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The faith of Enoch, Noah, Abraham

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The faith of Enoch, Noah, Abraham

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faith in Hebrews 11

Hebrews Sermon 9
The faith of Enoch, Noah, Abraham
Hebrew 11:5 - 8 Genesis 5:24
Genesis 6
Examples of Faith in Hebrews 11
The message to the Christian Jews of the early church is a message that is just as relevant to all Christians today as it was then. It can be found in Hebrews 10:36
“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
In this eleventh chapter of the letter to the Hebrews the writer presents to us a gallery of heroes of faith from the history of the Jewish people who did just that. They persevered to the end and none of them, apart from, perhaps Enoch, and maybe also Elijah, while they lived, received that promise. They saw that promised reward from afar and although they faced trials and difficulties while they lived, they remained true to their God in the faithful belief that God will keep his promise..
Hebrews 11:13 NIV
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.
Far from reaching the end of their days in despair at not having received God’s promises, they died in the certainty and sure knowledge that their reward will come.
The writer tells us:
Hebrews 11:2
This is what the ancients were commended for.
When Jesus was teaching his disciples about the parable of the sower in Matthew 13 :17, he said this
For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
Living by faith is what each one of them, like the prophet Habakkuk, had to learn and did learn, not only that faith would bring them the reward of eternal life, but that faith would enable them to live their life here and now.
Romans 1:17 NIV
For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
As we underestood from our lasl talk
Hebrews 11:1 NIV
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
The first hero of faith is this chapter was Abel, who learned that God was a Holy God, a God to whom he offered his worship in the form of a blood sacrifice, an echo or a foreshadowing of the sacrifice that was to come, that of Jesus on the cross, and it that way he still speaks today.
If Abel demonstrates Worship of God, our next hero of faith speaks of a Walk with God.
Hebrews 11:5 NIV
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.
Enoch’s story is from Genesis 5:21-24
Genesis 5:21–24 KJV 1900
And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah:
And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:
And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:
And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.
If you go back to Genesis 3:8 you read this
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
When God created the Garden and placed man in it, he did not thereafter leave it and dwell elsewhere. No. He was and is present in it, sustaining it. Remember what we read in Hebrews 1:2-3
but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.
He had another purpose: Genesis 3:9
But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
God was calling man to walk with him in fellowship. Where are you? A call that requires a response, a decision to respond to that call. A decision that had to be made according to man’s own free will. No force on God’s part.
Amos 3:3 NIV
Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?
That call stands today just as firmly as it did all those years ago. “Where are You?” God is calling.
Enoch responded to that call, but not till after the birth of his son Methuselah, when he was 65 years old. Till that time just as we read in Ephesians 2:1-2, Enoch was just like everyone else in the world of his day.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
Then came a daily walk with God — a walk of three hundred years.
Then comes the mystery, and yet it is not a mystery, unless you are looking at it from a purely human or material perspective
Enoch walked with God: and he was not, for God took him.
Hebrews 11:5 puts it this way:
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.
In a spiritual sense what we are witnessing is the destruction of the power of death over the man of faith. In Ephesians 2 we are reminded that we were dead in trespasses and sins. But just look at verses 4 and 5
Ephesians 2:4–5 NIV
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
Look at what Jesus said in John 5:24
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.
Colossians 1:13 NIV
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,
This is the fact for the man or woman of faith. Eternal life has already begun. It is not just something in the distant future to be hoped for, but to be enjoyed now as we walk in fellowship with God.
Death, Satan’s weapon, has no longer any power over us.
1 Corinthians 15:55–56 NIV
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
The first two saints in this wonderful gallery, Abel and Enoch, illustrate important truths. Abel who surrendered to God was pronounced righteous and made an heir of eternal life. Sin and death had no longer any claim on him. The very next saint, Enoch, was taken to heaven without dying, demonstrating that the power of death over the believer is nul and void. First a sinner saved through the blood of the lamb, then a saved sinner taken from earth to heaven and nothing in between.
You might well think that Enoch’s walk with God was not so hard in his time. You might think that our world today is so much more sinful and we see ungodliness all around us. But Enoch lived at a time just before the flood and conditions then were probably worse than today, if that were possible. Here’s what we read in Jude:14-15
Jude 14–15 NIV
Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
Yet in all that time Enoch pleased God, showing that his faith was genuine Hebrews 11:6
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 was taken to heaven — a miracle, a supernatural experience. In fact the whole of Christian life is a supernatural experience. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to convict men of sin. New birth is a miracle of grace. We live our lives under the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit; and we receive power to live that life from the Holy Spirit.
Enoch’s reward was that he did not experience death.
Elijah, too, had the experience of being taken up to heaven 2 Kings:2:11
As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.
And those who are alive at the second coming of Jesus are written about in Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. 1Thess 4:15-17
According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
By faith, Noah
Hebrews 11:7 NIV
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 is in keeping with faith.
Ken has already given a talk on Noah, so I don’t propose to say much more here.
In verse 6 we read that God rewards those who earnestly seek him. Does that mean that we can earn salvation? What we do has a part to play for James said James 2:26
As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
And remember Hebrews 10:36
“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
Genesis 6:9 NIV
This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.
Noah was the first man in the Bible who is described as righteous. His deeds, his life’s work, the building of the ark was not what brought salvation. The saving of his family and the animals was the reward of his obedience to the call of God. If he had not prepared an ark in obedience to God’s command he would have perished in the flood.
Noah’s faith was what brought salvation, a faith grounded in him believing the warning that he had received from God. It led to holy fear and his obedience to build the ark according to God’s instructions, a vessel which had no mast, no sail, no rudder, dependent only on God, who would take it where he will.
And Noah’s faith as demonstrated in his life’s work was a witness to the world. Peter writes that he was a preacher of righteousness.
2 Peter 2:5 NIV
if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others;
While Noah’s life of righteousness was a witness in his unbelieving world, not one, apart from his family survived God’s Judgment. Noah did not see one of his neighbours or fellow countrymen turn to God. Yet since that time, how many sinners, because of his life and his witness have come to God through that one story in the Bible.
A Christian’s responsibility is to live a life that is built on faith in Jesus and that life will be a witness to the world around. We may not see, in our time, the fruit of our witness, but we are called to be faithful to the message that we are entrusted with.Noah’s message to the world was of an approaching flood and the destruction of all life under the heavens.The Christian message to the world is that of a warning of God’s Judgment, but it is a message also of hope and a promise.
It is stated clearly in the words of Paul to the Romans:
Romansd 6: 22,23
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Call of Abraham
Hebrews 11:8–12 NIV
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.
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.
For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise.
And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
The writer presents a man of faith, whose importance to the Jewish Christians, and indeed to all of the Jews, can not be overstated. In Romans 4:11 Paul says that Abraham is the father of all who believe. In Galatians 3:29
If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
In Galatians 3:7
Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham.
In John 8:39
“Abraham is our father,” they answered. “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did.
And the writer of the letter goes into some detail about Abraham’s faith. To this point in the Bible story, much of God’s dealings were with the whole human race and the covenant that God made with Noah reflected that; Genesis 9:12-13
And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come:
I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
The revolt or rebellion at the Tower Of Babel, destroyed that relationship and from that time on the focus of God’s revelation was through one man, and that man was Abraham.
The prophet Isaiah says of Abraham; Isaiah 51:2
“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn;
look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was only one man, and I blessed him and made him many.
Isaiah 51:2 KJV
Look unto Abraham your father,
And unto Sarah that bare you:
For I called him alone,
And I blessed him, and increased him.
We cannot know if God revealed himself in a personal way to others, nor how, if he did, they responded. But we do know that evidence of God was available to all and everyone had the opportunity to turn to him. In Romans Paul says this:
Romans 1:18–20 NIV
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
We go back to Genesis 12 to read of Abraham’s encounter with God.
Genesis 12:1 NIV
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
Stephen recounts the story of Abraham when called to answer he charge of Blasphemy before the sanhedrin in Acts 7:2-5
Acts 7:2–5 NIV
To this he replied: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Harran.
‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.’
“So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Harran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living.
He gave him no inheritance here, not even enough ground to set his foot on. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child.
Here’s what the writer to the Hebrews says: Hebrews 11:8-10
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.
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. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
Who was Abraham? Bible characters are sometimes so familiar to us that we think that we know all that there is to know. We need to remind ourselves that the Bible is God’s living word and whenever we go to it, even to familiar passages, God will always have something to say to us, if we approach it in the right spirit.
We see God’s grace at work, calling to one man, who for seventy years had followed everyone else in his family and in his society immersed in the worship of many and other God’s.
Abraham obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. God’s call to Abraham was, first of all, to leave behind all that he knew and to begin a new journey. The old life that he knew was to be set aside for a new and better life for it came with God’s promise. Go to a land that I will show you.
You can see clearly in this a pattern for the Christian life. A Christian who has responded to God’s call embarks on a new Journey, a new life and if we obey God and go, we can be sure that faithful God will keep his promise and lead us to where he wants us to go.
2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
Abraham put his faith in God and set out, not knowing where he was going. The writer to the Hebrews has much more to say about Abraham, and we will look at that next time.
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