Summary: Abraham to Moses, via Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. And the parents of Moses.


Hebrews 11:17-28.

If we are ever to understand what a terrible, what a grave thing sin is, it is found in this: that ‘Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins’ (cf. Hebrews 9:22). We have already learned that the blood of bulls and of goats will not suffice (cf. Hebrews 10:4), so what are we to do? There is nothing that we can do but to put our trust, our faith, in the Lord Jesus Christ, and plead His blood ‘which speaks better things than that of Abel’ (cf. Hebrews 12:24).

In the meantime, the patriarchs of old must each ‘pitch his tent and build an altar’, wherever they went. By doing so they were giving expression to the faith - the hope - within them (cf. Hebrews 11:1-2). They were anticipating God’s promises.

God promised Abraham a son, but the patriarch’s wife Sarah was barren. However, miraculously, Abraham later had a son by his wife in their old age. Then God stepped in, and called him to sacrifice his wife’s son, Isaac (Hebrews 11:17-19)!

What a difficult test for any man to undertake. Yet Abraham had learned to obey God’s voice. His faith saw beyond the perplexities and difficulties of his present situation. As must ours.

Abraham believed that God was telling him to sacrifice the son of God’s promise, upon whom he had set his hopes, and the hopes of mankind. Abraham was obedient, and to his servants he made this wonderful proclamation of faith: ‘The lad and I will go yonder to worship, and we will come back to you’ (cf. Genesis 22:5). And in another prophetic flash of faith, Abraham told Isaac, ‘God will provide Himself the lamb for a burnt offering’ (Genesis 22:8).

We can see how far Abraham was willing to obey God. He built an altar and bound his son and was ready to strike him with the knife when God intervened. Then came the words at which Abraham’s heart would have jumped for joy: ‘Do not lay your hand on the lad. Do not harm him’ (cf. Genesis 22:12).

Looking around, Abraham saw a ram caught in a thicket (cf. Genesis 22:13). Here was a sacrifice in place of Isaac. Abraham received Isaac back, as if from the dead. As a result of his obedience, Abraham had the blessing of God renewed in his life. Abraham is the father of the faithful.

This was Abraham’s experience. And because he passed this test, and because of God’s much greater sacrifice that underlies the truth of this history, we need never again be vexed with the question of human sacrifice. ‘Christ died for our sins’ (1 Corinthians 15:3), once and for all and forever. And rose again, as a result of our justification (cf. Romans 4:25).

The baton of faith passed on to Isaac, who spoke of things to come concerning Jacob and Esau (Hebrews 11:20); to Jacob, who blessed each of the sons of Joseph (Hebrews 11:21); and to Joseph, who spoke prophetically concerning the exodus of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones (Hebrews 11:22).

The next people to be mentioned in this rollcall of faith are the parents of Moses (Hebrews 11:23). When they, literally, “saw the beautiful little child” they first HID him for three months, not fearing the king’s murderous injunction. Then, as we know, his mother placed him in an ark of bulrushes, and left him drifting among the reeds by the banks of the River Nile (cf. Exodus 2:3).

It certainly did pay off, because the child was discovered by none other than Pharaoh’s daughter, who, having a compassion unknown to her father, brought the child home to the palace and raised him as her own. However, when he was grown up Moses, “By faith”, chose not to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. Moses chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting “pleasures of sin” for a short season. Moses counted “the reproach of Christ” (sic.) as of greater value than all the treasures of Egypt, looking beyond it to the reward (Hebrews 11:24-26; cf. Philippians 3:8).

“By faith,” again, we are told that he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; “for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27; cf. Hebrews 11:6). And “By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn (of Egypt) should touch them” (Hebrews 11:28). Which brings us back to where we began this passage, with the blood of the sacrifice, and the sprinkling of that blood, which anticipated the Paschal Lamb, even Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:7).

Do you believe, do you trust in the blood sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God? Without this, there is no forgiveness of sin, and no access to God.

The wages of sin is death. But Christ has paid the full price for all the sins of all His people. The free gift of God is righteousness and new life in Christ Jesus. By faith.

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