Examples of Faith
In this study, continuing the writer’s use of the patriarchs as examples of faith, we come to a familiar portion that is very prevalent in the celebration of the Feast of Trumpets, one of the fall festivals.
In Hebrews 11:17, the writer makes an amazing statement; “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac,” referring to Genesis 22, commonly called the Akedah, or Binding of Isaac. Abraham had waited twenty-five years since God’s original promise to make him a great nation. Ishmael was born, and Abraham endured God’s rejection of Ishmael as the son of the promise.
Abraham is asked by God to take Isaac on a three-day journey to Mount Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering. What was going through Abraham’s mind as he complied with God’s request?
It is not mentioned specifically in the original portion in Genesis 22, but the writer of Hebrews gives us that insight. He says in Hebrews 11:17-18, “and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your descendants shall be called.’” Abraham, knowing that God promised to make him a great nation through Isaac, had faith that God would somehow find a way.
The writer of Hebrews tells us in 11:19, “He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead.” Isaac, in these verses, is a type of Messiah—the parallels between Isaac and Yeshua are extraordinary.
The next three patriarchs, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, also have particular moments in their lives when their faith served as examples for us. Hebrews 11:20 says, “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come.” In Genesis 27, Jacob had tricked Isaac into thinking he was Esau, his older brother. Isaac blessed Jacob with the blessing for the elder son, a blessing with predictive prophecy. Even though Isaac was tricked to bless the son he did not want to bless, and vice versa, by faith he knew that those blessings would ultimately come to pass.
Hebrews 11:21 says, “By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.” For more than twenty years Jacob believed that Joseph was dead. Now, after finding out that Joseph had become prime minister of Egypt and appointed by God to save and protect His people from a great plague, Jacob had the joy of pronouncing a blessing over Joseph and his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. Jacob predicted that the older would serve the younger, and though Joseph protested, Jacob, by faith, knew that this was true. As a result of his faith, Jacob even in his dying days was able to worship as he leaned on his staff.
Lastly, Hebrews 11:22 says, “By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones.” Like his father Jacob and his grandfather Isaac, Joseph by faith made predictions of things he believed would come to pass. He knew that God had made promises to Abraham regarding his descendants entering the Promised Land, and by faith Joseph knew that ultimately it would come to pass. And so his final words to his brothers were that they would eventually enter that promised land, and he made his brothers promise to bring his bones into that promised land, which they ultimately did.