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 thirteen through seventeen of the thirteenth chapter of the epistle. When you come to this particular passage of scripture you find the thirteenth chapter of this epistle drawing to a close. This thirteenth and final chapter of the epistle is actually one that carries within it a tremendous amount of application and instruction for those to whom it’s words were written. What is so interesting and unique about this passage of scripture is that it comes at the tale end of an entire epistle that was built on the premise of Jesus Christ the Son of the living God being completely and utterly supreme and sovereign over everything that has been created, over everything in heaven and everything in the earth. As you read this particular chapter within the epistle you will find the author of the epistle building upon everything they have written in the previous chapters. Essentially what we find and what we read in this chapter—as well as the twelfth chapter—is a call to response based on the image and portrait of Jesus Christ which was painted throughout the entire epistle. We dare not miss the fundamental truth that the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews was an epistle that centered upon the beauty and majesty of Jesus who is our faithful and true high priest. The entire epistle written unto the Hebrews is a powerful treatise and dissertation if you will concerning Jesus the Christ as our faithful high priest who has passed into the heavens. Within and throughout this epistle you will find the author repeatedly use the reference of high priest to describe Jesus, as the author sought it paint a powerful picture of a priesthood which is after the order of Melchizedek, and which is greater than that of the priesthood of Aaron. Over and over again within and throughout this epistle the author presented their readers with a wonderful and powerful reality concerning Jesus Christ, and He is a faithful minister of the new and living covenant.
I have to admit that I absolutely love the New Testament epistle which was written unto the Hebrews, for within its pages we find the author presenting us with a wonderful revelation concerning Jesus Christ—this Jesus who is both the author and finisher of our faith. What’s more, is that scattered throughout this epistle are countless instructions which would build and be based upon the words written concerning Jesus Christ. The author began the epistle writing how Jesus Christ was sovereign and supreme over all the angels in heaven, and that Jesus was the embodiment and image of the fullness of the Godhead—both while on the earth, and now as He is in heaven. Bract, it was Jesus Himself who emphatically declared that anyone who had seen Him had also in fact seen the Father. What makes the author’s words concerning the supremacy of Jesus so incredibly powerful is that their words are based on the reality that it was unto Jesus to whom the words were spoken “Today thou art my Son,” and “Today I have begotten thee.” As certainly as the author of the epistle painted the powerful portrait of Jesus as our faithful and true high priest, the author based their entire argument on the relationship Jesus had with the Father—namely, that Jesus Christ was indeed and was in fact the eternal Son of God. In all reality, this was precisely what the entire ministry of Jesus Christ was built in. You will recall how at the Jordan River when Jesus emerged from the waters the heavens were opened, the Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove, and the Father declared unto Him: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” The entire ministry of Jesus Christ was based on the reality of His identity as the Son of the living God. What’s more, is that if you journey unto the New Testament gospel which was written unto Luke you will find Jesus Himself at the age of twelve declaring unto Joseph and Mary that he must be in His Father’s house. It is safe to say that even from a very young age Jesus knew and understood His identity as the eternal Son of the living God, and who His Father was. It was this reality of being the eternal Som of the living God the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews used to paint the wonderful and powerful portrait and picture that Jesus Christ is sovereign and supreme over the angels in heaven, for unto which if the angels did the Lord ever declare unto that they were indeed and were in fact His Son?
When I read the words which are found within and throughout the epistle written unto the Hebrews I can’t help but be completely and utterly captivated by everything that was written concerning the eternal Son of the living God. What’s more, is that I do not find it to be any coincidence that in the final two chapters of the epistles we find the author concluding this letter with practical instruction and practical application based on everything that was written in the preceding chapters. It’s almost as if everything that has been written up until this point was intended to bring the readers to the place where they would be confronted with their response to what they have read. It’s as if the author of the epistle painted such a clear and powerful portrait of Jesus Christ, and is now calling the readers to determine how they are going to live and how they are going to respond to such a reality. In fact , as surely and as much as the eleventh chapter of this epistle is a treatise on the demonstration and manifestation of faith within the lives of all those who have run the race and fought their fight before us—it is also about a demonstration and manifestation of the reality of Jesus who is both Christ and Lord. Although Jesus the Christ had not yet come in the form of human flesh, and although He had not yet walked upon the earth and walked among men, those mentioned in this eleventh chapter were all living and looking for something that was so much far beyond, and so much further than what was before them in the physical and natural realm. As much as the eleventh chapter of this epistle is one that was written to reveal and demonstration faith in action—a reality which James would write and speak of as “faith without works being dead”—it was also about how these Old Testament saints lived their lives in light of and in direct relationship to the promises which were before them. It would be incredibly easy to read the eleventh chapter and view it through the lens of a definition of faith, however, the more I read the entire epistle which was written unto the Hebrews, and the more I read the words which were painted concerning Jesus Christ, the more I am convinced that what we find in the eleventh chapter is a powerful declaration of how such men and women lived their lives in direct response to that which was before them. The eleventh chapter of the New Testament epistle which was written unto the Hebrews is one that brings us face to face with faith in action—a faith is found in more than just declaration and defining, but also in demonstration and manifestation. With that being said, I am utterly and completely convinced that at the very helm—at the very heart, and at the very center of—our faith is the beautiful reality concerning who Jesus Christ truly is. Consider if you will the words which the author of this epistle wrote concerning Jesus in the first two chapters of the epistle—first in the opening chapter of the epistle, and next in the second chapter of the epistle:
“God who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou are my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to me a Son? And again, when He bringeth in the first begotten into the world, He saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him. And of the angels He saith, Who maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be change: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. But to which of the angels said He at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1:1-14).
“For unto the angles hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and dust set him over the works of thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that He put all in subjection under Him, he left nothing that is not put under Him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in Him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy Him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that He himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:5-18).
Although there are plenty of additional references found and contained within this epistle concerning the reality of Jesus Christ—not only as the faithful Son, but also as the great high priest—these two chapters bring us face to face with the awesome and powerful reality concerning who Jesus Christ truly is. It is within these two chapters where we are not only confronted with the humanity of Jesus Christ, but we are also confronted with the divinity and eternity of Jesus who is both Christ and Lord. It is within these two chapters that we come face to face with the awesome reality concerning Jesus Christ being the eternal Son of the living God, and Jesus Christ having sat down at the right hand of all Majesty until His enemies be made His footstool. Right off the bat, and right out of the gate the author of the epistle brings us face to face with a powerful portrait of Jesus Christ, thus essentially placing Jesus at the very forefront of everything that would be written within and throughout the epistle. When I read the eleventh chapter of this same epistle, I can’t help but read it in light of the wonderful and powerful reality which was written concerning Jesus Christ, for in all reality, faith is an expression, a demonstration and manifestation of the beauty of Jesus Christ within our lives. If we are to truly understand the demonstration and manifestation of faith, we must understand faith as a response to the beauty and wonder of Jesus who is both Christ and Lord. We dare not think that faith is merely a mental assent, or deep conviction within our hearts, and is not also a wonderful and powerful demonstration of our response to the person of Jesus Christ. In fact, I would dare say that if we read the eleventh chapter of this epistle as anything but a direct response to the reality of the person of Jesus Christ within our hearts and lives, we are sorely mistaken, and must reevaluate and reconsider our lives and our walk with the Lord. I have long and often read the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews as a definition of faith, and as a chapter that is essentially one which contains accounts of the heroes of faith, and yet the more I read this epistle, the more I am convinced that this simply isn’t the case. The eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews—while it makes minimal reference to Jesus the Christ—has at the very heart and center of it a wonderful and powerful truth concerning faith as a response to the person of Jesus Christ. In all reality, I would dare say that the degree and measure of our faith, and the degree and the measure of our demonstration and manifestation of faith is in direct proportion to the person of Jesus Christ within our hearts and lives. We would be incredibly wise to consider, recognize and understand this reality, for it will radically alter and transform every area of our lives.
With all of this being said, I feel it is absolutely necessary to journey to the eleventh chapter of this epistle, and find contained within its pages a wonderful and powerful demonstration of faith—and not only within the life of one individual, but within the lives of countless individuals whose names and stories are found within the pages of the Old Testament. Before we delve into the stories of such saints, it is first imperative that we set the framework for the eleventh chapter—namely, understanding that which faith is, and that which faith accomplishes. In the opening verse of the eleventh chapter the author of the epistle writes the following words: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). In verses two and three of this same chapter the author goes on to write: “For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the words were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Hebrews 11:2-3). In the sixth verse of this chapter the author goes on to write the following words: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarded of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Thus within these few verses, the author not only defines faith as being the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen, but the author also goes on to write how it was by and through faith the elders obtained a good report. What’s more, is that when speaking of faith it is necessary that we understand that it is through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. Moreover, the author goes on to declare how without faith it is impossible to please God, for those that come to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. It is the words contained within these few verses that set the tone for our understanding of faith, for we understand more about how faith operates than what faith actually is. I have written before, and I will write again how the author of this epistle is more concerned with our understanding how faith operates and how our faith functions than how it is defined. Please don’t get me wrong—there is an absolutely and tremendous need to understand what faith is, but more often than not we spend so much time focusing on how to define faith than we do actually demonstrating it. Tell me—what good is it to define faith if when it comes to demonstrating it within the earth we are incapable of and unable to do so?
The eleventh chapter of the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews is one that comes on the heels of a wonderful and powerful portrait of Jesus Christ which was painted by the author. In fact, I find it to be truly remarkable and wonderful how in between the revelation of Jesus Christ and a call to action and demonstration we find an entire chapter devoted and dedicated to faith. It’s almost as if faith is the link between the revelation of Jesus Christ and the response to that revelation. FAITH IS THE LINK BETWEEN THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST AND THE RESPONSE TO THAT REVELATION! We dare not, we cannot, and we must not miss the tremendous importance and significance of faith in the eleventh chapter, and the fact that it stands between the revelation of Jesus Christ, and the call to action in response to that revelation. The entire eleventh chapter is a chapter that is not merely about a demonstration and manifestation of faith, but also a response to the revelation of who the Lord truly is. Faith is as much a deep conviction and assurance within our hearts and spirits, but is actually a wonderful and powerful demonstration of our response to the revelation of who the Lord is, and who Jesus Christ truly is within our hearts and lives. In fact, as you continue reading the eleventh chapter of this epistle you will find the following words which the author goes on to write concerning those who died in faith not having seen or received the promises which were given unto them. Consider if you will the words which the author writes in this chapter beginning with the thirteenth verse:
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:13-16).
What is written and what is contained within the eleventh chapter of the epistle is in fact a wonderful and powerful response to the revelation and person of Jesus Christ. What’s more, is that I am convinced that it was necessary for the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews to include this chapter on faith, and on the lives of certain men and women who demonstrated and manifested faith within their generations here on the earth, for it’s almost as if the author if bringing us face to face with the reality that the only way we can carry out and fulfill that which was instructed in the epistle is through faith. We must remember that faith is in all reality a wonderful and powerful demonstration and manifestation of our response to the revelation of Jesus Christ, and to the person of the one true God. While there is a tremendous amount of instruction and application found and contained within the epistle, we must understand that without faith—not only is it impossible to please God, but it is also impossible to fulfill, carry out and complete that which the Lord has instructed and commanded us to do in our generation. I absolutely love how the author of the epistle included these words concerning faith, for is is only through faith that we can truly carry out and complete that which is asked and required of us within our generation. Oh, I can’t help but wonder how many men and women are attempting to fulfill the purpose of God for them within their generation without and apart from faith. I can’t help but wonder how many men and women may very well have received a revelation concerning Jesus Christ, yet they are unable to truly respond to that revelation because they are not doing so with, through and by faith. Within the eleventh chapter of this particular epistle we encounter over and over again that it was by faith and it was through faith that those of whom we read completed and carried out their purpose and their assignment within their generation. It was through faith that all these obtained a good report before and with the Lord, and this is precisely because these individual were persuaded of the promises, embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Such individuals declared with their lives that they were seeking a country—and not only a country, but a better country than the one which they left. Such individuals were seeking a heavenly country where God is not ashamed to be called their God because He did in fact prepare for them an eternal city.
If we are to understand what we find and read in chapters twelve and thirteen of this epistle it is necessary and imperative that we examine the lives of those mentioned within the eleventh chapter, for their lives serve as a wonderful example of how faith is demonstrated and manifested in the earth. Beginning with Abel who was the second from Adam the author began painting an incredible picture concerning faith, and its demonstration and manifestation within the earth. Consider the various accounts of faith in action—beginning with Abel who was born of Adam and Eve after they had been removed from the garden of Eden: “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh” (v. 3). “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (v. 5). “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared and ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (v. 7) “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” (v. 8) “By faith He sojourned in the land of p roomies, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs of him of the same promise” (v. 9). “Through faith also Sarah 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” (v. 11). “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, 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” (v.v. 17-19). “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come” (v. 20). “By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph: and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff” (v. 21). “By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones” (v. 22). “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” (v. 23). “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” (v.v. 24-26) “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible” (v. 27) “Through faith he kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them” (v. 28). “By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned” (v. 29). “By faith the walls of Jericho fall down, after they were compassed about seven days” (v. 30). “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace” (v. 31).
What is contained within the twelfth and thirteenth chapters of this epistle are wonderful and tremendous words of instruction and application—not only based on the revelation of Jesus Christ, but also based on the reality that is centered upon the demonstration and application of faith. When you come to the first three verses of the twelfth chapter you are immediately confronted with the author encouraging and instructing their readers “to run with patience the race which is set before us.” IN order to provide such instruction the author appealed to the reality that we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, as well instructing us to lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily besets us. The author of the epistle instructed and encouraged us to look unto Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith—this Jesus who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. The author would go on to write and speak of the chastening and disciplining of the Lord as He demonstrates the reality of such as being His sons and daughters. Immediately after the author of this epistle writes concerning the chastening of the Lord as being peaceful and productive within our lives as sons and daughters, the author then goes on to provide additional instruction for how we are to live our lives within our generation: “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright” (Hebrews 12:12-16). The thirteenth chapter of this epistle provides as much application and instruction as is found in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the church which was at Rome. Having now brought this epistle to a close, the author is now calling us to action—a reality that is not only based on the revelation of Jesus Christ, but also one that is based on the fact that there have already been so many who have gone before us who have lived their lives in such a way within the earth. IT’S OUR TURN NOW! THE TIME FOR US TO ACT IS NOW! As I read the words contained within the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth chapters I can’t help but be struck and consumed with the tremendous reality that those saints who died in faith had their time, and the time for us is now. Their time has already passed, and they have already fulfilled their purpose within their generation, however, the time for us to rise up and act is now. All those died in faith, and all those obtained a good report through faith, and it is now time for us to act, and it is now time for us to respond to the revelation of Jesus Christ which was given—not only through this epistle, but also through the four gospels found at the beginning of the New Testament, as well as within the epistles of the apostle Paul.
THE TIME IS NOW! OUR TIME HAS COME! THEIR TIME HAS PAST! THEIR TIME IS GONE! All those who were mentioned and spoken of in the eleventh chapter of this epistle demonstrated their own faith within that generation, but their time has come and gone. The time for our faith to be demonstrated, and the time for our faith to be manifested is now. There are those among us who have delayed and procrastinated with the demonstration and manifestation of their faith within this generation long enough, and the time is now for us to move forward with the full demonstration and manifestation of faith within our lives in this generation. We dare not miss or lose sight of the tremendous reality that we are to demonstrate our faith through action and not simply through words and truths which we proclaim with and form our mouths. The time for us to let brotherly love continue is now as we are are not forgetful to entertain strangers not knowing that by doing so some have entertained angels unawares. I leave you with the words which were written in the thirteenth chapter of this epistle beginning with the thirteenth verse and continuing through to the seventeenth verse: “Let us go therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. By him therefore let us offere the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:13-17).