Please turn to Hebrews 11:20-29. Living by faith means believing God's promises, valuing His rewards over the world, and trusting Him in trials. In this passage, the author of Hebrews gives us five positive examples of those who lived by faith. In giving us these examples, he is also exhorting us live a life of faith. Now it is important to remember that all these examples are of imperfect people. Yet, they trusted God and they acted on their faith. They believed God and they lived by faith. This passage can be divided into three sections. First, verses 20 to 22, we learn that faith believes God’s promises by looking at the blessings and last words of Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Then, in verses 23-28, we learn that faith values the reproach of Christ more than the world’s rewards by looking at the life and ministry of Moses. Finally, in verse 29, we learn that faith believes in God’s providence by looking at a great trial that the children of Israel experienced. 

I. Faith Believes in God’s Promises.

In Hebrews 11:20-22, we learn that faith believes in God's promises, and of course, the greatest of God's promises is the Gospel. This passage presents us with three blessings or last words from Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. And each of these blessings or last words shows us a trust in God's promises. In verse 20, the author of Hebrews says, “By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau.” Even though Jacob initially tricked Isaac into giving him Esau’s blessing, Isaac recognized that it was God’s purpose for Jacob to be blessed. In Genesis 27:33, Isaac says, “and he shall be blessed.” Even though Isaac had been tricked into blessing him, Jacob would indeed receive the great blessing, because in God's providence it had been given to him. And the author of Hebrews says that, by faith, Isaac understood that truth.  

In verse 21, the author says, “By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff.” It is important to remember that Jacob’s favorite son, Joseph, was sold by his brothers into slavery and Jacob had to endure living most of the years of his life apart from him. And yet in God's kind providence, at the very end, he is reunited with Joseph and he gets to see his dear son again and even to bless his grandchildren. And in Genesis 48:14-20, he crosses his arms and he gives the blessing to Ephraim that was supposed to go to Manasseh and the blessing that was supposed to go to Manasseh to Ephraim. This act shows us how the Lord had worked in the heart and life of Jacob. Jacob is sick, he is hard headed, he is a deceiver and usurper, but the Lord, in His own time, has gotten to his heart and Jacob understands that the Lord chooses whom He will choose. He does not necessarily follow the predilections of a father who has a particular love for a child. The Lord blesses who He blesses, and so he reverses those blessings. And so we see again that Jacob trusts God's promise and he worships even in the giving of that blessing.

In verse 22, the author of Hebrews says, “By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.” In other words, Joseph, before he died, tells his brothers and his family, “One day we are going back to Canaan, the Promised Land. I believe God's promise to Abraham that though we are going to sojourn here for four hundred years in the land of Goshen, in the land of Egypt, yet God is going to bring us out of the house of slavery, and back into the land that He promised to Abraham.” And so Joseph tells them that “when that day comes, you gather my bones up and you take them back to the land of Canaan because I know that the Lord is going to take us there.” Now what does all of this mean for us as believers? In each of these blessings and last words, we see men who believed in the promises of God. That is what faith is. Faith is believing the promises of God. 

II. Faith Values the Reproach of Christ. 

In Hebrews 11:23-28, we learn that faith listens to God's commands over the world's instructions, it values Christ's reproach more than the world's rewards, and it trusts in the provision of His blood. In verse 23, the author of Hebrews tells us that Moses was born into a believing family. We could literally say that Moses was saved by the faith of his parents. He would have been killed with the other Hebrew children who were under the wicked edict of Pharaoh, but his parents believed God instead of knuckling under the edict of Pharaoh and so they hid him, and therefore he was delivered. Then, in verse 24, he tells us that Moses identified with the children of Israel and not with the children of Egypt. Then in verse 26, he says these amazing words, “He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” Moses identifies himself with God's people. And he listens to God's Word over the world's edicts, he values Christ's reproach over the world's rewards, and he trusts in the provision of His blood. What do we learn from the life and ministry of Moses? We learn that faith values the rewards that only God can give through Jesus Christ.



III. Faith Believes in God’s Providence.

In Hebrews 11:29, we learn that faith believes in God's providence even in trials. In this verse, the author of Hebrews is telling us that the Red Sea crossing was by faith. The children of Israel were presented with a great trial. If we had been standing between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army before the sea parted, we would not have thought it was a good thing. However, they believed and they took the first step, and by faith, they crossed the Red Sea and then the Egyptians who followed them were drowned. In this passage, the author of Hebrews is giving us positive examples of what faith looks like and how it works. If you want to know what faith looks like look back to Isaac and Jacob and Joseph and Moses and the children of Israel. They were not perfect, but however feebly, they believed and they trusted the Lord. Faith trusts God's promises, faith values God's blessings over the blessings of the world, and faith trusts God even in trial. May God, by His Holy Spirit, give us faith and help us live by it trusting in His Word and promises alone.