Summary: More on the Hall of God’s Handiwork!
We come to this second half of Hebrews 11 and I think it’s important that we once again get our bearings to make sure we’re interpreting it correctly. The point of Hebrews is the same point as the rest of Scripture: it glorifies Christ. The people listening were Jews who had converted to Christianity and who were being persecuted for it. They were tempted to turn around and go back to Judaism, and the writer uses their own history to show how turning back is a terrible sin and not a trait they learned from the patriarchs.
Those men of old looked for and expected a Messiah and held fast their profession of Him even when it led to their deaths or much hardship; they believed they didn’t really belong here on earth and they expected a much better inheritance from God. Therefore, they obeyed and followed Him wherever He led. Abel offered a right sacrifice, Enoch walked with God, Noah built the ark, Abraham and Sarah had a son, and Abraham offered Isaac on an altar: 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 (11:13).
And that’s why he tells them: “ye have need of patience. That, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. 37For yet a little while and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry. 38Now the just shall live by faith” (10:36-38).
And faith is the thing that proves what’s going on behind the scenes. “I will show thee my faith by my works” (Jas. 2:18). Just as a fig tree bears fruit simply because it’s a fig tree or a grape vine bears grapes, so we bear the fruit of the Spirit simply because we are the elect children of God. Go back and read Hebrews 6:4-9.
When it was put before the Israelites to enter in or turn back they chose to go back and their unbelief was the evidence of things not seen. When it was put before Cain to love his brother or hate him (Gen. 4:7), Cain proved his unbelief when he murdered Abel. Jesus told the Pharisees: “I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. 38I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. 39They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. 40But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. 41Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. 42Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. 43Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. 44Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. 45And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not” (Jn. 8:37-45).
But the people in Hebrews 11 do just the opposite. They have heard the truth, and because they are of their Father from heaven they believe; they do the works of Abraham and they love the Son of God. This faith is the proof that Christ lives in them and that they belong to Him.
And so now, working our way through Jewish history, we come to Moses and his parents:
23By 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.
You’ll remember that Jacob and his 12 sons ended up in Egypt after a severe famine. After 400 years they were a pretty big clan which made the Egyptians afraid. They were concerned this new people group might try and take over and Egypt just wouldn’t be Egypt any more if the sons of Israel were running it. So, as a solution they forced the Israelites into slavery and treated them harshly. To control their population the king decreed that all the male babies were to be thrown into the river, but Moses’s parents refused to obey. Instead they made a little ark for him and set him in the river and kept a sharp eye on it. One day Pharaoh’s daughter sees the basket, takes it up and you know the rest of the story.