Heroes of the Faith –

Introduction: The Heroic Faith of Our Ancestors

Psalm 27, Introduction
Hebrews 11:1-9, The Heroic Faith of Our Ancestors
Hebrews 11:11-19, The Heroic Faith of Our Ancestors, continued
Hebrews 11:20-29, The Heroic Faith of Our Ancestors, continued
Hebrews 11:30-40, The Heroic Faith of Our Ancestors, continued in us?

More Heroes of the Faith

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Psalm 27, Introduction (1/4/2010)

Whom do you picture when you think about a hero?  A soldier?  An athlete?  Your mom or dad?  A teacher?  I dare say that those four categories cover the heroes of the vast majority of us, and that we think about their bravery, physical skill, steadfast dependability, and wisdom.  Now, the Bible has no problem with bravery, physical skill, steadfast dependability, or wisdom, and in fact these four characteristics are honored.  The Bible, however, seems to consider faith to be one of the most – or even the most – heroic characteristic.  Are you heroic?  You might be surprised.  
We will be taking a new look at old stories.  We're going to read each one from the specific point of view of spiritual courage, which is another way of talking about faith.  Why was each story considered so important that of all the things that could have been written about, this one got included in holy scripture?  What did this person do that was out of the ordinary? 
Our psalm summarizes the next three months perfectly:   
Hebrews 11:1-9, The Heroic Faith of Our Ancestors (1/5/2010)

Hebrews 11 is often called “the faith chapter.”  The writer (we don’t know who it was) holds up a large number of Biblical and non-biblical persons as exemplars of great faith, each worthy of special admiration.  For each person, the writer briefly describes what was so important about his or her faith.  Especially notice vs. 2:  By faith our ancestors won approval.  We’ll revisit some of these heroes at greater length later in our study.

Hebrews 11:11-19, The Heroic Faith of Our Ancestors, continued (1/6/2010)

One definition for a hero is “A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life.”  This certainly describes Abraham and Sarah.  They had the courage to leave their home, their family, and their country to go with God.  Abraham was willing to risk their only chance for posterity, and posterity was the only form of continuing life they knew about.  Why?  Because he had confidence that God would find some way to fulfill his promise.    

Hebrews 11:20-29, The Heroic Faith of Our Ancestors, continued (1/7/2010)

You can be a Christian without reading the Old Testament.  However, you can't be a literate Christian without reading and understanding the Old Testament.  The other day a fellow-student in a Greek class I’m taking allowed as how he didn’t think there was anything new in the New Testament.  Our teacher did come up with a couple of things that he thought were new; I could have argued either side of the question. 

Our reading today – 10 verses – briefly mentions the heroic faith of Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, the family of Moses, Moses, and the children of Israel whom God took from Egypt.  These incidents are drawn from Genesis 27 through Exodus 14.  The writer of Hebrews doesn’t take the time to explain everything about these people, because he or she expects you to be familiar with the original material. 
You will be well repaid if you actually read the cross-references in that new Bible that Santa brought you for Christmas.  Your understanding of the New Testament will be vastly improved by thorough knowledge of the Old.

Hebrews 11:30-40, The Heroic Faith of Our Ancestors, continued in us? (1/8/2010)

I initially prepared our current study using the Jerusalem Bible, in which vs. 39 of today’s reading says, “These are all heroes of faith.”  I was a little surprised to see that no other translation has that, and in fact almost every translation has something different:
Naturally, I looked at the Greek, which says, “and these all having had witness borne to them [through or by] faith...”  That’s a le-e-tle awkward in English, which is why it’s translated so many ways.  All the translations, however, give you the Greek’s idea that everyone was talking about these folks because of their faith.
So today’s tip for study is:  You gotta read multiple translations! 

The book of Hebrews says of these heroes, “The world wasn't worthy of them.” Today’s question for thought is:   Is anybody likely to talk about us because of our faith?  Or is the world all too worthy of us?

More Heroes of the Faith

Introduction: The Heroic Faith of Our Ancestors

Old Testament Heroes
Abraham and Sarah
Caleb & Joshua
Esther and Mordecai
Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego
King Josiah of Judah
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

New Testament Heroes
Peter & John
The Woman with a Hemorrhage
The Canaanite Woman

Preaching in Difficult Circumstances
Courage to Challenge the Status Quo

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