Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle which was written unto the Hebrews. More specifically today’s passage is found in verses twenty-nine through forty of the eleventh chapter. When you come to this particular set of verses you will find the eleventh chapter of this epistle draw to a close. As you read the words which are found in this set of verses you will find the conclusion of this chapter to be absolutely stunning—perhaps even breathtaking. Contained within this final set of verses are two distinct realities which set the stage and begin the transition to the end of the chapter. If you read the entire first portion of the chapter—verses one through twenty-right—one of the first realities you will notice is the definition of faith which is found in the very first verse of the chapter. The author opens this chapter with a definition of faith, and uses only a single verse at the beginning of the chapter to do so. I continue to hold to the thought and notion that the author of this epistle wasn’t as concerned with defining faith as they were describing faith in action. There is not a doubt in my mind that the author sought to put faith on display for the readers—a reality that can only be done and accomplished by showing how faith has moved and operated in the lives of countless Old Testament saints. PUTTING FSITH ON DISPLAY! Please don’t miss this incredibly important reality, for it will help radically shape and alter your perception of this chapter. I know that I myself spent a considerable amount of time reading this chapter as somewhat of a definition of faith, and certain stories and accounts that helped further reveal and speak to the reality of faith. The more I read this epistle, the more I am convinced that the author is not so much interested in defining faith as they are with putting faith on display for all who would read the words contained within it.
If you read the words contained within the New Testament you will find mentioned the trining of Faith, or perhaps what is best known as the trial of faith. You cannot read the New Testament without encountering at least one mention of faith being out on trial—put on trial by troubles, by tribulation, by afflictions, but sufferings, by hardships, and the like. What we find in the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews is not faith in trial, but rather faith in display. I can’t help but read the words which the author of this epistle wrote within this chapter and be wonderfully and powerfully convinced that the author sought to rest define faith, and then transition to the place where they would actually shine a spotlight on the lives of countless individuals within the Old covenant who demonstrated faith within their lives. SHINING A SPOTLIGHT ON FEITH! When I read the words which are found and contained within this passage of scripture I can’t help but see a powerful spotlight shined on the lives of the individuals which are mentioned, and how the spotlight not only shone on faith itself, but also on the lives of those who were mentioned within the chapter. What’s more, is that when you read the names of the individuals which are mentioned in this chapter you will find that they were mentioned in direct relation to their demonstration and manifestation of faith within their generation. In other words, their lives were mentioned as being intrinsically linked and connected to faith, and it was the demonstration of faith that caused them to be mentioned within this particular chapter. That which caused the names which are mentioned in this chapter to be mentioned was their direct relationship to and their direct relationship with faith. That which caused them to be presented in this particular set of verses was the movement and operation of faith within their hearts and lives. You cannot read this chapter without continually reading that which these individuals did “by faith” or even “through faith.” The author of this epistle sought to present their readers with a wonderful and powerful demonstration and manifestation of faith within and upon the earth as was manifested within the lives of these individuals.
The more I read and the more I consider the words which are contained within this passage of scripture the more I come face to face with the reality that that which the author of this epistle was seeking to do was to put faith on display—to wonderfully and powerfully demonstrate how faith moves and operates within the lives of countless men and women who were mentioned in the Old Testament. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this incredible reality, for this reality brings us face to face with the truth that the Spirit or the Lord cares more about the demonstration of faith than He does the definition of faith. The author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews used one verse to define and describe faith, used another verse to describe how it is by faith that we believe that the worlds and everything we see was formed and framed by the word of God. Furthermore, the author goes on to write and declare that without faith it is impossible to please God, and then goes on to describe and declare how faith believes that God is and that He is a rewarded or those who diligently seek Him. Only two verses of this chapter actually have any type of connection with defining and describing faith, evil the entire remainder of the chapter is spent putting faith on display in the lives of those who lived during the days of the Old Testament. A huge spotlight is shone on the lives mentioned within these verses—a spotlight that is placed upon them solely and entirely because they moved and walked in and by faith. I have to admit that I can never and will never read this particular chapter the same way again, for this chapter is not a definition of faith for the sake of divining it, but rather a powerful putting faith in display and demonstrating faith within the lives of countless men and women within the Old Testament. We dare not miss and lose sight of this all important reality, for to do so would be to completely and utterly miss the entire point of this chapter.
As you read the words which are found and contained within this chapter you will the demonstration of faith as being presented in the lives of individuals, and not so much as touching the corporate realm of community and body. Up until this point we have seen the demonstration of faith as being solely and completely on the lives of individuals and haven’t really seen it manifested or demonstrated in a corporate setting. This takes a drastic change and then when you come to the twenty-ninth verse, for when you come to this verse you will find the author now transition to putting faith on display in the corporate setting of the children of Israel—first st the Red Sea, and next at the walls of Jericho in the land of Canaan. I am convinced that as much as we need to witness the demonstration in the private and personal setting of the saints, there is a tremendous need to experience the demonstration of faith in the corporate setting of the saints of God. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we understand just how important the demonstration of faith is in the corporate setting—particularly, and especially as it touches the realm of community and body. When I come to and approach the words which are found and contained in the twenty-ninth verse of this chapter I am immediately struck with the reality that at some point faith must transition beyond and transcend the normal individual reality we would so desperately seek to dwell on, and move into the realm of the community of saints and the body of Christ. Oh, please don’t miss or dismiss this absolutely incredible reality, for to do so would be to miss something truly spectacular and amazing—not only within your life, but also within the lives of those around you. Did you know that faith was never meant to be an isolated occurrence, and it was never meant to be isolated within individuals over and above the corporate setting of the body of saints and believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is true that faith must needs be manifested, and must needs be in operation within our lives as individuals, however, faith must find a way to transition to those around us, and in all reality work together with that faith which is manifested within their lives. Far too many times we treat faith as an isolated occurrence, and as something that belongs in a bubble within the lives of individuals.
WHEN FAITH GETS OUT! WHEN FAITH MOVES BEYOND! What happens when the measure of faith which has been given unto you within your life begins to move in direct connection to that measure of faith which was given unto someone else around you? What happens when the measure of faith you have been given begins to move in direct connection with that measure of faith which has been given to another, and the two start working simultaneously within the earth? Consider if you will the words which are recorded in the third verse of the twelfth chapter of the New Testament epistle which was written unto the church that was at Rome: “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Hebrews 12:3). The apostle Paul was very clear that unto each of us has been given a measure of faith, and I am convinced that while that measure of faith must be in operation within our own individual lives, there must come a point in time when that measure of faith begins to move in connection and operation with that which has been given unto another. It is true that you might have been given a certain measure of faith, and I have been given another measure of faith, however, when we take the individual measure of faith we have been given, and they begin to work in direct connection with each other, a truly powerful demonstration of faith is performed within and upon the earth. Oh that we would not miss or lose sight of this incredible and tremendous reality, for to do so would be to miss the incredible significance of faith in operation and faith in action within the lives of the corporate setting. While it is true that individual exploits can be performed and completed as we walk in faith within our generation, I am convinced that the measure of faith which has been given unto you, and the measure of faith which has been given unto me must work in direct unison and connection with each other. When such a union of the measure of faith given unto the saints as individuals begins to work in direct connection with each other, the Lord is able to do truly wonderful and amazing things in the earth.
What is so incredibly interesting and powerful when reading the latter portion of the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews is that if you read the first twenty-eight verses of the chapter you will find it recorded how “by faith” so and so moved this way or did this, and even “through faith” so and so did this. If you read the first twenty-eight verses of this chapter you will find the author writing and speaking of how by and through faith the saints of old performed various deeds within their generation in the earth. Consider if you will what this looks like in the eleventh chapter of this epistle as it is presented in the first twenty-eight verses of the chapter. Read with me the first twenty-eight verses and see how “by faith” and “through faith” those mentioned performed certain and specific feats within he earth: “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain,” “by faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found because God had translated him,” by faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith,” “by faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went,” “by faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise,” “through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised,” “by faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,” “by faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come,” “by faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff,” “by faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones,” “by faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment,” “by faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward,” “by faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing Him who is invisible” “Through faith he kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them,” “by faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.”
When you read the words which are found and contained within the first twenty-eight verses of this chapter—with the exception of what was written concerning Sara—you will find the author write concerning the various individuals how through faith they did this and through faith they did that. Everything we read in the first part of this chapter deals specifically and exclusively with the manifestation and demonstration of faith within the hearts and lives of those mentioned, and how the various men and women mentioned performed certain and specific feats within the earth. I am convinced it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand this, for up until the twenty-ninth verse of this chapter we not only faith demonstrated within the lives of individuals, but we also find faith as the means whereby those mentioned performed that which they accomplished within the earth. Within the first twenty-eight verses of the chapter we find the author describing how by and through faith these various individuals engaged themselves in their generation within the earth. Up until we get to the twenty-ninth verse of this chapter faith was isolated to the lives of individuals, and was presented as enabling men and women to do and to perform certain and specific tasks and feats within the earth. I can’t help but be drawn back to the words which James the half-brother of Jesus wrote in the second chapter of his epistle. If you begin reading with and from the fourteenth verse of the second chapter of this epistle, you will find James writing concerning faith, and how just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. Consider if you will the words which James the half brother of Jesus wrote in the second chapter of his epistle concerning faith and works:
“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was. Not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead” (James 2:14-26).
Please make careful note of what is written and recorded in this particular passage of Scripture, for when James sought to convey the tremendous and powerful truth that faith without works is dead, he appealed to the account of Abraham offering up his son Isaac on the altar when he was tried of the Lord. James also appealed to the account of Rahab the prostitute when she hid the spies from the men of Jericho who sought them out. [As a side note, what if James the half brother of Jesus wrote the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews? I fully recognize that this reality is not supported by Scripture, and that it is mere speculation, but when you read the words which are found in the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto Hebrews, you tend to get the strong sense that the entire chapter was a greater declaration of faith without works being dead. James the half brother of Jesus wrote in the epistle bearing his name that faith without works was dead, and the entire eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews is a powerful declaration of the very same reality—the reality that just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. Even when seeking to demonstrate the reality of faith without works being dead James appealed to the lives of two specific individuals to present that reality—the life of Abraham the father of faith, and the life of Rahab the prostitute who would go on to become the mother of Boaz. There is a powerful sense that when we read the epistle of James and the epistle written unto the Hebrews that faith was in direct connection to certain and specific individuals, and that those mentioned allowed their faith to be demonstrated and manifested within the earth through the deeds and the works which they performed in their generation. The first twenty-eighth verses of the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews is essentially a powerful and wonderful treatise of faith without works being dead, and the demonstration of faith within individual lives being manifested within the earth. Even when you come to verses thirty-two through forty of the eleventh chapter you will the demonstration of faith as it was manifested within the lives of those individuals whom the author did not take the time describe—individuals such as Gideon, Barack, Samson, Jephtae, David, Samuel, and the prophets.
While it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize the tremendous need for faith to be demonstrated and manifested within the hearts and lives of individuals, we must also recognize and understand that faith must also touch the corporate body and community of saints. It is true that faith must be in operation within the lives of individuals as they perform specific deeds, works and feats within the earth, but faith must also transition from the realm of individualism to the realm of the corporate body of the saints and believers. I fully realize that it is only two verses within this chapter—verses twenty-nine and thirty—-however, these two verses bring us face to face with the wonderful and powerful sense that faith must at some point transition from the individual realm of our personal and private lives, and must in fact touch the realm of the corporate body of saints. What’s more, is that when you come to verses twenty-nine and thirty of this chapter you will on the one hand find that it was by faith the children of Israel passed through the Red Sea, while on the other hand you will find that it was by faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were compassed about seven days. What is so incredibly interesting about both of these verses is that when you consider each account separately, they were about that which the Lord performed and that which the Lord completed for and on behalf of the children of Israel more so than what they did in and of themselves. The children of Israel were able to pass through the waters of the Red Sea because the Lord had parted the waters before them, thus allowing them to pass through on dry ground. The walls of Jericho fell down flat before the children of Israel—not because of anything the children of Israel did in and of themselves, but that which the Lord did on behalf of them. It was the Lord of hosts who caused the waters of the Red Sea to part, and it was the Lord who caused the walls of Jericho to fall down flat before the children of Israel. Oh, it is necessary that we recognize and understand this, for when we speak about the demonstration of faith within the hearts and lives of individuals—especially when we speak of it in light of the corporate body of saints—we must understand it in terms of that which the Lord does in response to our faith.
If you study the account of the children of Israel at the Red Sea and the account of the children of Israel before Jericho you will notice a fundamental difference—namely, that at the Red Sea it was a direct manifestation and demonstration of their faith to pass through the waters of the Red Sea, although faith was not required to part the waters of the Red Sea. The Lord did not require faith within the hearts of the children of Israel in order for the waters to part, but did require faith within their hearts to pass through the parted waters. Conversely, when we talk and speak about the account of the children of Israel before and outside the walls and city of Jericho, we find that it was because of their faith that the walls of Jericho fell flat before them. Think about it—it took a tremendous amount of faith in the word of the Lord, as well as in the power of the Lord to walk around the city in silence once a day for six days, and then six times on the seventh day before finally walking around the city a seventh time on the seventh day, and then shouting with all their might. The waters of the Red Sea parted before the children of Israel—not because of their faith, but because of the power and strength of the Lord. In fact, I would dare say that despite the fact that the children of Israel had witnessed the power, the strength and the might of the Lord in the land of Egypt through the ten plagues, they weren’t yet at the point and place where their faith was strong enough to accomplish in the earth that which needed to be done. I am convinced that the same generation which exited the land of Egypt could not stand before the walls of Jericho and shout with all their might after marching around the city in silence for six days before shouting on the seventh time around the city on the seventh day after marching in silence six times. MARCHING SILENCE! I absolutely love that when it came to the parting of the waters of the Red Sea it didn’t matter whether or not the children of Israel were silent or not, for the Lord merely required that Moses stretch out his staff over the waters of the Red Sea in order that they might part. When it came to the collapsing of the walls of Jericho we find the children of Israel remaining silent for almost seven full days before finally breaking the silence on the seventh time around the city on the seventh day.
Did you know that it takes as much faith to march around a city such as Jericho in silence as it does to shout at the top of your longs outside the walls of the city? Did you know that there is not a greater demonstration of faith in shouting at the top of your lungs than in marching silence without speaking or uttering a single word? We tend to think that faith was put on display when the children of Israel shouted at the top of their lungs outside the walls of Jericho, but I am convinced that it takes just as much faith to march around the walls of the city in silence. FAITH CAN BE DEMONSTRATED AND MANIFESTED IN THE SILENCE AS MUCH AS IN THE SHOUTING! The strange reality is that we seem to be more content in the demonstration of faith in the shouting than we are in the silence. More often than not we want to shout at the top of our lungs without realizing and recognizing that we first need to learn to march in silence without uttering or speaking a single word. We need to recognize and learn and understand that it requires a great deal of faith to march around a city with great and fortified walls like Jericho—particularly and especially when everything inside us wants to shout. Consider what a tremendous challenge it was to march around the walls of the city of Jericho one time each day for six days before marching around the city in silence six times on the seventh day before finally being given permission and authority to shout. Oh, I am incredibly challenged with and by the reality that faith is displayed as much in the silence as it is in the shouting, and obedience is as much manifested in the silence as it is in the shouting. Obedience wasn’t only demonstrated and manifested within he hearts and lives of the children of Israel in their shouting and their ability to shout, but in their willingness to march in silence. It required as much a demonstration of faith, and as much a manifestation of obedience within their hearts and lives to march around the wall of the city of Jericho in silence as it did to shout at the top of their lungs on the seventh day. Oh how often do we look for the Lord in the shouting when He is not found in the shouting but in the silence? How many times do we look for faith in the shouting and completely neglect and ignore it in the silence? How many times do we look for obedience in the shouting rather than and instead of looking for it in the silence? I am utterly and completely convinced that when it comes to faith—as surely and as much as we look for faith in all the wrong places, so also we look for faith in the shouting and completely miss and neglect the reality that faith can be manifested in the silence just as much as in the shouting. Oh that we would learn to not only appreciate faith in the silence as much as in the shouting, but also look for obedience in the silence as much as we do in the shouting.