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Cloud of Witnesses VII

March 25, 2007

I really like going through Hebrews chapter eleven for two reasons:

( 1 ) It’s a great collection of many accounts in which folks trusted in God and looked to the world to come despite the ambient situation in which they found themselves.

( 2 ) It provides a rare opportunity to utilize Roman numerals.

Hebrews11:32  “And what shall I more say?  for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets.”

In other words, if Paul had been alive in the twenty first century, he would have stated “This blog is getting long.”  History is filled with account after account of God delivering those who trust in him.  The more dire the situation, the greater Gods deliverance is manifest in the land of the breathing.  In each story, we have a continuing theme in which folks turn to the Holy One of Israel, trusting him in the face of what would appear to be certain disaster.  In each account, God is a faithful Creator and he proves to be far more reliable than the arm of flesh which has a long history of leaving folks hanging out to dry.  A study of the books of Judges, I and II Samuel, will tell, in detail the accounts of the Barak, Gideon, Sampson, david, Samuel, and many other hall of faith inductees who aren’t listed here.

Hebrews 11:33-34  “Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.   Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valient in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.” 

One thing that stands out in the above passage is “wrought righteousness.”  There has been much writing, all of it timely, on the importance of living a life of holiness.  Not a legalistic “traditions of men” type of conformity, but a life of simply doing those things which are pleasing to God; a desire that will be present in the heart of all true saints.  The church today is hindered greatly by sin in the camp while folks all around us who need Jesus are slipping into eternity. This sould become the topic of a post unto itself.  We have a church building in nearly every neighborhood in every town in the country and yet iniquity in the land is growing at an alarming rate.  Traditions of men, vain philosophies, and an appetite for entertainment has neutralized many in this most critical hour. 

In an earlier post, I mentioned the book of acts as being accurately named.  To be completely honest, the entire bible is a “book of acts” as God has always been the same and always comes through for those who place their complete trust in him.  I don’t know why it’s been on my mind today, but the incident of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo is most fascinating.  Told to bow to Nebudchadnezzars image of gold they replied as follows

Daniel 3:17  “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to delever us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand. ”

In other words, God will deliver us; one way or the other.  Whether it be through a supernatural deliverance or a taking up residence in Abrahams bosom, this was a win-win situation for these three saints. 

Daniel 3:18  “But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”

This results in the three saints being cast into a fiery furnace which is seven times hotter than normal; so hot that the guys doing the throwing were consumed.  When Nebudchadnezzar peers into the fiery furnace he sees the three, unbound and walking around, and he sees Jesus.  He calls them to come forth from the fire, unsinged and not smelling of smoke.  A total deliverance in seemingly impossible circumstances.   I imagine that, as they were defying the order to bow to Nebudchadnezzars image, they knew that God could do this but quite possibly weren’t expecting it. 

Hebrews 11:35  “Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:”

The incident of the Shunamite woman stands out in this.  When her son died upon her knees (I’m speed paraphrasing.  The incident is in II Kings chapter 4)  she places him on the bed in the chamber that they built for Elisha.  She goes to Elisha who then sends Gehazi with his staff to lay it upon the child.  When nothing hapens, Elisha comes into the house and goes into the room where the childs body is on the bed. 

II Kings 4:34-35  “And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm.  Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.” 

This took a while as a stretching of the faith was in the works here.  Elisha presents the child alive and God is glorified.  Another example takes place in II Kings 13:21 and in this case, Elisha has passed from the land of the living.  This incident simply blows the mind.

II Kings 13:20-21  “And Elisha died, and they buried him.  And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year.  And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.” 

As we read of such acounts, it becomes all the more clear that Gods ability to deliver isnt restricted when the physical realm seems unfavorable.  It’s simply a lack of faith to be “worried” about the economy, political and social upheaval at home, or the tensions in the middle east.  We prayerfully monitor the current events of the day, but we stay in prayer, stay in the word of God, and we know that God is in control, regardless of what we see taking place in the physical realm.  While others are banking on such events to go favorably in order to keep the status quo rolling along, we have a most blessed hope and can abide in the rest that comes from having a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Being tossed into a fiery furnace is about as extreme of a circumstance as one can find themselves in and yet God is able to deliver.  A man coming back to life after coming into contact with Elishas bones is beyond fascinating.  Nothing is too difficult for God and indeed , if we pray for a mountain to be cast into the sea, truly believing, it shall come to pass.  Not only physical mountains, but also spiritual mountains as the enemy is going all out to keep as many in darkness as he can.

Luke 17:5  “And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.”

This should be our fervent prayer today; that our faith would grow daily and we would learn to simply trust the Lord Jesus in all things.  I need to wrap this up for now.  This has been an “all over the map” post somewhat, but there are just so many instances that should be covered.  Indeed, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  So I’ll close out with the response that Jesus gave to the above request.

Luke 17:6  “And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say to this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.” 

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4 comments

  1. Amen, good post!

    God bless,
    Jen


  2. Jesus isn’t even asking for that much faith from us in order to see major changes in our lives. From Wikipedia:

    “Mustard seeds are the proverbially small seeds of the various mustard plants. The seeds are about 1 mm in diameter”


  3. Who are you Timbob?
    I love your “heaven focussedness”.
    Seeing Him is really the only thing to keep us above the strength from around and withing us. It’s beautiful when we become empty of ourselves to become full of the Wonderful One that is calling us to fellowship each minute! Be richly blessed, Jacky.


  4. Greetings Jacky. I read a comment on Steves site that you left. I really liked your site and have added it to the blogroll here. Thanks for commenting. I’ll try to visit regularly.
    Have a blessed day in Christ.

    timbob



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