Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Hebrews 11:8 - 11:12

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Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Hebrews 11:8 - 11:12

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

The example of Abraham and Sarah:

v. 8. By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

v. 9. By faith he sojourned in the Land of Promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;

v. 10. for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

v. 11. Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.

v. 12. Therefore sprang there even 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.

Since he was the father of the Old Testament believers, the example of Abraham is treated at length, no fewer than five points in which his faith stood out prominently being given in this chapter: By faith Abraham, being called to go forth to a place which he was destined to receive as an inheritance, obeyed, and he went out, not knowing where he was going. Gen_12:1-4. When the Lord issued His special call to Abraham, the latter was living with his father Terah at Haran. The call of God influenced his heart and mind to such an extent that he was no longer identified in any manner with the idolatry practiced in his father's house, and that his faith wrought in him a strong obedience to the call of the Lord. It may not have been an easy matter for Abraham, who at that time was already seventy-five years old and possessed great wealth, to leave the home of his father for an unknown country, where, moreover, idolatry was practiced just as badly as in Mesopotamia. But his faith in the promise of the Messiah gave him power to believe also the promise concerning the land of his inheritance on earth.

Abraham's faith was put to a severe test at this time: By faith he sojourned in the Land of Promise as in a foreign country, living in tents, with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he was waiting for the city having foundations, whose architect and builder is God. All these facts are recorded in the Book of Genesis. Having come into the Land of Promise, the land of Canaan, Abraham, instead of being given the country for his possession as he might have expected from the words of the Lord, did not get so much as a foot of land to call his own, being even obliged, at the death of Sarah, to buy a place of burial for her from the children of Heth. He lived the life of a nomad, dwelling in tents, and moving from one place to another as occasion offered. This was the lot also of his son Isaac and of his grandson Jacob. They lived in the land which God had promised to them as their inheritance, and yet it was a strange land to them, a country in which they were merely suffered as sojourners. This surely was a strong test for the faith of the patriarchs. But Abraham was equal to the test. Although possessing not a foot of soil in Canaan for more than fifty years and then only a small cave with the adjoining land, he looked upon this country as his possession and would not permit Eliezer to suggest taking Isaac back to Mesopotamia. In this faith Abraham was sustained by his firm hope of the future glory, which he knew to be his by virtue of the Messiah's merits. He might be obliged, as long as he lived here on earth, to live the life of a nomad, but this did not shake his firm hope of entering the heavenly Jerusalem, the city which was designed and built by God for those that love Him. That is the hope of the believers of all times; for they have here no continuing city, but they seek the one to come.

The faith of Abraham was shared also by his wife Sarah, though not in the same measure: By faith also Sarah received strength to conceive and was delivered of a son though past the usual age, since she counted Him faithful that had promised. Gen_18:12-15. When Abraham came to Canaan, Sarah was about sixty-five years old and had not only been barren, but was now past the age when she might expect to bear a child in agreement with the course of nature, Gen_18:11. For twenty-four years she waited for the promise of God to be fulfilled, and her faith was sometimes not equal to the strain, as when she gave Abraham her maid Hagar as a second wife, and when she laughed at the final definite announcement of the Lord, Gen_18:12-13. But the Lord's gentle rebuke upon this last occasion seems to have had the beneficial effect of banishing all doubts from her heart, simply because she relied upon God's promise. It was this faith, growing, as it did, out of the true faith in the promised Messiah, which was ever connected with God's announcement to Abraham, that gave her strength to become a mother at the age of eighty-nine, against the course of nature.

The result of this unwavering reliance upon God's word and promise was truly remarkable: Wherefore also there were begotten of one, and of one as good as dead, these (descendants) as the stars of the heaven for multitude, and as the sand which is by the seashore innumerable. In such a miraculous manner there was founded through Sarah, herself by nature doubly incapable for that purpose, a family. And another strange point is this, that Abraham at that time also was beyond the age when a man is ordinarily able to beget children; his generative power, according to the usual course of nature, had waned. Because God's promise, however, was so certain, the result was that the descendants of Abraham, through Isaac, the children of Israel, finally were like the stars of the sky or the sand at the seashore for multitude. Gen_21:2; Gen_22:17; Gen_32:12. Thus was the faith of both Abraham and Sarah vindicated most wonderfully.