Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 4 * BOOK 51
Hebrews 10:23 – 11:8 – Part 2
All right, for those of you joining us maybe for the first time, we’re just a simple Bible study. We try hard not to attack different groups, and we don’t claim that we’ve got all the answers, but hopefully we can just open the Scriptures and let the Holy Spirit be the master teacher. Now, as we finish this program today, this will finish up book number 51. That means we’ve been on the air almost twelve years. Unbelievable isn’t it, Honey? My it’s just like yesterday we drove up here for the first taping and had no idea it would go more than six months, let alone twelve years!
Now let’s just continue on where we just left off in the last lesson and that would be in Hebrews chapter 11, and verse 4, and remember this is the great faith chapter. All the examples of people of faith; and remember from Adam until the end of the human experience, faith is always the number one criteria for a right relationship with God, as we’re going to see in this lesson.
“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain,…”
Now we have to go back to Genesis chapter 4 for that account. I’m not going to do it with all of these faith people in Hebrews but we are for some. But let’s come all the way back to Genesis chapter 4 where we have the account of this first bringing of an offering by these two brothers Cain and Abel. Now we don’t know how old they were but they were old enough to have already established their own lifestyle. One was a sheepherder and the other was a farmer. And, that’s about as far as we can go with their occupation. But, the clue to all of this is verse 3.
“And in the process of time…”
And that is more or less implied, I think, from the Hebrew that it was a time of instruction. Now remember, God is never unfair. God would not expect these young men, Cain and Abel, to do something that He had never told them to do. If that was the case then it wouldn’t be faith. But He had instructed them and no doubt knowing the God of this Book, He instructed them explicitly on how to approach Him with the blood sacrifice, which is already set as an example in Genesis 3, with Adam and Eve.
In that chapter, God killed the animal and so He no doubt instructed them on exactly how to kill the animal, and how to present or sprinkle the blood. It wasn’t haphazard. It was intrinsically instructed. All right, so both young men have the same Word from God on how to approach Him. If you’ll notice in Scriptures, we have the natural man first. So we deal with Cain first, the natural. And so, Cain brought of the fruit of the ground, whatever it was. To begin with, there are two major points here.
Number one, it was a bloodless offering. Number two, he was bringing that from the ground that from which one day Abel’s blood would be spilled and it was cursed. Now it hadn’t happened yet, but it will and so Cain now is stepping off on the wrong foot by bringing a bloodless offering.
I have to emphasize that because several years ago our own Jerry Pool wrote to his Sunday School material supplier and called to their mind, “Why didn’t they point out in the children’s quarterly, that the reason Cain wasn’t accepted was because he didn’t bring a blood offering,” Well, Jerry showed me their response. Now you talk about dancing around the subject without ever saying anything, that’s what it amounted to. Wasn’t it Jerry? And all they could say, was, “Well that didn’t have anything to do with it, Cain just simply had a bad attitude.” No, it wasn’t Cain’s attitude, although that was certainly involved in the fact that he had no faith! He didn’t take anything that God said into account. And so he rationalized and he said, “Well surely, if God knows how much sweat I have already dropped on all this, He’ll accept it. I don’t have to go over and barter with my brother to get a lamb.” And so Cain brought of the fruit of the ground, whatever it was. It was bloodless. Remember one of the absolutes in Scripture that we learned in Hebrews 9:22?
“…and without the shedding of blood is no remission.” And so “God had no respect unto Cain’s offering.” So by faith, as Hebrews chapter 11 reminds us:
“And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock…”
Well now you don’t have vegetables called flocks, so what’s implied? Sheep or goats. More than likely a sheep. And God had instructed them on how to present that animal sacrifice.And so Abel, because he believed what God said, did it as God instructed and he was accepted, and for that act of faith, will have eternal life.
Now whenever I taught Genesis years ago, or in my classes here in Oklahoma, I make this statement. Cain may have been a nicer guy than Abel. Cain may have been an easier guy to get along with in everyday things than Abel, we don’t know. But that wasn’t what counted. What counted was that Abel did what God said to do and he was accepted. Cain went his own way and he was rejected, see? All right, so read verse 4 again.
“And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:”
In other words, Abel brought the very best and the Lord had respect unto Abel and his offering, but unto Cain he had no respect. Why? Because it wasn’t what God had instructed. That’s all. And you find this all the way up through Scripture. Example: Jacob and Esau. I have no doubt that Esau might have been a nicer guy than Jacob, because otherwise why would Isaac have had such an inclination to Esau? I think he was a good son. But what was Esau’s problem? No faith. He didn’t believe a word God said. Never registered with him.
And so Jacob, even though he may have been a rascal, he was a man who could believe what God said, and God honored his faith. See? All right so now as we go back to Hebrews chapter 11, we have to realize that it’s by faith and faith alone that everyone has been brought into a relationship with God. And then, based on their faith, yes, Abel brought the animal sacrifice. You get up into the system of Law; it was faith that prompted a believing Jew to keep the Law. Faith. Nothing else.
All right, I guess on our way back to Hebrews, let’s just stop in Romans chapter 4; in fact I think I alluded to that in our last program that we would turn back to Romans chapter 4 where Paul is using Abraham as the epitome of a man of faith. Now again you have to get the background. What was the culture of the man Abram? Pagan. Idolatry. Mythology. No knowledge of the One True God. And yet when God spoke to Abram out of that background of idolatry, what did Abram do? He believed God. Now that’s faith.
“What shall we say then that Abraham our father, (now Paul writes here as a Jew so Abraham is the father of the Jewish Nation) as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? 2. For if Abram were justified by works, (by doing something) he hath whereof to glory; (or brag) but not before God.”
No human being will ever put God in his debt, and that’s what a works religion does. A works religion tells God, “I’ve earned it, and you owe me.” If you work for someone, at the end of the week, you can go to your employer and in so many words what can you tell him? “You owe me, until you’ve paid me.” Well you see that’s what a works religion does to God. It says, “God you owe me. I’ve worked for it.” But God won’t have any part of that. And so, it says that Abraham could never glory, because he’s dealing with the Holy, Omnipotent God. Now verse 3.
“For what saith the scripture?…”
Boy that’s my favorite guideline isn’t it? What does the Book say? Well, does the Book say, “Abraham believed God” and brought a sacrifice? No. “Abraham believed” and was baptized? No. “Abraham believed” and spoke in tongues? No. “Abraham believed” and joined the church? No. Doesn’t say any of that.
What’d he do? Believed plus nothing! Abraham believed God, and put his faith in what God said. Now like I said in the last program, and what does God do the moment He sees our faith? He declares us righteous. Now that’s not being big-headed, or egotistical. It’s just simply a matter of faith that when we become a believer, God declares us righteous. Not because of what we’ve worked for but because of our faith. Faith! By faith and faith alone! Paul just screams it all through his epistles, see? Verse 4.
“Now to him that worketh (for salvation) is the reward not reckoned of grace. (God’s mercy,) but (rather it is reckoned) of (what?) debt.”
You’ve worked for it so God owes you. It won’t fly. God will never be in debt to any human being! No matter his station in life. Not even Abraham, and so this is the whole admonition of Scripture then that it’s by faith alone. In fact, I can’t go back to Hebrews without reading verse 5. Oh my goodness, I don’t know how many people we’ve led to the Lord by showing them what Romans 4 verse 5 says:
“But to him that worketh not, but believeth (and again nothing else follows it) on him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
God can’t justify someone who says they’re good enough. God can only justify the person that says, “I’m a sinner.” I can go back to the hundred little sheep out on the desert. Ninety and nine went out, lost and never knew it. The Saviour didn’t save any of them, but which one did the Lord save? The little fellow caught in the crevice bleating his little old heart out because he knew he was lost. And that’s the teaching of Scripture, that you cannot be saved until you know that you’re lost. And oh, people don’t want to admit that, because to admit that you’re lost is a blow to your what? Pride!
Pride is the biggest enemy of mankind because pride says, “Don’t you admit that you have a need. You’re good enough, and God will accept you.” No He won’t. The Scripture says we have to be lost before we can be saved. All right so, “To him that worketh not but believeth on him that justifies the ungodly.” Now I pointed out in one of my classes the other night here in Oklahoma, to be ungodly doesn’t mean that you’re a drunkard and you’re down on skid row and all these horrible pictures that we get of lower humanity. No. You can get the best person in Tulsa and they can be ungodly. Because the term “un” simply means “without.” So if you are without God, you’re ungodly. It’s that simple.
And so you can have the highest elite in society, as good as they can be; but if they haven’t got God in their life, they’re what? Ungodly. And that’s the kind of a person that God wants to save.
All right, so here it is, “To him who worketh not but to him who believes on him who justifies (or declares absolutely forgiven and sinless) the ungodly.” And then, “his faith is counted for righteousness.” Now back to Hebrews chapter 11.
“By faith (by taking God at His Word) Enoch was translated that he should not see death;…”
Now we don’t know an awful lot about Enoch. He’s back there in the genealogies, and back there before the Flood, but that’s about as far as we can go, but the Scripture here tells us that it was by faith that Enoch was translated. In other words, he was here one moment and gone the next, which I think is a preview of the Rapture of the church and so he was “…translated that he should not see death.” Enoch didn’t die. They never buried him. He was translated. He was here one second; gone the next.
“…and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.”
And before his translation, before he was snatched off the planet “he had this testimony.” This is what his life told everybody around him. “…he pleased God.” But you’ve got to go into verse 6 to find out what Enoch did to please God. What was it? He was a man of faith! See how it follows? Enoch pleased God.
“But without faith it is impossible to please him:…” (God)
Without faith it is impossible to please God. So you put two and two together and get four. What does that mean? Enoch was a man of faith. That’s all.
Notice that doesn’t say anything about his works. Doesn’t say anything about practicing religion or sacrifices. All it says, he was a man who believed God. Now we don’t know how much God told Enoch. You know I’m always trying to impress on people, faith isn’t necessarily knowing that 2,000 years out into the future God in the Person of the Son would go to a Roman cross and die. That’s wasn’t revealed back here. They had no concept of a Roman cross. My goodness, crucifixion was invented by the Romans. And so you have about twenty-six, twenty-seven hundred years of human history before crucifixion comes into the picture.
So they didn’t know anything about a cross. But whatever God said to them, they believed it! And when they believed it, God counted them righteous. It’s so simple isn’t it? All right, so “without faith it is impossible to please him.” You can give millions. You can work your fingers to the bone. You can be in that church building seven days a week, and if it’s not based on faith, you’re spinning your wheels. It’s all for nothing!
“…for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
And “he that cometh to God.” For salvation, and then as a believer, we come to Him constantly with our needs, with our petitions, with our praise; but we do it all how? By faith. And that without it, we have nothing. Now let’s move on down to verse 7.
“By faith, Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear,…”
What’s it talking about? What did God tell Noah? “Hey, I’m going to destroy the earth with water. The whole shebang is going to be covered with water. It’s going to rain forty days and forty nights.” Had it ever rained before? No. It had never rained a drop. They had never even had a thundercloud. So how did Noah know it would rain enough to cover the earth? By faith. God said it, and when God said, “Noah, I’m going to destroy the earth with water. Build an ark.” What did Noah do? Built an ark!
Now don’t you know he felt as foolish as a three-dollar bill out there where it had never rained. There never been a flood of any kind. No river had overflowed. And he starts building this huge box. Have you ever thought how foolish he must have felt? Have you ever realized how he was scorned and ridiculed? But what kept him going? God said it! And he believed it! And forget the scornful if God said it, it’s going to happen! Now it took a hundred and twenty years if I read my Bible right, 120 years before it happened. But, Noah never gave up on his faith because God had said it.
“…prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world.”
Now I hope you all realize that at Noah’s flood, the earth probably (I say probably, I can’t prove it, but I think it’s quite likely) could have had anywhere from four billion to up to where we are today, six billion people. Because if you want to just take your computer someday, you that are math nuts. Just start with two people and let them reproduce for nine hundred years like Adam and Eve did. Let all those kids reproduce for nine hundred years like they all did. And they had multiple births. You know that because there are ample evidence of twins in the Old Testament and man, you have no problem at all coming to four-five billion people after 1,600 years of human history.
And so the earth was highly populated. And in the midst of all of that activity, as I’ve taught earlier – they had tremendous technology. And the more their technology exploded the more wicked they became. Does that ring a bell? Today’s the same way. The faster our technology grows, the faster our moral fabric is rotting away from under us.
But all right, this whole race of humanity, with exception of those eight people on the ark is going to disappear. They’re going to go. Now when I talk about this present day population totally disappearing from the scene by the end of the Tribulation, people probably think I’m nuts. I wouldn’t doubt it a bit, but just about all will be gone. They’re going to be gone because there’s only going to be a small remnant surviving. Well, if they say, “Well how can it be that small?” Then I have to ask how small was eight compared to four billion people? Pretty small. So Noah had the faith:
“…and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.”
All right, but Noah by faith built the ark and then he became the “heir (again which faith always prompts) of (what?) righteousness.” Righteousness. God didn’t look at Noah like a vile old sinner because of his faith, God now looked at Noah as a righteous man. Now if you want to use the term righteous as right standing with God, I’ve got no problem with that. That’s what righteous implies. We are now in a right standing with God. As sinners, we’re aliens, see? And we need reconciliation.
“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.”
Well, we’ve already talked about Abraham so we’re not going to stretch this. God didn’t pick Abraham up out of Ur of the Chaldees and supernaturally transport him over Canaan and give him a bird’s-eye-view, like even Moses had from Mount Nebo. And God didn’t take Abram out over Canaan and say, “Now Abraham if you believe me this is what I’m going to give you.” No. God just simply told this pagan man Abraham down there in the Euphrates Valley, “Leave your city, and your family. And go to a land that I will show you.” Now that takes faith.
That takes faith! He had to break with his family. He had to break with his business. He had to simply turn his back on everything and leave his homeland. That’s what faith has to do. All right, and so “he goes into a place which he should afterward receive for an inheritance and Abraham obeyed.” He did what God asked him to do, and that’s faith. “…and he went out not knowing whither he went.”
Now when he finally gets there which is the land of Canaan years and years later, he’s still operating by faith.
“By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country,…”
Which of course, God promised to him back there in Genesis chapter 15 and on. And so he, “lived by faith in the land of promise as in a strange country.” Now what’s the lesson?
You know Paul says in Romans that all these things back in the Old Testament were written for what purpose? Our learning. Right! And so what’s the lesson? Well, this is where you and I are. You and I were called out of the Ur of the lost estate. We were snatched out of the slave market of sin. But when God transformed us and made us a believer and declared us righteous, He didn’t take us to Heaven – be nice if He would! But He didn’t; He left us here. And so in the picture, where are we? We’re among strangers. We’re amongst a hateful world. The world has always hated Christians.
Now our Constitution fortunately has protected us thus far and for most of Western civilization their government has protected Christians. But you go into Sudan today, are Christians safe? Ha! They’re dying by the thousands. Go into Indonesia. Are Christians safe? You better believe that they’re not. And in so many areas of the world, they’re living amongst a hateful enemy. And the only reason we don’t feel it is because our government guarantees our safety; but take that away and I think you and I would be shocked at how fast they would turn against us.
But the picture is that Abraham was now dwelling amongst strangers. Oh, God deeded him the land in Genesis 15 but who was still occupying it? The Canaanites. So now you have to picture in your own mind, here comes this man Abraham with his flocks and his herds and his servants – what does he have to ask as he traverses the land? Permission. He would ask permission. “Can I bring my flocks on to your land? Can I bring my flocks into your orchards?” He had to because he was a stranger sojourning amongst strange people. But what was the promise? God was with him, and God blessed him.
So it’s the same way with us today. Yes, we are now ‘citizens’ of Heaven by virtue of our salvation experience. But God didn’t take us to Heaven when we were saved; He left us here. And so we are dwelling amongst the lost humanity around us but we are under His protective care. We’re His, we belong to Him and so all these examples of faith are for our learning.