, for they have considered abandoning that hope, and abandoning that which was promised and spoken unto them. The question that I must ask right now is very simple: Does your patience have an expiration date? Does your endurance have a limit? DOES YOUR PATIENCE HAVE AN EXPIRATION DATE & DOES YOUR ENDURANCE HAVE A LMIT? How we answer these questions can and will directly impact and influence how we live our lives, and how we conduct ourselves here on the earth, for one of the greatest needs among and within us is the need to patiently wait, and to quietly endure in the midst of that which has been spoken, and that which has been promised unto us. The question I would present unto you is whether or not you are willing to patiently wait for that which the Lord has spoken and promised unto you, and whether or not you are wiling to endure in light of that which you are patiently waiting for.

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