Faith In the Shadows: Faith Isn’t Always Seen Best In the Supernatural

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews. More specifically, today’s passage is found beginning with verse twenty and continuing through to the twenty-eighth verse. When you continue reading in the eleventh chapter of the New Testament epistle which was written unto the Hebrews you will continue to find example after example and account after account of faith in action. Within and throughout this chapter you will find a mighty demonstration of faith as it was directly manifested within the lives of various saints. Perhaps one of the most notable realities concerning the eleventh chapter of this epistle is its tremendous impact men and women made within their generation. As you read this chapter you will find the author of the epistle mentions several individuals by name. Beginning almost at the beginning with Abel and continuing through the rest of the Old Testament the author presents ya with glimpses of several men and women who not only made an impact in their generation, but who also served God faithfully in their generation. I guess that’s ultimately what faith is about when you strip it down to its simplest reality—the testimony that one has pleaded and is pleading the Lord of hosts. The more I read and the more I study this particular epistle the more I am struck with the tremendous impact faith has on serving the Lord within one’s generation. This entire chapter is about men and women who served the Lord faithfully in their generation, and how obeyed the will, the voice, the word and the commands or the Lord. What’s more is that the accounts of the lives we find in this passage of scripture brings us face to face with the direct connection faith has on worshipping and serving the Lord. Ultimately, this chapter points to one similar reality—namely, that faith touches every aspect and all realms of our lives as individuals. If you continue reading this passage of scripture you will notice they faith touches a variety of different aspects and areas within one’s life—a truth that was evident from the variety of names and accounts found within the passage.

When the author of this epistle first began mentioning names in this chapter they did so beginning almost at the beginning of creation, for they mentioned Abel and the better sacrifice he offered than Cain. The author begins with Abel and begins with sacrifice before transitioning to Enoch and the testimony he had in that he pleased the Lord his God. The book of Genesis will reveals that Enoch walked with God for three hundred years after he began Methusaleh before he was translated that he might not taste death. The author then transitions to Noah who was warned by the Lord of the destruction of the earth by a flood. This author states that Noah moved with fear and built an ark—not only condemning the world at that time, but preserving unto life his entire family and house. Abraham is next in this list of faith in action, and the account of his life begins when he was called by the Lord to leave Ur of the Chaldees and journey to a land he knew not—one the Lord would show him. Abraham obeyed the voice of the Lord and went not knowing there he was going or what lie ahead and in store for him. What’s more is that the author of this epistle goes on to describe Abraham as sojourning in tents in the midst of the land of promise as a stranger and pilgrim with Isaac and Jacob—those to whom the promise would also be made. At one point during Abraham’s life the Lord would test him by asking him to sacrifice his only son Isaac at a place He would show him. There is a peculiar and interesting reality that is found in this particular chapter—namely, that when Abraham offered his son Isaac upon the altar unto the Lord, he reckoned that the Lord was able to raise Isaac from the dead. I mean, how do you reconcile the promise being found in Isaac, and in Isaac would his defendants be blessed, and Isaac being dead by Abraham’s own hand? This author describes for us how Abraham believed that even if he had sacrificed Isaac upon the altar, the Lord could raise him up from the dead. Imagine being Isaac and not only being bound upon the altar, but also watching as your own father raised his hands above his head with knife in one hand that he might slay you. Imagine all the more that you died and were immediately raised from death to life by and according to the word of the Lord. The author of this epistle writes that it was by faith Abraham offered his son Isaac upon the altar, for Abraham believed that the Lord could indeed raise him from the dead.

I can’t help but want to spend a few moments on the account of Abraham atop mount Moriah where he not only built the altar, nor only arranged the word upon the altar, but also bound his son and placed him on the altar. There are two peculiar realities surrounding Abraham and Isaac at mount moriah—namely that while Abraham and Isaac were making their journey to the place the Lord would show him Isaac noticed the absence of the sacrifice and asked Abraham concerning the missing sacrifice. The second reality surrounding the account of Abraham and Isaac also occurs while they were making the journey to the place which the Lord Himself would indicate, for Abraham caused Isaac to carry the wood which would be used for the sacrifice. Pause for a moment and consider the reality that not only did they make the journey without the sacrifice—or at least that’s what Isaac thought—but also Isaac carried the wood on which he was going to be laid upon after his father had bound him and place him on the altar. I have often and long been fascinated with the tremendous reality surrounding Isaac carrying the wood of the sacrifice on this journey, for in all reality Isaac was carrying the wood of his sacrifice. Please note and please see the incredible parallel that exists between Isaac and Jesus, for just as Isaac would carry the wood of the sacrifice upon which he would be laid, so also Jesus carried the wood of the sacrifice which He would make upon the earth according to the word and will of the Lord. Consider that which is recorded in the twenty-second chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis concerning Abraham and Isaac traveling to that place the Lord would show him:

“And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son” (Genesis 22:3-10).

You have to journey to the New Testament gospel of John to find the account of Jesus carrying the wood of His sacrifice, for within this particular passage of Scripture you will find John describing how immediately after Jesus was delivered into the hands of sinful men to be crucified, Jesus was forced to bear up and carry his own cross. Consider if you will—not only the words which are recorded in this particular passage of Scripture concerning Jesus carrying the wood of His sacrifice, but also the words which allude to this reality which are found in the fifty-third chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah:

“And they took Jesus, and led Him away. And He bearing His cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: where they crucified Him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst” (John 19:16-18).

“Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: hue hath no form or comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath burned our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace as upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of his all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he olpeneth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the. Great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of man, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:1-12).

Concerning the account of Abraham and Isaac making their journey to the location which the Lord would show unto Abraham, Abraham took of the wood and placed it upon Isaac that he might carry the wood of the sacrifice to the place where the sacrifice would be made. Please don’t miss the tremendous parallel that exists between Isaac carrying the wood of the sacrifice upon his shoulders, and Jesus carrying the wood of His sacrifice upon His shoulders. Isaac was forced to carry the wood of the sacrifice upon his shoulders not knowing until he arrived at the designated and appointed place that he was the sacrifice. Jesus on the other hand knew that He was going to be the sacrifice offered upon the altar of Golgotha upon the cross, and He carried and bore the wood of that sacrifice upon His weakened form. This is perhaps one of the most astounding and intriguing realities surrounding Abraham and Isaac making the journey to mount Moriah, for Abraham would carry with him the fire and the knife, while Isaac would carry the wood of the sacrifice. This is also in and of itself a parallel between Isaac and Jesus, for when it came to the account of the sacrifice of Jesus—Jesus Himself would carry the wood of His sacrifice, while the Father alone would lay hold of the instruments in which the sacrifice would be made. It was the Father in heaven who would essentially have “the fire and the knife” with which He would sacrifice His Son upon the cross which was atop Golgotha outside of Jerusalem. Oh, please don’t miss the tremendous significance and importance of this truth, for the account of Abraham and Isaac journeying to mount Moriah to offer a sacrifice unto the Lord is recorded and recounted in the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews. I can’t help but wonder what went through the mind of Isaac—first as he was bound by his own father, and second as he was placed upon the altar atop the wood. Was there any resistance on the part of Isaac when he realized that the reason no lamb was brought for the sacrifice was because he was to be the sacrifice? Did Isaac try and fight his father off in order that he might not be bound and placed upon the altar? What did Abraham say to Isaac that allowed him to lay hold of his son and bind him and place him on the altar? Was there any sort of screaming and yelling on Isaac’s part when Abraham was binding him? Were there questions, doubts, concern and even fear within the heart of Isaac as Abraham his own father was binding him before ultimately placing him upon the altar? We know that Isaac recognized the absence of the lamb for the sacrifice, for Isaac spoke unto Abraham concerning the wood, the fire and the knife, but no lamb with which to sacrifice. Oh this is an incredibly powerful truth when you take the time to consider it, for we know Isaac’s thoughts along the journey to Moriah, but we are given no insight into his thoughts, or even his words and actions when he was being bound by his father, and when he was placed upon the altar.

I can’t help but wonder what went through the mind of Isaac as he lie there upon the altar bound by his own father. What’s more, is that I wonder what went through his mind when he saw his own father raise the knife over his head with which to strike Isaac there atop mount Moriah upon the altar. What went through the heart and mind of Isaac as he saw the blade of the knife directly above his form there upon the altar? I can imagine the light from the sun reflecting off the tip and point of the blade as Isaac lie there bound upon the altar completely helpless and unable to do anything to change the course of events that would undoubtedly take place. The author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wrote that Abraham reckoned that the Lord of hosts could raise up Isaac from the dead after he had sacrificed him upon the altar, but did Isaac believe the same thing? Did Isaac believe that his own father could plunge the knife deep into his form as he lie upon the altar, and the Lord would and could raise him up? Consider if you will the words which the author of this epistle written unto the Hebrews writes in this passage beginning with the seventeenth verse:

“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promised offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was aid, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure” (Hebrews 11:17-19).

What I so love about these three verses which are found in this passage is that they are directly linked and connected to the reality of Jesus Christ being offered as a sacrifice upon the cross atop Golgotha, as well as His resurrection. Within this particular passage of Scripture—not only do we find a wonderful and powerful picture which points to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but we also find it as a powerful picture pointing to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Scripture records how Abraham would have offered His son Isaac up as a sacrifice upon the altar, and how Abraham accounted and believed that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead. Please note that the author of the epistle would go on to write how Abraham received Isaac back as a figure, for as soon as Abraham raised the knife over his head to slay his own son, an angel from heaven called out to Abraham and instructed him not to lay a hand on his son. Moreover, Abraham looked and saw a ram caught in a thicket, which he immediately set free and removed from the thicket in order that he might offer it as a sacrifice upon the altar in place of his son. Figuratively speaking Abraham received Isaac his son back from the dead, for Isaac was bound and placed upon the altar. Undoubtedly when Abraham bound his son Isaac and placed him on the altar, he reckoned him to be as good as dead. Moreover, when Abraham took the knife and raised it above his head to plunge it into Isaac’s flesh, he reckoned and considered him to be as good as dead. In the heart and mind of Abraham Isaac was as good as dead—a reality which was perhaps even within the heart and mind of Abraham as early as he received command and instruction from the Lord to take his only son Isaac and offer him as a sacrifice upon the altar at the place He would show him. Figuratively speaking Abraham received Isaac back from the dead, for the angel of the Lord intervened and prevented Abraham from slaying his one and only son Isaac upon the altar on that day. This was a type and a picture of a different Father who would not spare His Son as was Isaac, but would willingly and deliberately slay his one and only Son upon the cross of Calvary. The interesting note worth considering is that although the Father slaughtered His one and only Son, the Father would receive His Son back on the third day as the Spirit of the living God would resurrect Jesus from death to life. The Father would bruise and the Father would crush Jesus, and Jesus would ultimately die upon the cross of Calvary, and would be buried in a borrowed tomb, but on the third day the Father would receive His Son back through resurrection. Abraham believed that he could receive his son back—even after his son was dead by his hand—for Abraham believed the Lord could raise him up from death to life. The Lord did not have to raise Isaac up from death to life, for the angel of the Lord intervened in Abraham’s action to slay his only son Isaac upon the altar. This was not true concerning Jesus the Christ, for Jesus would die upon the cross of Calvary, and Jesus would be buried in a borrowed tomb, but on the third day would be raised from death to life by the very Spirit of God.

When I consider that which is found and that which is recorded in the eleventh chapter of the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews I can’t help but be completely and utterly gripped by the fact that most of the chapter—though it deals specifically with the demonstration and manifestation of faith in the lives of those mentioned—does not present us with actions we would normally equate with a demonstration and manifestation of faith. The more I Read, and the more I consider that which is found in this particular chapter the more I am convinced that what we read within its verses—though they describe in detail a demonstration and manifestation of faith—do not describe for us those acts and those actions we would deem as being a true demonstration of faith in the earth. When we speak of faith, and when we speak of the demonstration of faith we tend to think of healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons, causing the lame to walk again, causing the blind to see, causing the deaf to hear, etc. When we speak of faith and the demonstration and manifestation of it within the earth we more often than not equate it with great exploits and great feats which were and are performed by various men and women. I would present unto you that when we speak of and consider the reality and concept of faith we don’t consider it as touching every area and aspect of our lives. When we speak of faith we don’t think about or perceive it as touching the manifestation of our every day lives. WHEN FAITH TOUCHES THE ORDINARY! WHEN FAITH TOUCHES THE NATURAL! The more I read and the more I consider the words which are found in this particular passage of Scripture, the more I am utterly and completely convinced that faith not only touches the ordinary, but it also touches the natural and that which seems to be mundane. In all reality, I am convinced faith can touch, and in all reality does touch even that reality which is presented in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament epistle which was written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints of Rome beginning with the ninth verse of the twelfth chapter:

“Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of the saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:9-21).

By the time we come to the twenty-eighth verse of the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews we have read about Abel and Enoch, Noah and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Sarah, as well as Moses. Thus far when we have read the words contained in this passage of Scripture we have read about Abel offering a better sacrifice than Cain, thus touching the realm of worship before the Lord. We have also touched on Enoch being translated that he might not taste death, thus touching the realm of pleasing the Lord. Through the account of Noah we encounter a warning being given by God, and moving in fear to prepare an ark for the saving of his house. So far there is really nothing extraordinary or spectacular that is mentioned in the eleventh chapter concerning the lives of those mentioned—at least not according to our standards of extraordinary and spectacular. Concerning Abraham we find that Abraham obeyed when he was called by the Lord to go out to a country which the Lord would show him, and that he sojourned in tents with Isaac and Jacob who were heirs of the promise given unto Abraham. We read of Abraham offering up Isaac upon the altar when he was tried, accounting that the Lord could raise Isaac up from the dead. We have read how Sarah—after the natural time for child birth and child rearing were long passed, and her body was as good as dead—gave birth to Isaac, in whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed. Thus Abraham and Sarah would receive Isaac—that which was promised unto them twenty-five years earlier when the Lord first spoke unto Abraham. What’s more, is when we continue reading the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews we find the author describing how by faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. The author would go on to write how Jacob, when he was dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph, and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff. Moreover, it was by faith Joseph when he died made mention of the departing of the children of Israel, and gave commandment concerning his bones. Verses twenty-three through twenty-eight of the same chapter perfectly and powerfully describe the life of Abraham, and within them we find a powerful truth concerning this man whom the Lord spoke to face to face. Concerning Moses, the author records and writes how it was by faith Moses was hid by his parents for three months—despite the decree and command given by Pharaoh to kill all the male children under the age of three within the land of Egypt. Furthermore, it was by faith Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, and chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God. It was by and through faith that Moses chose to suffer affliction with the people of God rather than enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season. It was by faith Moses esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt, for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. Furthermore, it was by faith Moses forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.

Please don’t miss the tremendous significance and importance of that which is found and that which is contained within this passage of Scripture, for it brings us face to face with the tremendous reality that more often than not faith touches the ordinary and the natural, and is not necessarily found in that which we would deem to be spectacular. In fact, I am convinced that more often than not we spend a considerable amount of time looking for faith in the spectacular, and we look for faith in the extraordinary, and yet that simply isn’t the case. There is an old familiar phrase concerning love that speaks of looking for love in all the wrong places, and either finding what we believe to be love in those places, or not finding love at all. The premise of this phrase is simply that it is possible to look for love in all the wrong places rather than looking for it in those places which are true and right. Consider how many times you have heard men and women state that they have spent so much time looking for love in all the wrong places, and as a result, have been burned, bruised, and beaten. I would like to take this concept of looking for love in all the wrong places and put a twist on it, for just as surely and just as easily as we can look for love in all the wrong places, I am convinced that we can look for faith in all the wrong places. It is possible that we look for faith in the places of the spectacular and the places of the extraordinary, and yet more often than not faith is found in the ordinary and in the natural. I am firmly and powerfully convinced that faith is found in those normal, those common, those every day, and those often overlooked places within our lives. What’s more, is that I would even dare say that faith has the ability to appear in those places we would least expect it, and those places we wouldn’t even dream of looking. When you look at and examine the eleventh chapter of the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews you aren’t entirely struck by the extraordinary or the spectacular as it pertains to the demonstration and manifestation of faith. Within he first twenty-eight verses of the eleventh chapter there is nothing we would ultimately deem exciting or extraordinary, for we read of blessing others, worshipping and sacrificing unto the Lord, building an ark, going to a new place previously not known, mentioning the bones of one who would perish, and the like. Thus far within these verses we have read of refusing to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, of choosing to suffer affliction with the people of God, of choosing not to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, of esteeming the reproach of Christ of greater riches than the treasures of this world, and forsaking Egypt as Moses endured seeing Him who was invisible.

LOOKING FOR FAITH IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES! The more I read and the more I consider the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews the more I am absolutely and completely gripped with and by the reality of looking for faith in all the wrong places, and looking for faith in the spectacular and the extraordinary and not for one moment considering that faith can be found in the ordinary, the normal, and the mundane areas and parts of our lives. I mean, when you talk about and speak of faith, do you really think of it in terms of choosing to suffer affliction with the people of God? When you think of the demonstration of faith do you think of esteeming the riches of Christ of greater values than the treasures and pleasures of the world? When you think of the manifestation of faith do you think of forsaking Egypt and all that it stands for and represents as you see and look unto Him who is invisible? What we read and what we find in this passage of Scripture doesn’t fit into our normal theological framework and box concerning the manifestation and demonstration of faith, and in all reality, I am convinced that that is what is so incredibly beautiful and wonderful about it. If there is one thing we must recognize and learn when reading this passage, it’s that we cannot, we must not, we should not look for faith in the spectacular, in the extraordinary, and perhaps even always in the supernatural. FAITH ISN’T ALWAYS MANIFESTED IN THE SUPERNATURAL! I realize that statement might come as a direct shock to you who read this, but the reality of it is absolutely and certainly true regardless of whether or not we choose to believe and accept it. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we understand that faith isn’t always manifested in the supernatural, and faith isn’t always even in the miraculous, and more often than not we can miss the true demonstration and manifestation when we don’t look for it in the natural and that which is seemingly ordinary and mundane. If there is one thing I would leave you with from this writing, it’s that you would be given eyes to see beyond the supernatural and beyond the miraculous and would learn to see and discover faith in the natural, in the ordinary, and in the seemingly mundane. Oh that we would recognize that faith isn’t always manifested in that which is in the spotlight, but is and can be seen in the shadows, and in those realms which often go overlooked and ignored. Oh that we would learn how to look for and find faith in those unexpected places—those places where others would not typically think to look, but where we must always fix our eyes and look without reservation.

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