Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Hebrews 11:17 - 11:22

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Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Hebrews 11:17 - 11:22

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

The example of the patriarchs:

v. 17. By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac; and he that had received the promises offered up his only-begotten son,

v. 18. of whom it was said, that in Isaac shall thy seed be called;

v. 19. accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence he also received him in a figure.

v. 20. By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.

v. 21. By faith Jacob, when he was a-dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning upon the top of his staff.

v. 22. By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel, and gave commandment concerning his bones.

The history of Abraham was by no means exhausted by the incidents mentioned in the preceding paragraphs. There is another lesson recorded here: By faith Abraham offered up Isaac when he was put to the test, and he that had received the promises sacrificed his only-begotten, to whom it had been said that through Isaac shall the offspring be reckoned to thee; since he concluded that God was able to raise also from the dead, whence he also received him in type. Gen_22:1-24. God had given Abraham the promise after the birth of Isaac: In Isaac shall thy seed be called, Gen_21:12. Ishmael was thus ruled out, as were the children of Abraham by Keturah, who were born later. Isaac, therefore, was the only-begotten son of Abraham, the son of promise, the father having received the promises of God with a believing heart; the descendants of Isaac were to be known as the true seed, the heirs of the promise. But now God determined to test Abraham's trust and faith by a trial of such severity as to have daunted every other heart. Abraham was to offer up, to sacrifice, this only son to the Lord. And this he prepared to do exactly in accordance with God's instructions, as the account in Genesis tells us. This he could do only because his faith had taught him to come to the conclusion, to hold the opinion, that even from the dead God is able to raise up. It was this firm belief in the almighty power of God, together with faith in His promises, that enabled Abraham to deliver his only son to death. This faith God rewarded at once; for the father received his son back from the very jaws of death, he snatched him out of death, "not actually, because Isaac had not been dead, but virtually, because he had been given up to death. He had passed through the likeness of death, and his restoration to Abraham was a likeness of resurrection" (Dods). How gloriously was the faith of Abraham here established!

Of the other patriarchs similar demonstrations of faith are recorded: By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning future things. Gen_27:1-46. It had been a matter of some dispute between Isaac and Rebecca as to which son was to receive the Messianic promise. When, therefore, Isaac determined to give his blessing to his sons before his death, he instructed Esau to appear before him first. But through the dispensation of God it was Jacob that received the blessing of the first-born, a fact which was acknowledged by Isaac when he refused to change the blessing, giving to Esau, instead, a blessing concerning his well-being in this world only. It was the faith of Isaac which caused him to confirm the blessing which he had laid upon Jacob as the Lord's choice for the bearer of the Messianic blessing, Gen_28:3. The same faith lived also in Jacob almost a hundred years later: By faith Jacob, dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bending in prayer over the head of his staff. Shortly before the aged Jacob died, in the land of Goshen, he had Joseph bring his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, in order to transmit to them the blessing of his own children. Gen_48:1-20. He gave each an individual blessing, crossing his hands in spite of Joseph's protest, SO that his right hand rested upon the head of the younger and his left upon the head of the older. In the distinction thus made in the blessing as it was afterward verified in the destiny of their descendants, in their inheritance of the Promised Land, Jacob showed his faith. Note: There is an addition to the story as related in Genesis, since we are here told that Jacob, shortly before his death, not only bowed himself upon the bed's head in an attitude of worship, but did so while leaning upon his staff. Of Joseph, finally, it is said: By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the exodus of the children of Israel and gave commandment concerning his bones. Gen_50:24-25. The fact that Joseph, in such a solemn manner, assured his brothers that they would not be left in Egypt, but that God would lead them forth thence into the land which He had promised to their fathers, and that he, for his own person, relied so firmly in the promise of the Lord that he gave orders concerning the transfer of his mummy to the land of Canaan at the time of that deliverance, shows that Joseph shared the faith of his fathers in the Messianic promises, which included the possession of the land of Canaan for the children of Israel. His faith in the coming Messiah caused him to trust implicitly in the other promise connected with the assurance of His coming.