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God's Galaxy Of Heroes

God's Galaxy Of Heroes poster

You may ask, “How many times have you preached from this subject?” I do not know, but one think I do know: the other day, alone in my room asking God to give me something fresh from Him, I got a new vision of the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. The sermons I have preached on this chapter I have not repudiated, because what I said gave a message true to the Book, but God has given me some added light, and it is so simple you will wonder why I did not see it before.

When I began reading this chapter I saw that the Holy Spirit said something about Abel and Enoch and Noah and Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and the rest, just in order that He might focus one truth and let it burn. The Holy Ghost focused it upon me and I hope it will burn until you will never be able to forget it.

One of the curses of the pulpit is textual preaching. For instance, as we are led along through the book, we come to some one character who impresses us, like Moses or Abraham, and then we select a text about that one and preach upon it. I think it is far better to take the Word of God and hold it forth and let it shine, and so I said to myself, I have preached about these characters, but if God will give it to me, I want to get the full thought of the chapter and the complete Book.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

“For by it the elders obtained a good report.

“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”

Abel, or the Faith that Sees the Blood

The faith of Abel fulfills the definition of verse one, in that Abel had confidence in things hoped for and conviction in things not seen. Abel’s faith sped down through the ages and saw a God who was able to perform what he had promised. He saw Christ, the seed of the woman, the Son of God. He saw that seed bruised in His heel upon the Cross; and saw the seed bruising the head of Satan, the serpent. Man may deny the grasp of Abel’s faith and decry the fact that Abel saw the Cross of Christ and typified his faith by his sacrifice, but God testified of Abel’s gift and pronounced him righteous thereby. Abel has been dead for six thousand years but he still speaks to us of the saving power of Calvary. The faith of Abel puts to shame the men of today, who, with all their boasted learning and advancement, cannot look back through two thousand years and see the saving power of the Blood.

The world is overwhelmed with those who possess the spirit of Cain. Men are willing to worship God, in a religious way, as long as there is no more than a formal offering apart from all or any suggestion of the Blood. They will offer fruits festooned with flowers and ferns, but they will not offer a slain lamb. They will pass respects with God but they will not acknowledge their need of atonement. Dr. Haldeman has well said of these who deny the faith: “They are ministers of the devil (even if they know it not) preaching a bloodless righteousness. They are Unitarians, glorifying God by denying the legitimacy of His Son. They are false apostles, coming in the name of the first man and not of the second; deceitful workers, transforming themselves into servants of Christ and betraying the name they wear. Their god is not the God of the Bible, but a god of their own imagination. They talk of the fables of Scripture that they may pass their own as current truth. They agree with the findings of science and repudiate the demonstration of the Spirit. Their scholarship is self-elected and always self-exalted. Their assumption of superior knowledge is pitiful; their attempted use of it, tyrannical.”

Enoch, or the Faith that Sees the Rapture

The faith of Enoch contains as a well-placed example of the faith that gives substance to things hoped for, and holds convictions as to the things not seen. The faith of Enoch, who was translated that he should not see death, looks onward toward that translation which awaits those who, like Enoch, are walking with God. This was a faraway vision for Enoch’s faith, but it was not an impossible vision. Does not the Holy Spirit bear witness concerning apostate teachers who deny the only Lord God and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and who blasphemously say, “Where is the promise of His coming?” that Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of all these sayings, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of His saints”?

Surely Enoch by faith saw the raptured saints and the returning saints as well. He believed the Word of God and he pleased God. Many ages have passed by since Enoch testified and was translated. Enoch died not having received the promise; but he saw it afar off and was persuaded in his own mind. God did miraculously catch Enoch up, that he should not see death; and Enoch became a true type of the rapture that awaits the saints. Surely we who live on the very threshold of the hour when the Lord shall descend with a shout, and when the dead shall be raised and the living caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air—surely we should not be lacking in the faith that anticipates the rapture. One thing is certain: Those who do not have this faith cannot please God.

Noah, or the Faith that Sees Coming Judgment

Noah lived in a day when men had corrupted their way upon the Earth. God had said: My Spirit shall not always strive with man.” God had said: “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth.” God then gave Noah instructions to make the ark. During one hundred and twenty years while the ark was building, Noah was a preacher of righteousness. He plead with men to repent and to turn to God. When the ark was completed Noah and his family went in and God shut the door. Surely Noah’s faith went beyond his own day; for “these all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having  seen them afar off.” Noah did see the Earth covered with the waters, he did see the fulfillment of the threatened judgments upon the people of his own day; but we believe that Noah must have looked beyond to another day of trouble. To be sure, God gave assurance that it is not to be a judgment of waters; but it is to be a judgment of fire.

Whether or not Noah in his day saw by faith all of this which was so far off, we know at least that his day and his ark, and all the rest, was a type of what awaits the old Earth. Christ said, “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man.” There are many passages which definitely prophesy the day of Jacob’s trouble, the great tribulation. Where is the faith of Noah? Where are those who are moved with fear concerning the things which are coming to pass upon the Earth? Where are those who will, by faith, seek a refuge from the coming storm? May we not, by faith, go up with Him where the door will be shut until the indignation be passed?

Abraham, or the Faith that Sees the Land and the City

Abraham had a far vision given to him and he believed God and went out. God spoke to Abraham about things to come. He made His covenant and sealed it with His servant. He told Abraham to lift up his eyes, and look northward, southward, eastward, and westward, “for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever.” Then Abraham removed his tent. He went out. He believed God. He looked for an inheritance and for a city. He died not having received the promise, but he saw it afar off. He knew that God would make good every word He promised. Why should men today doubt that Israel shall be restored to the land? Not a foot of land that Abraham’s eye caught that day shall be left out. His seed shall possess their inheritance. Why should men doubt that Christ’s city, the earthly Jerusalem, and that God’s other city, the New Jerusalem, should come? Abraham believed God and looked for a city; shall we then disbelieve? We have a far fuller revelation of both cities than was vouchsafed to Abraham. Let us not be unbelieving.

One thing is certain, if we do disbelieve God we cannot please Him. Faith is giving substance to the things hoped for; it is a sure conviction concerning things not seen. Faith acts as though it possessed the things to be possessed. Faith counts a promise of God as good as already provided. Faith places the credence in God’s prophecies that sight places in history. Why not? When God hath spoken, who can disannul it? Cannot God foretell history thousands of years in advance more accurately than man can record it the day following its occurrence? The faith that accepts the unseen as seen, the things prophesied as though fulfilled, is not irrational when faith’s confidence is placed on the plain and positive promises of a God with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. As long as God is able to perform His promises, faith can safely trust Him.

Sarah, or the Faith that Sees an Innumerable Seed Begotten of One as Good as Dead

Sarah’s faith was not always that steady and strong faith that confides unwaveringly in the Promiser. However, as the years rolled by, Sarah turned from all suggested subterfuges and placed an unswerving trust in God. Therefore it was that there sprang “of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the seashore innumerable.” Sarah’s faith bore testimony to the definition of faith given in verse one, because it was a faith that received strength to conceive seed and looked down the centuries and saw two great lines of sons—the one line, children of faith and the other, children of the flesh. For our own part, we believe that the patriarchs by faith saw things far more definitely than we are accustomed to acknowledge. Neither Abraham nor Sarah may have seen all that we see, for God has given many added revelations since their day, but they did see some things clearly and they did believe what they saw implicitly.

Sarah’s faith did hold conviction concerning two distinct companies which should come through the son whom her faith and God’s provision made possible. First, faith saw in Isaac the seed of the woman, Christ, and a multitude of sons, spiritually born, as many as the stars of the heavens. Second, faith saw in Isaac a seed, an innumerable race, physically born, and as many as the sand which is by the seashore. Those of us who are distanced from Sarah by many centuries need no faith to grasp these two lines of Abraham’s children, because we see by light, as an accomplished fact, what Sarah saw by faith. However, we may go beyond Sarah and see the two lines of seed inheriting all of the exceedingly great and precious promises which are vouchsafed the seeds of Abraham.

For shame that we should ever doubt the Lord. The very fact that God has vindicated the first stage of Sarah’s faith and verified her faith in the presence on Earth and in Heaven of the “sons of promise” born again by faith in Christ Jesus, and also the presence on Earth of the sons of the flesh, the Jewish people, born by physical generation, unto Abraham is enough to make easy our faith in the larger fulfillment of God’s promises to both seeds. No wonder that these saints of old confessed themselves strangers and pilgrims on the Earth. They demonstrated clearly that they were seeking a heavenly fatherland, far better than the one from which they came out.

Abraham, or the Faith that Sees the Resurrection

Another distinct vision of Abraham’s faith is recorded by the Holy Spirit. Abraham was called upon to offer up his son, Isaac. To be sure, every promise of God to Abraham was tied up in this son of promise. Yet Abraham wavered not. He went a three-day journey to Mount Moriah. He prepared the altar; he fastened Isaac and placed him ready for sacrifice. He even lifted his hand to slay the lad. Then God spoke: “Abraham, Abraman…lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him.” As Abraham stayed his hand, and as turning he saw the substitute, a ram caught by its horns in the thicket, Abraham saw Christ’s day and exulted.

But this is not all that Abraham saw. He saw Christ raised from the dead. He stood ready to slay Isaac because He believed God was able to raise him up. He did more. He saw in Isaac’s resurrection a parable or a figure of another resurrection. That resurrection included the resurrection of Christ, but it must have looked far beyond to the resurrection of those in Christ. If Job, who was, perhaps, a contemporary of Abraham, believed that he would stand again upon the Earth and see God for himself, why should not Abraham have had a like faith? And that is just what Abraham did have. He stands before us in this chapter as an example of the faith that has unswerving convictions of the things to come. He looked down the ages and saw the resurrection of Christ and beyond that the resurrection of all those who sleep in Christ. How could all the visions of faith already noted be possible apart from this added vision? Abraham believed God.

What shall we say? We have much added revelation concerning the resurrection. We have particularly the proof of the “first fruits” in the certified resurrection of Christ. Can we doubt then that the Lord shall descend from Heaven with a shout, and that the dead in Christ shall rise first and those of us who remain and are alive at the coming of the Lord shall be changed and caught up to meet the Lord in the air? Let us be believing and not forever casting insult at the Holy Spirit of Promise.

Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, or the Faith that Sees Israel’s Inheritance

Three generations of Abraham’s sons we group together. They are all enrolled in God’s galaxy of the heroes of the faith which gives substance to things hoped for and yields evidence concerning things not seen. These three men all saw things to come and were persuaded concerning them. They looked beyond the hour of their own death. It was nothing to them to prophesy the departing of the children of Israel from their own land of bondage, for they looked through many centuries and saw Israel finally and forever established in the land.

It is most illuminating to turn back to Genesis and read the words of Isaac and Jacob, as they, in turn, bless their sons. Isaac said, “Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven and the fatness of the earth and plenty of corn and wine; let people serve thee and nations bow down to thee; be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother’s sons bow down to thee; cursed be every one that curesth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.”

Jacob spoke many things in his final blessing upon his twelve sons. He prophesied not only the birth of Christ, but he prophesied the time when Shiloh should come and “unto Him shall the gathering of the people be.” Joseph, before he died, took oath of the children of Israel concerning the carrying of his bones from Egypt, for he said, “God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”

Faith for Israel

If the patriarchs looked down the years, and their faith saw Israel, a great nation ruling the nations of the world; if their faith saw Israel inheriting all the blessings promised to Abraham and reiterated in positive covenant statements to Isaac and Jacob, why should not we, too, believe in God?

Is there no more room in this star cluster of those whose faith makes real coming things? May we not have our names added to the list of those who give evidence to things not seen? Why should we doubt where Isaac and Jacob and Joseph believed? Hath God cast off His people? Then these men believed in vain. Hath God forsaken His covenant? Then why are there eleven million of the preserved of Israel before our very eyes today? If the men of old believed God, why should we doubt Him? If they looked down through millennia and saw things afar off and were persuaded of them, why should we who stand on the very verge of fulfilled prophecies, doubt?

Moses, or the Faith that Sees the Recompense of the Reward

Moses is an example of faith as defined by the Holy Spirit in verse one. Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; he chose to suffer affliction with the children of God; he esteemed the reproach of a Christ as greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt, because he had a faith that made real the promised recompenses of God. Moses believed God, and believed that He was the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Moses looked down through the years and saw the day when the Lord shall come and bring His rewards with Him. No wonder then that Moses forsook Egypt; no wonder that he endured through many a trying time, for he saw Him who is invisible, save to the eye of faith!

We believe that Moses looked down the years and he saw and believed much that is yet future concerning the rewards of saints. Of course he saw and believed concerning much else that God had foretold. His prophetic writings are ample proof of this. However, in Hebrews the Spirit is emphasizing one special feature of Moses’ faith—the conviction he had as to the rewards or recompense. This blessed message is given much emphasis in the prophetic Scriptures. Saints are not taught to expect anything less than suffering and tribulation in this present age. We are taught, however, to look away to the Lord’s return for our reward.

How many of us have this faith which pleases God? Do we live as though we cared little for the present environment, so long as we are standing true to the Lord? Do we count all things as refuse that we may win Christ? Do we profess to live for the things to come and then belie our testimony by actually living for the things present? Such a faith is dead, being alone. True faith gives substance to things hoped for and reckons as vanishing the things which are at hand.

Many saints, or the faith that sees the things God has provided.

It is wonderful the large group that the Spirit brings before us as proofs of the vitality of a faith that is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. The faith of each of these worthies accomplished distinctive victories for God. The conquests of their faith ran all the way from subduing kingdoms to being destitute, afflicted, tormented. However, in each of these recorded instances it was a faith made potent by a vision of the future things God held in store—good things which they never attained during their Earth life and which they have not yet attained.

“And these all having had witness borne to them through their faith, received not the promise, God having provided some better thing concerning us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” So there lies ahead of us all a fullness of blessing which is laid aside and which shall simultaneously be given to those who have fought the good fight and kept the faith and finished their course. Let us never again jest about those who believe the blessed hope of the Lord’s return. Practically every conviction of faith set forth in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews has to do with some phase of the Lord’s return.

Scoffers have arisen who say, “What is the promise of His coming?” Unbelief is casting slurs at every vestige of the prophetic Scriptures which accepts at their face value the promise of the Lord’s literal, corporeal, visible, personal, sudden coming to receive His own and to reign upon David’s throne. If we would please God, we must believe all that the prophets have spoken and we must have confidence in things hoped for and conviction in facts not seen.