Hebrews Lesson 178 October 29, 2009
NKJ Psalm 119:11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against you.
We are in Hebrews 11. We missed last week because we were reminded that God once destroyed and judged the earth by water. He promised never to do it again although there are portions of the earth that are still judged and destroyed by water, like this stretch on Beltway 8 out here. For those who are listening and live streaming and wonder what happens every now and then and why we don't have class; we need to just make it clear. Maybe a few people will learn something that these two cross streets both south and north of us tend to flood. There were some of us who had an extended time of fellowship one night about a year and a half ago until almost midnight because we couldn't go anywhere. We were stranded down here, so we are all a little gun-shy over that. So we tend to be a little more careful than not when it looks like it's going to be bad.
I couldn't make that decision the last week. I got an email from Doug. He heard the same forecast I had, and we decided okay let's go ahead and cancel. That was at 5 o'clock and it's always dangerous to cancel class 3 hours early because you think it might rain. At that point the radar didn't show anything to our west. So I was hoping against hope that I would have made a good decision. At 7 o'clock I turned on the radar, booted up my computer and looked at the radar. It just looked like Noah's Flood was approaching from the west. I said, "Thank God." Then I called Doug and said, "You'd better get home because in about 30 minutes you're going to be flooded."
He was too far away so he had to fight his way home through the water. That's why we cancel class on occasion. People up north can't drive when it gets real snowy. People down here just don't how to drive when it gets wet. So everybody has his problems.
Well speaking of judgment by water, that's where we ended last time talking about Noah in verse 7.
NKJ Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, 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.
I re-translated that.
By faith Noah, after he was divinely warned concerning things not seen, respectfully (or basically, out of the fear of God. That's the sense of that word in the Greek) prepared an ark for the deliverance (It's not a justification salvation there. It's physical deliverance from the flood.)… prepared an ark for the salvation of his house through which God judged the world.
The judgment was the fact that Noah's faith in building the ark was a witness (a testimony) to the lack of faith in everyone else in the world. So it was through that God judged the world.
Then that last phrase completes the thought earlier related to Noah. Noah became an heir of righteousness, which is by faith. While we believe that justification is by faith alone and the word for justification is the same word that is used for righteousness, this is not talking about phase one justification. In salvation the Bible talks about 3 different stages or phases of salvation.
- Stage 1 is when we first believed that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. If you're an Old Testament believer, you believed that God would provide a Savior through the seed of the woman. In that instant that one trusted in God for salvation, trusting Christ for salvation in the New Testament that instant a person receives the imputation (in the Church Age) of Christ's righteousness and is declared to be just. That is the classic doctrine of justification by faith alone.
- But we also have a post salvation faith related to phase 2, which is being saved from the power of sin, delivered from the power of sin. So that is an ongoing faith.
Paul talks in Romans 1 about going from faith to faith. That has the idea from saving justifying faith to sanctifying faith. So that is the idea here that Noah who was already justified because according to Genesis 6 he had found grace in the eyes of the Lord. He was already justified phase 1. Building the ark and trusting God and his revelation about judgment, building the ark and all that was related to his spiritual life, his spiritual growth, part of his faith rest drill; to believe the promise of God and as a result of trusting God he grew and matured spiritually. On that basis he became an heir of righteousness.
The word heir there is the Greek word kleronomos, a word that we have we have seen before. Kleronomos, which means heir and that brings in the entire Doctrine of the Heirship and Inheritance which becomes an important theme as we go through Hebrews 11. It's only mentioned a couple of times. The words related to heir and inheritance are mentioned here in verse 7, and again in verse 8.
Another word that we'll look at in a little while is the word promise. Promise has to do with future fulfillment of something. A promise is given as a security, as a pledge of something that God will do in the future. That is related to inheritance. So these three words related to inheritance and heirship and promise are all interconnected especially within this epistle to the Hebrews.
I concluded last time by pointing out that there are two distinct categories of heirship for the Church Age believer. We see them identified in Romans 8:17.
NKJ Romans 8:17 and if children, then heirs -- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
The way that is normally punctuated with the commas there, it looks as if heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ are what is being described by heirs.
and if children, then heirs
As if they're talking about the same things as if those two categories; heirs of God and joint heirs of Christ as if those are synonymous. But they're not.
Remember there's no punctuation; no little m-dash or n-dash in the original Greek. There was no comma. The original Greek had two kinds of manuscripts.
You had unctuals, which were all capital letters; and they didn't even break words at the end of a line with a hyphen or by syllable. They just broke them wherever. Whenever they reached the end of the line, then they stopped writing. That's where they started on the next line. So it was easy for them to read because that was what they were used to. And if you were reading English that way you wouldn't have trouble either, because you know the English language and it would make sense to you. But when we come to it as second language learners; it's difficult sometimes to identify punctuation.
Most of time punctuation is clear in Greek by syntax. That was the beauty of Greek syntax. It made the punctuation clear. They didn't need to use commas and periods and all of these other things because the syntax itself would indicate how something should be read. But on occasion it's ambiguous and so you have to use a little theology and comparison of Scripture with Scripture in order to figure some things out.
Now speaking of comparing Scripture with Scripture, I'm going to take a little anacoluthon now. Do you know what an anacoluthon is? It's a rabbit trail. There is a video going around. When I get at least twelve or fifteen or twenty people sending me a video then I have to stop sometimes and comment about it. But there's a video going around and it's some preacher somewhere who is trying to make this identification that Barak Obama on the basis of his name is the Antichrist. He takes a passage out of Matthew I believe where Jesus says He saw Satan falling from heaven like lightning. He takes to word for lightning and then he finds the Hebrew word for lightning and then he goes back and he compares the sound of that word to a word back in Isaiah 14.
That just illustrates the wrong way to compare Scripture with Scripture. There's a right way and a wrong way and that's a fallacious way. It is akin to saying that in Ephesians 5 when Paul said, "husbands, you are to love your wives like your own body". Then in 1 Corinthians 11 Paul said that he beat his body into submission. That is not a justification for beating your wife men! That is the illegitimate use of comparing Scripture with Scripture.
So we have to have some good sense when we do these things. There's always somebody who's trying to make the Bible mean something that it doesn't mean just because they don't have enough theological framework that figure to get things out or enough training.
But there are times when you look at a passage like this and legitimately the grammar could go one of two ways. So you have to ask the question: well, is there something going on theologically here that would cause me to punctuate it differently? And what you see is that if "heirs of God" and "joint heirs of Christ" are identical and synonymous. Then that is followed by a conditional clause that if we suffer with Him, that would make heirship dependent or conditional or conditioned upon suffering. So if you don't suffer for Jesus; then you can't be an heir. That would indicate a works salvation. That would suggest that you have to not only believe in Jesus, but suffer with Him. That would lead to all sorts of and manners of asceticism and probably has over the years and self flagellation and monasticism and all the things that go along with that. So internally it looks like there might be a problem with that punctuation. When you compare Scripture with Scripture and look at the Doctrine of Inheritance, you realize that this must be two separate types of punctuation.
Now here's a little exercise that I've always enjoyed, this little sentence.
Woman without her man is nothing.
Now if you are a woman, you are probably going to punctuate it this way. You're going to add a couple of commas and punctuate it.
Woman, without her, man is nothing.
So what you're saying there is man is just so dependent upon a woman that without her, he's just useless. That unfortunately is true for some men.
Then you have the way most men will punctuate this sentence.
Woman, without her man, is nothing.
That woman just can't make it without their man. So the comma can really change the entire meaning of a sentence. So the placement of the commas in Romans 8:17 have really sent us in the wrong direction. We should add a comma after the first God. That yellow comma after God really doesn't show up that well, does it? You should insert the comma after heirs of God. That is one category of heirship that's common to every believer.
Then the second category, joint heirs of Christ, should not have a comma following Christ because it is that joint heirship with Christ that is conditioned upon suffering with Him. So the first category in the heirship of God is common to every believer. There are certain things that every believer in heaven will possess in common. We will all have a resurrection body. None of us will have a sin nature. We will all be in a place where there's no more sorrow, no more tears, no more pain. We will all have many other things I'm sure in common.
But there are some things that we will have in distinction. There will be some believers who have a greater capacity for enjoying where they are and what's going on in heaven simply because they studied the Word, applied the Word, grew to maturity here in this life. They enter heaven with a greater capacity for enjoying heaven. Consequently, because they have a greater capacity because of their knowledge and understanding of Scripture, because they graduated at the head of the class during their boot camp training in this life, they will have up a better pick of assignments and responsibilities in their ruling and reigning with Christ during the Millennial Kingdom.
So suffering with Christ is not talking about necessarily going through a lot of hardship and giving up and suffering. I have become acquainted in the last couple of years with the fact that there are some people who whenever they hear the word suffering, they just always think of somebody who's "life is just so terrible and so bad and I'm just suffering all the time." That's not the idea is in the Scriptures at all. Over in Hebrews as we've studied, Jesus learned obedience by the things that He suffered. It has to do with the fact that living in the cosmic system, living in the Devil's world; we're going to go through certain situations and circumstances of adversity where we are going to have to trust the Lord. We may not even think of it as suffering per se. We may not think that we're giving anything up because of our divine viewpoint, which shapes the way we interpret those circumstances.
But anytime we go through those kinds of decisions and we're living in the devils' world things don't go the way they should or they ought or God originally intended, that it's suffering. So when we are believers we will suffer with Christ; but it doesn't mean you're going to be burned alive at the stake and it doesn't mean you're going to be thrown into an arena with a bunch of ravenous lions. It doesn't mean somebody is going tie you between a couple of trees and saw you in half like they did with Isaiah and all of the other wonderful ways in which people down through the ages decided to torture believers. It just means that you're going to be living in the devil's world trying to apply the Word to the circumstances of life.
So there are two categories of inheritance that are established there, one that is true for every believer and one that just comes to those believers who were growing and advancing in Christ.
Now we come to our next section, which begins a section dealing with Abraham and Sarah. We deal with Abraham in verses 8, 9, and 10. We deal with Sarah in verses 11 and 12. Then we'll come back and deal with Abraham again when we get down to verse 17. There is a common theme or thread that runs through verses 8 through 16. But we'll just look at these first three verses (8, 9, and 10) to give us an orientation to what is coming.
The focus is on Abraham.
NKJ Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance.
And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
NKJ Hebrews 11:9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob,
So they're included in the whole act of faith here.
the heirs with him of the same promise;
So what you ought to do if you are taking notes in your Bible is you ought to circle the word heir and heir of righteousness back in verse 7 and connect it to inheritance in verse 8 and connect that again with the word heirs in verse 9, and the word promise. That shows you the thread (the idea) that is being developed by the writer here as he's focusing on the fact that it was their faith (their sanctifying faith, their spiritual life faith) that focused them on future realities indicated by the promise of God. They were living their lives in time day-by-day and their decisions were shaped by the fact that they understood God's plan and where they were headed eventually.
NKJ Hebrews 11:10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
Then there is a connection of that verse to verse 16 which reads:
NKJ Hebrews 11:16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country.
The word country isn't there in the in the original. It's just a heavenly destiny, a heavenly future.
Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
So that's the connection between verse 10 where you can circle the word city and verse 16 where you can circle the word city and then connect the circles. So that ties his theme. They understand that there is a future destiny. It is an understanding of their future destiny in living with God, and that shaped their decisions in time.
So the focus here is going to be on the external evidence in terms of their obedience the specific revelation that comes because they believed that revelation and because they believed that which could not be measured, quantified, made visible, was not known empirically or discovered empirically. The only evidence of that was their obedience, and the impact that they had, and the way it changed how they lived.
That takes us back to the main theme that we're illustrating in this chapter, which began in 11:1: that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Now the three words that I had you highlight or circle in these passages are kleronomos, which means heir, kleronomia, which is an adjectival form or another related noun which means inheritance or possession. Then the third word is not the word promise; we'll get to that in a minute; but the word misthapadotes means God is a rewarder of those who seek Him, that is those at the end of verse 6.
NKJ Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
It's an interesting word. It is a combination of the word for a reward or a wage plus the verb for giving. So those were brought together in a word indicating the giver of rewards or a rewarder. The focus here begins to take shape on inheritance and rewards.
What I want to do tonight is take a rerun through inheritance as possession. I added a few things, revised a few things, and clarified a few things. That's always a process that you go through as a pastor because the more you study, the more you learn, the more you shape and refine your own understanding of what's going on inside the Scriptures. So even though you go back and you teach a doctrine, it's about 95% the same. It's the other 5% that gets clarified a little bit. Everybody needs to do things over and over a few times. And there are always a few new people.
Number one, we have to understand that in the Old Testament inheritance referred to the ownership of property. It's always related to this concept of property and possession. So you can't separate inheritance from individual property ownership. Now I'm not going to go there tonight but that has some really important implications for economic theory that there are those who over the years have tried to work out a biblical view of economics. I believe that the Bible is very clear. Now it's not going to tell you what you should invest in in the stock market tomorrow or when you should get out of the stock market. But the Scripture is going to give you the broad general principles of wisdom in dealing with money and how as individuals and how nations should. It just recognizes the validity of certain things such as private ownership of property. Private ownership of property is at the very core of the whole idea of liberty and freedom because if somebody owns property then they have the right to use or dispose of that property in the way that they see fit.
Now what adds to what we normally think of as a free market view of property ownership is that in the Scriptures all property is ultimately owned by the Federal Government. Sorry wrong group! All property is owned by God, and it is on loan to man so that men are managers or stewards of that which is given to God and they have a derivative ownership within a culture or within a national entity.
That is where you bring in the idea of the first divine institution which is volition or individual responsibility that each person is ultimately responsible to God for how he uses the resources that God has given him whether in terms of physical talents or spiritual gifts or finances or money or whatever else they might have.
So the idea of inheritance, the very idea of inheritance in the Bible and that we are called heirs of God and heirs of Christ really implies…I mean what's embedded in all of the terminology is the concept of individual ownership of property and that property is to be passed down from one generation to another.
One of the interesting things that you also find in the Scriptures is that there's a no such thing as property tax because property tax destroys the accumulation of wealth. That was part of the purpose of property is to provide the resources for families so that as they built something down through generations, then the product of their work and their labor would provide for the generations of that particular family.
So property in the Mosaic Code because the property there has a special significance in that is property in the land that God had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They could only enjoy the blessings of that land if they were living in obedience to God's commandments. If they were disobedient, then God would remove them from the land. God would bring judgment upon the land; and they would not enjoy the fruit or the produce of the land.
But the land itself was not to be moved around and sold. They weren't to sell it to non-Jews. They weren't to sell it to other clans. It had to stay within the clans and within the families and the tribes in order to protect that property and the wealth to be passed down from generation to generation.
So two things that do run counter to a biblical view of economics are property tax as well as inheritance tax. That just hasn't entered into the thinking of a lot people today. Now that doesn't mean that you have the right to go out and not pay your property tax or not pay inheritance tax because that isn't a command in the Scripture. It is simply principles that God has revealed.
It used to amaze me. I knew about three guys back in the '70's who decided the income tax was immoral so they were going to quit paying taxes. You know that just flies in the whole face of what Jesus said in terms of render under Caesar that which is Caesar's. The government of any nation may do foolish things; but foolish and unwise things are not necessarily sinful and they're not necessarily forcing a citizen in a nation to do something is sinful. There's a difference in Scripture between something that is wise or foolish versus sinful or righteous. There may be overlap, but they're not identical categories.
An illustration of this comes out of a situation in Numbers 36, which deals with the daughters of a man named Zelophehad. Say that over and over, about 6 times fast and see if you can do it. The property that belonged to Zelophehad who was of the tribe of Manasseh as we Anglicize it in Numbers 36:2. What happened was that Zelophehad had died and all he had was daughters. The land was supposed to be passed down through the son, primogeniture. Of course all of the sexists and those who've been influenced by modern contemporary views on women are going to rise up and say how terrible that is.
It's always interesting. The Bible doesn't take a negative view of women; and it doesn't take an exclusive view of women; and it doesn't assert an unreasonable or tyrannical view of male authority either. It only looks that way if you're thinking in terms of a pagan view. The way God handles this in terms of securing that land for the daughters and to stay in the tribe shows the high view that Scripture has of women even though the land was to be passed down through the men.
It was ideas like that that were picked up by the Founding Fathers of this country because they understood that at the very core of the nation was a family and a family unit. They really looked at the nation as a collection of families. This is why you've had men, only men and property owners, who had the right to vote. It wasn't because they were minimizing women, which is what you will normally hear. It is because they were looking at families who voted and the father was the head of the family. The father is the one who would cast a vote, but it was a family representation. But as we got into the era of Jeffersonian and then Jacksonian democracy where you broke things down more in terms of individuals then those ideas shifted. So the emphasis went on every individual having the right.
Then eventually they got rid of the property ownership. That was there because again their understanding was that property was at the core of individual freedom and property rights and property ownership.
So you see how the mentality the thinking of the Founding Fathers was shaped by a lot of ideas that were developed by theologians and students of the Word, the Puritans especially, in the 16th and 17th centuries. Of course in our world if you just mentioned something as having come from the Puritans that automatically makes it a bad idea. But that's only because divine viewpoint has been thrown out the window.
So here's how it's described in Numbers 36:2 and then skipping two versus 7, 8, and 9.
NKJ Numbers 36:2 And they said: "The LORD commanded my lord Moses to give the land as an inheritance
There's that word nachalah meaning a heritage, a possession literally.
by lot to the children of Israel, and my lord was commanded by the LORD to give the inheritance of our brother Zelophehad to his daughters.
And then verse 7:
NKJ Numbers 36:7 "So the inheritance of the children of Israel shall not change hands from tribe to tribe, for every one of the children of Israel shall keep the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers.
This doesn't fit the kind of thing you would read in von Mises or in one of the other schools of economics of free market economy because those economic systems are really derived autonomously through experience and through empiricism rather than going to something like the Word of God. They may have a lot of things in them that are true; but they're not necessarily one-to-one with Scripture. So here you have something that would be very different from your standard approach to free market economics or dealing with property ownership. The property, the tribal allotments, always stayed within the tribes.
Then in verse 8 we read:
NKJ Numbers 36:8 "And every daughter who possesses an inheritance in any tribe of the children of Israel shall be the wife of one of the family of her father's tribe, so that the children of Israel each may possess the inheritance of his fathers.
NKJ Numbers 36:9 "Thus no inheritance shall change hands from one tribe to another, but every tribe of the children of Israel shall keep its own inheritance."
The point was that the daughters of Zelophehad had to marry within the tribe of Manasseh and then the land would stay within that tribe and would be raised and utilized for an inheritance and would stay in the clan lineage of Zelophehad. So from this we see that the idea of inheritance is related to the idea of property, possession and ownership. These are all interchangeable ideas so the inheritance that you received is something that is yours. It is private ownership of that property, of that inheritance.
In the Old Testament it did not necessarily mean that a person had to die for that to be passed on. That is what we normally think of as inheritance is that someone dies and then their descendents, usually their children, become the heirs and the property is transferred that way. But nobody died to give this land to Israel. The core idea doesn't have anything to do with transferral of property; but it's the ownership of property.
We also see (and this is a key point) that certain categories of people lived in the land. They lived in Israel. The lived in the Promised Land; but they did not own the land. They did not have an inheritance in the land. They did not have a possession in the land. The Scripture talks about the sojourners, the strangers. In the old King James they called them aliens. But lest we confuse that with ET, these were the documented immigrants that came in across the borders that were not tribal descendants like Ruth. Ruth was from Moab and there were others that came into the Land who were Gentiles; but then became associated (identified) with Israel through marriage.
So you had sojourners, strangers, but you also have Levites. Levites do not have a possession in the Land. Passages you can look at are Exodus 12:48, 49 and Numbers 18:20, 24. Even Abraham, Isaac and Jacob lived in the land, but they never owned it. They never had possession there. It was all future. (Hebrews 11:13, Genesis 21:33, 35:27.)
Look at that one related to the Levites, Numbers 18: 20, 24.
NKJ Numbers 18:20 Then the LORD said to Aaron: "You shall have no inheritance in their land,
There's that word nachal again for inheritance or possession.
nor shall you have any portion among them;
There it shifts to a different word cheleq. These two words commonly used in inheritance language, inheritance documents.
I am your portion and your inheritance among the children of Israel.
Then Numbers 18:24:
NKJ Numbers 18:24 "For the tithes of the children of Israel,
That is one of the three different 10% offerings that the Israelites gave.
which they offer up as a heave offering to the LORD, I have given to the Levites as an inheritance; therefore I have said to them, 'Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.' "
See one tithe went to taking care of the Temple, etc. Another tithe went to taking care of the Levites because the Levites were the bureaucrats in the theocracy. So it was to take care of the Levites and to provide for them. So God said that one of the tithes went to the Levites for their possession. Even though they didn't own any land, they were taken care of through one of the tithes.
Then in Hebrews 11:13 we read:
NKJ Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises,
This refers to all of the preceding ones: Abel and Enoch and Noah and Abraham and Sarah. These all died in faith not having received the promise. So they never saw it. Abraham and Sarah never owned a piece of land other than their grave, a cave of Machpelah.
but having seen them afar off were assured of them,
So they are focusing on a future reality that shaped their present thinking. They were living in light of eternity.
That is the promises.
and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
So they never actually owned the land. Genesis 21:33, Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba. That was they used the land. They lived there, but they have no ownership there. In the background you see modern Beersheba and a tamarisk tree. (Not the one that Abraham planted. I just want to make sure that nobody got confused on that.)
NKJ Genesis 35:27 Then Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre, or Kirjath Arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had dwelt.
There's that word. They were just sojourners. They traveled through the area. They didn't dwell there. They didn't have ownership rights there.
Now this has application in point number 5. Even in the Millennial Kingdom not all who dwell there will possess it. Not all who dwell there will possess it. Mature believers who receive rewards are said to have ownership or inheritance in the kingdom. But there will be believers who lose rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ. They'll be there. They won't have an inheritance in the kingdom. That's what those passages in 1 Corinthians 6: 7-9 and Galatians 5:18-19 where it talks about the works of the flesh, that those who practice these things will not inherit the kingdom of God. That doesn't mean they won't go to heaven. It means they won't have an inheritance in the kingdom.
So in 1 Corinthians 15:50 states:
NKJ 1 Corinthians 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God;
What about all those Jews that survived the end of the tribulation and go into the millennium? See they're in mortal bodies, flesh and blood. So they're not going to be heirs of the kingdom either. They're going to be living in the kingdom, but they do not have an ownership or possession or inheritance within the kingdom. So flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,
nor does corruption inherit incorruption.
In point 6, inheritance was given positionally or potentially on the basis of grace. But the realization and enjoyment of the inheritance was a reward of obedience. Now where do we get that? Well first of all, inheritance in the sense of it being potential or positional that's related to the Abraham Covenant. God promised Abraham, "I'm going to give you this land."
This land that is bordered by the Mediterranean and the Euphrates, and from of the Sinai Peninsula all the way up to the upper Euphrates up into what is modern Syria. That is going to be your land. So when Moses brought (Joshua actually brought) the Israelites into the Promised Land, they had to take control of that land and they did that through battle. They never fully though conquered all of that land. It was never fully under their control; but it was theirs positionally because of God's promise to Abraham. But the conditions for enjoying the blessings of the land were laid out in the Mosaic Law.
God says, "If you obey Me, then I well bless you in all of these many ways."
The wild animals would be destroyed and the land will produce abundantly and there will be plenty of rain in its season and all of these things.
So it connects. That's some of the most interesting passages for you to think about in Scripture. It connects climate. It connects the ravages of wild animals. It connects economics. It connects agricultural productivity to spiritual obedience. Now see no scientists (no climatologists) no matter how many degrees he has from MIT is ever going to be able to quantify that relationship. All he can measure is what can be seen and what can be studied. No one who was a member of any of wildlife management group can quantify or qualify the relationship between spirituality and the presence of dangerous and ravenous animals.
I always think it's funny that in the Mosaic Law God promised the Israelites that if they were obedient that He would remove the lions and the bears and the wolves, all of these animals and predatory animals from the land and that if they were disobedient as part of what I think what was the second cycle of discipline that if they were disobedience then those animals would multiply and return. So we have various groups in the United States to just go out and try to re-introduce wolves and bears into areas that are pretty much civilized and pretty much inhabited by people.
When I was in Connecticut they were re-introducing bears into areas there, but they were endangered species so you couldn't do anything. I mean if there was a bear in your backyard, you had to call animal control and they couldn't do anything. There was a guy about a mile from me who went over to North Stonington Bible Church. He heard a raucous outside, and he walked outside and there was a brown bear on top of his rabbit hutch trying to figure out how to get to those little bunnies. So he like a good obedient citizen called animal control. So the animal control guy came out to do what he could do. He pulled up as close to the bear as he could, turned on the bright lights, honked his horn, and turned on his siren. The bear just ignored him. But that's all he could do.
I remember the first week we were in Connecticut there was a news report about a subdivision that was built outside of Hartford. They didn't realize it, but they have built this subdivision on the breeding ground of an endangered species, the eastern Diamondback rattler. So spring was coming. That was in May and June of the year. The sun would come out and heat up the asphalt driveways and these big long fat eastern Diamondback rattlers would crawl out on those warm driveways and sun themselves in the afternoon. You couldn't kill them because they were a protected species.
I remember my wife looking at me and she said, "We're from Texas. You see a rattlesnake out there, you kill it and figure out what kind it is later."
We've just gotten silly; but that's the kind of reversal of values that you get when you operate on human viewpoint and you just think it's terrible when the Bible says that we are to exercise dominion over the planet because in their view we're the evolutionary enemy.
So we have this difference between positional giving of something that is ours positionally or potentially in terms of rewards and the realization and enjoyment of those rewards or inheritance because of obedience and spiritual growth. That's not legalism
Funniest thing in the world! People get all kinds of strange ideas about what legalism is. Legalism isn't standing up for values. Legalism isn't saying this is right and this is wrong. This always comes across with some Christian schools saying legalism isn't saying, "We are Christian School and we believe that our responsibility as substitute parents is to continue to reinforce the discipline and training that parents would have and we take that seriously so we're going to have strict moral and behavioral guidelines for our students."
That's not legalism. Legalism is when you say the observance of those standards is what gets you into heaven, that the observance of those standards is what gives you approbation before God. That's legalism. Legalism is saying I get grace because I live in obedience.
That's what legalism is. Legalism isn't having a strict code, a strict moral code of conduct. Even if that strict code of conduct goes beyond Scripture, having a strict moral code of conduct is not in of itself legalism.
In fact I heard today about a pastor who has a problem. He has got a person in his church who when he wants to assert his authority over her arena of operations; she says that's being legalistic. Legalism is saying that some kind of works is the basis for God's grace in salvation. That's what legalism is. And we've often gotten that confused and that's just erroneous. Obedience isn't legalism. Obedience is authority orientation to the Word of God and to the authority of the Father.
We have passages such Joshua 14:8-9
NKJ Joshua 14:8 "Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the LORD my God.
This is Caleb talking, I believe.
NKJ Joshua 14:9 "So Moses swore on that day, saying, 'Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children's forever, because you have wholly followed the LORD my God.'
So this is a reference back to the obedience of Caleb and Joshua when they went into the land and how everybody else got afraid because there were giants in the land and walled cities and lots of pagans. So they quaked in fear.
So obedience is necessary under the filling of the Spirit by grace as the basis for inheritance and rewards based on spiritual growth.
Point 7, the possession of the land therefore was conditioned on obedience. That's why Israel is not in the Land today, not in the way they were in the Old Testament. It's the beginning of something; but it's not there because of obedience. Therefore possession could be lost as in the case of Zelophehad's daughters there. Possession could be lost, Genesis 17:14.
NKJ Genesis 17:14 "And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant."
So if you weren't circumcised you couldn't own land.
NKJ Numbers 14:24 "But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it.
It's related to obedience.
Point 8, the entire Exodus generation had become God's first-born son, Exodus 4:22-3. That means they're saved for the most part, but the entire generation with the exception of Caleb and Joshua forfeited the inheritance due the firstborn. It was theirs provisionally; but because of disobedience they lost it though they remained saved.
In Exodus 4:22:
NKJ Exodus 4:22 "Then you shall say to Pharaoh, 'Thus says the LORD: "Israel is My son, My firstborn.
This doesn't mean every single individual was as yet saved, but they are viewed as a saved generation.
Point number 9, though not all have an inheritance in the land, all have God as their inheritance and possession. That is all Church Age believers. We all have God as an inheritance and possession. In the Old Testament all Israelites had an inheritance of God but only some had an inheritance in the land. The Levites didn't and others didn't.
NKJ Psalm 73:26 My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
That's that inheritance word, the same word we have like meros for share or portion of an inheritance in the New Testament.
NKJ Psalm 119:57 You are my portion, O LORD; I have said that I would keep Your words.
NKJ Psalm 142:5 I cried out to You, O LORD: I said, "You are my refuge, My portion
That is my share of inheritance.
in the land of the living.
So for the Church Age believer, point 10, Christ is given ownership of all things and the believer shares in that ownership as a joint heir in Christ only as we mature as believers. This is why inheritance is such a key element within Hebrews. It takes us back to Hebrews 1:1-4.
NKJ Hebrews 1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,
2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;
Jesus is the heir of all things. Our heirship is joint heirship with Him.
Verse 4 states:
4 having become so much better than the angels,
That is Jesus in His ascension and session at the right hand of the Father.
as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
So from the very outset in those first 4 verses of Hebrews and that prelude sets this as a major theme for the epistle; that it's focusing on encouraging the believer not to lose his inheritance, not to sacrifice it by giving up, by not persevering, by not sticking it out all the way to the end.
So that brings us back to Hebrews 11:8
NKJ Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
Now this refers to God's initial command to Abraham when he was still known as Abram and he is living in Ur of the Chaldes over in Babylon (the southern part of Iraq today). God came to Abraham and told him to leave his home, leave his family, and that he would go to a place that God would show him.
God says, "I'm not telling you yet."
So he didn't even have an idea whether he was going east or west or where he was going. He had no idea. He simply had to trust God to take him in the right direction.
Now when you look at this verse, it's interesting to analyze it in the original. The main clause is Abraham obeyed. That's the emphasis. In English, it starts off "by faith", as it does in the Greek. Then the main idea is Abraham obeyed and then when he was called to go out. So the focus is on his obedience. That's the emphasis – by faith Abraham obeyed. Obedience isn't legalism; obedience is what you do when you are trusting God. You do what He says to do. So obedience is not legalism. Legalism is thinking that obedience somehow merits favor with God and that's the basis for salvation.
NKJ Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out
… to leave the land where he was living and that he would receive another land as an inheritance.
So Genesis 12:1 says:
NKJ Genesis 12:1 Now the LORD had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, From your family And from your father's house, To a land that I will show you.
So he had no idea of where he was headed.
"Just pack your bags, get in the car and take off and I will eventually tell you where you're headed."
This then becomes the basis for the Abrahamic Covenant which had three components as we've studied before: land (the promise of a specific piece of real estate), seed (that the promise of the seed of the woman would step on the head of the seed of the serpent back in Genesis 3:15, that this seed promise would continue through Abraham) and that that would be blessing to the entire world. Of course as we studied each of these studied and further developed the Land Covenant in Deuteronomy 30. The Davidic Covenant expands the seed provision in 2 Samuel 7 and the New Covenant expands the blessing provision in Jeremiah 31. But the focus that we're going to see here in Hebrews 11 in the next verse has to do with the land promise.
NKJ Hebrews 11:9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;
He's a sojourner though. He doesn't own the land. He lived there in the land of promise as in a foreign country dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob. They don't own anything. They're benefiting from the fruits of the land and God's blessing but there's no ownership as of yet. That's all future, and so Isaac, Jacob and Abraham are summarized together as the heirs of the same promise.
That's the key word promise, which is used thirteen times in Hebrews, 5 times in Hebrews 11. That tells us that this is a key concept in this chapter of a focus on a future fulfillment. So there's promise, inheritance and the idea of a reward. All of these are interconnected. The focus for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was on a future of reality, one that they could not see. So their faith is evidence of something not seen.
NKJ Hebrews 11:10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
They had not seen it. They have little knowledge of that and so the passage focuses on the way a future promise shaped their present reality. Now that's the same thing for all of us. We need to make our decisions today in light of eternity because eventually there's going to be the Judgment Seat of Christ. We will be rewarded, receive an inheritance that will then be our portion on into the kingdom and on into eternity so that the decisions that you and I make today shape what's going happen with us in the Millennial Kingdom and what's going to happen on into eternity. The decisions we make, disobedience and obedience, are not just factors that affect today; they have eternal consequences.
We'll come back and continue to look at Sarah in verse 11 next week.