August 23, 2003 – August 29, 2003
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 11 Peter 3:9.
Suggested Reading: The Great Controversy, 39, 40.
“Often those who suffer reproach or persecution for their faith are tempted to think themselves forsaken by God. In the eyes of men they are in the minority. To all appearance their enemies triumph over them. But let them not violate their conscience. He who has suffered in their behalf, and has borne their sorrows and afflictions, has not forsaken them.
“The children of God are not left alone and defenseless. Prayer moves the arm of Omnipotence. Prayer has ‘subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire’—we shall know what it means when we hear the reports of the martyrs who died for their faith—‘turneth to flight the armies of the aliens.’ Hebrews 11:33, 34.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 172.
1 How was it that Rehab was saved from the fate that befell Jericho? Hebrews 11:31.
note: “The advancing hosts of Israel found that knowledge of the mighty workings of the God of the Hebrews had gone before them, and that some among the heathen were learning that He alone was the true God. In wicked Jericho the testimony of a heathen woman was, ‘The Lord your God, He is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.’ Joshua 2:11. The knowledge of Jehovah that had thus come to her, proved her salvation. By faith ‘Rahab perished not with them that believed not.’ Hebrews 11:31. And her conversion was not an isolated case of God’s mercy toward idolaters who acknowledged His divine authority.” Prophets and Kings, 369.
2 In what did Rahab have faith? Joshua 2:9–11.
note: “It was God’s purpose that by the revelation of His character through Israel men should be drawn unto Him. To all the world the gospel invitation was to be given. Through the teaching of the sacrificial service, Christ was to be uplifted before the nations, and all who would look unto Him should live. All who, like Rahab the Canaanite and Ruth the Moabitess, turned from idolatry to the worship of the true God were to unite themselves with His chosen people. As the numbers of Israel increased, they were to enlarge their borders until their kingdom should embrace the world.” Prophets and Kings, 19.
3 What other ancients “obtained a good report” through faith? Hebrews 11:32.
note: “These examples of human steadfastness bear witness to the faithfulness of God’s promises—of His abiding presence and sustaining grace. They testify to the power of faith to withstand the powers of the world.” Conflict and Courage, 369.
4 What did these individuals accomplish through faith? Hebrews 11:33, 34.
note: “The great military commander conquers nations, and shakes the armies of half the world; but he dies of disappointment, and in exile. The philosopher who ranges through the universe, everywhere tracing the manifestations of God’s power, and delighting in their harmony, often fails to behold in these marvelous wonders the hand that formed them all. ‘Man that is in honor, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish.’ [Psalm 49:20.] No hope of glorious immortality lights up the future of the enemies of God. But those heroes of faith have the promise of an inheritance of greater value than any earthly riches,—an inheritance that will satisfy the longings of the soul. They may be unknown and unacknowledged by the world, but they are enrolled as citizens in the record books of heaven. An exalted greatness, an enduring, eternal weight of glory, will be the final reward of those whom God has made heirs of all things.” Gospel Workers (1892), 26.
5 What is one of the things accomplished by faith which should especially encourage us? Hebrews 11:34, middle part.
note: “Faith such as this [out of weakness made strong] is needed in the world today—faith that will lay hold on the promises of God’s word and refuse to let go until Heaven hears. Faith such as this connects us closely with Heaven, and brings us strength for coping with the powers of darkness. . . . Through faith we today are to reach the heights of God’s purpose for us. ‘If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.’ Mark 9:23.” Prophets and Kings, 157.
6 Under what conditions are the grace and strength of Christ shown in perfection? 11 Corinthians 12:9.
note: “We need to trust in Jesus daily, hourly. He has promised that as our day is, our strength shall be. By His grace we may bear all the burdens of the present and perform its duties. But many are weighed down by the anticipation of future troubles. They are constantly seeking to bring tomorrow’s burdens into today. Thus a large share of all their trials are imaginary. For these, Jesus has made no provision. He promises grace only for the day. He bids us not to burden ourselves with the cares and troubles of tomorrow; for ‘sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.’ [Matthew 6:34.]” Testimonies, vol. 5, 200.
7 What did the faith of the ancients lead them to endure? Hebrews 11:35–38.
note: “Centuries of fierce persecution followed the establishment of the Christian church, but there were never wanting men who counted the work of building God’s temple dearer than life itself. Of such it is written: [Hebrews 11:36–38 quoted].
“The enemy of righteousness left nothing undone in his effort to stop the work committed to the Lord’s builders. But God ‘left not Himself without witness.’ Acts 14:17.” The Acts of the Apostles, 597, 598.
8 What did these faithful followers receive? Hebrews 11:39, first part. Compare Hebrews 11:2.
note: “The faith of ‘the elders’ led to faithful conduct, which in turn testified to the reality of their faith. It was their faith that won for them divine approval. We may wonder how some of those named in this chapter could ever have obtained ‘a good report.’ But if only flawless heroes of faith were listed here, the account would provide little encouragement for the common man. If men who were subject to ‘like passions as we are’ (James 5:17) could obtain ‘a good report,’ there is every reason to believe that even the weakest of God’s children today may do likewise.” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 471.
9 What did these faithful ones not receive? Hebrews 11:39, last part. Compare Hebrews 11:13.
note: “The Saviour’s coming was foretold in Eden. When Adam and Eve first heard the promise, they looked for its speedy fulfillment. They joyfully welcomed their first-born son, hoping that he might be the Deliverer. But the fulfillment of the promise tarried. Those who first received it died without the sight. From the days of Enoch the promise was repeated through patriarchs and prophets, keeping alive the hope of His appearing, and yet He came not. The prophecy of Daniel revealed the time of His advent, but not all rightly interpreted the message. Century after century passed away; the voices of the prophets ceased. The hand of the oppressor was heavy upon Israel, and many were ready to exclaim, ‘The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth.’ Ezekiel 12:22.” Maranatha, 9.
10 Is the fulfillment of the promise any less sure because of Christ’s delay? 11 Peter 3:9.
note: “We lack living, abiding faith. When clouds surround us we are apt to sink under the cloud instead of laboring to have our faith alive amid the darkness and gloom. O let us not distrust God, but venture out. Trust, trust, forever trust. . . .” Manuscript Releases, vol. 5, 433.
“The Lord encourages the trust of the most faulty and most perverse. He is able to restore His moral image to the soul, and is not slack concerning His promises. Christ went to the very depths of human extremities in order that He might meet men where they are and know how to befriend them in their need. He is our Friend, who has come to save us. Why are we not more diligent in learning of the great Teacher lessons of patience, kindness, forbearance? We may suppose that we have great provocation to feel injured, and to be angry with those with whom we associate, but we may be laborers together with God no matter what may be our circumstances. We may be sustained by faith, inspired by hope, that God in His goodness and mercy will deliver us from evil.” Ibid., vol. 2, 269.
11 What is the “better thing” referred to in Hebrews 11:40? Hebrews 8:6.
note: “Under the new covenant, the conditions by which eternal life may be gained are the same as under the old—perfect obedience. . . . In the new and better covenant, Christ has fulfilled the law for the transgressors of law, if they receive Him by faith as a personal Saviour. . . . In the better covenant we are cleansed from sin by the blood of Christ.” God’s Amazing Grace, 136.
12 Why has the fulfillment of the promise been delayed? Colossians 1:28, last part; 1 Kings 8:60, 61; Ephesians 4:13.
note: “In the providence of God we have been accorded time in which to develop character and to prepare for admission to the eternal inheritance of the saints. The opportunity is ours as it was theirs [the ancients] . . . to be ‘made perfect’ . . . , to enter upon the eternal inheritance promised to Abraham and the fathers.” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 479.