Hebrews

Hebrews 11:8-19 The Covenant Of Grace Through Abraham.

Our author carries on with the flow of salvation history, revolving around the old administrations of the one covenant of grace. This is the witness section of this Covenant Renewal document, and also is where he begins his lawsuit against those who rejected the Messiah, by showing that the forefathers bear witness to the very same faith being renewed here in the Son, so that these witnesses testify against those who rejected this message. His focus is on the need for blood sacrifice from a perfect offering, a system that was operative from the moment the LORD sacrificed animals to clothe Adam and Eve, pointing to the sacrifice of the Son, whose blood covers us. Enoch was one who demonstrated in his departure, that there has always been this promise of victory over death. If he had not followed the pattern laid down from the beginning, including the LORD being pleased with Abel and his sacrifice, he would not have escaped death, because Moses and our author make clear that this was what pleased Enoch’s forefather.

Now our author moves on to Abraham, as the next example of one who obeyed God’s word, that as a man of faith he ventured forward to obtain the inheritance promised him (v. 8 Cf. Gen. 12:1-4). In an act of faith he lived in the promised land for a time, even though the gaining of that land as a whole would come later. Furthermore this same promise would be passed on to his son of promise (v. 9 Cf. 6:17; Gen. 12:8; 13:3, 8; 18:1, 9). This was not a delay or discouragement to Abraham, because his ultimate hope was to rest with God forever (v. 10 Cf. 12:22; 13:14; Rev. 21:10). Sarah also had like faith, receiving strength “to conceive seed…because she judged Him faithful who had promised” (v. 11 Cf. 10:23; Gen 17:19; 18:11-14; 21:1-2; Lk. 1:36). It was the fact that they were old, and the LORD helping them with the conception of a son, that it showed that this child was one of promise. Therefore, it is not a stretch to say that all who have like faith will also be and have children of promise (v. 12 Cf. Gen. 15:5; 22:17; 32:12; Rom. 4:19).

The apostates who rejected the Son and are the subjects of the lawsuit in this letter, were wanderers, that is, they wandered aimlessly in the desert when they would not in faith move forward to the promised land. However, those who believed the promise, went forward in faith to lay hold of it. The former leaned on their own wisdom and wandered aimlessly in a journey that would end in judgment, whereas the latter were on a mission, being blessed of the LORD as they stepped forward in faith. The latter were not aimless wanderers, rather they had a goal and purpose in mind, and this defined their status as “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (v. 13). These were seeking a homeland, a new heavens and new earth (v. 14). There was no thought on their part of moving backward, which is what the apostates were in fact doing (v. 15 Cf. Gen. 11:31). God is therefore not ashamed to be called their God, for this fulfilled the core of the covenant-dwelling in His presence. A heavenly country and city await all of like faith (v. 16).

This promise to Abraham would pass down through the children of promise-Isaac then Jacob, then Moses (Cf. 11:10; Gen. 26:24; 28:13; Ex. 3:6, 15; 4:5; Jn. 14:2; Rev. 21:2). Many want to see this only in the light of going to an abode in heaven. However, our author began this letter by indicating that he was writing of that world which was to come, which very specifically refers to the inhabited earth-oikoumenein (2:5). Furthermore, John in Revelation wrote that this “New Jerusalem,” would be “coming down out of heaven from God” (21:2). Again, Abraham was tested as to whether he in fact believed in the core of the covenant of grace, that the LORD would provide the sacrifice, even to be willing to offer up his own son, who was regarded as a promised seed (vv. 17-18 Cf. Gen. 22:1-14; Rom. 9:7; Js. 2:21). Again, as in the case of Enoch, Abraham believed that the LORD had ultimately promised victory over death-the consequence of sin, and so he obeyed (v. 19 Cf. Rom. 4:13-22).

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