Hebrews 11:4-7 The Covenant Of Grace From Adam To Noah.

In the flow of salvation history there were these witnesses who together testify to the case which our author sets forth in this letter. He shows, through these witnesses, that they all were in agreement in looking to the fulfillment of the promise of the covenant fulfilled in this new covenant renewal, while also bearing witness in the lawsuit against those who rejected this message. Our author begins with Abel, and it should be noted that it was Abel’s sacrifice which was regarded as more excellent than that of Cain’s (v. 4). We know that Abel offered the “firstborn of his flock,” and Cain thought that some fruit from his produce would suffice for his offering. Moses then made the point that the LORD of the covenant respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering,” and this led Cain to kill his brother (Gen. 4:3-4).

We know that after the fall, it was necessary for God to sacrifice animals and shed blood thereby, in order to clothe Adam and Eve, as a result of the fall. So from the very beginning we have in the LORD’s covenant of grace through Adam, that blood sacrifice was made necessary (Gen. 3:21). From this moment onward we see a history of those agreeing with this covenantal witness for the need for redemption, and those who believe that their own efforts should be sufficient to satisfy the LORD. However, even from that sacrifice offered by Abel, our author makes the important point that it, like all the old covenant sacrifices that would follow, only pointed forward to one that would not need to be repeated-“to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel” (12:24).

Having established the basis for why the LORD had respect to Abel and his sacrifice, he goes on to highlight others, including Enoch who had like faith to Abel because, “he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (v. 5 Cf. Gen. 5:21-24). It is interesting that the one thing that is noted about Enoch is that he escaped physical death-one of the punishments as a result of the fall. Again, our author is making the point that “the just shall live by faith,” and without this faith “it is impossible to please Him to, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (v. 6). He then moved on to Noah who believed the word spoken to him by the LORD and “prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (v. 7).

When the person of Noah is mentioned, many remember the story, and they remember the animals saved in pairs, a male and female, but what is often missed is that he was also commanded to have seven pairs of clean animals, confirming that what took place with Adam onward was exactly in keeping with that system later established through Moses, of the need for blood sacrifice from a clean, that is perfect sacrifice (Gen. 7:1-2). The flood came because of the sin in humanity, and Noah and his household were only saved because Noah was numbered among those who were justified by faith, and he exercised that faith in the way God commanded him. It is also interesting that in referring to Noah he said that he also “condemned the world,” because as a witness brought forward in this letter, his testimony would also serve to condemn those who are the subjects of the lawsuit contained in this letter.

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