We are in the middle of a series called “The World was Not Worthy of Them.” And it’s based on a wonderful, powerful passage of scripture out of Hebrews Chapter 11 that it’s often called by Bible scholars the Hall of Fame of Faith, or sometimes people will shorten it to the Hall of Faith…. See more
We are in the middle of a series called “The World was Not Worthy of Them.” And it’s based on a wonderful, powerful passage of scripture out of Hebrews Chapter 11 that it’s often called by Bible scholars the Hall of Fame of Faith, or sometimes people will shorten it to the Hall of Faith.
I’d like to show you some photographs of some other halls of fame that you might recognize. This is the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This is in Canton, Ohio. As some of you football fans may may recognize. I’d like to show you what they do for somebody who gets into the Hall of Fame.
This is a photograph of Ladine and Tomlinson is the great running back for the San Diego Chargers. And what they do is they make they make a sculpture of your head. If you get into this Hall of Fame, a bust of your head, and then they put it in a glass case and you as a tourist, as a visitor, can come through here and look at all the people who’ve been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
I don’t know if you do this, but here in Fort Lauderdale, we have our own Hall of Fame. It’s called the International Swimming Hall of Fame. It’s in Fort Lauderdale, right downtown on the beach. And the buildings a little bit more humble than the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but that’s what it looks like. So you can recognize it in case you drive by it.
So, what we’re going to talk about today is a hall of fame of people who have great faith. And what’s different about this Hall of Fame is that God wants all of us to have the kind of faith we could qualify, figuratively speaking, for this type of Hall of fame. God believes that you and I can do great things by faith. And that’s what we’re going to look at today.
So we’re going to read a section of this Hall of Faith and we’re going to talk about who are members of the Hall of Faith. Now, we don’t have time to read the whole chapter because today we’re going to get into the life of Abraham. So a lot of the household names out of the Bible are listed in Chapter 11. Men like Abraham, like Moses, like David, they’re already listed. I’d like to read you a list of some people that are not as famous.
“By faith, the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned. By faith, the walls of Jericho fell after the army had marched around them for seven days.
By faith, the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah,, about David and Samuel and the prophets…”
We can be honored by God if we have great faith
Now I’m going to I’m going to keep reading and finish this passage, but I want to go back a couple of slides and look at this first part of the Hall of Faith list.
It says, By faith, the people pass through the Red Sea. So what what that means in this Hall of Faith is a large group of people. It’s very difficult to get into the pro football Hall of Fame, but what we have listed here is the army that marched around Jericho and the people that pass through the Red Sea. What we’re being invited into by the scriptures is that you and I, if we have great faith, can be honored by God for our great faith.
Some of the things that these people went through are in this passage of scripture:
“…who through faith, these people conquered kingdoms, administered justice and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.
Women receive back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they may gain an even better resurrection.
Some faced jeers and flogging and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword.
They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated – the world was not worthy of them.”
And as you know, that’s the title of the series that we’re a part of. The world was not worthy of them.
What is the purpose of this Hall of Fame?
Well, there’s at least two things that I’ve been able to see in studying this. One is to honor those of great faith. But the other and what applies for us today is to show great examples of heroes of faith, to inspire and guide you and me into a greater faith.
God wants you and me in the Hall of Faith.
What legacy of faith are you building?
What legacy of faith are you building in front of your co-workers at the job or in the school that you attend? What legacy of faith are you building for your roommates or if you’re married with your children? What do they see in your life?
Now today, figuratively speaking, we have a coach. And that coach is the man, Abraham. Now, Abraham is a very important figure in the Bible. He’s even called the Father of the Faithful, and he is the greatest example of faith in the Bible, besides Jesus Christ himself.
Certainly there’s people who also have a great faith like Abraham. I think of the apostle Paul. The apostle Paul had a great faith.
But Abraham is extraordinary.
The Bible sets aside a lot of time for his story and we don’t have time. We could do a whole series of lessons and not have time to cover the entire story of Abraham. It starts in Genesis Chapter 1 and it ends in Genesis Chapter 25. It’s almost 14 chapters of Scripture. And if you’ve ever read the Bible, you realize that usually the Bible is pretty succinct, pretty straight to the point on its historical narratives. But there’s a lot of time given to Abraham because his story is profoundly powerful in his example of faith.
What we’re going to do is we’re going to drop into three episodes in his life. These episodes are pretty famous. Some of the things that he struggles with are powerful, difficult struggles. But they speak to my life and they speak to your life. And so I want to ask that you would open your heart to learn from Abraham, as all of us learn from Abraham as we go through this study, so that you can have a great legacy of faith.
Let’s start in episode one of Abraham’s life.
“The Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on the earth will be blessed through you.” So Abraham went as the Lord had told them, and Lot went with him. Abraham was seventy five years old when he set out from Harran.'”
And I just want to take a minute for a quick second and point out that this passage right here where it says that all peoples on Earth will be blessed through you, is one of the great promises in the whole Bible, because what it’s indicating is that through Abraham will come Jesus Christ and the salvation for the rest of the world.
And this thread, this idea of Jewish people being a blessing to all nations, the offspring of Abraham is the thread that ties together the entire Bible. And it begins with Abraham right here. Our salvation, my salvation, I’m not from a Jewish background, but I owe my salvation to the fact that God made this promise to this man, that his offspring would bring salvation not only to the Jews, but to the Gentiles also.
Now, I want to show you the challenge that is before Abraham that we can learn from.
I just want to show you this map. Abraham left with his father, a man named Tara from Ur of the Chaldeans, we think about 2,200 years before Christ. And he travel up against stream up the Euphrates River to a city called Harran. Abraham had a brother named Harran. And we believe that Abraham, father Tara, renamed the city after his brother.
This is a 600 mile journey.
Of course, if you if you did the math, if you walked 20 miles a day, that would take a month. And 20 miles is probably not how fast they were traveling back in those days. This trip probably took months.
Abraham’s father passed away in the city of Hebron and God came to Abraham and called him to go another 400 miles out of this area, which is modern day Turkey, and to come down into this area right here on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea. This is the area of modern day Israel. This is Palestine.
It’s also called, as you can see on the map here, it’s also called Canaan. Abraham traveled 1,000 miles.
Now, here’s an interesting thing. If we go back into the Hall of Faith passage in Hebrews Chapter 11, it talks about this journey. And this is what it says:
“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.”
Apparently Abraham didn’t have a map. He was going to a place that he was completely unfamiliar with by faith. He made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country. He lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.
I made a timeline to give us a sense of how ancient this was, Abraham lived about 2,200 years before Christ. 700 years later, Moses lived and led the people out of slavery in Egypt over a 1,000 years later as the reign of King David and of course, Jesus, we think he was probably born about 4 B.C. or 5 B.C. We’re just rounding off to 0 B.C. This is 2,200 years before Jesus Christ. I want to show you how ancient this is in history.
The earliest discovered writings that we have from archaeologists is from about 2,700 B.C., it’s Egyptian hieroglyphics. Around 2,600 B.C., we began to find cuneiform there, like on cylinder’s cuneiform. It’s own type of hieroglyphics. And then Abraham shows up about 400 years later.
The earliest alphabet that we’ve been able to find is from a Semitic subculture of workers who were working in Egypt, around 1,800 B.C. Abraham lived before the alphabet.
Now, the reason I’m showing this is not just to be a Bible nerd.
The reason I’m showing this is because this is a a primitive time, we don’t even know if there were roads at this time, there certainly weren’t hotel chains. There was no postal service. There was no way for anyone to communicate with other people. You couldn’t have a book or scroll to read of what he was supposed to do. I don’t even know the level of danger that he was in traveling in these extremely primitive times.
And once again, as we already looked at, he takes this dangerous journey at 75 years of age.
Abraham had a bold, adventurous faith.
He had a bold, adventurous faith. He was willing to do things that were risky, that were exciting. It was scary because of his faith.
Do you have a bold, adventurous faith?
Does your faith call you to do things that are dangerous, things that are risky, things that are scary, things that are adventurous?
I’d like to show you some examples through photographs of some people that I think have bold, adventurous faith. This first photo here is of three people that have been members of the Broward Church. This is Christina, Shanel, and Solomon.
And they decided in 2017, three years ago, to sacrifice a year of their life to help out a campus ministry in São Paulo, Brazil. Now, I just come on to staff. I went into the ministry at 58 years of age.
I came on staff in 2017 when Shanel was on staff and I asked her, “This year that you’re giving to go to Brazil. How do you feel that’s going to affect you as far as potentially dating and finding a spouse like you? Do you hope to meet somebody potentially in Brazil like you would in the United States to potentially get married?”
And she said, “No, I’m going to set that aside for a year. I’m just going to go down and try to help people become Christians, help the Christians in the campus ministry to be strengthened, and see how I can best serve the church in Brazil.”
Now, Solomon went down there for a year, but he hasn’t come back. He’s still there in Brazil serving in the campus ministry as a part of the São Paulo Church, one of our sister congregations down in Brazil. And Christine is a faithful disciple. She came back and she’s serving up in Palm Beach County.
Now, what Shanel gave up, the Lord gave back to her just like God often does. So when she was in Brazil, she met a disciple in Brazil who’s already part of the campus ministry there, kayaking. And even though she wasn’t looking for a spouse, it worked out pretty good for her.
And I just think this is an example that we see in this first scripture to Abraham, of how when you have adventurous faith, there’s blessing associated with it.
I don’t know if you caught that in Genesis 12, but God was talking about Abraham, “I want you to leave and I will bless you and you’ll be a blessing to others.”
Now, when you step out on a bold, adventurous faith, you don’t always know where the blessings are going to come from, just like Shanel did not know where the blessings are going to come from.
But you do know when you step out on faith with courage that you’re in the hands of God and he’s a sinless, faithful, good God.
I want to show you now another example of bold, adventurous faith. But the pictures are not as good a quality.
And these are pictures of Marcia Brevitt, a woman from our congregation who goes down to an orphanage in Kingston, Jamaica, to serve the orphans there. And I asked her, I said, “please, Marcia, send me some photos of you posing with the orphans in Jamaica.”
She sent me a bunch of pictures, but none of them is she posing. In every picture she’s working. And so I apologize if these pictures aren’t that great, but this is a photo of of Marcia hugging four orphans at once, and that’s just kind of Marcia.
She’s got that bold, courageous, adventurous faith combined with love and concern for those in need. And she has persuaded many members of the Broward Church to join her and go on trips down to to Kingston. And she’s of Jamaican heritage, but she doesn’t live there. She lives here in Broward, but she organizes these trips and takes people with her. Now, this picture is a really grainy picture, and I’m sorry about that, but it just shows Marcia serving, feeding three of the orphaned children.
And then this year, because of the pandemic, Marcia persuaded a lot of us in the church to wrap gifts, to write out cards and package them and send them to these orphans. And so this is a photo of some of the collection we took out just last month because of Marcia’s encouragement, because of the leadership and love she’s provided, because of her courageous, adventurous faith.
An adventure of faith is a God-focused, not self-focused adventure
There are a lot of adventures that are not faith-based, and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with those adventures. If you want to start your own business, that’s an adventure. And I hope your business is a success. Or if you want to have some kind of adventure in a sport or a hobby or in music or whatever that is, if it’s traveling, that’s wonderful. But what we’re talking about here is Adventures by Faith.
And it kind of begs the question, if you had courageous faith, what would change?
And I know many of you do have courageous faith, but if you got adventurous faith, would it move you to to possibly change the job you work?
Would it move you to move to relocate?
Would it move you to change and finally overcome a sin that’s been following you and holding on to you? Would it cause you to perhaps overcome shyness or to go to another level of courage and sharing the gospel with other people? Would it cause you to get more closely bonded and friendships with other Christians and help build each other’s faith because of your courage?
Would it move you like you did with Marcia and with many people in our church, to serve the poor or the needy more fully?
Let’s look at our next episode in The Life of Abraham in Genesis 15.
“After this, the word of the Lord came to Abraham in a vision; ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.’ But Abram said, ‘Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?’
And Abram said, ‘You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.’ Then the word of the Lord came to him; ‘This man will not be your heir, but a son who is of your own flesh and blood will be your heir.’
He took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the sky and count the stars – if indeed you can count them.’ Then he said to him, Sp shall your offspring be.’ Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”
The story of Abraham and his wife, Sarah, waiting for a child is one of the famous tests of faith in the life of Abraham.
I made a little chart here of some of the waiting that he did. We don’t know how long Abraham was married to Sarah before he left Haran to travel to Canaan, but probably it was decades that they were married and they were childless.
Now, at the age of 86, Abraham made a mistake.
The waiting became too great for him in his mind, and what he decided to do was to take a second wife at his own wife’s encouragement, Sarah’s encouragement. And he took her servant, Sarah’s servant, a woman named Hagar. He married her and he had a child by her. And that son, Ishmael, was in his household. But God came to him and he said, Abraham, I promised you a child through your wife, Sarah. That’s going to happen. And at the age of 99, God appeared to him again and promised to that child again.
And at the age of 100 years old and his wife was 90, Abraham had his son, Isaac.
So here’s the question for us. In this example of faith, Abraham had a patient trusting faith.
Can your faith pass the test of waiting?
This might be one of the most difficult tests of faith you and I will face, it looks like perhaps it was Abraham’s most difficult test. It’s the one that he fell short in the most.
He still showed patience. He still trusted in God and said that he had faith in him. But the way he handled this test was not perfect.
What are you waiting for? Where for you is it painful to wait?
And will that damage your faith or can your faith pass the test of waiting?
I know for some of you, you’re single and you’re hoping to get a spouse and you’re waiting for that. And for some of you the waiting is painful. I understand that for some of you who are married, you want to have children and some of you are not able to have children. And that that account is in the scriptures in many places, including, of course, in this story, the story of Abraham and his wife, Sarah.
I suffered a stroke a little over a year ago, and I’m waiting for the right side of my body, which is not fully work anymore. I’m waiting, hoping that I can regain full function of the right side of my body.
I can’t run anymore. I can’t jump anymore. There’s things that that that I can’t do anymore.
So what am I promised? What are you promised in the things that you’re waiting for?
Well, I’d like to look at a passage in the New Testament about those of us who wait and where we can place our hope, where we can place our faith. And it’s the apostle Peter as he’s following Jesus. 2,000 years later, he asked this question and we’re going to read it to Mark Chapter 10.
“Then Peter spoke up, ‘We’ve left everything to follow you!’ ‘Truly, I tell you,’ Jesus replied, ‘No one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the Gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age;
Homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields – along with persecutions – and in the age to come eternal life.
But many who are first will be last, and the last first.'”
What am I promised here?
I see that I’m promised a life eternal with God. That’s amazing. And I’m promised family with my fellow believers in Christ.
So when I put here we’re promised eternal life with God and the church. What I mean by the church is not a church building, but the family of believers, the collection of those who have a relationship with God.
What Jesus is promising as a reward for you and me is each other and God and eternal life, even to Abraham.
God said, “I am your very great reward”
Now, one of the things that I, and we’re, also promised is the resurrected body, which I’m really looking forward to, and we’re promised some of these things right now. Eternal life for you as a Christian has already begun. You already have a relationship with God and you are already a part of the family. That’s the church.
Now, what Jesus told his disciples is that this blessing would be a hundred times what you have sacrificed. He’s like, if you left home, like Abraham left home, if you left brothers and sisters, if you’ve left physical family, you will receive a spiritual family and eternal life. And that’s worth a hundred times what you sacrificed.
I don’t know if I’m ever going to get back full function of the right side of my body, to be honest with you, and I know many of you have prayed for me for that.
I want to, but I don’t need it. I feel fully rewarded by God. The waiting I have, the waiting that I want to focus on by faith is that I can have a family with the church and then I can have eternal life with God.
I hope that in your waiting that you will be comforted by the fact that God has promised you eternal life and a family with the church. And I just want to share that God sent his Son in the flesh to sympathize with what we go through. He knows the pain that you feel. He knows the challenge that you have. Jesus Christ himself and the apostle Paul set aside marriage for the sake of the work of the kingdom. They get it. They felt it.
I love the fact that in so many ways Jesus suffered as we suffered.
The question is, do you and I have a faith that will pass the test of waiting?
Let’s look at our last that we’re going to look at in the life of Abraham. By the way, I keep calling him either Abram or Abraham because God changed his name in the middle of the story of Abraham sometime later.
“Some time later, God tested Abraham. He said to him, ‘Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied. Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, whom you love – Isaac – and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.'”
In a minute, I’m going to show you a scripture that concludes this story, but I just wanted to share with you that Abraham is put in a position that I’m sure he did not understand.
He had received a son, that he waited a minimum of 25 years, for possibly decades, longer than that. He finally has the son promised to him by God. And now God has asked him to do the unthinkable. God is actually asking him to do something that doesn’t even fit into the character of God himself.
God is giving him a test, and Abraham takes his son immediately. One of the astonishing things about Abraham’s faith is that he always obeyed God immediately rather than with delay.
And he took his son, who was old enough to walk and old enough to carry wood on his back. He took his son to Moriah and Abraham, put that wood on his son’s back and carried him up and put them on an altar and he was ready to sacrifice him.
I can’t even imagine what that was like.
“Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, ‘Abraham! Abraham!’
‘Here I am,’ he replied. ‘Do not lay a hand on the boy. Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me, your son, your only son.'”
How was Abraham to know that this is a foreshadowing of how God in Heaven sacrifice his own son, Jesus Christ to the point of death on the cross?
We even think that the mountain Moriah may have been in the area of Jerusalem where Jesus was going to be sacrificed 2,000 years later. There’s no way that Abraham could have known that this was a poetic, symbolic foreshadowing of the sacrifice that God himself would make.
How is Abraham to know that God was putting him through such a severe test to demonstrate and show people for generations and eons to come such an extraordinary trusting faith as Abraham?
If God had never asked such an extreme thing of him, we would never have been able to see this astonishing example in that Hall of Faith chapter in the Hebrews 11. It even tells us a little bit of what Abraham was thinking during this time when he was asked to sacrifice his son.
“By faith Abraham, one God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, ‘it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.'”
Listen to this: Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead. And so, in a manner of speaking, he did receive Isaac back from the dead.
Abraham had an eternal perspective. Faith.
Can your faith pass the test of situations that you do not understand?
Can your faith see beyond the challenges you have in your job? Can your faith see beyond the health challenges you have or the family problems you have or the relationship difficulties that you may have sometimes even with other people in the church?
Do you have that eternal perspective that if you put yourself in the hands of God, then as they say, this too shall pass and you will be carried by God through situations that are sometimes impossible to understand if you will just have that eternal perspective of faith.
And so the question in this third episode is, can your faith pass the test of situations that you do not understand?
As we conclude, I just want us to be challenged to have Hall of Fame faith by learning from Abraham to have courageous, adventurous faith, to have patient and trusting faith, and to have a faith that has an eternal perspective.
So I want to close with the question that I started with:.
What legacy of faith are you building?