Summary: A consideration of the Lord Jesus when compared with the wonderful Old Testmant saints referred to in Hebrews 11, and the challenge it brings to us for our own lives today.
LET US CONSIDER JESUS
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
‘Witnesses’ — ‘those who have borne testimony of the truth’.
We shall look in Hebrews Chapter 11 at just a few of those who have borne testimony to the truth, some of the more prominent ones, and as we look briefly at their lives we shall be able to check our own lives to see where we are.
ABEL - The Worship
4 By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.
Here was a person who was willing to do what the Lord required, even though his own brother thought differently, and even though it would mean problems! Abel offered the right sacrifice, a blood sacrifice, admitting his sinfulness. In our worship, do other people, and what they may think, bind us? Or are we willing to be what we ought to be?
ENOCH – The Witness
5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Enoch stood for the truth, and was in the minority. He was faithful to the revealed truth that he had from the Lord, and in his faithfulness pleased God, although it was opposite to what the people of his day wanted to hear.
NOAH - The Work
7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
Noah had a message from the Lord, and I would think it was hard to understand, but Noah was willing to do what the Lord instructed, even though It would certainly have caused ridicule and resentment from his neighbours.
ABRAHAM -The Walk
8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
Abraham could easily have stopped at the border of the Promised Land, but the Lord had told him that what he trod on would he his, so he went walking! He walked for hundreds of miles, claiming God’s promise. He put feet to his prayers - as he claimed the fulfilment of the promise. God had said walk – so he walked!
20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.
Here was a problem! God had given the promise to Isaac’s father Abraham, and it could not begin to he fulfilled until Isaac was married and had a family, and he was getting older, but he was willing to wait for God’s way as he waited for his bride. It may be that he did not want to make the same mistake that Abraham had made in trying to help God! The result of this was not helpful, but it was a thorn in his side, as he constant problems with his half-brother Esau. This is a difficulty that we all have to face at some time or other, this matter of waiting for the promise to be fulfilled. We all get impatient for the promise.
GIDEON - The Warfare
32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions,
Gideon was a man like us one who was not seeking prominence and obviously felt that he was a ‘nobody’. The account of Gideon’s life is such an encouragement, as we realise what God can do with ‘nobody’s’ like us, that is if we are willing to hand ourselves over to the Lord. Gideon’s battle with the enemy was one that could not be won, but it was! It should never have been fought, but God had told him to do it, so he did, and he won!