A Voice in the
Wilderness

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Re: Faith and Endurance (Hebrews 11:1-2)

"Now faith is the certainty of things hoped for, the evidence of things
not seen.  For by it the elders bore witness." (Heb11:1-2)

How many people are like what I tend to be? There are many who boast
that they like to "try new things", and in their 'trying' they love to
"go-with-the-flow". Such thinking has tended to be a 'license' for all
sorts of sins people like to engage in, to titillate their sensuality.

But I'm not like that. If I am to do something I've not done before, I
like to investigate and learn all about it, to know what I'm getting
myself into. Tearing an engine down?  I like to get a manual to see how
it's been put together, to see if I can do the work installed, or do I
have to 'pull' the engine?  Going on a trip? Get out the map and plot
out each intersection. Stepping out into a new life? How will it be
financed?  Time to move? How will I know I can find a place to live
once I get there? How do I know I will find a job? So, we've bought a
new business and it's time to leave a job that has a regular paycheck,
but we're not sure the new business will support financially? Scary
stuff! These, all, things about living and surviving in the world.

What about when God calls a person to a particular ministry? What if
that call is to step out in faith? Or the call is to do some new thing
I've never done before, or that I'm not trained in?

How many people have been in situations where they have these inner
conversations with themselves! How do we know that, if I start stepping
out step-by-step clear over 'here', that when I get way over 'there',
things will still be OK? Certainly, loved ones die, or other
catastrophes happen; and a person finds themself 'stuck' with their
circumstances, not of their own making; and we muddle through and
survive with the 'hand' we've been 'dealt' (??).  But what about when a
person is receiving a "call" to step out, BY FAITH, into what seems
initially to be a VAST UNKNOWN?

Our opening verse says that, by faith the "elders bore witness". Bore 
witness to what? Or...to Whom?

Jacob finds himself in a real pickle.  He's been a schemer all his 
life, but now he finds himself running from his brother's threats 
'for-dear-life'.  God reveals Himself to Jacob in a dream, and extends 
the promise given to Abraham and Isaac, to him, to make of him a great 
nation.  (Gen28:13-15) God promises, "..I am not forsaking you until I
have done what I have spoken to you." (vs15) In other words, God's
promise is: to be with Jacob.

But this matter of a "great nation" is of little relevance right now,
because he is running to save his life. The first step of faith is
God's protection for him. "If God will be with me...so that I return to
my father's house in peace, then Jehovah shall be my God." (vs21) If we
read on through Genesis, we find that Jacob finally knows God fully by
ch49. He is going to experience many things. But right 'now', while he
has heard God's "call" to him, as being the father of a great nation,
he steps out and continues his path to Haran and Laban.

Gideon is called by God to lead Israel against Midian. (Judges ch6)
Who, me?? How do I know it's -really- You telling me this? Is this 
doubt? No. We are told to "..not believe every spirit, but test the 
spirits, to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets 
have gone forth into the world." (1Jn4:1) God performs a miracle with 
an offering Gideon brings. We all know about the "fleece". Gideon still 
must step out and do other acts of faith, and ultimately lead in the
routing of Midian.

God calls Moses to deliver Israel out of Egypt. He wants to know every
detail before he goes. (Exodus ch3) What will I say Your name is?
Suppose they don't believe me? Well, what about..?? Ya-But! God
answers all his questions and gives him some miracles, and gives him
assurances like He did to Jacob and Gideon, "And this shall be a sign
to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of
Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain." (Ex3:12) But, I am slow
of speech...I can't talk! "Now therefore, go, and I will be with your
mouth and teach you what you shall speak." (4:12) So what does Moses
do? Does he continue on like Jacob, heading to Haran? Does he do like
Gideon, getting the ox and pulling down the pagan image? "O my Lord,
please send by the hand of whomever You may send." (vs13) In other
words, Oh, Lord, I really couldn't!

If you are not familar with the account, please read the first few
chapters of Exodus. So God sends Aaron. As the conversations with
Pharaoh begin, Moses tells Aaron what to say, and Aaron speaks with
Pharaoh. (Ex4:30) But along the way, as God has been revealing His
power in Egypt through massive destruction, notice that -Moses- "said 
to Pharaoh" (Ex8:9, 10:29) And by the time Israel is leaving Egypt, it 
says of Moses, "Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of 
Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh's servants and in the sight of the 
people" (Ex11:3), even though we are told, "Now the man Moses was very 
humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth." (Num12:3)

There's Martha. Jesus explains to her about Eternal Life and the
Resurrection and Rapture. She expresses her Faith in this truth and in
Jesus Christ. But then, Jesus asks for 'action'. Act on that faith.
"Take away the stone" (Jn11:39) Oh, noooo, the dead body will be all
stinky by now!

And here is the lesson on faith: Yes, Lord, I believe in You. "Take 
away the stone". Oh, no, we shouldn't do that. "Did I not say to you
that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" (vs40) And
what did Martha do? "Then they took away the stone from where the dead
man was lying.." (vs41) She stepped out in faith, and acted.

We started out with the question. The passage says that By Faith "the 
elders bore witness". (Heb11:2) Yes, I know that's different from what 
most of your translations say. KJV says "obtained a good report". That 
makes it sound as though all these "elders of faith" are the ones being 
praised. Praise being bestowed upon 'man'. NKJV is closer when it says,
"good testimony"; but it still retains the word "obtained".

The term, however, is more of a witness taking the stand, and giving
testimony. One who gives testimony in a court of law is not usually
there to testify on his own behalf; sometimes they are, but the
majority of the case, they are testifying on behalf of, or about
somebody else, thing or event. They are "bearing witness" to what they 
have seen or heard, about somebody/something 'else'.

Jacob bore witness to what? God keeping His (God's) promise to Jacob.  
When Jacob received a new name, that name was "Israel". What does 
"Israel" mean? "God prevails". No, Jacob did not prevail. He was 
continually getting into scrapes with Laban, had a bunch of wives who 
were cat-fighting over his attentions. And how did he get his wives?  
Through deceit. And as he is ready to meet up with Esau after 20 years, 
is he the mighty warrior? No, he's scared spitless. Jacob's coming back 
"in peace" had nothing to do with Jacob. It had everything to do with 
Jehovah. Whatever "faith" Jacob had was a result of God leading him 
along. While he was afraid of Esau, God has just named him 
"God-prevails", and as he arranges his family to meet Esau, he 
demonstrates his faith in God's promise of protection and puts himself
in front of his family before Esau. (Gen33:3)

Martha? What was the -object- of her faith? Her sorrow was regarding
the death of her brother. Jesus gives her doctrine. But her faith was
in Jesus Christ. Why did she give the go-ahead to open the grave?
Because her faith was in Jesus. She had nothing to do with the raising
of Lazarus. It was all about "Jesus". But her faith needed to trust 
Jesus, to open the tomb, to then see the "glory of God" as Jesus raised
Lazarus.

Moses is given -little- "fleeces". God shows him a couple signs he will
perform: turning the shepherd/walking staff into a serpent, his hand
into leprosy. God then tells him that Pharaoh will not immediately let
Israel go, that He (God) has it all planned out. (Ex3:19) He -assures-
Moses that Pharaoh will not listen at first, by saying that when he
doesn't hear the first time, then do the next sign. When he doesn't
heed the next sign, do another. 

And as things happen just as God said they would, then Moses finds
himself all alone. The heads of Israel will condemn Moses for bringing
more cruel bondage upon them (Ex5:21), and Moses will then start to
doubt his mission, because instead of deliverance, they are under
harsher treatment, and says to God, "neither have You rescued to
deliver Your people." (vs22)

But you see, in the depths of dispair and adversity is where faith 
grows. It is during this time when Moses likely feels all "alone" in 
his mission; fighting Pharaoh, and his own people are not even
supporting him; that the change comes upon him, and rather than relying
upon Aaron to speak every word for him, he takes up the commission that
God had originally called him to.

But notice, they still haven't yet reached the mountain, where God's 
call would be confirmed. Moses learned experientially, "you have need 
of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may 
receive the promise.." (Heb10:36) Faith is not some pious thing like a 
lot of people think of "holiness". A "person of faith" is typically 
considered as one who has words (-lots- of words! You know they have 
all this 'faith', because they say so!), their hands are placed palms 
together, fingers pointed heaven-ward as they are also often called
"prayer warriors", and if a Renaissance artist depicted them, they
would also have a halo hovering over-head. That is not faith! True 
Faith is -difficult-. If you read Hebrews ch11, you see how those of 
faith endured affliction of all sorts, and their Faith enabled them to 
"endure". Moses' faith grew as he -endured- through the situation with 
Pharaoh.

Let's continue the passage, "For yet a little while, and He who is 
coming will come and will not linger." (Heb10:37) There are so many who 
"are alive" (1Th4:17) who look for the Rapture, but are doing nothing
regarding endurance. They wring their hands, whine and complain about
this and that that is in the world and the apostasy...  waiting for the
Lord to come and rescue them out of their trials and tribulations.
Well, yes, the Lord -is- coming; but our job is to "endure" through
this world in faith.

It is in this context, "endurance", that we find this key antidote to 
the false doctrine called, 'once-saved-always-saved'. "Now the just 
shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul is not pleased 
with him." The -context- of this passage places "endurance" and "faith" 
together into the same discussion.  And in the same context, if a
person does not endure, but "draws back", God is what? "not pleased
with him". This term "pleased" is one that is used in several places
denoting those who are saved, or in good standing with God. Those who 
fell in the wilderness, God was "not pleased" with them. (1Cor10:5) The 
Son, who was sinless, God was "well pleased" with Him. (Mt3:17)

True Faith sees God. Faith believes Jesus' saving death and
resurrection, and receives His atonment. And then, Faith, while being a
"gift" of God (Eph2:8), results in "good works" (Eph2:9, Jac2:14-26).
The good works are like Jesus spoke of grabbing the plow and not
looking back. (Lk9:62) But the endurance that is manifest in good works
is not our doing either. We are "His workmanship" which becomes that in
which "we should walk in them".

Who makes the "glorious Church" that is "without spot or wrinkle"?
Jesus. (Eph5:27) And to Whose glory is the Faith-ful Church? The "God
of peace". (Heb13:20)

If we want to meet God on the mountain top, we must endure. It is not 
enough to glory in the miraculous signs and wonders. That is not our 
destination. There are many who claim to name the Name of Christ, for 
whom the ultimate goal is to have miraculous experiences and 
manifestations. But the promise of the mountain did not come with the 
miracles and power and signs and wonders. While the signs and wonders
were going on there was "loneliness" for Moses. What brought the
mountain was endurance. Seeing his call/mission through to completion. 
Not falling by the wayside, giving up. Not pulling out of the race 
before the finish line. But "stretching forward" and pressing "toward 
the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." 
(Php3:13-14)

Many of these so-called "[c]hristians" want God's power, and to be like
little gods. But God's Word says, "If we endure, we shall also reign
with Him." But notice what happens if we deny Him in favor of these
other things, "..He also will deny us." (2Tim2:12) As Jesus said of
them as they are clamoring to get in, crying out, "Lord, Lord"; He will
say, "Depart from Me, you who work out lawlessness!" (Mt7:23)

In the end, all the glory goes to God the Father. (1Cor15:28) And so, 
our Faith, due to the fact that it is He who led us along, our faith 
becomes the "witness", if you will, the "evidence" of His workings of
"Christ in you the hope of glory". (Col1:27)

Amen!