Dear Student of the Word,
Attached is our ninth installment in our study together of the letter to the Hebrews. There is no finer chaper in the Bible than Hebrews 11, which discusses faith and gives us examples of people who lived in faith and whom God endorsed personally! In this seven-part study, I wrote this in part seven:
Part Nine, Day Seven
29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days. 31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.
11:29 – No one can imitate someone else’s faith. The Egyptians did not know God and tried to imitate the faith of the Jews. They were drowned in their own presumption. It is one thing to be optimistic and confident, but if your confidence isn’t in God, then it is just an exercise in futility. When you are walking through dangerous territory, you had better base your confidence not on the words of your government, your church or your family. You had better base your confidence on God’s word.
When I was in Afghanistan years ago, I experienced more pressure and spiritual warfare than usual, as would be expected. I had to know every day that I was hearing from God and putting my faith in what I thought He was saying to me. I really believe that my ability to do so saved my life; it wasn’t just a matter of convenience.
11:30 – How many times did Joshua and Israel walk around Jericho? If you said seven times, you are incorrect! (see Joshua 6). They walked around once a day for six days, then they walked around the city seven times on the seventh day. That makes 13 times! What a “silly” strategy. Plus they weren’t permitted to talk to one another as they walked. Maybe that was so they would not discuss the foolishness of what they were doing and undermine one another’s faith.
God can show you strategies of how your business can prosper, ministry can expand or opposition be defeated. First, however, you must have faith that He can and will do what He has promised. Then you must have faith to carry those strategies out, even when they seem crazy to you and to others.
When I was a counselor, whenever I would meet with someone in my church, I would usually ask, “What is the Lord saying?” I wanted to know what they thought they were sensing and hearing; then I based my counsel on what that. God is a great communicator. He knows every language, can speak through circumstances, His word, other believers, non-believers and even a donkey! What is “God saying” to you today? Are you being faithful to what you think it is? May the walls of your Jericho come down as you carry out in faith the plans that God has laid before for you.
11:31 – How did Rahab know who the spies were? (See Joshua 2 and 6). There was only one way—God “told” or revealed them to her. There are some that don’t think Rahab was a harlot, but rather an innkeeper. Whatever her occupation, God revealed His plan to her before she had a change of lifestyle or whas part of the covenant community. She put her trust in God and she and her whole family were saved. What’s more, Rahab became a part of Jesus’ family tree (See Matthew 1:5). Thus she was a precursor of the faith that would be made available to the Gentiles in Christ.
God delights in revealing Himself to people who don’t appear to be likely candidates for such a revelation. The Church has not always delighted, however, in this aspect of God’s character of mercy and grace. How do you feel when someone that you don’t think is worthy of God finds God? I remember when I was doing a lot of prison ministry. I found myself ministering to a new convert who was in prison for murdering his parents in a drug-crazed frenzy. There he was, sitting at my feet, “clothed and in his right mind.” I was angry that this man had found Jesus and I struggled ministering to him. Then I thought, “If Jesus doesn’t have a problem with this man, then I shouldn’t either.”
The Church sometimes gets angry when homosexuals, child abusers, prostitutes, persecutors, and drug dealers find Jesus. The message of Rahab, however, is that God reveals Himself to whomever He chooses and doesn’t ask anyone’s permission to do so.
Is there some unlikely candidate to whom God wants to reveal Himself today, using you in the process? If so, will you cooperate or have a bad attitude? I hope you will cooperate and spread the good news of Jesus to any and all. Remember, Jesus didn’t come for the well but for the sick and wants to make us outreach doctors in His image. I hope you will be up to the task.
As always, I welcome your comments to this week's study. For additional Bible studies, check out my website archive, which contains a complete collection of all my verse-by-verse New Testament studies, along with the daily devotional entitled What Would Jesus Ask You Today? Thank you and I hope you continue to enjoy this study of Hebrews from God's word.
KENYA UPDATE: I have no Kenya update again this week, but I still have an urgent need. I am heading over to Kenya on July 31 and I know our ministry friends there are counting on our help when we come. There are needs in the orphanages, at our library and among the widows. Will you help me put together a financial blessing to take with me? You can give through my website or by sending a tax-deductible check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882.
I have a sense that someone out there reading this is considering a large gift to Kenya. If you are that person, I can only encourage you not to be afraid. Have faith, trust God and be obedient. I promise we will put it to good use.
NEW BOOKS: I released another new book this week, a devotional entitled A String of Pearls: Wisdom for Productive People. A few weeks ago, I released two other devotionals: A Daily Taste of Proverbs and earlier this year What Would Jesus Ask You Today? All three of these books are available in Kindle or paper version and make great gifts for individuals or study guides for small groups.
BASEBALL GAME: The annual fundraising baseball game at PNC Park to benefit Kenya widows and orphans will take place this year on Tuesday, August 19. For the mere price of $1,000, you will be treated to great food, wonderful fellowship and a great baseball game (we hope) between the Pirates and the Braves. Perhaps you can't attend but you can give so that someone can represent you that evening. Perhaps your organization can contribute and buy a ticket for someone. Contact me now to reserve your ticket(s) for the game. So far I have sold six, so make sure you respond soon to be part of the big night.