Heroes With Feet of Clay! – VIII Hebrews 11:24-26

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Moses is such a great figure in the Old Testament that just one Gem could not do him justice! So we will feature him in two or three Gems. This first one needs quite a bit of study because, at first glance, it does not seem to reflect accurately the Old Testament record. Here is Hebrews 11:24 through 26:

     By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be 
     called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather 
     to suffer affliction with the people of God than to 
     enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the re-
     proach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of 
     Egypt, for he looked to the reward.

The picture above represents a dark episode in Moses life. This is what happened according to Exodus 2:11 through 15:

     Now...when Moses was grown [when he was forty years 
     old according to Acts 7:23]...he went out to see his 
     brethren and looked at their burdens.  And he saw an 
     Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren.  So
     ...when he saw no one [looking], he killed the Egyp-
     tian and hid him in the sand.

But someone did witness the murder! The next day Moses went out again. Seeing…

     ...two Hebrew men fighting, and he said to the one 
     who did the wrong, “Why are you striking your com-
     panion?”  Then [the man]...said, “Who made you a 
     prince and a judge over us?  Do you intend to kill 
     me as you killed the Egyptian?” (Exodus 2:13, 14).

Moses was found out! And when word got to Pharaoh, …he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled….” (Exodus 2:15).

In Stephen’s testimony recorded in Acts 7, he gives an added detail in verse 25: “For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand….” So, apparently, Moses had an idea of his call as Israel’s deliverer at least forty years before God called him at the burning bush in Exodus 3!…when…he went out to see his brethren and looked at their burdens…,he had already in his mind identified with his fellow Israelites instead of the Egyptian royalty of his upbringing!

What does it mean when it says in Hebrews 11:25 and 26, He had opportunity to “…enjoy the passing pleasures of sin…[and] the treasures of Egypt…”? Some Bible scholars think that Moses, being the adopted grandson of Pharaoh (see Exodus 2:10; Hebrews 11:24), may have been in line to ascend to the throne of Egypt as the next Pharaoh!

There are another couple of phrases in our featured Scripture from Hebrews 11 that need our attention and an explanation. It says, Moses chose “…rather to suffer affliction with the people of God… esteeming the reproach of Christ…for he looked to the reward.Where did all that come from? Remember back in Exodus 2:7 through 10 the story of his birth and first three months of life?

     Then his sister [Miriam] said to Pharaoh’s daughter, 
     “Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew 
     women?”  And Pharaoh’s daughter said...“Go.”  So 
     [Miriam]...called the child’s mother.  Then Pharaoh’s 
     daughter said to her, “Take this child...and nurse 
     him for me....”  And the child grew, and she brought 
     him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son.

Back in Bible days, mothers nursed their children for a much longer time than in modern America. Some sources say up to twelve years of age, but a more reasonable age to wean a child is at three years. There is a passage in the Apocrypha, II Maccabees 7:27, where a mother is encouraging her youngest son to stand strong in the face of persecution:

     My son, have pity on me. Remember that I carried you 
     in my womb for nine months and nursed you for three 
     years. I have taken care of you and looked after all 
     your needs up to the present day. 

So Jochebed had total influence over Moses for at least three years! And I imagine that Pharaoh’s daughter, who showed kindness at the beginning of Moseslife, kindly allowed that strong connection to continue between mother and son! If that is true, what do you think Jochebed and her husband Amram would have done with that time they had with their son? They would have poured their knowledge of Jehovah God and the history of the Israelite people into young Moses! Is it any wonder he had a strong affinity for his fellow Hebrews?

But he had a poor sense of timing! It took another forty years for God to form the leader of the Exodus!

Clay feet? Yes, Moses had them, as they say, in spades! But starting at age 80, God used this man for His glory as no other!

And He can do the same for you and me!

Heroes With Feet of Clay! – VII Hebrews 11:23

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Although they are in the Hall of Faith, we don’t learn the names of Moses’ parents in Hebrews 11:23:

     By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three 
     months by his parents, because they saw he was a 
     beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the 
     king’s command.

Their names are also left out of the Exodus story that Hebrews 11:23 references. We finally are introduced to them by name in Exodus 6:20: “Now Amram took…Jochebed, his fatther’s sister, as wife; and she bore him Aaron and Moses.” But there is also an older unnamed sister mentioned in Exodus chapter 2 (seven years older than Moses, and four years older than Aaron), and we don’t’ learn her name is Miriam until Exodus 15:20.

But first, we need a bit of background: Joseph had died long before, and…

     ...there arose a new king over Egypt who did not 
     know Joseph.  And he said to his people, “Look...
     the children of Israel are more and mightier than 
     we....” So Pharaoh commanded all his people...
     “Every son who is born you shall cast into the 
     river, and every daughter you shall save alive.” 
     (Exodus 1:8, 9, 22).

Now to the (shortened) Exodus story of Moses birth, in chapter 2, verses 1 through 3, 5 through 8, and 10:

     And a man of the house of Levi went and took as wife a 
     daughter of Levi. So the woman conceived and bore a son. 
     And when she saw that he was a beautiful child, she hid 
     him three months.  But when she could no longer hide 
     him, she took an ark of bulrushes for him...put the 
     child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river's 
     bank....Then the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe 
     at the river...and when she saw the ark among the reeds, 
     she sent her maid to get it.  And...she...opened it...
     and behold, the baby wept. So she had compassion on him, 
     and said, “This is one of the Hebrews' children.” Then 
     his sister said...“Shall I go and call a nurse for you 
     from the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for 
     you?” And Pharaoh's daughter said...“Go.” So the maiden 
     went and called the child's mother.  Then Pharaoh's 
     daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse 
     him for me, and I will give you your wages.” ...And the 
     child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, 
     and he became her son. So she called his name Moses... 
     “Because I drew him out of the water.” 

Amram and Jochebed where rewarded for obeying God’s leading rather than Pharaoh’s murderous directive!

  • Jochebed was actually paid to raise her own son!
  • They saw Moses receive the best education available! Stephen tells us in Acts 7:22 that “…Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians….
  • They saw their son become a leader, …mighty in words and deeds.” (Acts 7:22).
  • In Exodus 6:20 we learn that, “…the years of the life of Amram were one hundred and thirty seven.Moses was 80 years old when he was called of God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt (see Exodus 7:7). If Amram had fathered Moses before he was 57 years old, he could still have been living when his son performed the miracles of the ten plagues that led to Israel’s departure! We don’t know about Jochebed because the Scripture record does not give the length of her life.

These parents of Moses have a rightful place in the Hall of Faith because it took a lot of faith and courage do what they did at the birth of their third child!

But this series is called Heroes With Feet of Clay! And I have been hard put to find clay feet in Amram and Jochebed! But I think we can see their clay feet by implication and generalization.

In God’s creation account in Genesis 1, seventeen times it says that plants, animals, aquatic creatures, all were to reproduce…according to their kind…,” or “…according to its kind…! The same applies to human beings, for in Genesis 5:3 it says, “And Adam…begot a son in his own likeness, after his own image, and named him Seth.” It is also written in the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20:5, “…God [will] visit…the iniquities of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation….I know this is true by experience! For I have had to battle in my own life the tendencies toward specific kinds of sins that both my father and mother dealt with, which they also inherited from their parents!

All this to say, the shortcomings in Moses’ and his sibling’s lives, I reasonably think we can assume some of the same shortcomings to be in the lives of their parents!

  • Moses, at forty years old, acted out of his own wisdom and will, in that he murdered and Egyptian slave driver when he saw him beating a fellow Hebrew! In Stephen’s testimony in Acts 7:25, he said, “…he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand….
  • He feared for his life when the murder was found out!
  • When God called him at the burning bush, He did not have great confidence in himself to lead the children of Israel our of Egypt!
    Exodus 3:11 – “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, 
        and that I should bring the children of Israel out 
        of Egypt?Exodus 4:1 – “But suppose they will not believe me 
        or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The LORD 
        has not appeared to you.’ Exodus 4:10 – “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither 
        before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but 
        I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.Exodus 4:13 (Easy-to-Read Version) – “My Lord, I beg 
        you to send someone else, not me.

It is only when God got angry with Moses, and included Aaron in the deal, that he finally obeyed (see Exodus 4:14).

  • There are several times that Moses got angry with the Israelites as they wandered in the desert for forty years. But the most significant time he lost his temper is recorded in Numbers 20. The people complained (again) that there was no water for them or their livestock when they were camped in Kadesh. The LORD specifically said in verse 7, “Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water….In anger…
     ...Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation before 
     the rock; and...said...‘Hear now, you rebels!  Must 
     we bring water for you out of this rock?’  Then Moses 
     lifted his hand and stuck the rock twice with his rod; 
     and water came out abundantly....   

This selfish action of disobedience cost Moses and Aaron dearly!

     Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you 
     did not believe Me, to sanctify Me in the eyes of the 
     children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this 
     congregation into the land which I have given them.”

If nothing else can convince us that Amram and Jochebed had clay feet, listen to the words of the wisest man who ever lived, Solomon (recorded three times in the Old Testament – I Kings 8:46; II Chronicles 6:36; Ecclesiastes 7:20): “Surely there is no one righteous on the earth who continually does good and never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20 – Lexham English Bible).

So, even if we can’t definitely say Moses sinful tendencies were inherited from his parents, Amram and Jochebed are simply human beings, and, as Saint Paul wrote in Romans 3:23, “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.But if we try our best as we follow our Lord…

…we, and our children can be greatly used of God!

Heroes With Feet of Clay! – VI Hebrews 11:22

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

The next hero of faith we meet is Joseph, inducted into the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11:22: “By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.By faith, he believed the children of Israel would leave Egypt and return to the Promised Land of Canaan!

     And Joseph said to his brethren, “I am dying; but God 
     will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land 
     to the land of which he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, 
     and to Jacob.”  Then he took an oath from the children 
     of Israel, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you 
     shall carry up my bones from here.” (Genesis 50:24, 25).

The photo I chose for Joseph says that he was “A Man of Integrity and Forgiveness.Integrity is defined in Webster’s New World Dictionary as “uprightness, honesty, and sincerity.

He certainly showed integrity!

  • Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers and taken to Egypt by the Ishmaelite traders (see Genesis 37:19-28). They then sold him to “…Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard…” (Genesis 39:1). Apparently, Joseph didn’t sink into depression and lash out at everyone because of his enslaved situation! He worked hard for his new master…
     So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him.  
     Then [Potiphar]...made him overseer of his house, 
     and all that he had he put in his hands.  So it was, 
     from the time that he had made him overseer of his 
     house and all that he had, that the LORD blessed the 
     Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing 
     of the LORD was on all that he had in the house and 
     in the field. (Genesis 39:4, 5).

Joseph tried to take godly advantage of every opportunity afforded to him in his enslaved condition! That’s integrity!

  • He was wrongly accused of attempted rape by Potipher’s wife! So her angry husband had Joseph thrown in prison, where he languished for more than two years! What would you do? I might have a raging pity party for the next 750 or so days! But not Joseph!
     ...the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, 
     and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper 
     of the prison....And [he]...committed to Joseph’s 
     hand all the prisoners that were in the prison....
     The keeper of the prison did not look into anything 
     that was under Joseph’s hand, because the LORD was 
     with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it 
     prosper.

Again, Joseph made the best of a bad situation! That’s integrity!

  • We are told in Genesis 40:1 and 3 that, “…the butler [the wine steward] and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their lord….So he put them in…prison, the place where Joseph was confined.” One night they each had a dream that troubled them, and Joseph interpreted their respective dreams (see Genesis 40:5-19). The outcomes of those dreams are as follows:
   ♀    The butler – ...Pharaoh...restored the chief but-
        ler to his butlership again, and he placed the cup 
        in Pharaoh’s hand.” (Genesis 40:20, 21).

   ♀    The baker – “But he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph 
        had interpreted to them.” (Genesis 40:22).

Joseph had pleaded with the butler:

     But remember me when it is well with you, and please show 
     kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me 
     out of this house. For indeed I was stolen away from the 
     land of the Hebrews; and also I have done nothing here that 
     they should put me into the dungeon. (Genesis 40:14, 15).

But we are told in Genesis 40:23, “Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him……for two full years! Joseph could have sunk into a major depression! But, although we are not told exactly how he handled this disappointment, it seems he continued serving as best he could in the prison! That’s integrity!

  • The story goes on to tell of how the chief butler remembered Joseph when Pharaoh had two dreams that defied explanation…until Joseph was called out of prison to interpret the king’s dream! The dreams warned of a coming seven-year famine following seven years of abundant harvests. Joseph suggested a brilliant plan for surviving the famine, the plan to be under the authority of an able overseer.
     Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown 
     you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise are 
     you.  You shall be over my house, and all my people shall 
     be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the 
     throne will I be greater than you.” (Genesis 41:39, 40).

Joseph suddenly became the second most powerful man in the entire land of Egypt! He could have exacted revenge on Potipher and his wife, as well as the forgetful butler. He could have had them tortured and killed. But he didn’t! That’s integrity!

He certainly showed forgiveness!

  • As mentioned just above, Joseph apparently forgave Potipher, his wife, and the chief butler. But let’s concentrate on the most egregious offenders…
  • He forgave his ten older brothers of their hatred toward him, their murderous intent, and their selling him into slavery in the far-off country of Egypt. But he sure played somehead gameswith them before he revealed himself to them!

Because the famine was widespread as well as severe, all Joseph’s brothers, except Benjamin came to Egypt to buy grain. Here is a summary of the head gameshe played:

   ♀    He accused them of being spies, jailing them for 
        three days, before releasing nine of them to go 
        back to Canaan with necessary food (see Genesis 
        42:9).

   ♀    He demanded they bring their youngest brother, 
        Benjamin if they had any chance to buy more of 
        the Egyptian grain (see Genesis 42:20). 

   ♀    He secretly restored their money in their grain 
        sacks, causing them great consternation (see Gen-
        esis 42:25, 28). 

   ♀    He kept his brother Simeon in prison until their 
        return, this time with Benjamin (see Genesis 42:
        19, 24; 43:15). 

   ♀    He again planted their money in their sacks, se-
        creting his special silver cup in Benjamin’s grain 
        sack! (see Genesis 44:1, 2). 

   ♀    He arrested them all, and threatened to keep Ben-
        jamin as his slave! (see Genesis 44:17).

   ♀    He forced them to rethink their murderous ways!  
        Instead his brothers displayed humbleness and 
        compassion (see Genesis 44:18-34).

It was then Joseph revealed himself to his brothers! (see Genesis 45:1-4).

  • And he forgave his brothers for all the crimes they had committed against him!
Genesis 45:5 – “...do not...be grieved or angry 
        with yourselves because you sold me here; for 
        God sent me before you to preserve life.Genesis 45:8 – “So now it was not you who sent 
        me here, but God; and He has made me a father 
        to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a 
        ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.
  • Genesis 50:15 through 21 – After their father Jacob died, Joseph’s brothers said among themselves, “Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him.” So they all went to him, “…and fell down before his face, and…said, ‘Behold, we are your servants.’So Joseph assured them again of his forgiveness!
     Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God?  But 
     as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant 
     it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this 
     day, to save many people alive.  Now therefore, do not 
     be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones. 
     (Genesis 50:19-21).     

But Joseph also had feet of clay!

  • He seemed to glory in his favorite sonstatus! (see Genesis 37:1-4).
  • He was atattletaleagainst his brothers! (see Genesis 37:2).
  • While God gave him valid dreams concerning the future, he was boastful of those dreams to his brothers and his father! (see Genesis 5-11).
  • His attitude and actions cause division and chaos in his family! (see Genesis 37:4, 8, 11; 19, 20).

Yes, Joseph was a great man, a hero who is prominently featured in the Hall of Faith of Hebrews 11!

I have feet of clay also! Look down – you do, too! However, if we follow after godly integrity, and if we practice forgiveness as Christ forgave us…

…God can use you and me in tough circumstances,
even as He used Joseph!

Heroes With Feet of Clay! – V Hebrews 11:21

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

The next hero listed in the Hall of Heroes is in Hebrews 11:21: “By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.This is an incident that has a twist! The full account is in Genesis chapter 48. Here is the shortened version of it in verses 9, 10, 13, 14, and 17 through 19:

     Then Israel [Jacob – see Genesis 32:24-28] saw Joseph's 
     sons, and said...“Please bring them to me, and I will 
     bless them.” Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age
     ....And Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right 
     hand toward Israel's left hand, and Manasseh with his 
     left hand toward Israel's right hand, and brought them 
     near him.  Then Israel stretched out his right hand and 
     laid it on Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his 
     left hand on Manasseh's head, guiding his hands knowing-
     ly, for Manasseh was the firstborn....Now when Joseph 
     saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of
     Ephraim...he took hold of his father's hand to remove 
     it from Ephraim's head to Manasseh's head.  And Joseph 
     said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this one is 
     the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”  But 
     his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. 
     He also shall become a people, and he also shall be 
     great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater 
     than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude 
     of nations.” 

Yes, Jacob was inducted into the Hall of Heroes! And he stands tall in the hero lineage that brought forth our Lord Jesus Christ!

  • Genesis 28:1, 3 and 4 – Jacob was the recipient of the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant!
     Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him...“May 
     God Almighty bless you, and make you fruitful 
     and multiply you, that you may be an assembly of 
     peoples; and give you the blessing of Abraham, 
     to you and your descendants with you; that you 
     may inherit the land in which you are a stranger, 
     which God gave to Abraham.”(See also Genesis 5:
     10-12).
  • He was genuinely converted! Fleeing from his twin brother Esau, he spent the night in the wilderness of Luz. He had a dream in which he saw “…a ladder…set up on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and…the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.” (Genesis 28:12). After hearing the LORD telling him he was the recipient of the Abrahamic covenant (see above), he awoke…

Genesis 28:17 and 19:

     And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this 
     place!  This is none other than the house of God, 
     and this is the gate of heaven!” ...And he called 
     the name of that place Bethel....

Genesis 35:1, 6 and 7:

     Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel 
     and dwell there....” So Jacob came to...Bethel
     ..., he and all the people who were with him. 
     And he built an altar there and called the place 
     El Bethel....

Bethel means “the house of God.El Bethel means “The God of the house of God!  

It is one thing to recognize “the house of God.” That’s like joining a church and thinking that makes you a Christian! But knowing the God ofthe house of Godis another matter entirely! Today, we only know the Father by opening our hearts and lives to Jesus Christ. And that is what makes one a Christian! And that is true conversion!

  • Genesis 32:24 through 28 – Jacob’s conversion also involved a very significant name change, from Jacob to Israel !
     ...a Man [thought to be the preincarnate Christ] 
     wrestled with him until the breaking of day....and 
     [the Man]...said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.”  
     But he [Jacob] said, I will not let you go unless 
     You bless me.”  So [the Man]...said... “What is 
     your name?”  And he said “Jacob.”  And He said, 
     “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; 
     for you have struggled with God and with men, and 
     have prevailed.”

     Jacob means “heal catcher (that is, supplanter)
         ...” (Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary).  “Supplanter,
         according to Dictionary.com means, “...someone 
         or something taking the place of another, as 
         through force, scheming, strategy, or the like
         ....Jacob was a – deceiver, a liar, and a ma-
         ipulator!

     ✡   Israel means “...he will rule as God...” (Ibid.)  
         A change surely had to take place in his life be-
         fore God could so use him to rule!
  • Genesis 35:22 through 26 – He fathered the ancestors of the twelve tribes of Israel:Now the sons of Jacob were twelve: …Reuben…Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar… Zebulun…Joseph…Benjamin…Dan…Naphtali…Gad and Asher.

Today his descendants number in the millions!

But talk about feet of clay (his shortcomings and failings)! Jacob had extra-large sized feet!

  • Genesis 25:29-34 – Jacob connived to get Esau’s firstborn birthright!
     Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the 
     field...weary. And Esau said...“Please feed me with 
     that same red stew, for I am weary.” But Jacob said, 
     “Sell me your birthright...”  And Esau said, “Look, 
     I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?” 
     ...So he...sold his birthright to Jacob. And Jacob 
     gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and 
     drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised 
     his birthright.
  • Genesis 27:1 through 41 – It is much too long of a Scripture to place here, but it is a familiar Old Testament story of how Jacob deceived his father Isaac into giving him the blessing usually reserved for the firstborn. Thus he stole Esau’s blessing!
     Verses 35 and 36 – “...[Isaac] said, ‘Your brother 
     came with deceit and has taken away your blessing.’  
     And Esau said, ‘Is he not rightly called Jacob?  
     For he has supplanted me these two times.  He took 
     away my birthright, and now look, he has taken away 
     my blessing.’
  • Genesis 30:25 through 43 – This is also too long of a passage to replicate here. But, again, Jacob connived to cheat his uncle Laban out of his flocks of sheep over which Jacob had care. The result of such manipulation is highlighted in verses 42 and 43: “…so the feeble [of the flocks] were Laban’s and the stronger Jacob’s. Thus the man became exceedingly prosperous, and had large flocks, female and male servants, and camels, and donkeys.
  • Genesis 37:3 and 4 – Jacob showed great partiality to one son of his twelve! Thus he fostered jealousy and division among his family!
     Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, 
     because he was the son of his old age.  Also he made 
     him a tunic of many colors. But when his brothers 
     saw that their father loved him more than all his 
     brothers, they hated him and could not speak peace-
     ably to him.

The brothers’ hatred of Joseph led to kidnaping, human trafficking, almost murder, and coverup!

Wow! God had a lot to overcome in the life of this hero of the faith! But doesn’t He have a lot of work to do in us also? Remember that the LORD has a goal for you and me, His children; He wants us to become more and more like Jesus!

  • Romans 8:29 – “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
  • I Corinthians 15:49 – “…as we have born the image of the man of dust [our sinful adamic nature], we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man [Jesus Christ].
  • II Corinthians 3:18 – “But we all…beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into that same image [of Jesus Christ] from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
  • Ephesians 4:15 (English Standard Version) – “…speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ….
  • Colossians 3:10 – “…put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.
  • I John 3:2 and 3 – “Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
  • I John 4:17 – “…as He is, so are we in this world.

But if God can work His miraculous transformation in the likes of Jacob, and make him into Israel…

…surely He can transform and use you and me
for His glory!

Heroes With Feet of Clay! – IV Hebrews 11:20

It is just a short verse concerning Isaac in the Hall of Heroes of Hebrews 11. Here is verse 20: “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.” This refers to the incident when Jacob deceived his blind father, pretending to be Esua and stealing his twin brother’s firstborn blessing! In his blessing, Isaac spoke ‘concerning things to come’ (see Genesis 27:27-29; 39, 40).

But this isn’t about Isaac blessing his sons! This is about his feet of clay! And that incident is found Genesis 26:7 through 11:

     There was a famine in the land, besides the first fa-
     mine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went 
     to Abimelech king of the Philistines, in Gerar....And 
     the men of the place asked about his wife. And he said, 
     “She is my sister;” for he was afraid to say, “She is 
     my wife,” because he thought, “lest the men of the 
     place kill me for Rebekah, because she is beautiful to 
     behold.”  Now it came to pass, when he had been there 
     a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines 
     looked through a window, and saw, and there was Isaac, 
     showing endearment to Rebekah his wife.  Then Abimelech 
     called Isaac and said, “Quite obviously she is your 
     wife; so how could you say, ‘She is my sister’?” And 
     Isaac said to him, “Because I said, ‘Lest I die on ac-
     count of her.’”  And Abimelech said, “What is this you 
     have done to us? One of the people might soon have lain 
     with your wife, and you would have brought guilt on us.” 

The saying goes, “Like father, like son!And so it applies to Abraham and Isaac! In Heroes With Feet of Clay – II, I wrote about Abraham twice lying about Sarah saying, She is my sister…” (Genesis 12:19), to save his own skin! Both of these ‘lying times’ were before Isaac was born, but he must have heard about them around the evening campfire!

Fathers (and mothers) beware! Recalling adventurous stories from our riotous younger days can get our children thinking, Hey, if Dad and Mom got away with it, I can too!” That happened to me with my daughter…….and she ended up getting into major trouble!

But back to Isaac: He didn’t go to Egypt, but to the city of Gerar in the land of the Philistines, to the southeast of Canaan along the Mediterranean Sea. Like his mom Sarah (see Genesis 12:11), his wife Rebekah is described in Genesis 26:7 as “…beautiful to behold.” And like his dad, he reasoned in Genesis 26:7, “…lest the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah…” (The thinking of both Abraham and Isaac seems illogical, unless I am missing something of that ancient culture.) But Isaac’s lie was discovered when King Abimelech…looked through a window, and there was Isaac, showing endearment to Rebekah his wife.” (Genesis 26:8). Showing endearment is a bit of a euphemism. The Good News Bible translates it thus: “King Abimelech looked down from his window and saw Isaac and Rebecca making love.” Perhaps the king saw them through his window and into their apartment window. Surely they were not making love on the palace lawn!

It was not codified until hundreds of years later in the Ten Commandments. But the basis of the Hebrew law in Exodus 20 was not entirely new! The principles behind the Ten Commandments were in practice for a long time!

The ninth commandment in Exodus 20:16 says, “You shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” In the Contemporary English Version, the translation reads, “Do not tell lies about others.Isaac was lying concerning Rebekah…out of fear for his own life! Never mind that he was putting his wife in grave danger of being raped, or given to another man to marry! But Isaac confessed to his misdeed! And God, as well as King Abimelech, forgave him of his sin! How do we know he was so forgiven? In Genesis 26:11 through 14 we read:

     So Abimelech charged all his people, saying, “He who 
     touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to 
     death.”  Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in 
     the same year a hundredfold; and the Lord blessed him.  
     The man began to prosper, and continued prospering un-
     til he became very prosperous; for he had possessions 
     of flocks and possessions of herds and a great number 
     of servants. 
  • That Abimelech forgave him, at least partially, is shown by the fact that he charged all his people (see verse 11 above), giving him and Rebekah royal protection!
  • That God forgave him is shown by the blessing poured out upon Isaac (described in verses 12 through 14 above). For it says in Proverbs 28:13, “He who covers his sins shall not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.

It is not that we will become materially rich when we confess our sins, and forsake them. But what greater riches is there than what is described in James 4:8: Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” However, what comes next in James 4:8 is the precursor to such nearness: Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

  • This is what Isaac did in his confession!
  • This is what we must do in ours!

So, yes, Isaac, who is listed in Hebrews 11, the Hall of Heroes, had feet of clay! But why is he a hero? Among other things, though he sinned, he did what was right by his confession, and he pursued God, seeking to follow the LORD’s way!

Let us also follow God in confession and pursuit!

Heroes With Feet of Clay! – III Hebrews 11:17-19

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

The incident in Genesis 22:1 through 19, the offering of Abraham’s son Isaac as a burnt offering is one of the most heart-rending stories in the Old Testament! But before we get to our featured Scripture, this critical event needs some back-story:

  • Genesis 12:1 through 3 – The LORD called Abram out of Ur of the Caldeans (see Genesis 11:31) giving him the Abrahamic Covenant:
     Get out of your country, from your family and from 
     your father's house, to a land that I will show you.  
     I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and 
     make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.  
     I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse 
     him who curses you; and in you all the families of 
     the earth shall be blessed. 
  • Genesis 15:1 through 6 – Before he was known as Abraham, he was Abram.
     ...the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, 
     saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield, 
     your exceedingly great reward.” But Abram said, 
     “LORD God, what will You give me, seeing I go child-
     less, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damas-
     cus?”  And...the word of the LORD came to him..., 
     “This one shall not be your heir, but one...from 
     your own body....”  Then He brought him outside and 
     said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars 
     if you are able to number them....So shall your des-
     cendants be.”  And he believed in the LORD, and He 
     accounted it to him for righteousness.

This belief in God’s promise was Abram’s salvation moment – just like His promise that our belief in the risen Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross will result in our salvation!

  • Genesis 16:1 through 4 – When it seemed God was too slow to fulfill His promise of an heir, Sarai, Abram’s wife, convinced her husband to have a son by Hagar, her maid. And so Ishmael was born! And he and his descendants were a thorn in the life of Abram and his progeny, the Jews, ever since!
  • Genesis 17:1 through 21 – God again confirmed His covenant, changing Abram’s name to Abraham, and Sarai’s to Sarah. His promise in verse 19 was very specific:
     Then God said:  “...Sarah your wife shall bear you 
     a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will 
     establish My covenant with him for an everlasting 
     covenant, and with his descendants after him.”
  • Finally, when Abraham was 99 and Sarah 89, she conceived a son! Isaac was born the next year! (see Genesis 21:1-5).
  • Isaac grew to be a strapping young man, the pride and delight of his father!

Then came the offering of Isaac, recorded in The Hall of Heroes – Hebrews 11:17 through 19:

     By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up 
     Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered 
     up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In 
     Isaac your seed will be called,” accounting that God 
     was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from 
     which he also received him in a figurative sense.  

This series is called, Heroes With Feet of Clay! But there is something very interesting about this happening in the life of Abraham: there is no evidence of anyfeet of clay……unless you use your imagination!

Here is what we are told in verses 1 and 2 of Genesis 22:

     ...God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham! 
     ...Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you 
     love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him 
     there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains 
     of which I shall tell you.”

That’s it? Is there no further explanation? The only options open to the father was to kill his beloved son…or disobey God! What we are not told is the mighty struggle Abraham must have experienced that terrible night before he left with his son to go to the land of Moriah!

  • Isaac was the son of promise!
  ✡   He was promised to aged Abraham and Sarah when bio-
      logically it was impossible for them to have a child!

         Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well-advanced 
         in age; and Sarah had passed the age of child-  
         bearing....And the LORD said to Abraham,... 
         “Is anything too hard for the LORD?  At the 
         appointed time I will return to you, according 
         to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a 
         son.” (Genesis 18:11,14).  

  Isaac was also the key to the promise of the Abrahamic 
      Covenant (see Genesis 12:1-3).  For God plainly said in 
      Genesis 21:12, “...for in Isaac your seed shall be called.”
      How numerous was the seed to be through Isaac?  Here is 
      what God said in Genesis 15:4 and 5 (partially quoted 
      above): 

         And behold, the word of the LORD came to [Abraham]
         ..., saying, “...one who will come from your own 
         body shall be your heir.”  Then He brought him out-
         side and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count 
         the stars if you are able to number them....So shall 
         your descendants be.” 

If Isaac was sacrificed, how could God fulfill His promise? For the LORD had identified Isaac alone as Abraham‘s son:Take now your son, your only son Isaac…” (Genesis 22:2). Perhaps Abraham thought, “I have another son, Ishmael, why could not God take him?

  • There was human sacrifice all around him in the land of Canaan, especially children offered to the pagan gods such as Baal (see Jeremiah 19:5), Chemosh (see II Kings 3:27), and Molech (see Leviticus 18:21). But Jehovah God strictly forbade it – as He said centuries later in Jeremiah 32:35:
    And they built the high places of Baal which are in the Val-
    ley of the Son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and daughters 
    to pass through the fire to Molech, which I did not command 
    them, nor did it come into My mind that they should do this 
    abomination....

So how could the LORD tell Abraham to do such a thing as to sacrifice his own son?

  • God knew that Abraham loved the son of his old age, for in His command to offer Isaac He had said, “Take now your son…whom you love…” (Genesis 22:2).

Wait! Maybe this pinpoints the problem! Are we not called to love God?

Deuteronomy 6:5 – “You shall love the LORD your God 
      with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all 
      your might.Mark 12:29, 30 – “The first of all the commandments 
      is:‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is 
      one.  And you shall love the Lord your God with all 
      your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, 
      and with all your strength.’  Matthew 10:37, 38 – Jesus said,He who loves father 
      or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.  And he 
      who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy 
      of Me.  And he who does not take his cross and follow 
      Me is not worthy of Me.

Isaac was taking the place of the LORD in Abraham’s heart and life! The old man had to put the object of his love on the altar of sacrifice! He had to put not only his son, but also himself on the altar of sacrifice if he was going to be blessed and used of God!

So here is where Abraham’s feet of clay’ come into the picture: the man who is referred to in James 2:23 as the friend of God ” (see also Isaiah 41:8) was in danger of becoming an idol worshiper – theidolbeing Isaac!

Where are we in all this? What do we love most in our lives?

  • The greatest commandment still stands! Here it is from Luke 10:27: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind….

In John 14:15 Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Or, in the Worldwide English New Testament, “If you love Me, you will obey Me.” Now put this together with the greatest commandment: You shall obey the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind…all the time!

  • In Mark 8:34 through 38, Jesus challenges His followers thus:
     Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, 
     and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever de-
     sires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses 
     his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it.  
     For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole 
     world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give 
     in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me 
     and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, 
     of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He 
     comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.

The cross we are to take up is an instrument of death! We are to die to self so we can live for God! Our sinful nature, called “the old man” (see Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:9, 10) is to be crucified with Christ (see Romans 6:6-14; Galatians 2:20). And as Paul said in I Corinthians 15:31, “…I die daily…” (see also Luke 9:23), so are we moment by moment to …reckon…ourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:11).

  • And the best way for us to be constantlyself-crucifiedis to pray this prayer of Jesus in Luke 22:42 constantly!…nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.

Paul Harvey made famous this statement, “And now, the rest of the story!Abraham did not slay Isaac his son and offer him as a burnt offering to God! But he was ready to do it, and almost did………except the angel of the LORD stopped him at the last moment!

     Abraham, Abraham!...Do not lay your hand on the lad, 
     or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear 
     God, since you have not withheld your son, your only 
     son, from Me....By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, 
     because you have done this thing, and have not with-
     held your son, your only son — blessing I will bless 
     you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants 
     as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is 
     on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess 
     the gate of their enemies.  In your seed all the na-
     tions of the earth shall be blessed, because you have 
     obeyed My voice. (Genesis 22:11, 12, 16-18). 

By his willingness to offer up Isaac, Abraham was released from the idolatry of loving his son first! Now God had His proper place in the patriarch’s heart and life!

One more thing concerning this great man: Abraham could only reconcile his son’s death, and God’s promise to bless the world through the young man, by believing the LORD would raise Isaac from the dead! That’s what it says in the Hall of Heroes, Hebrews 11:17 through 19 (and it is worth quoting one more time!):

     By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, 
     and he who had received the promises offered up his only 
     begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed 
     will be called,” accounting that God was able to raise 
     him up, even from the dead, from which he also received 
     him in a figurative sense.  

May we all have such faith as did Abraham!

Heroes With Feet of Clay! – II Hebrews 11:8-10

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Hebrews 11:8 through 10 introduces us to another hero of faith:

     By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out 
     to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. 
     And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By 
     faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign 
     country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the 
     heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for 
     the city which has foundations, whose builder and mak-
     er is God. 

Known then as Abram, He is shown in the picture leaving “…Ur of the Chaldeanes…” (Genesis 15:7). For God had told him to leave in Genesis 12:1 through 3. These three verses are known as the Abrahamic Covenant:

     Get out of your country, from your family and from 
     your father's house, to a land that I will show you.  
     I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and 
     make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I 
     will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him 
     who curses you; and in you all the families of the 
     earth shall be blessed. 

But he did not leave alone. We are told in Genesis 11:29 and 31:

     And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the 
     son of Haran...[who had] died before his father...in 
     his native land...and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his 
     son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur 
     of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they 
     came to [the city of] Haran and dwelt there.

Haran was still 300 or so miles from the Promied Land,…a land [that God said] I will show you.

Abram didn’t leave the city of Haran until after his father Terah died, according to Acts 7:4. “And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.” (Genesis 12:4). So, although he ultimately obeyed God’s command, it took him some years to actually fulfill what God had called him to do! This is, perhaps, the first sign that Abraham had feet of clay!

If you read the last Gem, the term “feet of clay” comes from the description of the statue about which King Nebachudnezzar dreamt in Daniel Chapter 2. The statue was made from materials of decreasing value, from, “…a…head was of fine gold…chest and arms of silver…belly and thighs of bronze…legs of iron…[down to] feet partly of iron and partly of clay.” (Daniel 2:32, 33). It was the feet partly of clay that were vulnerable! When struck on the feet by …a stone [that] was cut out without hands…” (Daniel 2:34 – the stone represents Christ’s kingdom) the whole statue disintegrated! (see Daniel 2:35).

How did Abram become Abraham? In Genesis 17:1, 4-8, God reminded him of the covenant He had made back in Genesis 12:1 through 3 (above):

     The LORD appeared to Abram...[when he] was ninety-nine 
     years old...and said, “...behold, My covenant is with 
     you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No 
     longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name 
     shall be Abraham....I will make you exceedingly fruit-
     ful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall 
     come from you.  And I will establish My...everlasting  
     covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after 
     you. Also I will give to you and your descendants...
     the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession; and I 
     will be their God.” 

The sign of this covenant was thereafter to be the circumcision of every Israelite male.

  • Abram means, “high father,” (Strong’s Hebrew Dicitonary).
  • Abraham means, “father of a multitude,” (Ibid.).

Sarai’s name was also changed: “…Sarah shall be her name. And I will bless her, and also give you a son by her…and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.” (Genesis 17:15, 16).

  • Sarai means, “dominative,” (Ibid.).
  • Sarah means, “princess,” (Ibid.).

What makes Abraham a hero of the faith?

  • As said above, he was the recipient of the Abrahamic covenant in Genesis 12:1 through 3, made by God unconditionally (dependant only upon Him) giving Abraham and his descendants the Promised Land of Canaan forever!
        Genesis 12:2 – God would bless Abraham, making 
          him into a great nation, and He would make his 
          name great, and he shall be a blessing!

     Genesis 12:3 – Those who bless Abraham and his 
          descendants God will bless! Those who curse him 
          shall be cursed by the LORD!  And all the fami-
          lies of the earth will be blessed because of 
          Abraham’s faithful life!
  • He is the father of…
     the Arab Muslim world through his son Ishmael.

     the Jews through his son Isaac, grandson Jacob, 
          and his twelve great grandsons, the sons of 
          Jacob.

     ➪   all non-Jewish people of faith in the Messiah, 
          the Lord Jesus Christ.  For it says in Romans 
          4:11 (International Standard Version):

             Afterward he received the mark of circum-
             cision as a seal of the righteousness that 
             he had by faith while he was still uncir-
             cumcised. Therefore, he is the ancestor of 
             all who believe while uncircumcised, in 
             order that righteousness may be credited 
             to them.

     Also in Romans 4:16 through 25, Abraham is held 
          up as the example of all who are saved by faith, 
          believing God’s promises: (It is a long passage, 
          but I think it is a very good description of Old 
          Testament salvation by faith – believing in what 
          God has promised!  It is really the same as now
          ...believing God’s promise  that Christ died and 
          lives again for me!):

             Therefore it is of faith that it might be 
             according to grace, so that the promise 
             might be sure to all the seed, not only 
             to those who are of the law, but also to 
             those who are of the faith of Abraham, who 
             is the father of us all (as it is written, 
             “I have made you a father of many nations”) 
             in the presence of Him whom he believed – 
             God, who gives life to the dead and calls 
             those things which do not exist as though 
             they did;  who, contrary to hope, in hope 
             believed, so that he became the father of 
             many nations, according to what was spoken, 
             "So shall your descendants be."  And not 
             being weak in faith, he did not consider 
             his own body, already dead (since he was 
             about a hundred years old), and the dead-
             ness of Sarah's womb.  He did not waver at 
             the promise of God through unbelief, but 
             was strengthened in faith, giving glory to 
             God, and being fully convinced that what He 
             had promised He was also able to perform.  
             And therefore “it was accounted to him for 
             righteousness.”  Now it was not written for 
             his sake alone that it was imputed to him,  
             but also for us. It shall be imputed to us 
             who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our 
             Lord from the dead, who was delivered up 
             because of our offenses, and was raised be-
             cause of our justification.

So Abraham was a great hero of the faith! What were his feet of clay?

  • He twice lied concerning his wife, Sarah!
     During a famine in the land of Canaan, recorded in 
          Genesis 12, Abram and Sarai his wife journeyed down 
          to Egypt to wait out the famine.  

             And it came to pass when he was close to enter-
             ing into Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, 
             “Indeed I know that you are a woman of beautiful 
             countenance. Therefore it will happen when the 
             Egyptians see you, that they will say, ‘This is 
             his wife;’ and they will kill me, but they will 
             let you live. Please say that you are my sister, 
             that it may be well with me for your sake, and 
             that I may live....when Abraham came into Egypt
             ...the Egyptians...commended her to Pharaoh. And 
             the woman was taken to Pharoah’s house. And he
             treated Abram well for her sake....But the LORD 
             plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues
             ....And Pharaoh called Abram and said....“Why did 
             you say, ‘She is my sister?’...now therefore, here 
             is your wife; take her and go your way.” (Genesis 
             12:11-19).

     The second time was later, after Abram’s name change to 
          Abraham – Scripture declaring in Genesis 15:5 and 6:  

             Then He [God] brought him outside and said, “Look 
             now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are 
             able to number them....So shall your descendants 
             be.”  And he believed in the LORD, and He account-
             ed it to him for righteousness. 

This was the patriarch’s salvation moment! God had promised him that he, at age 100, and Sarah, at age 90, would have a son! And Abraham believed Him! Paul, in Romans 4:21 and 22, agrees that this was Abraham’s conversion:…being fully convinced that what [God]…had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore it was accounted to [Abraham]…for righteousness.

But again, to protect his own hide, he passed Sarah, his wife, off as his sister – this time to “…Abimelech king of Gerar…” (Genesis 20:2). In so doing, he put the lives of the king and his people in jeopardy! (see Genesis 20:7).

  • As said before, the LORD had promised a son produced from Abraham and Sarah’s own ancient bodies! (see Genesis 15:2-5). This promise was given probably when Abraham was in his late 70’s or early 80’s – and Sarah was ten years his junior. In Genesis 18:11 we are told, “Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well-advanced in age, and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing.” So, they decided to help God out! She gave her Egyptian maid Hagar to be her husband’s second wife. “‘See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain [a son] by her.’ And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai.
     ➪   Yes, Hagar became pregnant!

     ➪   Yes, a son, Ishmael was born to Abram at the ad-
          vanced age of 86! (see Genesis 16:16).

     But Ishmael caused heartache and trouble for his 
          father and mother (see Genesis 21:8-11). And the 
          boy’s descendants – the Arab Muslim world – have 
          been a massive thorn in the side of Israel down 
          through the centuries!  

I think you can see that Abraham, though a great hero of the faith, had feet of clay………. like the rest of us! Yet God mightily blessed and used him! Not only is he the biological father of the Jews, but Paul says in Galatians 3:7 (Contemporary English Version), “The Scriptures say that God accepted Abraham because Abraham had faith. And so, you should understand that everyone who has faith is a child of Abraham.

And in Romans 4:16 (Contemporary English Version):

     Everything depends on having faith in God, so that 
     God's promise is assured by his great kindness. This 
     promise isn't only for Abraham's descendants who have 
     the Law. It is for all who are Abraham's descendants 
     because they have faith, just as he did. Abraham is 
     the ancestor of us all.

Truly, God is still in the process of fulfilling His promise He confirmed to Abraham in Genesis 17:4: “…behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations.Truly, Abraham is a hero of the faith! So…

…if God can use Abraham to bless the world,
He can also use you and me!

Heroes With Feet of Clay! – I Hebrews 11:7

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Above is another painting by Guy Rowe, from In Our Image, Oxford Press, 1949. It depicts Noah and his wife surveying a new and strange post-flood landscape. They and their three sons and their wives were given God’s commission to, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” (Genesis 9:1). So every human being today may trace their genealogical heritage to Noah and his wife!

Our featured Scripture is Hebrews 11:7:

     By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not 
     yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for 
     the saving of his household, by which he condemned 
     the world and became heir of the righteousness with 
     is according to faith. 

Most people raised in a Christian family are familiar since childhood concerning the story of Noah and the ark. So here are just a few of the highlights:

  • Genesis 6:5 and 7 – “…the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually….So the LORD said ‘I will destroy man…from the face of the earth…for I am sorry that I made them.’
  • Genesis 6:8 – “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
  • Genesis 6:14 and 15 (International Standard Version) – “…make yourself an ark out of cedar, …450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high.
  • Genesis 6:19 – “…of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort …male and female…into the ark, to keep them alive with you….
  • Genesis 7:11, 12, 17 – “…on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened….Now the flood was on the earth forty days.
  • Genesis 7:23 – “So [God]…destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping things and birds of the air….Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive.

It had never rained before on the earth (see Genesis 2:6), and Noah was to build a huge boat – two thirds the size of the Titanic! The building of the ark took 120 years! (see Genesis 6:3). What a man of faith! No wonder he is listed in Hebrews 11!

So what is so special about Hebrews 11? It is called ‘The roll call of heroes of faith! Or The hall of faith! Nineteen heros of faith are named in Hebrews 11, and more heroes there are unnamed! And so over the next several Gems, we will look at some of these heros.

But I have entitled this series, Heroes With Feet of Clay! That is a reference to what is recorded in Daniel chapter 2, a dream dreamt by the ruler of Babylon, King Nebachudnezzar. The king in his dream saw, “…a great image…[whose] head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, [and] its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.” (Daniel 2:32, 33). It was the feet of partly clay that were most vulnerable! For we are told in verses 34 and 35:

     ...a stone was cut out without hands, which struck 
     the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke 
     them in pieces.  Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, 
     the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and 
     became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; 
     and the wind carried them away so that no trace of 
     them was found.  And the stone...became a great moun-
     tain and filled the whole earth.

The stone represents the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, which destroys and supercedes all the kingdoms set up by man!

Wikipedia defines “feet of clay” as, “…an expression now commonly used to refer to a weakness or character flaw, especially in people of prominence.So, as we will find, all the heroes we will examine from Hebrews 11 have ‘feet of clay…as did Noah!

God said of Noah in Genesis 7:1, “…I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.A good righteous man! But what were his feet of clay? In Genesis 9:20 and 21 it is recorded that after the flood, “…Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered [naked] in his tent.” Was this the first time he was drunk? Did he drink multiple times of the wine and was drunk? It doesn’t say. But even the one time, if that was the only time, had devastating results!

     ...Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his 
     father, and told his two brothers outside.  But Shem and 
     Japeth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, 
     and went backward and covered the nakedness of their  
     father....they did not see their father’s nakedness. So 
     Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son 
     had done to him.  Then he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a ser-
     vant of servants he shall be to his brethren.  Blessed 
     be the God of Shem, and may Canaan be his servant.  May 
     God enlarge Japeth...and may Canaan be his servant. 
     (Genesis 9:20-27).

Why, when Ham was the one who sinned, did Ham’s son Canaan get cursed? Canaan was the progenitor of the Canaanites, the tribes that had long occupied the land promised to Israel. And when Joshua led Israel into the Promised Land, the Canaanites were subjected to defeat and death, or slavery! They were all to be put to death according to the LORD’s command (see Deuteronomy 7:1-5), but Israel did not fully obey God in this matter! So Noah, by God’s leading, cursed Canaan, who is more prominent in future dealings with Israel than his father Ham!

Concerning this incident in Noah’s life – the point of it is that even heros of the faith fall into sin!

Consider what the Bible says about the Noah — what makes him a hero:

  • Genesis 6:8 – “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” Paul F. M. Zahl in his book, Grace in Practice: A Theology of Everyday Life (Wm. B. Eerdsman Publishing Co.; 2007), defines grace this way:
     Grace is love that seeks you out when you have nothing 
     to give in return. Grace is love coming at you that has 
     nothing to do with you. Grace is being loved when you 
     are unlovable....The cliché definition of grace is “un-
     conditional love.”

Unconditional love! There are several New Testament Scriptures that help us to understand this ‘unconditional love’ concept concerning grace:

     Romans 3:23 and 24 – “...all have sinned and 
         fall short of the glory of God, being justified 
         freely by His grace through the redemption that 
         is in Christ Jesus....Romans 5:20 and 21 – “...where sin abounded, 
         grace abounded more, so that as sin reigned in 
         death, even so grace might reign through right-
         eousness to eternal life though Jesus Christ 
         our Lord. Ephesians 1:6 and 7 – “...His grace...has made 
         us accepted in the Beloved.  In Him we have re-
         demption through His blood, the forgiveness of 
         sins, according to the riches of His grace.Ephesians 2:8 and 9 – “For by grace you have been 
         saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, 
         it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone 
         should boast.II Timothy 1:9 – God “...has saved us and called 
         us with a holy calling, not according to our works,
         but according to His own purpose and grace which 
         was given us in Christ Jesus....Titus 2:11 – “...the grace of God that brings sal-
         vation has appeared to all men.Titus 3:7 – “...having been justified by His grace 
         we...become heirs according to the hope of eternal 
         life.

Perhaps the greatest declaration of grace in the Bible is a verse that doesn’t even mention that particular word – John 3:16:For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

So Noah, even though he was a sinner like the rest of us, “…found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” (Genesis 6:8).

  • Genesis 7:1 – “…the LORD said to Noah…‘I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.’ How can anyone be righteous before God, since we are all sinners? (see Romans 3:10, 23).
     Romans 4:24 and 25 – Righteousness...shall be 
         imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up 
         Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered 
         up because of our offenses, and was raised be-
         cause of our justification.II Corinthians 5:21 – “For He [the Father] made 
         Him [Jesus, the Son] who knew no sin to be sin 
         for us, that we might be made the righteousness 
         of God in Him.

Righteousness, like grace, is given undeserved to us who believe on Jesus Christ as our Savior!

There are other Scriptures concerning this ‘hero’ that show Noah was by grace accepted as righteous before God:

  • Genesis 9:1 – “So God blessed Noah….
  • Ezekiel 14:14 through 20 – Noah is four times designated as righteous before God!
  • II Peter 2:5 – Noah is called,…a preacher of righteousness….

Is Noah a hero of the faith? Yes! Otherwise he would not be listed in Hebrews 11, The Hall of Faith! Did he have feet of clay? Again, yes! But if a sinner such as Noah can be a hero of God, there is room for me, and for you, to be (as it says in Ephesians 1:6) “…accepted in the Beloved…”!

Do not let sin keep you away from Jesus Christ!

A Good Man In Hell!

Matthew 25:24-28

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

It is called “The Parable of the Talents”. Jesus taught this parable in Matthew 25:14 through 30 to illustrate what “…the kingdom of heaven is like…” (Matthew 25:14). He told it during the last week of His earthly ministry before the crucifixion. It involves four main characters and some extras in the background.

The first main character is the master of the estate, called “…a man traveling into a far country, who called his servants and delivered his goods to them.” (Matthew 25:14). Apparently the master was quite wealthy because he distributed sixteen talents between three servants.

A talent in Jesus day weighed about 75 pounds of either silver or gold. A silver talent was worth about 6,000 denarii, and a denarius was considered a day’s wage for a laborer. So a talent would represent 20 years of a day-laborer’s pay! So the master had monetary wealth worth 320 years laborer’s pay – plus the money he needed for keeping his home estate running efficiently, as well as money for traveling into a far country!

We meet the next three main characters in quick succession in verse 15 – all servants of the master!

  • …to the [first] one he gave five talents…, about 375 pounds of silver!
  • …to the…[second he gave] two…talents…,about 150 pounds of silver!
  • …to the…[third servant he gave] one…talent…,about 75 pounds of silver!

The master knew his servants well, and had assessed their ability to handle the amount of money he had allotted them. They were to invest it toward a good return for the master’s benefit!

Jesus had told a similar parable in Luke 19:12 through 28. There, in verse 13 (International Standard Version), the master told the servants to whom he entrusted his money, “Invest this money until I come back.” It is assumed the same command was given in our parable under consideration.

The servants got busy:

  • Matthew 25:16: “Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.He doubled his master’s money!
  • Matthew 25:17: “And likewise he who had received two gained two more also.He also doubled his money!
  • Matthew 25:18: “But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.No gain on his investment at all!

It was a lengthy journey (see Matthew 25:19) because a good return on an investment doesn’t happen overnight! So the master finally arrived home, and called to account these three servants:

  • Matthew 25:20 and 21:
     So he who had received five talents came and brought 
     five other talents, saying, “Lord, you delivered to 
     me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents 
     besides them.” His lord said to him, “Well  done, good 
     and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few 
     things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter 
     into the joy of your lord.”
  • Matthew 25:22 and 23:
     He also who had received two talents came and said, “Lord, 
     you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two 
     more talents besides them.” His lord said to him, “Well 
     done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful 
     over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. 
     Enter into the joy of your lord.” 
  • Matthew 25:24-30:
     Then he who had received the one talent came and said, 
     “Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you 
     have not sown, and gathering where you have not scatter-
     ed seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent 
     in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.” But 
     his lord answered and said to him, “You wicked and lazy 
     servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and 
     gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to 
     have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my com-
     ing I would have received back my own with interest.  
     Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him 
     who has ten talents.  For to everyone who has, more will 
     be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who 
     does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And 
     cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. 
     There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 

In the Bible, talents, meaning money, can be invested and increased in value. Buta talenttoday means…any natural ability or power.” (Webster’s New World Dictionary). A Christian definition might be, “…any God-given ability or power.I find it interesting that talents and powers can also be invested (regularly used, and so increased) for the glory of our Master and Lord!

As Paul wrote in I Corinthians 12:4 concerning spiritual gifts, that “…the manifes-tation of the Spirit [spiritual gifts] is given to each one for the profit of all.The same could be said for the different talents He bestows on us! But if we are to invest and increase our talents for the glory of God, they must be put to regular use to advance His kingdom!

Now, let’s engage in a little creative interpretation of The parable of the sower, from Matthew 13:3 through 8, and its interpretation in verses 18 through 23: Only the seeds sown…on good ground yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” (verse 8). So thegood groundseeds all had a pretty good return on what was sown! However, good seed was sown on three other types of ground also:

  • …the wayside [a path] and the birds came and devoured them.” (verse 4)
  • …stony places, where they did not have much [depth of] earth…” (verse 5).
  • And some fell among [the seeds of] thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them.” (verse 7).

…but none of these three brought forth any crops!

The only seeds that brought forth crops were what was, you might say, sown on good ground and invested to bring forth plenty – a hundred-fold, sixtyfold, or at least thirtyfold!

Now, back to the title of this Gem:A Good Man In Hell!” What happened to the servant who didn’t invest his talent, but only went and hid it? Wasn’t he a descent man who at least returned the full amount entrusted to him? But what did the master say about him in Matthew 25:28 through 30:

     Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to 
     him who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, 
     more will be given, and he will have abundance; but 
     from him who does not have, even what he has will 
     be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant 
     into the outer darkness.  There will be weeping 
     and gnashing of teeth.

…outer darkness…weeping and gnashing of teeth.That is a description of Hell!

So invest (use) the talents and abilities God has given you!

Don’t end up being a good man, a good woman in hell!

A Finger On Fire!

Luke 11:14, 20; I Corinthians 12:12-14, 27

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

It looks more like a magician’s trick than a natural occurrence. But a finger on fire is to be a regular happening among Christians! However, it isn’t for everyone, but just for those called to be a finger on fire! What do I mean? First let’s look at I Corinthians 12:12 through 14, and verse 27:

     For as the body is one and has many members, but all 
     the members of that one body, being many, are one body, 
     so also is Christ.  For by one Spirit we were all bap-
     tized into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, whether 
     slaves or free — and have all been made to drink into 
     one Spirit....Now you are the body of Christ, and mem-
     bers individually.

Every individual Christian (those who have opened their heart and life to Jesus Christ as Savior), is a member of the body of Christ! Another name for the body is the Church! Church’ is capitalized here because we are talking about the universal Church which is made up of every true child of God through faith in Jesus Christ!

Let’s focus in on some of the things that Jesus says concerning His followers:

  • John 3:5, 7, 8 – “Jesus…said…‘You must be born again…[to] enter the kingdom of God….born of the Spirit.’ ” As Jesus said in verse 6, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” That’s why we are told in John 1:13 (Good News Bible), “They did not become God’s children by natural means, that is, by being born as the children of a human father; God Himself was their Father.
  • I Thessalonians 5:17 – “Pray without ceasing.” I think the meaning of this is modified in Philippians 4:6: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.Prayer should mark the life of a believer!
  • Matthew 17:5 – On the Mount of Transfiguration, when Peter was foolishly speaking, this happened: “…behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!’We need to listen to God as well as in all our prayers talking to Him!
  • Mark 9:23 – Jesus said to the father of the demonic boy, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.Belief not only is involved with the start of the Christian life (see John 3:16), it must pervade that life throughout!
  • John 14:15 – “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Or, as the Worldwide English (New Testament) translates it, “If you love Me, obey Me.If Jesus is to be our Lord as well as our Savior, we must obey Him!
  • Mark 12:29, 30 – Jesus said:
     The first of all the commandments is... “...you shall love 
     the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, 
     with all your mind, and with all your strength. And...You 
     shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  

And Paul wrote in Romans 13:10, “…love is the fulfilling of the law.

  • Matthew 28:19 – Jesus said, “Go…and make disciples of all the nations….” And in Acts 1:8, “…you shall be witnesses to me…to the end of the earth.” We are to “Go into all the world, and give the good news to everyone.” (Mark 16:15 – Bible in Basic English).
  • Galatians 5:13 (International Standard Version) – “…through love make it your habit to serve one another.” Jesus set the example of serving when He washed His disciples feet (see John 13:1-12). And in Luke 22:26 (Contemporary English Version) He said, “The most important one of you should be like the least important, and your leader should be like a servant.
  • II Timothy 3:12 – If we are really serious about following our Lord, Paul warns us, “…all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persection.
  • Mark 8:34, 35 – Jesus challenges us:
Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny 
     himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 
     For whoever desires to save his life will lose 
     it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and 
     the gospel's will save it. The cross is an in-
     strument for death! We are called to die to our-
     selves so we can live for God! (see Romans 6:11; 
     Galatians 2:24).

If these nine characteristics mark a Christian’s life, that one is on firefor the Lord!

Go back again to the beginning where we looked at the body of Christ. No one individual Christian is the complete body of Christ! We are each members individually! Together we form His body!

  • One of us might be a toe, to help keep the body in balance!
  • Another might be a listening ear!
  • A preacher might be a tongue, or a mouth!
  • A missionary couple might be the feet, as in Romans 10:15: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!
  • …and a finger might mean one who is used to point people to Jesus!

But no matter what member of Jesus’ body you are, be on fire for Him!

…even a finger on fire!